Imagine that you are going to the store and the cashier says: “Hey, we have discounted gums, would you like to buy some?” – you’ve never heard of the brand, so of course not. Even if you are not a marketer, you will probably agree that most people will not be willing to purchase a given product (or service) if they have limited information about it or are not familiar with the company which offers it. And this is completely normal. The same applies to the online world as well.
Capturing users’ interest and taking them through every step of the way until they are ready to purchase from you, should be your primary focus. This process is known as marketing funnels (a.k.a sales funnels) and they could often combine both online and offline advertising methods.
What are marketing funnels?
In a nutshell, a marketing funnel is the process, through which marketers (or business owners) convert prospects (potential customers) by persuading them into doing a particular action. This approach allows you to break down the customer’s journey and provide relevant information to your target audience at each stage of the decision-making process. Talking about stages, marketing funnels usually consist of multiple layers, each of them bringing the customer closer to the end of the funnel. Or in other words – to completing the main goal.
As the name suggests, you could imagine all of those layers arranged in the form of a funnel or an inverted pyramid. Your audience enters the funnel at its widest (top) part, goes through the middle of the funnel, and exits at its bottom part. So in this sense, the three main stages of a marketing funnel are awareness, consideration, and conversion (decision):
You need to keep in mind that not all of the users who enter it will actually follow through the whole journey and exit the funnel (by completing the action you want them to). However, good campaigns, attention-grabbing visuals, and enticing copies at each stage of the funnel can help you retain the bigger part of your initial audience.
TOFU, MOFU, BOFU
These abbreviations might sound weird to you and you may even think they are referring to vegan cheese but they actually stand for “top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel” if you’ve paid attention to the image above. They are the foundation that every salesman should consider when offering a product or service.
Nowadays, people have access to lots of information – both online and offline. This makes selling much harder than it used to be 2 decades ago, as users often want to make informed decisions.
TOFU is the awareness stage where you have the widest audience. Here you don’t know anything about it, but you are trying to attract people who have a specific problem (or might have but don’t know about it yet). Because of this, the stage should rely on content that is purely educational without necessarily mentioning your business. You want to help your target audience so that they see in you an information source. Address the pain points they potentially have but don’t pitch any sales ideas, as they are simply not ready.
Some content tips at this stage :
- Infographics are a really easy way of a visual representation of numbers, graphics, charts, etc. with little to no text that give a general overview of the pain point you are addressing.
- Videos – keep them short and straight to the point. Talk about the problem, not the solution. Let your audience see itself in it.
- Blog posts – if you have a website, consider setting up a blog. Share your knowledge and expertise. Start with a general topic covering a specific problem that simply aims to educate. If you are not sure what this means, check out our: 6 free tools for managing your marketing channels. The problem we wanted to solve was that there are numerous tools in the online world. However, often people need only a handful of them to conduct their everyday activities.
MOFU is the consideration stage where people have already found out they had a problem. Now they are searching for a solution and are actively investigating different options. By far, this is probably the most critical point of the funnel because you need to convince your potential customers why you are the right choice. At this stage you have excluded the people who don’t share the same problems, so you can start mentioning your products or services as a solution to the needs of those who continue the journey. However, be careful what content you decide to choose. Continue keeping it educational and slightly promotional.
Some content tips at this stage:
- Comparisons – clearly presenting the pros and cons of different solutions could turn out to be a great weapon. Be sure not to talk about other competitors and their products or services, but rather what are the unique features of your own and what makes it better than others. For example, we have a great blog post that compares hiring an in-house marketer or a digital agency for conducting marketing activities. And our goal was not to ultimately “sell ourselves” but to describe what you get if you choose one of the options or the other. Sometimes people could be missing important aspects when making a decision, so we wanted to help with that.
- Guides (how-to content) – well, what you are reading right now is actually a guide on how to create a marketing funnel. Does it work so far?
- Templates and checklists – give something (for free) in order to get something in return, especially if your content is good, you can be sure people will come back to you.
Right. So we finally got to the bottom. This is the decision stage where people are ready to buy. After they’ve done their research at the second stage and compared several other options, some decided that your offer is the best on the market, others not (but they can still consider you if by any chance they are disappointed by their first choice). Here you have a highly targeted, narrow audience that is willing to give you a chance.
The content you choose should now focus on the product benefits and features, how it works and what it does in order to solve your clients’ problems.
Some content tips at this stage:
- Videos – unlike the videos we mentioned during the first stage, now we can create longer ones, explaining all about the product’s characteristics and demonstrating how it works. Just like those “unboxing” videos on YouTube. If it’s a service that you offer, various tutorials, tips and tricks will work.
- Free trials and demos – and still the clients will not be fully convinced and ready for a commitment if they haven’t tried the product or service. To make it even more exclusive, you can give them 30 days to try out, instead of the regular 14 listed on your website. After all, they’ve made the effort to go through the whole journey.
The after purchase experience
It’s better if you have 100 customers paying every month than 1000 who only come to you once.
Acquiring new clients is great, but as you see the process is long and time-consuming, and there is a really big chance that you’ll end up with very few leads. Instead, do not forget about the people who you managed to convert. If you try to sell them something else, it will be much faster and easier to do so. Because of that, make them feel appreciated. Give them a discount on their next purchase with you, or a small gift that will make them smile. If by any chance your business requires knowing their date of birth, then send them a happy birthday SMS or an email. Ask them what is their opinion on your products or services, what could possibly improve. You might be surprised by their feedback – you could hear things you have never ever thought about.
Retention is the key to the success of any business.
If your returning customers are happy, they are likely to recommend you to others. And we all know how word-of-mouth works.
Depending on the size of your audience, your industry, budget, and resources, your marketing funnel can also be very long and extensive. It could combine different channels for every step of the way such as Blog, Facebook, Google, Email, SMS, printed materials. If you require a multi-channel approach, then your target audience will be highly segmented and the funnel will probably turn into a huge customer journey map.
But because we want to keep things simple for now, our next article will focus on How to create a marketing funnel using Facebook as that is still the biggest social media network and pretty much every brand should have a page there. What are the types of ads you can use on Facebook and how to incorporate them into a funnel, stay tuned to find out. Until then, do not hesitate to contact us if you need some help or a free consultation because here at Interval we just love talking to people.