Welcome to this blog! Looking to understand more about what a marketing funnel is? If you think about it, funnels are often used as tools that may come in the form of a tube or pipe that is wide on the top and tapers down to the bottom, often used for guiding liquid or any solution into a small opening. Makes sense?
However, the marketing funnel, describes your customer’s journey with your brand, from the initial stages of discovery about your brand to the purchasing stage where they buy your product.
A marketing funnel helps to map out your marketing strategy from head to toe for a clearer analysis of how you will be incorporating your brand’s content marketing strategy in different stages of the funnel for greater impact.
What are the benefits of a marketing funnel?
When it comes to marketing, prospects are usually being bombarded by a slur of information without even asking for it — it can be annoying even digitally. Long gone are the hard-sell strategies of a door-to-door salesman and good luck to marketers that are still using these old-school invasive methods to get a sale.
It’s the rise of digital land whether you like it or not, you need to be where a majority of your customers are — and it’s probably online.
Creating a marketing funnel will help you gain clarity on the digital marketing strategies you should apply at different stages of a customer’s journey.
According to statistics, it is evident that 73% of consumers feel frustrated when they visit a website and are immediately spammed with hard-sell content like in-your-face ads, promotions, and more that aren’t relevant to their interests or needs. Consumers today are smarter, and they want content that is valuable and useful to solve their pain points. If you give them valuable content, they will reward you with their loyalty.
Here are the benefits of incorporating a marketing funnel into your digital marketing content strategy.
See the overall picture
Marketing funnels simplify the customer process and make it more systematic and organized to follow. It makes marketing easier and takes a marketer or business through the steps clearly and maps out your customer journey one stage at a time with valuable content — all in one place.
Create relevant content
Content in any form has to be done with intent and purpose for a specific target audience. This one requires creating a buyer persona and proper research to understand the type of content that catches your audience’s attention. For example, what are their pain points? Interests? Challenges? And more. For instance, customers have never been exposed to your product, but you’re already giving them details to convert them, like the price, and urging them to buy. This will likely turn them off.
This is why you need a marketing funnel to keep track of which stage to park relevant content in order to move them towards a purchase.
The marketing funnel applies to almost any situation from customer acquisition, online sales, increasing traffic for your business, number of clicks, creating awareness, and more. With the funnel, it helps act as a reminder to highlight each stage of reaching out to your customer. It helps measure where you’re losing customers, where to allocate your efforts & budget, and when to pivot your content strategy if it isn’t effective. For example, if you’re not able to capture leads to enter the second stage of the funnel, you might need to work on more relevant content to catch their attention.
Increase conversion rates
The marketing funnel was invented for the sole purpose of creating a customer journey that is relevant and benefits the customer from the minute they slide into the funnel and come out of it.
Your role as a marketer or business is to understand your customer’s needs and identify a solution to the problems your customers face, then provide them with valuable content that will actually help them. Your goal is to create content that will successfully lead them to act on their decisions and feel compelled to make a purchase or acquire your services.
According to research from Aberdeen, “targeting users with content relevant to their position along the buying process yields 72% higher conversion rates.”
Based on Hubspot, 74% of companies state that converting leads to customers will be their top priority for marketers and businesses in the next 12 months as a motivational goal, as 65% of businesses claim that generating leads and traffic is their biggest marketing challenge.
SOURCE: 74% of companies prioritize converting leads to customers.
The Stages of a Marketing Funnel
Stage 1: Top of the Funnel (TOFU): Awareness
The marketing funnel begins with awareness, which is the stage when a lead is first exposed to your brand or products & services. It is crucial to develop a strong social media presence to create more awareness for your brand and inform the people that you are the go-to expert in a specific field.
As a marketer or online business, there are many options out there, but let’s narrow it down to a good few content marketing strategies you can begin with to be a lead magnet.
