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You’ve probably heard people talk about the marketing funnel strategy a lot. And that’s because it represents the entire customer journey: from discovering your brand to making a purchase. Leads start at the top of the funnel, then move down as they learn more about your products or services. It’s a fundamental concept in business and combines every touchpoint in a company – from sponsored posts on LinkedIn to out-of-home ads to sales outreach.
The Changing Funnel
The funnel has long been used as a visual representation of the customer journey, but in today’s rapidly changing digital environment, the funnel metaphor stretches thin. The buying process is no longer as linear or as straightforward as it used to be. New techniques and approaches – from digital marketing to AI – have greatly impacted how leads convert to customers. This means sales and marketing teams need to fully understand each stage of the marketing funnel strategy, so they can easily and effectively identify what a prospect needs to move them along the journey.
The Three Stages of the Funnel
The marketing funnel strategy has three main stages:
Awareness: This is the top of the funnel where prospects become aware of a brand or product/service.
Consideration: In this stage, the prospect shows interest and evaluates whether the product or service meets their specific need.
Decision: The prospect takes action and decides to purchase the product or service.
Understanding and Nurturing Leads
But what does this look like in reality? As you know, the buying process is never this linear, so it’s key to understand and recognize the behaviors that correlate to each stage. And while it’s somewhat simpler at the top and bottom of the funnel – the middle of the funnel can be particularly challenging.
Let’s look at an example. So, our potential purchaser, Zara, wants to buy a new mobile phone for her elderly dad. A well-defined marketing funnel strategy helps you serve relevant information at the right time, across the right channel. It gives you a better understanding of what your prospects are thinking, what they know, and what levels of interest they have in your brand.
By carefully tracking your funnel – and how prospects move through it – you can determine how to approach each lead, which products/services to pitch, and what messaging will land best. You also reduce the risk of losing prospects. Getting the communication and timing right means you’re less likely to give people the hard sell too early or bombard them with too much detail. This is why moving leads through the funnel is called ‘nurturing’.
And this is only possible if you know what needs a prospect has at the exact moment. The funnel is constantly evolving. It’s starting to become circular, with the after-sales stage playing a crucial role in transforming existing customers into repeat purchasers. This means marketing and sales need a specific strategy around how they retain customers and turn them into loyal advocates and brand ambassadors. And the secret behind this? Unlocking the data that reveals what your prospects want, need, and care about.
Example of Zara’s Journey
Let’s go back to Zara and her search for a mobile phone for her elderly dad. Zara sees an advert on TV for a mobile phone with large buttons, designed specifically for accessibility. She then searches the model online and reads up on its other features. She asks friends about the phones their elderly parents use. And she reads reviews for the advertised phone. Finally, Zara sees a discount online and decides to buy the phone.
The marketing funnel strategy is a fundamental concept in business and represents the entire customer journey. However, in today’s rapidly changing digital environment, the funnel metaphor stretches thin. New techniques and approaches have greatly impacted how leads convert to customers. It’s crucial for sales and marketing teams to fully understand each stage of the funnel and recognize the behaviors that correlate to each stage. This understanding allows for effective lead nurturing and the ability to serve relevant information at the right time. By unlocking the data that reveals what prospects want, need, and care about, marketing and sales teams can retain customers and turn them into loyal advocates. The marketing funnel strategy is evolving into a circular process, with the after-sales stage playing a crucial role in transforming customers into repeat purchasers. By embracing these changes, businesses can optimize their marketing strategies and drive greater success.