Do you know who Elmo Lewis is? You’ve probably never heard of him. But, if we say marketing funnel - that rings a bell, doesn’t it?
Well, Mr. Lewis created the first customer journey model, and, believe it or not, he did it in 1898! First known as the customer journey model, the marketing funnel will come a long way until it becomes what it is today - one of the core marketing concepts.
If the concept has remained relevant for more than a century, then Mr. Lewis must have done something right. So, let’s dive in and explain in more detail what a marketing funnel is and how you can manage and optimize it.
What Is Marketing Funnel
The basics of the marketing funnel haven’t changed much over the years. It’s a visual representation of your customer’s journey. In other words, this concept explains the steps your customers follow from the first interaction with your brand until they convert.
The first idea of a marketing funnel was conceived around the AIDA model. AIDA model stands for the 4 most important phases of the customer journey:
Awareness - Potential clients are aware that they’re facing a certain issue, but they also need to become aware that you can provide the solution. If they don’t know that you exist, that can not happen, can it? They can hear about you in various ways - by researching, hearing recommendations, seeing your ads, and so on. Therefore, you need to learn how to create a multichannel marketing strategy.
Interest - In this second phase, the prospect is fully aware of its problems and is looking for possible solutions. It shows interest in different brands, and it’s in the process of making a decision. Thus, it looks for more information and tries to compare different alternatives.
Desire - The third phase means that you managed to get the prospect’s attention, and they’re very close to setting a deal. However, this is a phase where everything relies on your brand’s authority - you need to be able to offer arguments on why you should be their choice, answer any question, and ensure them that your solution will solve their issues.
Action - You did it! You managed to guide the visitor from being a prospect to becoming an actual customer. But you must know that your job is not fully done. It’s not enough to only bring a new customer - you need to retain it. Customer retention is not easy to achieve, and it depends on many factors, but as you probably can guess, customer experience is one of the most influential ones.
Okay, now that we have covered the basics, let’s shed some light on other aspects of a marketing funnel.
Marketing Funnel Building
When building a marketing funnel, it's important to consider the various stages potential customers may go through. Funnel templates can help streamline this process and ensure that you're providing the right content at the right time.
1. Recognizing The Problem
The first stage is that your potential customer needs to be aware that it has a certain problem in order to start looking for a solution. Usually, prospects can find you either through ads or through your content marketing activities, such as blog posts.
When they find you, you need to make sure that you’re providing informative content, because those prospects are still not ready to make a purchase. Thus, blog posts need to be educational and linked to other relevant posts that you’ve written on the same subject, and ads need to lead to dedicated landing pages.
2. Searching For Information While Evaluating The Alternatives
Once customers pinpoint the problem, they start to search for more information and to evaluate what’s being offered on the market. This kind of search will lead them to either 3rd party websites or directly to a product website.
Third-party websites are usually review websites, so you want to make sure that your current customers provide positive feedback because that has a major impact on future prospects as well.
In case a prospect gets directly to the product website, you want to make sure to optimize your content. That means you need to have well-structured landing pages, offer case studies, testimonials, webinars, product comparison charts, industry reports, and so on.
Prospects in these phases already have basic information and are on the hunt for more details, so make sure to provide it.
3. Purchase Decision
Once they are well-informed, the investigation process comes to its natural end, and it finishes with the purchase decision. In this stage, your website needs to be optimized for conversions. There’s no further need to engage or informing the prospects, they have already made the decision.
Thus, make sure to lead them directly to the pricing page and maybe provide a comparison of all products and services that you’re offering. It’s completely necessary to have clear CTA buttons so that the process can end smoothly.
Marketing Funnel Benefits
The main benefit of a marketing funnel is the knowledge that companies can acquire about their customers. Since it covers all the steps of the process, it’s impossible not to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
If set correctly and followed by careful analysis, a marketing funnel will show you how to influence your customers in each of the funnel stages. Different industries and brands usually struggle with different funnel stages, but guess what? If they didn’t use the funnel, they wouldn’t be aware of it! Thus, the measurability that a marketing funnel can offer is crucial.
It will clearly show your pain points - for instance, is your funnel showing that you’re losing customers in the third (desire) phase? Well, that means that you need to make improvements within your sales team or maybe provide more informative content through blog posts, video tutorials, or social media videos.
Many companies are using customer database software to make the most out of their prospects, so you might take a look at one of those tools as well.
Therefore, this process helps you to have a deeper and whole rounded understanding of a customer journey.
Types Of The Marketing Funnel
As we mentioned, there are different marketing funnels, and choosing the right one will depend on your business needs.