Social media is a very powerful way to get your brand out there and to get people to share your content if they find it interesting or gripping enough to share with friends, their social circles, communities, family, work buddies, or through word-of-mouth, and many more.
When sharing your content on social media, the best way to cut through the social clutter is to be genuine and provide relevant quality content that triggers your audience’s pain points, chat with similar audiences and offer solutions, thoughtful advice, or tips on the related field to show your expertise.
Ask yourself how you can add value for your selected audience? What kind of information should you provide your audience to make your brand memorable?
For instance, seeing that most people are working from home during the pandemic, you feel their pain and know it’s hard to be productive sometimes. Therefore, you can offer them some quick tips on how to be more productive during the WFH? This generally relates to every human being.
OR since you know most people are working from home and most want a quick meal before they continue zombie-ing around so you can advertise your speedy & reliable delivery service on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Email your existing and new database, and more regarding your services.
Click HERE to learn more about how to create killer social media content.
Paid ads (pay-per-click (PPC) are online banners that can be used to create awareness and its primary purpose is not to advertise but to leverage on an existing trend such as festive seasons. It is when brands want to ride on a trend and create some heartfelt content to connect with the audience on an emotional level by creating attractive imagery and captions on some useful information, tips, benefits, and more that they know will solve their audience’s problems. The main goal here is to make sure your audience knows your brand exists and is providing useful information they wouldn’t mind learning from again.
Here’s an example of a PPC ad.
This type of content exposure will require a firm understanding of your target audience and some meaningful content that is rich in value and information. Most brands aim to be at the top search results and the ones that are will be considered valuable and high-quality content.
Stage 2: Middle of the Funnel (MOFU): Interest
This is the stage where your brand has caught your lead’s attention and interest in your brand, where they either explore your website for more information to see what you’re all about and how you can benefit them with your product & services, or they look for another brand. At this point, the buildup to persuade your leads gets pretty intense. This will give you the opportunity to learn more about your customer’s interests and curate your content specifically to target their needs and solve their pain points.
According to statistics, consumers are 75% on the way to making a purchase decision even before checking out your brand. This means there’s a high possibility of interest that could easily be moved to conversion at this stage, so marketers and brands have to really optimize and update all the content on the site such as the FAQ page, underlying issues, and add more quality content to successfully move to the conversion stage. The perfect arrangement would be “How to” product guides that are more direct, colorful infographics, blog posts, e-book guides, and any powerful content assets will be helpful. A content type that most marketers and businesses swear by is video content as according to the numbers by Optinmonster, videos generate 66% more qualified leads per year as customers believe they benefit from interactive visual content and also increases the quality of education for them. Most importantly, it builds your customer’s trust in your brand because your brand is making it easier for the consumer to visualize themselves using your product. The goal is to keep them in the funnel.
Here’s an example of a highly engaging Video Content by Burberry and their modern take on ‘Singing In The Rain’ with their dance-inspired Christmas London spectacular. You can feel the characters warming up the streets with their Burberry coats and dance moves.
SOURCE: Burberry ‘Singing In The Rain’ Christmas Ad.
Another example of video content that resonates with the audience and truly gives you all the feels is this one by L’Occitane and their Holiday 2020 collection campaign in line with Christmas. Just so magical with the use of high-quality colors and subtle effects that are delicate and easy on the eyes. It’s like living in a fairytale and it gives you the desire to buy their products too because it’s wrapped as Christmas gifts!
Once your brand has successfully convinced your consumer that it is worth their purchase and time, it is time to convince them to make a purchase decision — because there’s always room for doubt or diversion from your competitors. If you’re not consistent enough with your content, your leads might feel abandoned and that’s the last thing you want at this point of the fence. You’re this close to closing them.
At a consistent pace, try to expose them to your content with product demos or content that demonstrates why they should make the purchase action. What can your product do that the others can’t? What are the benefits that you offer? Free delivery/shipping? More cost-effective? All these things matter to the modern-day consumer, so if a brand can’t seem to find anything or create an angle to work on for their brand, they’re more or less doomed. Always reflect on your brand’s overall strengths and weaknesses.
