Marketing funnels – also known as click funnels, conversion funnels, content funnels and sales funnels – have one clear purpose: To move customers or potential customers from one stage of the buyer process to another with the aim of landing a successful ‘outcome’. This outcome might be a sale, an enquiry, a website visit – or something else depending on the company’s goals.
Funnels go way back
Marketing funnels are usually associated with the digital marketing world. This is because the internet makes it possible to collect data on kind of things like advert clicks, website visits, video or button clicks, bounce rate, abandoned carts, time spent on site etc.
However the first sales funnel made it’s appearance in 1898 – way before the internet was even a thing. This example is regarded by many as the earliest formal example of theorised marketing.
Although funnels have become synonymous with digital, funnel frameworks can be used to organise and measure all kinds of business processes, whether on or offline.
You can apply funnel methodology to any type of promotional campaign or functional practice so long as there is a sequential process involved in achieving a particular goal or outcome.
Ideally, every business should work to a marketing funnel structure – or even marketing funnels. They should be designed with a single, measurable outcome in mind and be based on the particular behaviours or preferences of your target audience.
This is why your business may need more than one funnel – because it has more than one type of customer segment and objective.
A framework for the customer journey
When it comes to marketing funnels, it pays to know about your customer.
The more you can align the funnels’ design to the preferences, needs and behaviours of your particular target audience, the better.
For instance, if an IT company develops a freemium SAAS platform, they will eventually need to make revenue through paid sign-ups.
However, potential customers are likely to go through a series of behaviours before they commit to the paid version of the platform.
They first need to know about the platform and so the company will need to raise awareness using a blend of tactics from the promotional mix (PR, advertising, SEO/search marketing or direct marketing). They may start to fill up the top of the funnel with potential customers through paid advertising, encouraging them to click on the advert and view a landing page.
Once in the funnel
The landing page’s job might be to capture the interest of the target market by clearly setting out the benefits of signing up to the free version. Creating compelling sales messages at this stage is essential as you will need to capture their interest.
The fact that the freemium offer allows a ‘try before you buy’ product version could be the thing to implant a feeling of desire into the target market.
Finally, once they are happily using the platform, it might be decided that a series of automated emails will entice the new user to ‘up level’ to the paid service. The emails will need to be timely and presented in a way that is agreeable and enticing to the customer, if they are to succeed.
This simple example of a digital marketing funnel demonstrates how this IT company can meet the individual at each stage of their journey and pave the way to turning them from an unknown prospect into a loyal customer.
However, there are numerous decisions and tactics that need to be implemented – both creative and functional – that need careful consideration for this process to work smoothly.
On top of that, the company will need to consider what they need to measure and how – so that they can optimise and test different tactics and approaches to get the best out of their time and investments.
A funnel will organise and track many different variables
Through structuring activities in a sequential framework, the funnel makes it possible to monitor and optimise each stage of the buyer process by breaking things down into increments so that it can be managed and measured.
It’s arguably easier to do this when campaigning online, but it’s still possible to measure offline campaigns such as mail outs and telesales so that they can be integrated as part of the mix.
The aim of the funnel framework is to bring all of the tactics and activities together so that they are aligned to one specific goal, but at the same time still measure them on an incremental basis for complete visibility and control.
What a marketing funnel can do for you:
Ideally, the funnel should be the first place that you start when it comes to planning your marketing campaigns.
This is because the funnel will help visualise the marketing process in a logical and consistent way.
Companies often fail to get a good return on their marketing investments because they commonly approach the tactics and activities in isolation – and without tying them to an end goal.
This is where a marketing funnel can help.
If you would like help designing and implementing a marketing funnel for your business, check out our ‘Design My Funnel’ service.
It will see you setting out the most logical marketing funnel framework for your start-up or venture possible so that you can avert risk and gain a clear mind. It will also help you establish a ‘marketing cost per outcome’ figure so that you can accurately forecast investments and improve the ROI.