So what is a Funnel?
the journey from awareness of a product or service
to the conversion of a sale.
Just like an actual funnel, funnels in marketing represent a customer’s journey from awareness to the actual purchase of the product.
The marketing funnel concept essentially is a tool for marketers to spread a vast framework to attract as many leads as possible and then gradually nurture prospective customers through suitable schemes to the eventual point of a sale.
In this blog, we will look at Funnel Architecture and essential funnel types that offline and online marketers, entrepreneurs and businesses can adapt as a base for building bespoke funnels for their products or services.
· Traditional Funnels
· Digital Funnels
The term funnels derives from the probability of sales and opportunity gradually decreasing at each step. Some people opt out, some lose interest, and some choose another method of purchase.
Entrepreneurs, marketing organisations and marketing departments within larger companies should have a funnel.
A.I.D.A. – The Classic Funnel
A.I.D.A. has been around for a long time, as early as the 1890s, when it was seen as a revolutionary and proactive marketing formula for attracting customers.
It was a successful format that in many ways and in traditional industries is still very relevant today. It shows the journey of the prospective customer from the awareness stage through to the end, resulting in a sale for the company and a satisfied customer.
With the digital age, there are more detailed and applicable funnels used in marketing these days, but the A.I.D.A. model provides a solid foundation in understanding funnel concepts.
Charlie has loved cars all his life. He wants to buy something special to drive on weekends. He loves classic cars, but doesn’t have the time to maintain and look after them.
Reading the Sunday papers on a summer’s day, he reads about a small British motor
company that has reproduced an old classic, but with a modern chassis, gear system, lights, tyres etc. A classic for the modern age!
This sparks his interest - he cuts out the article and follows this up with a call to a dealer that specialises in these cars!
On his visit to the dealer, the beauty of the car takes him aback. The salesman plays his part dutifully, expressing the wonders of the fine automobile. Sensing our gent’s interest and desire to learn more, he hands the keys to the prospective customer and says, “Why don’t you take this little beauty for a spin?”
Our prospective client has decided that this fantastic and unusual car is just what he has been looking for. His test drive does not disappoint – the car ticks all the boxes:
A classic looking car for the modern motorist.
The price is right. It suits his needs.
He can order it in his favourite colour!
Similar to the classic model of A.I.D.A., a Digital Funnel used online can be constructed in the same way. However, with the age of technology, there are more automated systems and tools to help not only the seller, but also aid the buyer on their journey as well. This sort of funnel process is usually termed as a Conversion Funnel. So, taking our A.I.D.A. model, let’s look at the steps involved with a digital funnel.
Awareness – Top Of Funnel (ToF)
The first step in your conversion funnel will be to pull visitors in. So you raise awareness, determining the types of sources that are driving quality customers (traffic) to help you make more informed and effective decisions in order to attract them. Most businesses rely on attracting targeted traffic through advertising, social media, content marketing, campaigns and organic search.
Interest – Middle Of Funnel (MoF)
Once you start driving traffic to your website or online store, the next step is to build visitors’ interest in your products and services. Engaging content such as irresistible offers, newsletters and a visually attractive design will work well at this stage.
Desire & Action – Bottom Of Funnel (BoF)
The final stage is ensuring that your quality leads take action! Up until this point, your leads have been traveling through the funnel and taking baby steps, such as signing up for your newsletter or downloading relevant information that helps them with their decision making.
PDF or eBook are examples often referred to as micro conversions. These crucial steps in the process create trust and loyalty enabling the customer to make the ultimate decision to buy the main product.
Digital Funnel Design
Optimising Your Digital Funnel
In order to gain the most impact from your funnel and to increase the number of potential leads at each stage of the process, It’s important to optimise your funnel. The easiest way to start thinking about your sales funnel optimisation is by breaking it down into the major measures – Upper, Middle and Lower.
• The function of the upper funnel is to attract new visitors.
• The middle funnel is responsible for turning new visitors into qualified leads
• The lower funnel is where the macro conversions, or purchases, happen.
Each part of the conversion funnel should be approached differently; therefore, different marketing methods are employed.
Top Of Funnel (ToF)
The traffic you’re sending to your online store will largely determine the effectiveness of your conversion route. Focusing on driving quality traffic is the first step to optimising the upper funnel and there are various methods you can test:
• Optimising your keywords for paid search and display ads
• Correct targeting of your social media ads (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn)
• Creating unique, keyword-optimised content (blog posts, eBooks, guides, infographics, videos, etc.)
Optimising Your Funnel
Middle Of Funnel (MoF)
The middle funnel is all about building trust with your prospects and demonstrating the benefits of your products. So now that you have your potential customer’s interest, it’s time to build trust and loyalty, demonstrating the quality of your product or service.
Tools such as the following will help build that trust:
• Product Reviews
• Case Studies
• Automated Marketing Campaigns
• Engaging Content
Running continuous A/B Tests (the comparison between two separate campaigns / ads) enabling you to collect feedback as a way of tracking key metrics is a must.