Show them that your brand will be there for them and to solve their problems or pain points. Reel them in with customer reviews, testimonials, emails, case studies, and any relevant content that will boost their confidence to convert.
It’s not over yet and these potential leads are already in the middle of the funnel, you still have a chance to give them that push with your content assets.
At this stage, you can send them an email and tailor your content according to your subscriber’s interests and pain points and provide valuable information specifically targeted to their needs. An email is less intrusive and allows them to evaluate whether your product meets their desires and at the same time, they don’t feel neglected.
Here are some creative examples of Food Panda with their attractive color and interactive puzzle idea, The Telegraph with their catchy subscription email, and Tribe boxing studio encouraging you to share or invite your friends with the link below with their consistent email marketing that includes attractive content, aesthetics, and a clear layout. All have highly clickable CTAs. Don’t you think so? They just make email content look super cool and catchy!
At this stage (BOFU), you’ve reached the point where customers are aware there’s a problem that needs solving, evaluated their options, and have decided that they want to make a purchase.
In order to establish a valuable relationship with your customers, comfort, or support their decision to convince them that they’ve made the best decision to purchase your products and services.
By showcasing previous success stories of your previous customers, it can help customers feel a sense of relief and comfort knowing they have made an informed decision — it is very effective.
For example, if you’re selling a POS system to a restaurant business owner, you need to find a case study where your POS system has benefited and contributed to the company’s success due to the automation, inventory management benefits, and more so it’s best to refer to a company that is around the same size, such as a small startup with more than 10X their leads to give them a view of the possibilities for growth.
Personally, I feel in order for a business to grow, it must attend to the voices of its customers, whether negative or positive. Any feedback is considered constructive feedback and helps a brand work towards being better and in turn, increases customer retention rates as well. So, take it with a grain of salt and understand no business is perfect.
Stage 5: Bottom of the funnel (BOFU): Sales
At this point, you’ve successfully moved your leads throughout the entire funnel and that’s great! But, there’s always a but. This doesn’t mean that the entire process is done and dusted, and you can move on, it’s quite the opposite actually. This is crucial to the survival of your business because if you manage to keep your new customers happy with a thoughtful onboarding process, personalized attention, and all your resources required to ensure your customer is satisfied with their experience and will grow a newfound liking and brand loyalty to your brand. If you do your part and keep them satisfied, they will probably share their great experience with your brand and how they were appreciated from the start. This is when it leads to the next stage.
Stage 6: Bottom of the Sales Funnel (BOFU) Loyalty
To expand your knowledge further, at this stage, loyalty is everything to a marketer or a business owner. This is because your customers start to develop a relationship and preference for your brand. They no longer need you to persuade them to make purchases anymore, as they have already developed a genuine liking for your brand because they are satisfied with your product. Customer loyalty is definitely a better position for every brand than repeating the entire process of the funnel — which costs you more time and money.
Closing the sale is probably easier than dealing with actual real-life problems of constant customer complaints after their purchase, ugly reviews you have to attend to and cannot afford to ignore, and they won’t hesitate to spread their disappointment with your brand and service, and possibly flock to your competitors — every business’s nightmare!
So, be resilient and consistent by treating your customers right as they are the bread and butter of your business and it would make sense to prioritize their needs.
There’s no winning content at this stage, but how helpful your service is after their purchase is highly important. You can update your FAQ content, make it easier for them to reach customer support, or to provide you with their post-purchase feedback on their process.
AIDA: Content Creation Stages
When marketing is concerned, there’s a lot going on so when it comes to the content creation stages. Another way to go about it is to refer to the acronym, AIDA when your memory fails you. Although it’s a little more direct, it still maintains the flow of the content creation stages.
