Your marketing funnel: However well done our marketing emails are... However, thought out and compelling they may be… they will not have much of an effect with your subscribers unless you have a plan that allows your campaign to make a real connection with them.
And this is where the marketing funnel comes in.
What is the Marketing Funnel?
In the simplest of terms, a marketing funnel is a tool that helps you visualize the journey a prospective customer or client might go through as they become more and more familiar with your company. It starts with an introduction and goes all the way to conversion, and then hopefully… beyond.
A marketing funnel should include 5 stages:
The Classic Marketing Funnel
The classic marketing funnel, while not all that different in terms of its steps, looks like a cone, pointed downwards. The idea was that you would fill the top of the cone with as many people as possible. These people would go through the various steps in the funnel and they would be filtered out until actual customers would remain at the end.
You might have seen the old-school cone-shaped marketing funnel. That marketing funnel version required you to continually fill the top of the funnel with as many people as possible since the bottom of funnel only filtered out a small percentage of customers.
But this funnel might not be very effective today.
The problem with this method is that your marketing efforts are over at the point where the purchase is done. If you follow this funnel, your job is done the moment a person becomes a paying customer. Your focus is solely on the acquisition of potential customers and converting them into actual customers.
This strategy does not help create sustained and continuous growth.
Instead of the Classic Marketing Funnel, consider the Modern Marketing Funnel.
The Modern Marketing Funnel
The Modern Marketing Funnel looks a bit different. Like a bow tie. It’s wide on one side, narrows as it gets to the middle and then gets wide again on the other side.
While versions of the modern funnel contain additional steps with their own fancy names and such… The truth is, we can still visualize the funnel with the original five steps. What changes in the modern funnel is how you approach your customers.
The relationship you have with your customer shouldn’t end once a purchase has been made. What you should instead do is open up the funnel after a person purchases. You should use the purchase as a starting point and build from there, focusing on customer retention.
The purchase has given you an incredible opportunity to create a relationship between you and your customer. You need to use it to get as much feedback as you can from your customers. The unknown benefit of focusing on customer retention is that you will undoubtedly increase your growth.
If you trust the Harvard Business Review (and you should), a company’s profits are positively correlated with a customer’s relationship with the company. It makes sense, no? The more positive a customer’s relationship with you is, the more likely to keep buying from you. Which means you end up with more money in your pocket.
Add to these additional factors like loyal customers acting as free advertising for your business and bringing you new business… You’ll be very comfortable.
The Marketing Funnel: A Journey from Awareness to Advocacy
You know what the marketing funnel is. The basics. Now, we’ll take a look at each stage of the marketing funnel in detail.
At the awareness stage, you are trying to – and perhaps you’ve already guessed this – make someone aware of your product or service. You want to show the value of what you are providing and start the foundation of a relationship with your subscribers. You aren’t trying to sell here, just educate.
At this stage, your prospects are likely strangers to your brand and you are trying to introduce yourself to them. Use this step to prove yourself to be amongst the leaders of your chosen field. It is vital to building a relationship that will last.
Something else that you need to keep in mind is that your audience doesn’t yet know your product or service. They don’t know it’s value. Trying to sell to them at this stage won’t do you much good. Instead, your focus should be on educational content that demonstrates the value of your products/services and on making your subscribers see you as someone trustworthy.
If you are at a loss as to the types of content to send out… Let us help. Imagine that you are a clothes retailer:
- A style guide for the current season
- Blog posts about the fashion industry
- Videos of your clothes being modelled
At the second stage, Consideration, your subscribers know about your products and they are willing to consider it. They are interested in learning more. They are perhaps even thinking about actually making a purchase.
And you are aiming to further your relationship with your subscribers and make your products and services seem more appealing to them so that they actually make the purchase.
At this stage, both you and your customer know each other better, so you can send more specific content. More targeted content that addresses their concerns, If they have problems with your brand, you need to show that you are willing and able to address these problems and solve them.
If you want ideas for content, don’t fret. Imagine that you are selling a website designing service and want more of your leads to consider purchasing your web design package. The content you send out could be:
- Examples of other websites you’ve designed
- A blog post on website design
- An eBook on designing a functioning website
Remember, the aim here is to show that you are capable of fulfilling their needs. Focus on that.
This stage is key: here, you are trying to convince your subscriber to make the leap. It’s decision time. You’ve told them all you can about the value of your product and you’ve educated them about it.
Here, you can talk more about all the benefits of using your product or service. You can show it off and try to entice your subscribers into purchasing by offering discounts and promotions. You should take care not to overwhelm them, of course, but creating a sense of urgency doesn’t hurt when done right.
The key here is to focus on the benefits of your product/service rather than just explaining all the features.
Here are some tactics you can consider at this step:
- Send an email with a one-time offer/discount
- Offer a free trial of your service or a sample of your product
- Host a sales webinar that highlights the benefits of your product/service
Now that you’ve made the sale, that’s it, right? You might be tempted to relax, give yourself a pat on the back and a vacation in the Bahamas. Don’t.
Forgetting about your customers once they’ve become customers is a bad idea. Sure, you need to move on to the next prospect, but at the same time, you should keep engaging with your existing customers so that you can build brand loyalty and retain them.
There is a lot of value in repeat customers and longtime customers.
So, how do create repeat/longtime customers?
You send emails that engage or entertain. You share helpful information, content about ways to utilize your products/services. And of course, giving top-notch customer service when it’s required.
Imagine if you will that your business is selling subscriptions for food boxes. Basically, you send out boxes every week or so filled with ingredients and recipes for your subscribers to make themselves a good, hearty meal. How do you make sure your subscribers stay with you?
You could send:
- Alternate recipes to try with the existing ingredients
- Customer surveys collecting data about their satisfaction
- A discount for customers who purchase a larger plan
In the fifth and final stage – Advocacy – you are attempting to turn your customers into fans. What’s the difference? Fans love your products and swear by it! They’ve purchased your products before and will purchase it again. They recommend you to anyone who will listen and refer you to their friends. They tag you on their social media.
That’s free marketing.
I mean, everyone is likely to place trust in a friend’s recommendation. You need your customers to recommend your product/service to their friends.
So, how do you go about doing this?
The key here is to build on the connection you have with customers and focus on the ones you know are loyal to you. Of course, you should ensure you quality never dips and consistently provide good content and service. You should also collect feedback.
How do you turn customers into fans?
- Start a loyalty program with referral benefits
- Collect feedback to show that you are willing to improve
- Be open to criticism
We cannot stress how important feedback and criticism is to create customers who will advocate for you. The more you listen to your customers, the more you can improve and the more improvement your customers can see, the more likely they are to place their faith in you. You can and should constantly improve your content.
Something else that you must do is actually interact with your advocates. A fair amount of advocating will be done on social media, so like and share their posts. Reply to their messages and emails. Tell them that you appreciate them. Or go a step further and reward them with free goodies. The more they write reviews or provide testimonials or make personal referrals, the better it is for you and incentives will go a long way in getting your brand what it needs.
Applying the Marketing Funnel
Email marketing strategy involves many factors, so you might overlook the marketing funnel. That would be unfortunate.
Keep the marketing funnel in mind as you develop your marketing strategy and ensure you have a big picture philosophy when you are looking to convert subscribers into customers. The big picture philosophy and the marketing funnel will go a long way for you, because it will create more customers and from them, more loyal fans.
All of that, of course, means more money in your pocket.