What is a marketing funnel? We talk a lot about the funnel in marketing. So, before we begin to tackle the various aspects of online marketing, let’s take a closer look at the funnel.
What is a marketing funnel?
A funnel is really just a way to represent the customer’s journey as they move towards the purchase of your product or service.
At the top, or the widest point of the funnel, is where a buyer starts their journey. And the bottom, the narrowest part, is where they complete it.
Our goal as marketers is to funnel prospects into buyers, moving them from the top to the bottom of the funnel.
The shape reflects the fact that a large number of people will never complete the journey through the funnel. You’ll expose your product or service to a lot of people at the top of the funnel, but only a small fraction will actually convert.
How to Apply the AIDA Model – Marketing Funnel
The AIDA model, tracing the customer journey through Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action, is perhaps the best-known marketing model amongst all the classic marketing models.
Now, we tend to segment the funnel into four areas: awareness, interest, desire, and action.
Awareness / Attract Attention
At the top is awareness. A prospect has to become aware of two things, their problem and your solution. It’s in this stage that your brand is exposed to the prospect alongside competitors.
And below awareness, we have interest. At this stage, a consumer begins to explore the products or services available to them.
Next comes desire, which we can also call consideration. It’s here that a prospect wants to make a purchase, but it may or may not be with your brand. They’re in the final stages of evaluating whether or not to commit.
And, finally, action. They’re either going to buy or not. They may select your company, another company, or, based on their findings, decide they’re not making a purchase at all.
Now, this is the foundational funnel and we often reference these different segments as top of funnel, middle funnel, and bottom funnel.
Towards the bottom of the funnel, you have a consumer who is close to making a purchase.
Bottom funnel marketing focuses on identifying consumers who are in a buying decision and then converting them.
At the top of the funnel, you’re focused on bringing in leads. If there’s zero top of the funnel marketing, there’s nobody coming out the other side.
And as you might expect, middle of the funnel marketing is keeping that nurturing process in motion, letting those leads move from the top to the bottom.
The funnel isn’t a rule, it’s just a way of visualizing various states a consumer mindset exists in and leading them through that buyer’s journey.
Brands use the AIDA model to determine the way they should craft and distribute marketing messages to their target audience at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
The AIDA model is considered a hierarchy of effects model, which means consumers must move through each stage of the model to complete the desired action. Just like a typical marketing funnel, each stage has fewer consumers than the previous one.
Based on the needs of AIDA model, the aim of marketing is to attract the attention from potential clients, arouse their interest and desire to the final buying action. By going each step, total number of potential clients will decrease step by step, becomes an inverted triangle.
Marketing strategy of this model generally is to enlarge the bottom of the triangle. Or increase the convert rate (Potential client becomes a real buyer). The barriers are if just simply enlarging the bottom of the triangle will increase marketing cost greatly. The inconsistency between marketing and clients needs or dislike of marketing itself will reduce the convert rate of entering next layer of AIDA.
The buyer journey
We’ve come to understand the funnel is a way of evaluating the buyer’s journey, and we’ve also got a good idea of each step within the funnel and how it relates to our consumer. Now we need to start making use of this knowledge, truly applying it, so we can influence how the consumer moves throughout the funnel and how we activate this consumer within each stage.
So to do this, we’ll map our marketing efforts to each stage of the funnel.
We wanna make sure that we have ample coverage, that our messaging pushes a consumer in the right direction, and that we’re not doing anything to hamper that progression.
But before we can do that, we need to better understand the buyer journey so that we can evaluate the type of marketing to use in each stage of this journey. When you know the journey, you’ll know where to deploy solutions.
The funnel has helped us understand the steps they’ll go through, but there’s still a journey within those steps, a user can have many touchpoints within each stage, and unless we’re careful, we’ll create scenarios where users wander aimlessly.
The journey within this funnel needs to be systematic and reflect the notion that we’re moving the user downwards within it.
We understand the buyer will go through the stages from awareness to action and then hopefully to loyalty, which is a stage we never really discussed. It’s after a user converts, if they stick around and show loyalty to your brand.
But what does the buyer journey look like within these stages? How did the buyer become aware? Did they walk into a store and see the product on the shelf? Did they hear about it from a friend? Did they click on a social media advertisement? If they saw an item on the shelf, are there competing products alongside yours? If so, what does that do for their journey? When they’re on an ad, are there competing ads alongside yours, and what does that do for their journey? They may now be comparing your product to the one next to it, and if so, are they comparing it on cost or on benefit?
The buyer may be moving up and down the funnel, there’s so many variables that we as marketers are working to account for. Think about all the steps involved in the decision-making process. Within each stage, they’ll define their own path, interact with various brand touchpoints and hopefully move towards the next step in the funnel.
We must evaluate both the journey within our brand and the journey they’re taking outside of our brand. More communication does not necessarily increase the buyer’s positive perception of us. What increases their positive perception of our brand is tact. It’s knowing what they need to get through their journey.
It’s about convincing them you understand their needs and that you’re authentic in your ability to give them what they’re looking for. The best marketing maps the consumer journey and identifies where consumers will cross into your funnel.
But it doesn’t stop there, you then map out that journey as they move downwards within your funnel. For now, take a catalog of how a buyer navigates your funnel. What are you doing right now? Now, this is a rather robust undertaking, and it’s often best handled by treating it in an agile manner. You must iterate on your buyer’s journey. You cannot conceivably map out every journey, every online touchpoint, every interaction, so start by creating the current buyer journey for these two groups.
The buyer who’s aware of their problem, not ready to purchase, and not aware of your solution, and the buyer who is aware of their problem and ready to purchase. What does that buyer journey look like for group A and group B? What steps would they take? How would they go through your funnel? How does that relate to the marketing strategies we built earlier? Look at your funnel, and visualize your buyer becoming aware, becoming interested, and so on.
Ask yourself, how did they become aware of their problem? How would they become aware of your solution? How would they become interested in a brand? Why would they desire a particular brand? What would motivate them to convert, and how do you move them along in this funnel? Start to develop this into a map, there’s no set form for this, you can do it however communicates the story. It shouldn’t be complex, remember, we’re just looking at the critical path. You wanna outline all the ways that they can interact with your brand.