AIDA still mirrors the marketing funnel stages, starting when the customer enters the sales funnel, shows an interest in your brand, evaluating whether or not they want to go with your products or services, then moves on to the end of the funnel where they act on their purchase decision.
This is the first point of contact to get leads going through your marketing funnel.
At this stage, you need good content to attract a selected audience to your brand and to your website. That’s the goal.
Brands can use paid ads, social media, email content, articles, and more to drive them to you explore more about your product and also drive traffic to the site with landing pages as well.
This is where a brand establishes itself as the industry’s experts and current go-to site for information to solve the audience’s pain points.
Maybe it was that paid ad you’ve been working on that attracted your audience to click on the call-to-action button “Shop now” which directed them to your website to explore what your company is about, the services you provide, the products you sell, and even the blog that will act as a guide to inform them.
You look around and check out the different varieties and ranges that pick your interest and maybe come across images, customer reviews, and more information to evaluate your choices and it creates the urge to buy the brand’s product. You’re convinced!
Your product has managed to make the customer desire for a specific range such as the hydration mask pack as it is within your audience’s budget too. Plus, they were sold with your positive customer reviews on the page which drove their decision to make a purchase. The potential lead adds the product to their shopping cart.
I know what you’re thinking, and no, the marketing funnel doesn’t end just yet. The customer hasn’t checked out just yet so perhaps something interfered with your customer’s decision to purchase your product. What could it be?
There could be several potential reasons why and it could be high shipping costs, indirect payment check out system, and perhaps it’s the layout of your website, having to create an account and all these factors that are a bummer for the modern-day consumer as most of them just want to make a purchase in an instant!
Shockingly, according to the most recent statistics from Statista, 88.05% of shopping carts were abandoned in 2020. This is a huge concern for most marketers and brands, as it’s all your entire marketing efforts gone to waste if your customers don’t end up hitting the “Check Out” button. Isn’t it frustrating? Best for brands to see the overall flow or change the layout to make it a more seamless experience for your customers.
This is an alarming signal for brands out there that are missing some crucial elements that will affect the success of achieving their marketing goals and their ROI.
Below is a chart from Statista with the worldwide abandonment rate and also shows the rates according to your industry. Find out below.
How to design a profitable marketing funnel for your business?
After going through the stages of the marketing funnel, it might seem simple to just churn out ideas at each stage according to its purpose — it doesn’t work that way. As a marketer or business, you’re relying on this funnel as a strategic guideline of when and which modes of content marketing will reach out to your leads and successfully at each stage of the funnel and successfully convert them to act on a purchase. If there’s anything harder than rocket science, it’s human emotions.
According to research by Harvard Professor, Gerald Zaltman, 95% of purchase decisions are based on human emotion and desire. it’s a marketer or business has to understand the consumer’s behavior and how to lure them in and out of the tunnel seamlessly with strategically designed content. It can be intense.
“Sell the Sizzle NOT the Steak” – 1920s Salesman, Elmer Wheeler
This old saying basically refers to “Sell the benefits, NOT the features” when it comes to the human psyche. Customers only care about one thing at the end of the day so if your content revolves around how good your brand is, they simply don’t care. They just want to know “What’s in it for me?” so when it comes to the marketing funnel, it is important to know when’s the best time to sell the sizzle and when’s best to sell the steak.
Always refer to this saying when you’re creating content for the modern-day consumer.
Let’s get started.
1. Identify your Target Audience
Now, keep your research simple, yet focused on your selected audience. You will need to dive deep to thoroughly define the following points before you can proceed to construct a solid marketing funnel:
What are their pain points?
What are their interests and expectations?
Which social media platforms do they frequent?
What annoys them when they’re shopping online or when they make payments online?
It’s best to expand your questions to determine the following factors:
How to position your product differently?
Where to locate your audience?
How to strategize your content to address their pain points more effectively?
2. Create a Buyer Persona
Not every customer is the same and their buying journey thought process, and motivation to buy may differ so it’s best to be more flexible by expanding your research, but not too far out to the point you can’t keep track.
