Marketing Funnels – the importance of using them to drive traffic & sales

As the role of the modern-day marketer becomes ever more complex daily, one thing is for sure the customer is still King.

And not only are they still King but they are increasingly savvier: they want to be sure they are making the best purchasing decisions, so they are becoming more aware, informed and able to find information for themselves, easier and quicker.

These developments make it essential for every marketer and indeed business to optimise their marketing and sales strategies for each stage of the entire customer/buyer journey and thankfully this is where the marketing funnel comes in handy.

A marketing funnel is the process of moving someone who is unaware of your business through to them becoming a loyal customer who chooses to share their experiences with their friends and family, making them your brand advocate.

Why a funnel? It’s actually a great way to visualise the whole process and stages that a customer goes through from first awareness through to post-sales advocacy that converts them from being a visitor or browser into a paying customer.

Visualise pouring water into a normal household funnel: you pour lots of water into the top of the funnel, but you only get a trickle of water at the end of the funnel. It is exactly the same with business customers. You might pour lots of customers through your funnel but only a few will come out the other end having made a purchase.

The key is to implement many different marketing strategies that allow you to close more sales with less effort by nurturing customers as they go through the funnel making it far more likely that they will make a purchase and become a brand advocate.

It is important to ensure you cater to customer leads at different stages of the funnel as the content and information you provide them with needs to match the stage of the buying journey. For example, you wouldn’t suddenly offer a customer who is at the stage of nearly completing of a purchase an email or pop up offering them more information as it wouldn’t be appropriate at that stage of their customer/buyer journey.

By using a marketing funnel approach, you can provide a variety of content and information that engages, educates and persuades audiences at the most appropriate time.

To plan your marketing funnel, you need to plan the ideal journey that you want your leads to go through on their way to becoming customers.

By utilising the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action) marketing model, which has been around since the late 19th century you can see the clear stages a customer goes through in the process of purchasing a product and you can personalise the content and information you provide more and more until the sale takes place:

Attention: first, you want to attract the attention of customer and build awareness of your business by ranking high in search results. However, even if you spent thousands to drive qualified traffic to your website and into your funnel, it’s unlikely that these visitors will be ready to buy your product or service right away, this is why you have to move onto the next stage of the funnel.

Interest: secondly, after the attention of the potential customer is piqued; their interest in the product or service should be aroused and it is at this point you want them to engage with content and learn more about your company and products that will bring them back again and again to your website such as blogs, videos, infographics and whitepapers.

Desire: at this stage you have created interest in your business but now is the time to create desire and persuade the customer that they want your product. This is when you can really personalise the efforts you make as these are ‘warm’ leads.

Action: as soon as the desire to buy is aroused, this must be transferred into an action, that is, the purchase.

Now, the AIDA formula is also frequently supplemented with an S for satisfaction because the original had the value of a customer end at the point of sale and overlooks the importance of product reviews, word of mouth and customer referrals, especially in this age of social media.

Your service and product now have to ultimately satisfy the consumer and of course we should never overlook the value of a happy customer. These are the people that extensive research has shown over an over will be the ones who will generate referrals and become your brand advocates.

Ultimately, businesses today need to do all they can to attract qualified customers, convert potential customers to leads, close their leads into becoming their customers and then delight the customers so they stay with them and help promote their products or services.

Using a marketing funnel approach will not suddenly convert every person who enters it into a customer, however you can greatly improve your chances of establishing a long lasting and productive relationship with your customers.

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