If there is any simple way to define the main objective of marketing, it would be the following: to turn complete strangers into ardent lovers of a brand. And this is achieved by advancing the buyer person little by little and more and more towards the marketing funnel .
Although from the other side it may seem to the public that this is a natural falling in love process, the truth is that in love there is more of enchantment than crush. The conquest is long, so this post analyzes what a marketing funnel is , how it differs from the sales funnel and the conversion funnel , and what are the steps that lead to achieving your goals.
What is the marketing funnel and how is it different from the conversion funnel and the sales funnel?
The funnel or funnel is a model in stages to achieve different objectives. It has this name since it refers directly to the shape of a funnel: with a very wide side, through which many potential clients enter; and a narrow side, in which only those who finally buy will remain. And it is that not all people who are interested in a service or product end up acquiring it.
However, sometimes the terminology used can be confusing. There are different “funnels” that receive different names depending on the department or the type of actions to which it refers:
- Conversion funnel or sales funnel: in the digital world, when talking about Conversion Funnel or Sales Funnel, it refers to all those steps or stages that the buyer person will go through from being the first contact with the brand until they make the purchase.
- Marketing Funnel: This term is used for the tasks and goals of the marketing department. Unlike the commercial department, which would be in the last part of the funnel , the objectives of those in charge of marketing are not to sell, but to generate business opportunities. That is, capture the lead and mature it to the point where it is suitable to make the purchase.
- Commercial funnel: this funnel would then correspond to the end of the process. These are the last actions that the sales department performs to convert the potential customer into a buyer.
In the case of an online training sales company, the sales funnel will include all the steps from when a potential student sees the course online for the first time until they make the payment. However, the marketing funnel will begin with that first contact of the buyer person with the brand and will end when they give all the contact information (email, telephone, name...) to the telemarketing team. Then the work of the sales team and its commercial funnel begins with calls, emails and follow-up so that the conversion occurs, that is, that the student finally registers and pays for his online master's degree.
In addition to these three definitions, it is important to take into account a fourth: the customer journey . Unlike funnels, which are seen from the point of view of the company, the customer journey focuses on the experience of the buyer person , their emotions, their needs. It is about marrying the fears, expectations and needs that are defined in the process of creating the buyer person profiles , with the phases of the loyalty or recruitment process.
Understanding the buyer persona from this more psychological and emotional perspective will allow us to design the touchpoints (actions or communications to make them continue to fall into the funnel) in a more subtle and effective way.
The marketing funnel refers to the mechanisms that the marketing department will design so that the buyer person advances through the different stages and becomes a potential client. It is important to remember that these are business opportunities and not sales.
Within each funnel there are three stages:
- TOFU or “ top of the funnel ”: refers to the highest and widest part of the funnel, and is an attraction phase. The number of visitors is high, however, not all of them correspond to buyer personas or are in the process of buying. In this phase, within the marketing funnel, the most massive techniques that go to a more open audience would be found. Actions of generic social ads , SEO optimization, social media , sponsored content and links, blog,... A good content marketing strategy and SEO work are essential in this phase of the funnel .
- MOFU or “ middle of the funnel ”: in this intermediate phase of the funnel, the mouth has narrowed, as well as the number of related users. It is a phase of relationship and lead capture . During the MOFU stage, the objective is to obtain the user's contact information in order to establish direct and personalized communications. Some of the techniques that could fit better within this stage of the marketing funnel would be the use of CTAs , Landing Pages , ebooks , videos or webinars that allow the user to offer something in return for giving their contact.
- BOFU or “ bottom of the funnel ”: This is the lead nurturing phase and the last stage of work for the marketing department. It is the narrowest mouth of the funnel, so many contacts have been lost along the way. There is no need to worry, because these users are simply not prepared for the sale or simply did not fit into the buyer persona model . This is the time to apply lead scoring tools and lead qualification strategies . The use of email marketing toolsautomated will allow you to gradually nurture contacts based on your needs or your moment. In addition, you can check how the contacts progress in their score until they reach optimal maturation without being invasive.
Once the contact reaches the maximum score on the lead scale , the contact is said to be hot to move on to the next phase, to the sales department. Thus, the sales department will include it in its own commercial funnel.
Keep in mind that the times within the purchase processes can be estimated, but not precise. There are contacts that will take longer to decide or that they were simply looking for in a moment and will not be ready to mature until much later.
In the case of digital businesses and online marketing, data as simple and accessible as web visits or the percentage of abandonment of online store carts can be key when designing efficient mechanisms in a conversion funnel .
There are multiple tools to set goals, but with Google Analytics you can start working. Google offers predefined data on the income of online stores, traffic or interaction. However, when setting goals it is important to pay attention to these four variables:
- The duration: it is used to calculate the time it takes for a lead to make the purchase.
- The number of pages per session: allows you to know the number of pages that are browsed. This data offers information on how many steps or stops should be designed in the strategy, from landing on the page to purchase.
- The destination: observe the traffic flow of the contacts, that is, the journey through the page, the sections and products before completing the purchase. Thus, it is possible to redirect users to the purchase page through hyperlinks or CTA on the pages where it is verified that a greater number are lost.
- Measuring an event: it is about analyzing how the reproduction of a video or a specific click to action works or affects the final sales process.
In other words, to start optimizing the strategy, the first thing is to start with web analytics. The data of what happens on the page allows us to find out if there are loops in the payment gateway, analyze the performance of advertising campaigns or understand where the most qualified traffic comes from in order to further promote one way or another.
The design and redesign of the marketing funnel is a job of constant updating. Without continuous optimization potential customers would be continually lost through the widest mouth. It is as if there are many holes in a funnel at its top and water is dropped without wondering why the amount of water reaching the end is so low.
Throughout this post, it has been seen that having a conversion funnel is essential for the development of online marketing strategies . The funnel offers information about who the visitors are and which of them become customers; tells what they need and at what times; what is the best way to reach them and build their loyalty to become lovers for life.