This article was originally published in Forbes. To read that version, click here.
What is a digital marketing funnel? Before you roll your eyes and say, “I already know what a marketing funnel is,” keep reading. There is a big difference between understanding the concepts of a funnel and ensuring you’ve effectively implemented funnels for your organization.
Just in case you’re not familiar with the concept of a funnel, the idea is to systematically route prospective customers to specific content (often starting with ads) based on how they’ve interacted with your brand, with the intention of them converting into customers so your organization can grow. Simply put, the objective is often for you to be able to drop the word “prospective” from prospective customers.
Stages In Your Funnel
Before I touch on how to build an effective funnel that will drive results for your business, let’s break down the basic stages of a funnel. Each stage is distinctly different and accomplishes something unique in the customer journey. There are numerous theories and models out there, but in essence, your funnel can be broken down into the following stages:
- Awareness: Top of funnel; cold traffic.
- Consideration and intent: Middle of funnel; warm traffic.
- Decision: Bottom of funnel; conversion.
- Advocacy: Engaging current customer.
Before you can even begin creating a marketing funnel, you first need to understand what your objectives are. In many cases, this is going to be lead generation, converting prospective customers into paying customers, or upselling an existing customer on a new product or service. You need to be specific to get results, which is why you will most likely need different funnels for each product/service/initiative you have.
Simply put, understanding the destination allows you to accurately chart the required course to achieve your end goals.
Marketing to prospective customers all starts when the prospect realizes they have a problem and/or want something; at the same time, they find your business that can potentially solve the problem they have. It sounds like a match made in heaven, right? Well, maybe, but the prospect isn’t sold on it yet.
The good news is that prospective customers love to research solutions to their problems. Love might be a strong word, but the majority of prospects will do research before they make a purchasing decision.
At the awareness stage, your aim is (you guessed it) to make the prospect aware that you have a solution to their newly discovered problem or want. The information you provide should be more general and high level, while still providing value. At this stage, you’re not pushing for a conversion. An example could be a video about your brand and the products/services you offer.
Consideration And Intent
This is where your prospect says, “I definitely want something to solve my problem. I know there are several offerings out there, so let me find out which one is best for me.”
First, let me point out that you need to have correct funnels set up to even be able to target someone at this stage. Chances are, if you tried to go for a conversion in the awareness stage (above) when the prospect just realized they had a problem/want, they would leave you in the dust.
In the consideration and intent stage, your objective should be to provide the prospect with useful information about how you can solve their problem. Depending on your business, this could include guides, webinars, reviews, white papers, case studies, comparisons charts, etc. It could also be a great time to bring up your competitive advantage and express what makes you the best solution for the prospect.
This is the stage you’ve been waiting for. It is the final push to get your prospective customer to convert and drop the “prospective” from their title. To recap, by the time a prospect gets here, they’ve realized they have a need for a solution like yours, and they’ve done their research about the market. Now they’re ready to make a decision.
This is where you might need to give them a nudge to help them land in your court. This is often done, depending on your business, by offering things like free trials, discounts, coupons or a phone call.
Advocacy becomes relevant once you have customers. The idea is that you can leverage your existing customers either to generate new customers or to upsell them on additional features or services.
Common ways to accomplish this are to ask your customers for referrals, testimonials and reviews. Chances are if they find value in what you’re providing them and feel others can benefit, they will be open to helping your business succeed.
Structuring Digital Ads In Your Funnel
Depending on what makes sense for your business, there are a number of mediums you can leverage. For example, with Facebook Ads, I suggest having one campaign (sometimes more depending on your business) for each stage of your funnel. Each campaign should have multiple ad sets, which allows you to target different audiences. Finally, each ad set should have multiple ads.
You could have the best ads, targeting and funnels, but unless a prospect can access the content you’re promoting, they’re not going to convert. I’ll cover factors such as landing page mobile optimization and website load time in another article.