What are Sales & Marketing Funnels?
Sales & Marketing funnels relate to the journey that your customers take when becoming aware of your business and the path to purchasing from you. It is a visualisation for understanding the process of converting leads into customers. It includes various processes, steps and stages. These stages are known as the top, middle and bottom of the funnel.The idea is that, when creating a funnel, marketers cast a broad net to seize as many leads as possible, and then slowly guide prospective customers through the Customer Value Journey, narrowing down and qualifying these leads in each stage of the funnel.
The ideal objective of a marketing funnel would be, all of your leads turn into customers. However this is not a reality for businesses. It is part of a marketer’s job to convert as many leads into customers as possible, thus making the funnel more cylindrical.
It’s important to note that there is not a single agreed upon version of the funnel; some have many “stages'' while others have few, with different names and actions taken by the business and consumer for each. The design of funnels are different for sales than the design used for marketing.
Marketing funnel stages and conversions
Below are common funnel stages so you have a full understanding of how it works.
Awareness: Awareness is the uppermost stage of the marketing funnel. Potential customers are drawn into this stage through marketing campaigns and consumer research and discovery. Trust and thought leadership is established with events, advertising, trade shows, content (blog posts, infographics, etc.), webinars, direct mail, viral campaigns, social media, search, media mentions, and more. Here, lead generation takes place, as information is collected and leads are pulled into a lead management system for nurturing further down the funnel.
Interest: Once leads are generated, they move on to the interest stage, where they learn more about the company, its products, and any helpful information and research it provides. This provides an opportunity for brands to develop a relationship with the people in its lead database and introduce its positioning/messaging. Marketers can nurture leads through emails, content that is more targeted around specific industries and brands.
Consideration: In the consideration stage, leads have been changed into marketing qualified leads and are seen as prospective customers. Marketers can send prospects more information about products and offers through automated email campaigns, while continuing to nurture them with targeted content, case studies, free trials, and more.
Intent: To get to the intent stage, prospects must demonstrate that they are interested in buying a brand’s product. This can happen in a survey, after a product demo, or when a product is placed in the shopping cart on an ecommerce website. This is an opportunity for marketers to make a strong case for why their product is the best choice for a buyer.
Evaluation: In the evaluation stage, buyers are making a final decision about whether or not to buy a brand’s product or services. Typically, marketing and sales work together closely to nurture the decision-making process and convince the buyer that their brand’s product is the best choice.
Purchase: This is the last stage in the marketing funnel, where a prospect has made the decision to buy and turns into a customer. This is where sales takes care of the purchase transaction. A positive experience on the part of the buyer can lead to referrals that feed the top of the marketing funnel, and the process begins again.
Types of funnels
While marketing funnels is the broader term that covers different applications, there are several types of funnels you’re likely to come across:
Lead magnet funnels
List building funnels
Lead generation funnels
Social media marketing funnels
Video sales funnels
As you can see, other than the marketing channel your funnel’s based on, your funnels can also have different goals, e.g.:
selling a product or service
building a list of contacts
promoting an event
Naturally, you might just as well use funnels to collect survey answers or have people sign up for a live demo of your platform.
Benefits of a Marketing Funnel
The key benefit of using funnels that integrate with dedicated landing pages is that they focus on one key behaviour or conversion and drive better results than taking traffic to a webpage.
Whether you are looking for online sales, generating leads and traffic for your store, or collecting clicks as an affiliate, you need a marketing funnel. The funnel is a powerful way to bring visibility to every stage you connect with your customers.
One of the most significant benefits of a marketing funnel is its measurability. The funnel can show where you’re losing customers to help pivot your strategy. As an example, if you are losing visitors before they ever get to the second stage of your funnel, you need a better brand awareness campaign.
Funnels help to increase your conversion rate. The number of visitors browsing your funnel will narrow, but the visitors who stay are the ones who are more likely to pay for your offerings. This means that non-targeted visitors will be filtered out by the funnel. The ones who stay are more likely to buy or are going to buy more, thereby boosting the conversion rate.
Since the funnel can be measurable, you can predict sales volume through the funnel. Numbers are integral to digital marketing. They can help to improvise an existing strategy and develop new ones. With a funnel, you can predict your volume because it shows how many customers move onto the next stage. It gives an idea of the temperature of your traffic.
With a marketing funnel, you can identify problem areas too. A funnel can help in identifying products or services that are problem areas. When potential customers exit the funnel, you can trace it to the stage they left, and this can reveal the cause. This data can be useful for creating your next marketing strategy.
Learning and adopting a marketing funnel can benefit your business in several ways:
Like content marketing, funnels help discover the strategies that will help your visitors the most.
Funnel stages help to understand the motivations that drive your potential clients to research and purchase.
Realise why a specific marketing strategy, like the download of white papers, only works at certain funnel stages.
Find out how and when to nurture relationships with potential clients and current customers.
Build a practical plan for marketing to users at different stages of the funnel.
Once you have the funnel in place and begin to apply the right strategy at every stage of the funnel, you will start to see more significant benefits as your business goals are achieved much faster.