Here are some of the most used funnel types:
1. Email Funnel
The name says it all - the email marketing funnel converts prospects to customers by informing and educating them over an email. This implies that you need to have a list of contacts. Furthermore, you will need to think of different email campaigns. Make sure to optimize them wisely - you want to have a combination of educational and promotional content. Usually, email campaigns have different CTA buttons and include different promotions.
One of the most popular email funnel examples is a tease-release funnel. It has the purpose of spiking interest by offering some kind of a teaser as a way of announcement. For example, when a company is launching a new product, email announcements usually contain a timer, and the subject line is catchy enough to let the readers know that something big is coming.
2. Video Funnels
People adore video content! It’s easy and entertaining. Many people don’t have the time or will to read all those posts, landing pages, and spammy emails. They’re looking for something more accessible, and there’s no better tool than a video.
Video content is mainly spread on YouTube and video formats on other social networks such as Instagram. Make sure to make it engaging while still being informative, and keep in mind the tips that these platforms offer. Also, provide a call to action button or links to the relevant content. Another great thing would be to use paid ads since it will help you increase visibility.
Videos can be used to attract customers at the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. Different funnel stages request different approaches. Therefore, you would want to provide more informative or engaging content for the ones at the top and the middle of the funnel.
However, the customers who are at the bottom of the funnel know precisely what they are looking for - they are completely ready to make the purchase and are looking for concrete information. There’s no need to entertain them, so a good example of a video that can be used in that case is something instructional, how-to-do videos that IKEA often does.
3. Lead Magnet Funnel
You must have seen somewhere that websites ask for your email to let you download some materials. That means that they’re using a lead magnet funnel. In practice, you will be asked to leave your email address in order to get a whitepaper, case study, or eBook.
The absolute benefit of this funnel is that it attracts quality leads. In other words, these website visitors are legit prospects - they know what they are looking for, and it's doubtful that they will accept to leave their contact details if they’ve just stumbled upon your website.
4. Landing Page Funnel
The purpose of a landing page is to pursue visitors to take concrete action - registering for a free trial or a demo, buying the product, downloading some materials, applying for webinars, etc.
Keep in mind that the landing page needs to be informative because not everyone who ended up there is completely sure of making a CTA action. They might just click on some of your ads and end up on your landing page, so they still might not be fully informed. Therefore, landing page funnels show the best results when used with other funnel types.
There are many examples of landing page funnels. Depending on your goal, you can decide to proceed with different models such as video landing pages, simple and traditional ones, more complex landing pages, distraction-free ones, etc.
How To Manage And Optimize Marketing Funnels
Setting a marketing funnel takes time, but once you do it properly, the benefits will come. However, this doesn’t mean that you're finished. Every funnel needs to be revised from time to time and optimized according to the results that it brings.
Check for cracks in the funnel's top, middle, and bottom. You want to provide more general information at the top while heading to more specific things as you lead your prospects to the bottom of the funnel. Documenting your marketing funnel might help, as you’ll be able to visualize what happens at every stage.
Rare are the businesses that manage to optimize all the marketing funnel phases from the very beginning. It usually takes a lot of tests and tries until you manage to find the optimal solution.
Therefore, don’t hesitate to use A/B testing. This means having different versions of the same phases and testing them during a specific period on the same audience. It will show you what brings better results so that you can make the necessary changes.
Last but not least - check the metrics. Numbers don’t lie, so if you see that prospects are usually leaving in a particular funnel phase, that means that you're making some mistakes there.
There are many companies that are at their top game when it comes to optimizing their marketing funnel. When it comes to the awareness stage, we can probably agree that not many companies can say that are as successful as Apple.
It’s almost impossible that someone hasn’t heard about Apple, and moreover, people are waiting in lines whenever there’s a new product release. Why is that the case? Apple continuously manages to connect its content marketing efforts with emotions and narratives that are well-understood all around the globe.
Another great example of funnel optimization is Airbnb. Airbnb is especially good at optimizing the decision-making funnel phase. They allow everyone to register and offer accommodation, but on the other hand, their review system is very transparent, providing the visitors with a sense of trustworthiness.
Moreover, they’re constantly encouraging everyone to leave their reviews and thus help others make better decisions when searching for accommodation.
We’ve covered the basic things that you need to know if you just embarking on this journey. People sometimes tend to skip the preparation process, but as you can see, preparation is the key. There is no better way of setting solid ground for your business than creating a detailed marketing funnel.
We advise you to check it from time to time and see if there is a need for further optimization. The market is live and fluent, so don’t fear experimenting and testing new things if you’re not satisfied with your current results.
What types of marketing funnel are you using? Do you often need to revise it?
Feel free to share your two cents on this topic in the comments section. We would love to hear from you!