The marketing funnel or most popularly called the sales funnel was three-staged. This funnel became a part of the conventional business model when the world was a completely different place.
The concept of marketing was essentially limited to advertisements. Marketers were more like salespersons, selling themselves to clients so they can get the products they could eventually sell to customers.
For them, the “Leads®Prospects®Customers” model was befitting of what they had to do. They used billboards, magazine adverts, cold calls, and newspaper ads to generate a response from leads. When they would call or write (yes, it’s that old!) to the companies, becoming prospects. And if the marketers said the right things, some of the prospects may even turn into paying customers.
However, the explosive advent of the internet and constantly changing buying behaviors have impacted how marketers function as well. While the sales funnel from yesteryear has strong foundations, it is a bit too simplistic for modern marketing practices.
To maximize their profitability and earn as much return on their offers as possible, companies and marketers have to realign their marketing funnels. The key point here is looking at things from the customer’s perspective.
Customer-centrism in marketing has become the way how businesses work. That is why the modern marketing funnel focuses on the customer’s buying experience or journey. It gives the customers a pathway to follow and marketers the idea of what they should respond with.
But before diving into that, let’s have a peek at the modern customer’s buying process.
The buying process is impacted by many factors.
1. Identifying a Pain Point
This is basically when a customer says “I have a problem”. When people feel some pain, they make the effort to change something. It can be something very basic and categorized as a necessity or it could be something luxe.
For example, consider somebody with a lot of books, including some vintage collectibles. For them, the pain point would be storage. They would need a bookshelf that could hold the entirety of their collection and also fit their place.
2. Looking for a Solution
Once they identify their needs, they start looking for a solution. Taking the same example we discussed above, this would be the time the customer would start researching for book storage options.
They would look at videos of other collectors, search Pinterest for a DIY option or read up on how other people go about storing books.
Pretty explanatory this point. After a customer knows what they need, it’s now about finding the right product. Since the market is chock full of manufacturers and brands, there is a lot of competition to sift through.
For a book collector, this would involve looking at different websites and local thrift stores and furniture markets for the right bookshelf. They might find it Ikea or some novelty store selling antique bookshelves.
4. My Money goes to…
After looking at many options and finalizing a few options, the customer will decide on which one the money goes to. This usually happens after the customer has thoroughly looked at the product details and at reviews.
The customer looking at a possible bookcase will make the purchase one they’re sure it will fit inside their house and all the booked they’ve collected (with room for growth of course!).
5. Coming Back
Unlike what was once believed, the sales funnel doesn’t end when the customer makes a purchase. If the product delivered the value the marketing promised and was up to the customer’s expectations, they are likely to come back.
In the bookshelf example, the customer wouldn’t need to buy another bookshelf soon after. However, they are more likely to come back to the company if they had a good first experience. Also, they will become an ambassador, recommending the company to others who might need a bookshelf.
The Modern Marketing Funnel
Based on this generalized buying process, the modern marketing funnel is aligned to fit the narrative. Each step of this process is aligned with a stage of the funnel. Here’s how:
Well, the first step is planning. This means you start working on your people, processes, and platforms. This involves being vested in the company’s story and streamlining how and why you are in the business.
With market research, you’ll have to find which pain points your product or service solves. Along with that, you have to create a target audience, fine-tune the product and run A/B tests to make sure everything is all set to go.
This step is where you craft intriguing advertisements to make your target market realize they need your product as it solves a certain problem of theirs. The goal is making your audience realize they have a problem and then come up with a solution.
The audience should be able to connect the dots and retain your brand as a possible answer.
This stage for the customer involves researching various options available. For marketers, this is the time to advertise WHY the customer should choose you over your competition. This is where you use value creation the most.
Your USP (unique selling proposition) and the benefits the customer can expect from using your products will come into play. It’s about marketing how your product will make the customer’s life easier. Simply telling the customer how great your brand is won’t be enough here.
This is the point where a lead converts into a customer. From a marketing perspective, this step involves making the process of purchasing easier. This could include simplifying the checkout process, optimizing your website, post-sale services, etc.
You have to convince your customers that they are making the right choice.
This would be when you change your customer into an advocate. You should be able to make the customer come back and bring more prospects with them.
Brands like Coca-Cola and Apple have some of the most loyal audiences. But that doesn’t mean the companies stop advertising and following up with better offerings. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to keep customers interested.
The sales funnel has been an important part of marketing for a long time. It has helped companies gain and build a clientele, generating revenues that keep them afloat in a competitive market landscape.
You can learn from the previous versions, but it’s crucial that you improvise, adapt, and evolve to meet changing customer buying processes. This can be overwhelming to figure out. Business Marketing Solutions Group can assist you here and help you come with a marketing funnel optimized to your unique requirements. Give us a call today to get started.