An Introduction to Marketing Funnels

Businesses around the world use a wide variety of marketing tactics to generate leads and sales, get customers to engage with their brand, and increase their reputation and visibility. One common digital marketing practice is to employ a marketing funnel.

According to Neil Patel, a marketing funnel is “the path that a prospect takes through your site that ultimately results in a conversion.” That funnel has numerous factors that are critical in influencing your potential customer to take the next step.

Additionally, marketing funnels can be utilized by businesses of any size in any industry. Since any business can have a website, a professional within the marketing department can research and determine the best way to create a marketing funnel for the organization. While each company has unique copy and designs to lead consumers through the conversion funnel, the process similarly results in the sale of a product or service.

Furthermore, businesses should employ a marketing funnel for their website because it provides the ability to accurately track consumer interaction and engagement. Marketing funnels also provide insight and opportunities to improve elements of a site that fail to adequately convert valuable actions. As we mentioned, marketing funnels are used for converting potential buyers into loyal customers. All companies need to understand how their consumers take action and why or why not. If you begin implementing a sales funnel at the beginning of your venture, you will understand those factors faster than if you were to wait. So, prioritizing marketing funnels at the beginning of your business venture is encouraged by marketing experts.

Components of a Marketing Funnel

The marketing funnel has four stages: awareness, interest, decision, and action.

Awareness

From the moment a consumer comes in contact with your brand, the criteria for the awareness phase has been met. Some ways a person might become aware of your business include showing up in the organic SERP, displayed as an advertisement on search engines, via social media channels, etc.

Interest

Interest is more so providing value to the potential customer than it is having an initial interest in the product or service. That typically takes place prior to the Awareness stage, as users are already actively searching for said product/service. They become aware of your brand/company and then in this stage, the brand/company must spark an interest in the user for them to seriously consider advancing to the next stage: decision.

Decision

At this point, the user is ready to make a decision regarding the purchase of a product or service. They may have already done research on other companies or other products offered by the same company but this is the stage where they decide whether to become a customer or to walk away. This is also where the organization brings out their value boosters, perhaps that’s free shipping, 10% off your first purchase, etc. This is often the most important stage in the sales process.

Action

Lastly, an action marks the end of the marketing funnel. A transaction is made by the consumer in return for a product or service from the business. Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of the marketing funnel - you went from the call to action to the checkout process.

Marketing Funnel Illustration

Consider this marketing funnel illustration, which we’ll make reference to in the next section:

You are attempting to purchase a personalized dog bed. You don’t have any brand loyalty or predetermined companies that you would purchase this product from.

You enter the search query “personalized dog bed” into a search engine. Thousands of options populate the SERPs but you select the first result, which is coincidentally an ad for a “Personalized Dog Bed | Fast, Free 1-2 Day Shipping.”

The landing page for the ad loads and displays a variety of options closely matching the search term, “personalized dog bed.”

You scroll through the list of options in search of an item that fits your specific needs.

Upon finding an item that matches the budgetary needs, quality preferences, delivery time, etc. You select the product and are then directed to a product page.

This product page entails much more information about the selected item, including a description, images, reviews, etc. The product matches your requirements and are ready to purchase. But you prefer to shop around to see if you can find a better deal.

You open a new tab and repeat the search process. This time, you select the second result. You find a similar product at a comparable price but this organization does not offer free shipping, so you return to the previous company.

Upon returning to the original site, you then add the product to your cart and are directed to a new page that allows you to continue shopping, view your cart, or complete the purchase.

You have fulfilled your intention and decide to complete the purchase. You select this option and are then taken to a checkout page.

You enter your billing information and complete the purchase. You receive a confirmation that the item has been processed and shipped.

Understanding the Marketing Funnel

Now that you have a story to visualize, it’s time to apply concepts of the marketing funnel.

In this scenario, the funnel did exactly what the brand/company intended – no more, no less. Using the perspective of the company selling the personalized dog beds, they manufactured a specific series of events that would lead the general consumer from search results to purchase with very little deviance.

Awareness Explained

The brand/company selling the personalized dog beds is in business to do just that – sell personalized dog beds (perhaps other products and services, but in this scenario, that’s what they do.) One of the most utilized marketing tools is paid advertising. This is used to target potentially millions of people without overpaying for traditional television spots or billboard ads. Learn more about paid ads here. The company created a paid ad on a search engine targeting users searching for personalized dog beds. By utilizing this paid ad, they were able to create visibility and brand awareness for anyone searching for that specific term. The consumer, in this scenario, was doing just that, which is exactly how he became aware of this company.

Interest Explained

Not only did the company have the foresight to use the key term “personalized dog bed” in their search ad, they were also the top-ranking result. The first result is responsible for over 38% of all clicks. Additionally, they were able to generate enough interest in the consumer for them to visit their website where they were enamored by the number of options, etc. The consumer perhaps might have continued his search with other companies but the fact that he landed on their page through one of their ads indicates to the company that an interest was indeed sparked.

Decision Explained

Again, this is often the most difficult stage to advance from for most organizations. They need to create enough value for someone to follow through with a purchase, rather than walk away or leave for another company that can offer more for less. In this scenario, the company was able to provide enough value and information to the consumer for them to make an informed and confident decision. Aside from offering an exact match for what the consumer was looking for, they went a step ahead to ensure the sale by utilizing sales tactics such as “Fast, Free Shipping” and X% off for Event Y.

Action Explained

Once the decision to purchase has been made, the company created a variety of options for the consumer – often a risky proposition but given that interest and decision were met, they felt confident in utilizing a wider funnel. Once the product was added to the cart, they could either continue shopping (risk), view their cart, or proceed to checkout. Allowing the user to continue shopping is indeed risky because it draws them away from ultimate goal of purchasing a product, but at the same time, given their interest and pre-sale activity, the company feels confident in allowing them to potentially forgo the sale to add additional items to the cart. Nonetheless, they were able to convert the lead and make a sale.

From Awareness to Action

Seems fairly standard, right? Well, this was a well-crafted ploy by the selling company.

They understood their market and created a search ad that would specifically target those individuals based off their behavior on search engines.

Next, they created a very unique landing page that displayed that specific product line and nothing else.

On this page, they did not allow any potential distraction or opportunity to navigate away from completing a purchase.

In order to provide more value, they added numerous enhancements such as “Free Shipping” and “X% off Event X.”

Once a product was selected, they had a very defined path for how they would convert.

From adding the product to the cart, they only provided predetermined options for how the user would or could proceed.

So, from the initial awareness created by the search ad to the end purchase, everything in this funnel was meticulously defined by the company.

Overall, digital marketing is an important aspect of advertising your business, especially in today’s technological world. Your business can’t afford to fall behind because you’re not participating in digital marketing lead generation.

Marketing funnels are critical for converting a prospective customer into a loyal consumer. It’s important to ensure the correct implementation of each step within each phase.

If you want your customer to have a praise-worthy experience through the marketing funnel, get to know how your customers are reacting to the way you’re marketing your business. It’ll provide you with necessary insight into your own business, as well as increase the level of conversion.

From on-page SEO to content writing and social media management, our team can handle the digital marketing aspects you’re wrestling with. For more information about how Code Authority’s digital marketing team can be of assistance, contact us today for a free consultation.