Guide To Leveraging the Marketing Funnel

This blog on leveraging the marketing funnel explains how marketing teams can use various marketing tactics to bring people into their funnel and move them through the journey to the point of purchase. This image of a light green funnel with a drop of liquid falling from the end of it visually describes that customer journey.
This blog on leveraging the marketing funnel explains how marketing teams can use various marketing tactics to bring people into their funnel and move them through the journey to the point of purchase. This image of a light green funnel with a drop of liquid falling from the end of it visually describes that customer journey.

Your prospective customers come to you in different ways with different priorities. Some are ready to pull the trigger the moment they “meet” your products. Others need a little more convincing, whether it’s building trust in your brand or gaining confidence in your product. That’s why the marketing funnel is a quintessential tool in every interaction.

If you’ve spent any time on the analytical side of marketing, you’ve probably heard the term ‘marketing funnel’ at some point. This figurative funnel is a tool marketers use to turn the complex process of sales and marketing into an easy-to-digest concept.

The one thing each of your prospects shares is that they’re somewhere in your marketing funnel, on a buyer journey toward purchasing your product. Knowing where exactly in the funnel your prospects are can help you decide the best way to nurture them, connect with them, and ultimately generate more revenue.

But what exactly does a marketing funnel do? And more importantly, how do you use it? The best way to explain it is to step inside your customers’ shoes and gather consumer insights around their journey for yourself.

Table of Contents:

What Is the Marketing Funnel?

A funnel is shaped like an inverted pyramid. There’s a large opening at the top, and it narrows as it gets closer to the bottom. But what is a funnel in a marketing sense?

By definition, a digital marketing funnel is a visualization of how your customers move along their journey, from awareness to purchase and every step in between.

Tip: No two customers are exactly alike, which is why you should understand the 6 most common types of customers.

Regardless of the exact stages, the purpose of a digital marketing funnel remains the same: to understand where your buyer is at all times during the buying process and anticipate the information they need to move to the bottom of the funnel.

For more information, download our guide to Optimizing Your Marketing Funnel at Every Stage.

What Are the Different Types of Funnels?

What is a sales funnel, you might wonder? What is a click funnel, you say? Or, you might refer to a sales funnel as a conversion funnel, purchase funnel, or email funnel.

The reality is that there are different types of funnels. They each follow the same basic outline and purpose but are adapted for different channels or outlets.

Let’s look at some of the different types of funnels.

What is a Sales Funnel?

If you have a sales team responsible for speaking directly with customers and generating revenue, then you likely use a traditional sales funnel.

A sales funnel is the series of steps your salespeople take to turn prospects into paying customers. For sales teams that do cold outreach, your sales team is working all stages of the sales funnel. If your marketing team is handing over only sales-qualified leads, then your salespeople are mainly working in the consideration and decision stages.

What is a Click Funnel?

A screenshot of a Maximizer CRM's free trial page. Their marketing platform helps marketers track website visitors interactions.

Source: https://www.maximizer.com/

A click funnel tracks a user’s clicks on content (e.g., an email list campaign) to guide the customer journey. Engagement helps the company to determine where the customer is in their journey. An email marketing campaign is an example of a lead nurturing click funnel.

The click funnel is a favorite among marketers because it can easily be automated. It's also a great way to get more mileage from your content marketing funnel.

For example, potential customers who opt for your newsletters or enter their email in exchange for free content can be transferred to a click funnel. You might send an automated welcome email, then follow up with a link to view another important piece of content. If the user clicks the link but doesn’t purchase, you might follow up with a discount code to push them closer to purchasing.

What is a Webinar Funnel?

A screenshot of a webinar register page from The Hoth that is on a bottom of funnel topic meant to drive attendees further down the purchasing decision journey.

Source: https://www.thehoth.com/

In a webinar funnel, you’re using the webinar content to generate leads. You can use their attendance and participation to qualify and score each lead, then follow up with them after the webinar.

Depending on your sales approach, you might use an automated email funnel to connect with leads before and after the webinar. Or, you might have a sales team reach out individually to learn more about each prospect.

The webinar can also be structured to lead your prospects toward the decision-making stage. It shortens the customer journey by presenting a problem and a solution all in the same content, then giving users a reason to act.

This is a great tactic to build urgency and close deals without having to chase down leads once the webinar is over.

And speaking of webinars, we ran a webinar on the marketing funnel recently. Why not watch it?

What is a Video Marketing Funnel?

A screenshot of MeetEdgar's video learning page showcasing all of the videos they have available to users.

Source: https://meetedgar.com/learning/

Similar to a webinar, marketers can use the visual power of video to generate leads and drive them down the funnel. The video or a series of videos should include all the content a user needs to become more aware of their problem and choose a solution.

You can also add lead capture forms and calls-to-action on the video to collect leads and follow up with them if they don’t convert on the spot.

What is a Lead Magnet Funnel?

Melinda F. Emerson ending small business failure page.

Source: https://succeedasyourownboss.com/

Lead magnets take many forms, from downloadable checklists to free templates to free courses and more. The goal is to offer something of high value, something your target audience won’t be able to resist.

Users can receive the lead magnet in exchange for something small, like an email address. This gives you an opportunity to follow up with the lead to see how else you might be able to help them.

For example, a content marketing agency might offer a free content calendar template as a lead magnet. It’s an offer that only people interested in content marketing will want. This means that when you follow up, you’ll be speaking with a fairly qualified audience that might benefit from your content creation services.

