What is a Marketing Funnel?

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Introduction

Building a Marketing Funnel is the new big thing in Web Design at the moment, and while they are a new way of framing what we do, they’re nothing new in themselves, and in fact reach back into more traditional marketing for reframing web design.

Sections of a Marketing Funnel

Basically a Marketing Funnel breaks the stream of getting sales online down into five main sections as seen in the illustration here. Awareness, Consideration, Conversion, Loyalty and Advocacy. And then break down the tasks which commonly take place within an online business to fit within these sections, making it easier to track customers through the process to the point where they’re actively promoting you and your services.

This allows you to organise the process to a successful online venture more easily, and also allows website builders to sell you a full service to reach your goals, rather than just selling you part of the process, leaving you to deal with the rest yourself, or fail.

Many people think that getting a shiny new website which ticks all the boxes (Responsive, Mobile Compliant, etc) is enough to get you sales. But if you’re not channelling people towards your site, marketing it to gain visitors, then you’re never going to get sales. And if you’re not making the best of visitors and their awareness of your site, then you’re losing out on aftersales.

The Sections of a Marketing Funnel

Awareness

This section is everything to bring someone to your website, so while it includes things on your website such as SEO, Blog Entries, etc, which make your site easier to find on the search engines. It also includes paid efforts such as Online Advertising (Google Adwords, Facebook Adverts, etc), and free efforts such as your Social Media Presence (although obviously paid social media managers are available), Videos and email outreach.

These bring people to the website, without visitors all your other efforts are pointless.

So you need to put efforts to bring in visitors, Online Advertising is obviously the best way to get instant visitors. Whether they are potential customers, often depends on the quality of your advertising, and the cost of acquiring these customers can often be high especially in popular key words. For example, a brewery using the keyword “Beer”, will find this keyword highly contested and will have to pay a very high value for each visitor that clicks through to their website. For large brands who are building brand awareness, this will likely pay out eventually, as even if someone doesn’t buy immediately, they are more aware of the brand and therefore more likely to buy when they next see the brand at the bar or supermarket. But for a small company, who isn’t likely to be seen on a bar or in a supermarket far from their premises, then specifying “Beer” along with their town or county, to only capture people interested in local products. This also goes if they have any specialities or Unique Selling Points such as ingredients or recipes, targeting people only interested in those will be far less contested, and more likely to land sales.

Social Media, should never be ignored, it can bring in great success, as word of mouth can spread more easily, and people can get a more accurate idea of what your company and products are like than from advertising. We’ve written about Social Media  many times, so rather than delving more into it here, we’ll just point you towards How to Grow your Twitter!Some Eye Opening fact about Social Media5 Tips If You’re A Start-up Starting Out In Social MediaShedding the shell: confidence is essential when starting out in social media and Social-ism!

Other outreach, is writing guest articles on other peoples websites, this drives awareness, and builds you a reputation as a seasoned practitioner in your field, and promoting your own blog articles on sites such as Reddit, Digg, Google Bookmarks, Delicious and StumbleUpon. Email, while difficult to start off with, unless you buy in a list (not recommended), you should use all the business cards you’ve gathered and all your old contacts to form the basis of your email outreach, and build to it from your website.

Finally, anything you can create can be used for reaching more customers, videos, eBooks, White Papers, etc. Creating these, and providing them for free, or for an email subscription, is an easy way to build a reputation for someone who provides quality content free of charge, and builds an audience.

Consideration

The next part of a Marketing Funnel is Consideration, in which the customer needs to be provided with the information on the subject. So providing comprehensive information on your products, allowing them to compare them against competitors, customer testimonials, reviews, case studies, etc. Giving the customer the information they need to make a decision, this isn’t about heavy sales work here, you’re making them aware of the advantages of the product, and making them sure it is what they need.

Putting some of this content only available when the customer provides their email address is one way of building your email list, but also to follow up and begin conversion of their wants to a sale.

Good photography and images are important here as well, if you product looks terrible because it’s poorly lighted and out of focus, that sells to the customer that it’s not important and that the rest of your service will be equally shoddy.

Conversion

This part of a Marketing Funnel is all about the sale, pushing the customer into making a decision, some of this can be done on the site, offering discounts and after sales support to help convince them into making the decision now. But utilising pop up aftermarketing (as they leave the site) to convince them to complete the sale, promising fast delivery, etc if they buy now. Also offering a free trial, or contacting them about the items in their shopping basket may lead to completing the sale. Webinars for more information are also useful to invite customers to, as is offering them information on the direct benefits they can expect from your product.

Loyalty

After an initial sale is made, it’s easier to upsell, or make repeat sales to customers who are already convinced to buy from you. So creating loyalty, and providing them a useful service and informing them of this using their captured email details, can build loyalty and sales. So if you sell flowers, reminding them of final order dates for mothers day provides them with a useful reminder, and an easy way to fulfil their needs to buy something for their mum at that time of year. Offering discounts and money off sales can bring customers back for repeat sales.

Even if you don’t want to give money away in discounts, you can provide a feeling of community by providing a newsletter informing people of what’s going on in your company, trade shows you’ve attended and awards you’ve won, even the coming and going of staff can build the feeling that they know you, and makes them more likely to trust you once again. Even something as simple as a survey, can build a feeling that you care about your customers and listen to their needs and wants.

Advocacy

The next step of the Marketing Funnel says that you should want to convert your loyal customers into walking, talking adverts for how great you are. You first stop should probably be your social media, make it easy for your customers to like and share your products and services to their friends and family, promoting you to potential customers who you’re not even aware of. You may want to identify particular customers that love you and send them an email asking them to refer you to their friends, providing a discount code they can offer to their friends. Affiliate or loyalty programs where customers get incentives for referring you could be set up, so your customers actually become active in selling your products.

The most basic level of this however is whichever methods you choose, you need to be impressing your customers as it’s easy for these to backfire. Social Media can be used to advertise how bad your service is, and once something is on the Internet it doesn’t easily go away. Furthermore, you need to make sure any discount codes are secure, or that you can afford for the code to go viral, as spreading the code on social media could lead to a rush of sales, but if they’re at a razor thin margin, or acting as a loss leader it can cause more harm than it was worth in extra sales.

Summary

While a Marketing Funnel is as I said upfront, just a way of highlighting the stages that you should really be targeting to build sales online, they are very useful in making it a step by step process of building sales. While I’ve spent more time in this article prioritising the acquisition of new customers in the Awareness stage of the Marketing Funnel, all the stages are of equal importance but some may be more obvious than others. So while it’s likely that you will find some stages come naturally and are therefore easy, others may be more tricky.

If you want to discuss anything in this article, please feel free to get in touch.

 

 

 

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