What are Marketing Funnels and How Do They Work?

Marketing funnels are an expert marketing strategy that entails using different marketing tactics depending on where a person is in their buyer’s journey. Each customer goes through certain steps before finally making a purchase. These steps can be thought of as a path along which a consumer moves to become a customer.

When marketers target people at different stages with different tactics, aimed at sending them further along the path, they are using a marketing funnel.

It is called a funnel because as you move along the stages, you lose customers. As such, if you start with 100 customers at the top of the funnel, only a small share of these will finally make it to the last stage and make a purchase. Therefore, the number of people keeps decreasing with each stage and that’s why it is called a funnel.

What are Marketing Funnels and How Do They Work?


Stages of a Marketing Funnel

Most marketers categorise the stages of a marketing funnel based on the popular 4-stage AIDA model. This model follows a customer’s journey from the first point of interaction to conversion.

However, marketing funnels can be customised and stages can be clubbed or further broken down, as needed. Some marketers use a three-step funnel with lead generation, nurturing, and conversion as the three stages. Some add additional stages like customer retention and remarketing, after the conversion stage. 

However, AIDA still remains the most popular and commonly-followed model, so, let’s take a closer look at the 4 stages of an AIDA marketing funnel.

Awareness

At this stage, the main goal is to introduce your brand and products to your intended audience. This is the stage of the funnel where all of your marketing efforts should focus on attracting attention and reaching out to as many people as possible. 

Spreading brand awareness and attracting audience attention define this stage of the marketing funnel. And, the success at this stage pertains to the number of leads you can direct down the tunnel to the next stage.

Interest

This is the stage during which people actually start to develop an interest in your brand or products. They consider your product, along with those of other brands and start learning about their features and benefits.

From a marketing perspective, your goal at this stage should be to inform them about your product’s features, benefits, and how it is better than other products. This will help make your product more attractive to them. 

If you have a service company, your goal would be to convey how your brand differs from others and is a better fit for the prospective customer.

Desire

This is the stage in a buyer’s journey where they actually start wanting your product or service and have a high purchase intent. This stage essentially marks the change from “I like it” to “I want it,” from a customer’s perspective.

From a marketing perspective, this is the stage where you need to ensure that you provide that nudge and convert these high-intent leads into customers. You need to interact with your prospective customers in a way that increases the desirability of your product.

Also, more often than not, the Interest and Desire stages go hand-in-hand and happen almost simultaneously or in close succession. These two stages can, therefore, be combined to make one lead nurturing stage. The key goals here are to engage consumers and make them want your product over others.

Action

This is the final stage of a marketing funnel during which the consumer takes the desired action and converts into a customer. Any marketing materials targeted at customers at the bottom of the funnel should convey a sense of urgency to take action. 


Why You Should Have a Marketing Funnel

Marketing funnels help provide a structure to all your marketing activities and tell you how to target a customer in the best way. Marketing is much more effective when you target prospects based on which stage of the funnel they are in. 

People at the top of the funnel are not even aware of your brand yet, so you can’t simply expect them to make a purchase, you need to inform them first. Sending a bottom-of-the-funnel prospect marketing material aimed at spreading brand awareness is equally futile.

The best way to target consumers is to know where they are in the marketing funnel and use the right marketing tactics to direct them further down the tunnel.


Marketing Strategies for Each Stage of the Funnel

In this section, we will discuss the various marketing techniques that you can use at each stage of the marketing funnel. As the Interest and Desire stages go hand-in-hand and usually require similar marketing tactics, we have clubbed them together.

Lead Generation Strategies (Awareness Stage)

As mentioned earlier, the marketing activities at this stage are aimed at spreading brand awareness. As this is the top of the funnel, the more people you can reach and direct down the tunnel, the better. Therefore, the focus here is on the quantity and not the quality of leads.

Here are some top-of-the-funnel marketing tactics that can help you reach a large number of people.

Influencer Marketing

If your goal is to reach as many people as you can, there’s no better way than using popular influencers to introduce your brand to consumers. Influencers usually have large and engaged follower bases that you can reach by collaborating with them.

Take this social media post, for example. A simple brand mention from the right Instagram account can help put a brand on the map. The influencer, in this case, is a cat owner. A simple brand mention helped the cat food brand reach over 89k people.

Image Source: Instagram

Organic SEO

Another useful strategy at this stage of the funnel is to optimise your website content for keywords to improve your organic search rankings. A lot of leads come to a website via this channel, so it is important to optimise it.

Advertising

PPC ad campaigns are one of the most common top-of-the-funnel marketing strategies used to generate leads if you have a big budget. These ads are shown to a large number of relevant people who enter search queries related to your niche. So, using PPC ads, you can generate quality leads.


Lead Nurturing Strategies (Interest and Desire Stages)

For the interest and desire stages of the marketing funnel, there are two strategies that work well:

Content Marketing

If there’s ever a need for good content to engage your audience, it is at this stage of the funnel. People who have just been introduced to your brand and are ready to explore more are best targeted with relevant and engaging content. Therefore, content marketing is an effective mid-funnel marketing strategy.

Here is a list of the different types of content that work well for each stage of the marketing funnel. As a rule, case studies, whitepapers, and other informative content are preferred for targeting middle-of-the-funnel buyers.

Image Source: CMI

Reviews

Another effective strategy to get people interested in your products and direct them further down the funnel is using product reviews. 

You can use customer reviews and showcase them on your website. You can also get influencers to write detailed product reviews and share them with their audiences. These will help alleviate any concerns people have before buying your product and make them want the product more.

Lead Conversion Strategies (Action Stage)

This is the stage during which you need to convince prospective buyers to take action and make a purchase. Therefore, all marketing strategies at this stage focus on creating a sense of urgency and making it easy for people to complete the purchase. 

Here are some of the most effective lead conversion strategies that you can use:

CRO 

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) strategies focus on enabling people to convert with ease. These usually include website optimisation and adding the right calls-to-action (CTAs) to ensure that it is easier for people to take the desired action.

Including CTAs like “Buy now” or “try it now” etc. provide these high-purchase-intent users with an easy way to make a purchase. These CTAs direct people from anywhere on your website to the purchase pages.

Demos and Trials

Providing a free trial or a live demo improves the chances of a prospect making a purchase. These strategies are especially helpful for SaaS and other services companies.

A demo can help consumers understand the product better and see the user interface themselves. This aids the decision-making process, especially in the case of complex software and tools.

Similarly, a free trial encourages people to try your product or service before they invest their money. A good experience with the trial usually translates into a purchase later.

Discounts and Promotions

Similar to how service companies use trials and demos, product-based companies can use promotional strategies to encourage people to make a purchase. A limited time discount or coupon or any other offer creates a sense of urgency and helps speed-up the purchase process.


Beyond the Funnel…

Now you know what a marketing funnel is and what strategies you can use at each stage to best target your prospective customers. However, a marketer’s job does not end with a customer making a purchase. You should have a clear customer retention strategy in place to ensure that these hard-earned customers stay with your brand for a long time. 

When you design a marketing funnel for your brand, don’t forget to add an extra stage at the end, focused on retaining your customers. This strategy can go a long way to keep your business profitable. So, go ahead and start working on your marketing funnel now.

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