Even if you are not aware, your business has a Marketing funnel. Understanding how marketing funnels work is fundamental.
A marketing funnel is mapping the buyer’s journey from the initial stage when they get to know about your business, all the way to when they become loyal customers and advocate for your company. Marketing funnels map the entire path buyers take to conversion and even beyond that.
In this post, we will cover the following.
Understanding How Marketing Funnels Work
A marketing funnel is a tool for visualizing your buyers’ journey. Marketers use it to create strategies for each of the funnel stages to help you pull down customers to the bottom of the funnel (making a sale) and then nurturing them to become loyal customers who advocate for your brand.
The objective is to capture many leads by throwing a wide net and then nurturing these leads as they make their journey through the different stages of the funnel, narrowing them at each phase.
There are many different versions of the marketing funnel. Some funnels have four stages
, and some have more, with each having separate names and actions. Companies use these different funnels based on their needs and understanding of their business goals. Once you have a sense of how marketing funnels work, you can apply them to your organization.
Traditional Marketing Funnel
The traditional B2B marketing
funnel had a predictable and linear path. The prospective customer entered the funnel at the top after becoming aware of your company through a tradeshow, magazine ad, or brochure. The customer engaged with your sales team to get additional information. This customer became interested in your product or service and then requested a quote. Once satisfied with the quotation, the customer made a purchase.
Though this was a popular funnel before digital marketing evolved, it had a lot of disadvantages. In this traditional funnel, you had a lot of unqualified leads at the top. The cost per lead went up as the sales team spent a lot of time and money chasing these leads. It was expensive as there was a considerable amount of time separating valid leads from these unqualified leads.
Many Industrial companies still use old school methods to gather leads. The following are some of the ways they use:
- Word of mouth
- Trade shows
- Networking events
- Brochures/Sales Kit
- Face-to-face meetings
They can use different digital marketing tactics
to generate new leads and the traditional methods to add new leads to the funnel.
With digital marketing evolving rapidly, Industrial companies using digital marketing are collecting leads with fewer efforts. They have mapped the funnel stages, which has helped them reduce the cost per lead.
Let’s consider for a moment that you plan to buy a machine for your business. How will you go about selecting the right machine?
You will conduct research online, such as seeing videos of the product, downloading the online brochures, asking for a recommendation from your contacts, and then talking to the company. Thorough research will be done with your stakeholders for an extended time before you narrow down on one machine.
When the way you make a purchase decision has transformed radically, you need to keep in mind that your customers’ purchase journey has also changed. As a result, your marketing funnel also needs to evolve.
Today, the buyer does his research through multiple touchpoints and that too at irregular intervals. The buyer’s journey is multidimensional; it is long and jumps around from one stage to another. Personalization and one-one marketing has now made the traditional marketing funnel outdated.
Modern Marketing Funnel
The modern marketing funnel is two inverted funnels on top of each other where prospects and customers can appear at any stage in the marketing process. This funnel has the marketing funnel on top and the customer experience funnel at the bottom.
The new marketing funnel is not focused only on capturing leads and converting them to sales. It also includes many new stages. Understanding how the modern marketing funnel works will help you add stages such as Repeat, Loyalty, Referral, and Advocacy that come after a customer has completed a purchase.
Stages of Modern Marketing Funnel
Let’s first focus on the Marketing Funnel and what Industrial companies can do at each funnel stage.
At the top of the funnel is the awareness stage, where companies attract prospective customers through marketing campaigns, Google ads, and Facebook ads, etc. Companies can also take the opportunity to build trust through speaking at events and trade show seminars, by creating content (blog posts, infographics, LinkedIn articles, etc.), through webinars, direct mail, and social media, etc. At this stage, Industrial companies can use lead management systems for capturing leads and nurture them further down the funnel.
Leads generated at the awareness stage move to the interest/engagement stage when they start researching the company, the products or services, and any helpful information to find a solution to their problem. Companies can create a wealth of information about their products and services by creating useful content. Companies will be to establish their brand and develop a relationship with the people in their lead database. Digital Marketers for industrial companies can nurture leads through emails, content such as guides, videos, and ebooks that help solve your customers’ pain points.
In the consideration stage, leads that are still engaging with your content can now be changed to marketing qualified leads (MQL). You can now consider them as prospective customers. To nurture them further, marketers can send these MQL’s specific offers on their products and services through automated email campaigns. You can further nurture these prospects by sending them targeted content such as video and written case studies specific to their products/services, free trials/demos, etc.
MQL’s who reach this stage have to show that they intend to buy the product. Industrial companies can get to know their interest when they contact your sales team for more information or ask for a product demonstration. At this stage, marketing and sales have to work together to show how their product is the best choice for a buyer.
Buyers who reach this stage are now making the final decision to buy or not buy your company’s product/services. Marketing and sales have to be aligned at this stage to convince the buyer that your company’s product is the best choice for the buyer.
When a prospect decides to buy your product, he has reached the last stage of the marketing funnel. At the purchase stage, the sales team takes care of the purchase transaction. When the buyer has a positive experience throughout this buying process, it can result in getting referrals. These referrals will help to fuel the top of the funnel with more leads.
If the buying process has been less than satisfactory, the buyer can churn. The buyer will not become a repeat customer but will seek other companies in the future to make a purchase.
Customer Experience Funnel
The first stage of the customer experience funnel is to make the customer a repeat customer. Customers that have a great buying experience will repeat the purchase. The Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service departments need to focus on nurturing customers to increase retention.
When customers identify with the company and prefer your brand, they have reached the loyalty stage. Marketing, Sales, and customer service need to nurture the customer. Marketers can send updates through email marketing on new product launches, providing consistent value through content, and maintaining the relationship you already have with the customer.
Loyal customers are more likely to provide you with referrals. At this stage, a delighted customer will be more than happy to provide you with referrals.
When customers turn into advocates for your company, it further helps to fuel your funnel. Prospects get influenced when a person not connected to the company recommends your brand to others. Marketers can ask these advocates to participate in case studies and provide testimonials.
The Marketing funnel and customer experience funnel are both not linear. Buyers will flow between stages and move through the funnel multiple times before they narrow down on the solution they want.
Creating marketing funnels is a collaborative task and not just between the marketing team. You will also have to use the expertise of sales, product development, customer service, design, and engineering departments to create a powerful marketing funnel. The marketing funnel needs to provide valuable information to the buyer to support him in the decision-making process. You need to deliver value to the buyer through all the stages of the funnel.
If you can provide knowledge and empower your buyers during every stage of the funnel, you will build trust and ultimately influence your buyer’s decision.