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Why the marketing funnel is important

The ‘marketing funnel’ is an important concept which most of us will have come across, and which some of us will refer to regularly. I think that attempts to quantify it put off many people, especially in B2B marketing, but it’s not necessary to go that far. What we’re really talking about here is the path someone might take from first finding out about us to becoming a regular customer and even an enthusiast. Many people fall away at each stage, hence the ‘funnel’ description.

It’s usually considered that there are half a dozen stages in the marketing funnel:

The awareness stage marks the initial encounter between a potential customer and our brand. The primary objective here is to generate brand visibility and capture the attention of the target audience, so it’s a massive part of what we need to do, including marketing content creation, advertising and PR.

Once prospects become aware of us, they enter the interest stage. During this phase, the focus shifts towards building their curiosity and encouraging further engagement. Providing valuable content, such as blog posts, videos, and informative resources, helps to educate and engage the audience. The intention is to establish our brand as a reliable and knowledgeable authority. While some of the resources we need to provide use the same media as the previous stage, the actual content needs to be quite different.

In the consideration stage, potential customers compare us to alternatives. They’re after more specific information to assess whether we can meet their needs effectively. This is where we provide detailed product or service descriptions, case studies, testimonials, and comparisons to help prospects make informed decisions. Addressing any concerns and objections is crucial.

The conversion stage represents the moment when a prospect decides to become a customer. At this point, we need to be thinking about incentives, persuasive calls-to-action, and a user-friendly purchasing process. Having built trust and demonstrated the value proposition of our products or services is important, but the sale itself may well be made on a person-to-person basis, so we need to ensure whoever is making the sale has the resources they need.

Once a customer has made a purchase, the focus needs to shift to cultivating loyalty and fostering a long-term relationship. This means providing good customer service, personalised experiences, and ongoing communication to maintain customer satisfaction. Loyalty programs, exclusive offers, and proactive customer support can all strengthen the bond where appropriate.

The advocacy stage is one that only a few customers will reach, voluntarily promoting it within their networks. It’s possible to encourage and incentivise advocacy, by giving customers material to pass on, just as we do with our own sales team.

It’s easy to dismiss the marketing funnel as being waffle, as it straddles the extremes of being obvious and yet (particularly at the measurement end) unrealistic. But at a minimum, it’s another interesting way to assess our marketing materials and strategies, by providing a list of areas which need to be covered …and some of which we may be neglecting.