Understanding the Marketing Funnel

From product awareness to purchase, marketers understand there is a process people go through when deciding where to spend their dollars. A well-planned digital marketing funnel can create a clear path from online browser to buyer. So what’s a marketing funnel?

From Curiosity to Consumption

At the top level of a marketing funnel, a prospect learns about a product or service. This can be sparked by word-of-mouth, mass marketing, social media, Internet searches or mere happenstance.

Casting a wide net with information that may be of interest to your potential customers is the focus of top-funnel marketing efforts. For the top funnel, think about the types of information your potential customers might be looking for, whether it relates directly or indirectly to your product or service. This can be anything from cleaning tips to recipes to short stories, depending on your target consumer. The top funnel is not the place to sell your product, just a chance to introduce it.

Once you have their attention, leading them to the middle of the funnel is the goal.

The middle funnel is where prospects become more engaged with your product or service. They may be looking for information, researching competitors and weighing their needs/wants against the investment a purchase will require.

As prospects gain knowledge, they become more valuable as potential customers. Google and other search engines capitalize on this by monetizing search results and keyword use. Some companies offer services that collect data on prospects researching various topics online.  This can help marketers get a good perspective of audiences interested in their products and services.

As prospects move toward the bottom of the funnel, they transition from research to thinking critically about making a purchase. At this stage, providing information that addresses potential barriers to a purchase while promoting confidence in the product provider is critical.

At the bottom funnel, the prospect becomes a customer. But successfully leading a customer from the top of the funnel to the bottom is not the only goal. Bottom-funnel customers sharing their experiences can bring more people to the top funnel – and that leads to more leads.

The funnel is a useful tool that is worth the time investment it requires to create a thoughtful marketing plan. It’s helpful for marketers to establish touch points along the funnel to ensure their efforts are effective and, if not, make adjustments. With the explosion of new brands, products and marketing strategies in the Digital Age, it is important to set yourself apart. A well-planned marketing strategy based on the funnel concept can build brand awareness and trust, two critical elements for customer conversion and retention.

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