There was a time in the world when a marketing funnel consisted of point, click and make a sale. That day has long since passed. Fewer people can remember when they saw a newspaper or television advertisement and rushed to the store to make a purchase. Today, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of channels from which the consumer arrives at making a buying decision.
Today, the consumer is in control of how and what they buy. Sure, impulse shopping still exists. However, the consumer is far better informed. Marketers now need the tools and skills to interpret millions of data bits they can apply to technology at scale. Add to this challenge the ability to understand and evoke artificial intelligence to get it all just right. Data scientists and creative digital marketing professionals are in wedlock.
What Is a Marketing Funnel Today?
A marketing funnel is the hypothetical journey that a customer takes from knowing very little about a company to becoming a customer of that company. Every marketing funnel is designed to turn prospects into leads. The task of marketers is to present their advertisements to an array of customers. They nurture leads through the tunnel and offer incentives and opportunities for prospects to become a customer at each stage of the process.
The typical and classic marketing funnel of today takes into consideration customer awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adaptation:
- When someone notices your business, this could be their first point of awareness.
- At the interest level, your prospects will decide if they want to learn more about your company and its products.
- During evaluation, prospects are going to decide if you appear credible. It helps if you have past customers that can vouch for your company.
- During the trial period, prospects have made the decision that your company is both credible and trustworthy. They are willing to take a chance and do business with you.
- At the adoption stage, prospects can become customers. Throughout the process, marketers must make a decision of how much they are willing to invest to turn an unknown prospect into a customer. This determination comes from understanding the lifetime value of what a customer can offer.
A Deeper Understanding of the Consumer’s Mind
Understanding how people process and act on information and cater to their own needs is critical for the successful marketer. A person has to be aware of a need; otherwise they have no reason to make a purchase. For different people, the recognition of needs will be different.
For today’s consumer, that recognition of a need sets in motion a search for information. Consumers read online reviews, they ask friends for their opinions, they check for coupons or discounts, and they search the Internet for the best options.
Once the consumer feels that have adequate information, they will rigorously evaluate all the alternatives. The time spent in evaluation depends on the product. Sophisticated customers might even request a free trial depending on the service or product. They may also request free demonstrations along with free training videos before they make a purchase.
Next, the prospect makes a purchase decision. Negative feedback from other customers can disrupt buying decisions. Marketers can address these possibilities by creating case studies that showcase success stories.
Creating Conversion Funnels That Can Double and Triple Profits
Begin to think of your marketing funnel as a conversion funnel. You are likely to have a different approach that will yield more favorable results. Through articles, social media and the media, you are going to acquire a host of interested prospects. You are going to “get” customers.
The next step is to “keep” those customers through contests, hosted events, blogging, emails, RSS feeds, and loyalty programs. However, you are not done. Take your customers to the next level with up-selling, next-selling, cross-selling, and encourage referrals. This is the stage where you can grow your customers. Now begin the process all over again with tools and techniques used to acquire new customers.
- Create landing pages that inspire prospects and customers to take action.
- Craft a content plan that speaks to the wants and needs of your target audience at every stage of the conversion funnel.
- Set up testing for your conversion funnel. Is there robust referral traffic? Is there a disconnect between marketing promises and what you actually deliver? Are there any technical issues. Can you turbocharge the pages that preform the best?
- Of course, you will have to revisit the conversion value concept for your potential prospects and current customers. Are they completely aware of, and accepting, of your brand? Knowing this can give you an idea of how likely they are to convert.
The creative people over at Albacross developed an infographic (below) to help you understand how the process of creating a lead generation funnel works. Each step has a brief, but informative explanation of what’s involved, and tips to improve the steps.
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to designing and implementing a conversion funnel that can attract, sustain, and grow your customer base. It is not easy. There will be bumps and potholes in the marketing road during the journey. However, there are those who find the open road where marketing processes and customer conversions converge. This is where the adventure really begins.