Bottom Of Funnel (BoF)
As leads drip down into the last stage, you need to start pulling them into new conversion funnels.
The more customer data you have, the more personalised and targeted experiences you can craft to keep them interested and wanting more. Once a lead has converted, pull it back into the nurturing phase and continue building rapport through targeted offers and email campaigns.
Social Media Funnels
With the rise of social media, funnels are evolving and changing the landscape for marketers. With platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Ads to name a few, the process of awareness and driving traffic becomes a game changer.
In recent times, we have seen many global companies automate their systems that actually distant themselves from their client base, such as financial institutions who now only really concentrate on the bigger picture and the macro ascension of their client base. Gone are the days of looking after the individual, although it’s easy to see why, when one considers the amount of manpower and time that it would take to provide a personal service. But, as customers, it’s what we all expect. We want to feel welcomed - we want to be appreciated - and we want to be rewarded for our brand loyalty.
The information in this guide can be used and adapted by any size company, but those who will really benefit from it are the innovators, the entrepreneurs and the small to medium companies of this world.
With today’s technology, such as online algorithms and automated tools, most people with drive, ambition and great ideas can compete against larger and more established brands, so creating the right funnels adapted to your business is fundamental if you are to succeed.
It’s not just about grabbing customers and making the sale – it’s about nurturing the prospects, re-targeting continuously and ensuring that your customers, who have only purchased from you once, soon become loyal brand adoptees.
With a typical social media funnel as seen above, we are only seeing half the journey for customers. Much like a traditional funnel, it stops at the point of sale. But, in the modern age, that is only half the journey.
The template of A.I.D.A. has not become defunct – it just needs to evolve!
Bow Tie Funnels
We have already looked at the first stage of the funnel through the A.I.D.A. model, let’s now look at the retention side through a modern marketing funnel, known as the Bow Tie Funnel.
Bow Tie Funnel Retention
The first level is recognising the customer who has just purchased. This is a brand new purchaser, so it’s important to make them feel confident and encourage them to remain loyal on their way to becoming a Brand Ambassador.
The simplest way is to offer a bonus reward, a discount off the next purchase or perhaps an invitation to a VIP area that’s related to the product. Think creatively and consider how you would want to be rewarded in a similar manner. At this stage, use the purchase as a springboard to gather further information from the customer through email or even a follow up call. Apply this information across the entire funnel.
The following stage of retention in the funnel is the Loyalist.
This generally refers to one of the following:
· A customer who upgraded their purchase at checkout
· A repeat buyer
The difference between an Adopter and a Loyalist is that the former may well have made an impulse purchase, whilst the latter instinctively chose to buy from you.
The way to convert an Adopter to a Loyalist is to ensure that your message (marketing) connects with the Loyalist. Offer incentives to buy related products or offers for a repeat purchase. Consider a way that you can recommend incentives such as offering tier pricing to maintain their path along the funnel.
The Advocate is a satisfied customer, someone who has bought from you and likes the product or service that you offer.
This is the customer who will start to use their social influence through online platforms such as reviews, testimonials, social media or word of mouth to actively recommend your products or services.
To keep them on side and engaged, entice them with incentives. These could be:
· Membership of a VIP club with personal referrals
· Access to new products in exchange for reviews
This sort of affiliate marketing is worth its weight in gold. It’s extremely cost effective and most importantly, it’s coming from a neutral and trusted source.
Ideally, you want advocates of your brand to encourage other customers to become advocates, so use further incentives.
TIP: If possible, create a discount incentive - the more converted customers you gain
from an advocate, the more they save on purchases in the future.
Make Advocates feel special.
Reply to their tweets, share their positive posts on Facebook and, if they connect through email, make sure you answer them with a personalised response. The quickest way to lose an Advocate is to make them feel like one of the masses. Treasure them!
The Brand Ambassador
These are the company’s friends! They are emotionally connected to your brand – they tell their friends and colleagues how happy they are and, are passionate about their relationship with you. With most opportunities, they will tell people about you; tweet amazing remarks about you and as such, should be treated on a personal level. When they connect with you, sometimes a hand written message in return will let them know how special they are to you – and bear in mind, they want to be treated specially!
Acknowledgements to offer include:
· Free overnight shipping
· Gifts for Birthdays and / or Christmas
The Art of Retention
Retaining customers is nothing new – it’s been around for a long time. However, there are many examples of companies throughout history who, for one reason or another, decided that, after a while, they would change their systems or the way they recognised key customers. They essentially took them for granted.
Part of this problem came about because companies tended not to budget for advocates or brand ambassadors. They assumed that because they were on-board, they were not going away anytime soon and asked themselves why they should waste time and money keeping happy customers happy. This was a mistake and continued to be so in the medern era. On average, you can fail a loyal customer a couple of times. After that, they will start falling off the radar and start looking towards your competitors. And guess what? They will make a point of telling everyone they know!
TIP: The way to combat potential fallouts at this stage is to
BUDGET for your loyal clientele!