What is a Landing Page Funnel?

Gartner's hybrid work challenges driving employee fature page.

Source: https://www.gartner.com/en/webinars/4002416/the-3-hybrid-work-challenges-driving-employee-fatigue

A landing page is a web page dedicated to a specific product or promotion. Landing pages can be powerful advertising tools to drum up leads or even convert customers on the spot.  

Short landing pages may contain a video or lead form for users to learn more information. From there, marketers can continue nurturing those leads until they are ready to buy.

Long-form landing pages are designed to take prospects along the entire customer journey. They receive all the information they need to make a buying decision, including incentives and emotional connections that make them want to act immediately. In this case, the sales cycle is much shorter because there are fewer touchpoints.

How Do Marketing Funnels Work?

Each of the above types of marketing funnels is divided into stages. The number and names of each stage depend on the funnel method you’re following.

A simple marketing funnel can be broken down into three layers: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.

Some marketers expand the sales process to include five stages: Problem, Research, Evaluation, Purchase, and Post-Purchase.

Other marketers prefer the four-stage sales funnel that follows the AIDA approach: Awareness, Interest, Decision (or Desire), Action.

An illustration of the marketing funnels multiple steps: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

Source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/conversion-funnel-sales-process-5444126/

Knowing what happens in each of the marketing funnel stages can help you figure out what the customer needs to know to move to the next stage.

Let’s look at the three most common stages of a marketing funnel in more detail.

Awareness

Awareness is the stage at the very top of the funnel. In marketing funnel stages, Awareness can mean two things: the moment the prospect becomes aware of their problem or the moment they become aware of your brand.

Some of the characteristics of the Awareness stage include:

  • Signing up for an email newsletter
  • Reading a blog post
  • Searching for you or a competitor online
  • Clicking or responding to an ad
  • Taking an online course

The goal for marketers is to build trust and interest in your brand and product. There’s no selling involved here; it’s simply a matter of connection.

Consideration

Prospects in the middle-of-the-funnel Consideration stage are actively interested in solving their problem. You’ve grabbed their attention and they know you might provide a viable solution for them. At this stage, they’re ready to learn more.

Characteristics of the Consideration stage include:

  • Reading product or company reviews
  • Comparing products side by side
  • Reading content
  • Signing up for a demo

Customers in the Consideration stage will need more information to reach a decision. Maybe they’d like to see your product in action. Or, perhaps a buying guide with a list of things to consider could be helpful. At this point, it’s all about nurturing your lead with education.

Decision

At some point, leads will be ready to make a purchase decision. They might buy from you, or they might go with a competitor.

Some of the characteristics of the Decision stage include:

  • Viewing pricing pages
  • Looking for a discount or coupon
  • Adding an item to the cart
  • Creating an account

Now that you know how marketing funnels work, you can use them to create strategies and determine KPIs for each stage of the funnel to increase conversions.

Strategies for Each Stage of the Marketing Funnel

A visual illutation of the customer journey, including the touchpoints that may occur as the customer moves from Awareness to Consideration, then to Purchase, Retention and Advocacy.

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Customer_journey_with_touchpoints_English.png

Creating marketing funnel strategies means tailoring your approach to each stage of the customer journey. Social media marketing, email marketing, case studies, customer reviews, and customer testimonials all play a powerful role in moving your prospects further down the funnel.

Here are some best practices you can use in your funnel marketing strategies:

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a favorite way to boost brand visibility and create soft connections with prospects. For example, you might run a paid Facebook ad promoting a product or blog post to grow your audience.

You can also view your posts’ reach and social engagement. Consider anyone who engages or reaches out directly as a potential lead.

Our Best Practice: Maintain an active presence on your chosen social networks. The more consistent you are, the more people know what to expect from you and the more you stay top of mind.

Email Marketing

Email marketing can support all stages of your marketing funnel strategies, from lead gen to closing the deal. Using email marketing at the top of the funnel, you can share a free piece of content in exchange for their email address.

Once they sign up, continue nurturing your lead with valuable content and questions that help you learn more about their needs.

Our Best Practice: As the user engages with your email marketing campaigns, pay attention to behaviors that might indicate they’re ready to buy. When you notice them looking at pricing, for example, you can reach out to set up a call with a sales rep or offer them a discount code to purchase on the spot.

Case Studies

Case studies are in-depth stories of a customer’s experience with your product. Typically, case studies highlight the following details:

  • A little background information about the user
  • The pain points they were experiencing
  • What solutions they had tried before
  • Why they chose your product
  • What life is like after using your product
  • Whether they would recommend you to others

Case studies can be powerful tools to offer as a free download during the Consideration and Decision stages.

Our Best Practice: Reach out to highly engaged customers to see if they will contribute to a case study. A little incentive never hurt, either.

Customer Reviews

Did you know that 87% of consumers read online reviews to learn more about a business? The majority also trust user-generated reviews as much as a word-of-mouth referral from a family member or friend.

Our Best Practice: Reviews are powerful marketing tools that can help bring on-the-fence customers to your side. Make it a practice to ask your customers to leave you a review so their experiences can start marketing for you.

Customer Testimonials

Think of customer testimonials as more detailed customer reviews. These testimonials come from real customers who are using your product or service and they are a powerful form of social proof for your brand.

Our Best Practice: Record a video interview of the customer and have them share specific details of their experience. Use these video testimonials to move customers from the Consideration to the Decision stage.

Ready to put your marketing funnel to work? Reach out to Meltwater for help building your strategy.

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