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What is a Marketing Funnel?

  • Erin 

A marketing funnel describes your customer’s journey and the different touch points they have with your company through the different stages of their buying process, from learning about your company to whether they become a buyer or not. Your company’s marketing funnel is important — it brings your customers to you! So you really need to understand your funnel in order to best optimize it to create your desired results…which is almost always increased sales.

Generating leads and converting those leads into customers often accounts for a large part of a company’s budget, so not knowing and understanding how and why your leads aren’t converting is a problem. Funnels provide a framework that enables marketers to track each interaction with the audience as they turn into prospects or leads, and as leads convert to customers. This, in turn, can help companies understand where and how leads and prospects are not converting, how to optimize the sales cycle, measure marketing ROI, and create a better, more personalized customer journey. 

Why is it important to understand your Customer Journey?

Understanding your customer’s journey is important because it is a strategic approach to better understanding customer expectations and for optimizing the customer experience.  The biggest benefit of a marketing funnel is the measurability of what’s working and what’s not. If you do it well, your marketing funnel will help you:

  • increase leads generated and get more sales. 
  • improve user experience thus increasing brand loyalty.
  • help you improve your marketing strategy over time.
  • enhance the customer onboarding process.
  • compare the customer experience you’re aiming to deliver against what the customer actually received.
  • learn the differences in buyer personas from when they’re a prospect to customer.
  • understand the workflow and touchpoints in your buyer’s journey.

Identify the Parts of Your Funnel

When visualizing the funnel, you’ll typically see awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, and finally, purchase. As a business, you have to identify which stages your customers will travel through. These can be different based on your product or service. As long as you understand your buyer’s journey from product, service and brand awareness to purchase completion, you can successfully gain a customer with a lifetime value. 

At the top of the funnel, you’re looking at prospects. You’ll want to look at your website and be sure you’re using the right keywords and the right social media channels to attract your target audience. Next, you want to convert those visitors. Using online marketing tactics to convert a visitor into a lead include creating landing pages, having the right call to action, making sure the forms are working on the website and more. Then you’ll have everything set to close your customer, and of course you want to be sure that your customer turns into a fan. The only way to do this is to be sure that your sales and customer satisfaction teams are working together to nurture the customers and ensure they’re still happy with the product or service.

Your Marketing Funnel in the Digital Age

For decades, buyers predictably went through the marketing funnel 1 stage at a time, from top to bottom, wide to narrow. The digital age has made it more complex to make such predictions. For example, today, your customers will do more research before buying a product or service because they have more information at their fingertips. Smartphones and internet connectivity make it easy for the prospect to do all the research before they reach your store or website. If they like your offer they may continue down the funnel, but if it doesn’t click they may take a step backward or even exit your funnel. While you can retarget these users with remarketed ads, it may end up costing you too much to acquire each new client. This is why it’s more important than ever to truly understand what it takes to gain a customer by using a well-planned marketing funnel.

Learn more about defining and refining your marketing funnel, creating a seamless customer journey and more on our podcast

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