You can always work around creating different buyer personas for different segments such as age and audience types, but you want to stay focused so it’s best not to spread your marketing efforts too thin as well.
Base your buyer persona research on these points:
Personal information: Name, age, location.
Content preferences: Favorite social media channels, content style, format, and tone & manner they usually associate with.
Job title, level of influence in the decision-making process.
Objectives: Measurable career goals related to the current job title.
Challenges: Frustrations & pain points that interfere with their goals.
Why would they purchase a product?
What are the reasons that influence them to purchase a product?
How will they use the product after purchasing it?
Here’s an example of a Buyer Persona template you can create and incorporate into your marketing funnel.
Think about the overall flow and how you intend to generate leads and traffic into your funnel and website, to begin with. If nobody is aware of your brand or products available, how will they know about you at all? You will need to incorporate more strategies to increase the chances of driving users to your website.
These are people on social media who are influential to your target audience. Brands usually agree to collaborate with an influencer and have the influencer themselves do a product demo of your product and recommending people to buy it. The influencers have to be clear about your product and the benefits it offers and will usually create their own content specifically for it.
For example, many make-up brands tend to use influencers to convince and convert their audience because it’s more personable and believable and they have a better chance of convincing your audience than your brand itself. It incites a desire to purchase your product.
Here’s an example of Mac Cosmetics ambassador, Lisa from BlackPink with 42.9 million followers! What a refreshing way to share your content and leverage on their existing fan base that idolizes them. Influencer marketing (if chosen well) will do your brand justice!
Writing or posting an article on someone else’s blog is a great way to expand your reach and get more leads in terms of building relationships with your audience, the backlinks that are included in their blog will direct them straight to your blog, and the best part is that you’re entering an established community and are able to gain a new audience.
When it comes to social media, it’s best to share your content on more than one platform such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or any social sites you deem relevant for your brand and take these factors into account:
Set some social marketing goals.
Research your target audience.
Establish the most important metrics such as engagement rate and more.
Create and curate your content.
Pay-per-click is an online advertising model that usually comes in the form of banner ads where marketers or businesses can adjust their ad spend to align with their paid search goals.
4. Engage with your audience
Marketing is all about engaging with your audience and your lead generation is not sufficient enough on its own, so it’s best to have more strategies to support your goal.
Here are a few strategies you can apply:
Create high quality blogs that resonate with the audience
Create catchy videos or product demos
Collaborate with influencers and leverage on their existing fan base and also request to have them offer “How-To” tutorials of your products.
Promote your content on various social media channels
Create email marketing campaigns to promote your latest blogs and send newsletters
5. Convince & Convert
When you refer to the marketing funnel, lead conversion is the final stage where visitors in your website turn into paying customers. Most buyers lose the momentum the purchase process takes too long or requires too many steps. You need to ensure it is smooth process to complete a buyer’s purchase:
Making the layout of your website direct and clear.
Minimize the number of steps to completion.
Clear and one-click signup buttons.
This blog covers the stages of the marketing funnel, AIDA content stages used as a content format guideline used by marketers and businesses, and the steps to creating a profitable marketing funnel.
As you’re reading this now, you must understand to define your target audience, create an ideal buyer persona, understand the needs of your customers, and your brand has to make effort to produce high-quality content that resonates with the audience.
Marketing is all about trial and error so if your content doesn’t work on the audience in the awareness phase, then it’s best to tweak your content until you see results that work. Quality content requires being mindful and thinking from the perspective of your consumers, which many marketers fail to see and jump straight into the sales pitch. This results in high bounce rates on their website and not managing to get high customer retention rates because they aren’t bothered enough to research what their customers are looking for to even offer it! Impatience gets you nowhere in marketing.
Always view things from not only a logical but emotional standpoint too because it is the key to creating impactful content that will attract leads effortlessly into your funnel, then you can continue to sway your audience with content they want to hear.