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The Marketing Funnel - How to win customers and keep them coming back

The traditional funnel and how it works 

It’s important for businesses to understand all of the steps that take somebody from a complete unknown to a buyer. Analysing this is key if we are to improve all of their touchpoints with our business. In the marketing world, we try to explain this process using the marketing funnel. 

At the top of the marketing funnel, we have the awareness stage. This starts with an audience who are unaware that your business exists, and the marketing activity at this stage aims to rectify this. 

Moving down the funnel, we enter the interest stage. This stage is all about capturing people who are showing interest in what you’re selling. They are generally researching and comparing, and the marketing activity at this stage aims to capture them and show your offering. 

At the third stage of the funnel, we have the decision stage. The customer has almost made their mind up that they want the service or product on offer, but is uncertain of which company to buy it from. The marketing activity at this stage is all about convincing them that you’re the right person to go with.

And finally, at the bottom of the funnel, we have the loyalty stage. These are people who have used your service or product in the past. The marketing activity is all about leveraging these people to either turn them into lifelong customers or recommend your products to others.

The reason the funnel is an upside-down pyramid is that it visualises the number of people who drop out of this decision-making process along the way. For example, you might do a great job of making thousands of people aware of your services, but it might not be the right time for them to purchase from you. Or there might then be hundreds of people showing interest in your service, but we don’t capture this interest, so they find a better alternative. You’ll never be able to capture every single potential customer, but it is a helpful exercise to assess why people are dropping out of the funnel. 

What are the different types of marketing assets? Owned, Earned and Paid

When thinking about the marketing funnel, it’s also helpful to consider the type of media and assets you have available to market your company. To simplify things, we try to group marketing assets into three main categories. These are owned, earned and paid.

  • Owned assets/media are anything that you have full control over, and these can include things like your website, social media pages or brochures. Generally, it is a worthwhile investment to make sure that all of these assets are in order before you start any marketing campaigns. 

  • Earned assets/media are any bits of coverage or content that you have to get through influence or time investment. This can include things like getting media and social coverage for your campaigns. You generally won’t have full control over what these pieces of coverage and content say, but word of mouth is one of the strongest tools for making sure people trust your brand.

  • Paid assets/media is coverage which you generally buy. This includes platforms like Google Ads, Paid social media campaigns or advertorials in magazines. Paid media is a great way to get instant coverage, but there isn’t a lot of longevity in it. 

Companies need to include all of these assets, media and channels in order to really get the most out of their marketing strategies. All of this can seem an overwhelming amount of things to do especially when working with a limited budget. This is why it’s really important to evaluate the whole buying funnel to understand where you can get the most return on your investment. 

For example. A company that pours tens of thousands of its budget into paid media but doesn’t have an optimised website will waste valuable customers entering the interest section of the funnel. And vice versa, a company might have the best-looking website in the world, but if it’s not getting any customers to it, they won’t get the return they are expecting.

The conversion part of the funnel and why we need to build this out further 

The agency-client relationship generally ends at the bottom of the marketing funnel. An agency will work on assets and marketing channels to supply leads and leave the rest up to the client. This is why it is important to select the right partner to help you through all of the buying process in order to convert as many sales as possible. 

Consider how your first point of contact goes. If somebody has left you a contact form enquiry, are they responded to swiftly by a knowledgeable person, and more importantly, are you qualifying the leads to make sure you’re both a good fit for each other?

Do you have a robust lead management solution in place to ensure everything is kept up to date and no leads slip through the cracks? There are CRM solutions such as Hubspot and Salesforce which help you keep track of communications and ensure that the sales team are kept up to date and accountable for contacts. 

Have you reviewed your sales materials to ensure that you’re presenting things in a professional and memorable way? Designed sales presentations with attractive assets do a much better job of convincing customers that you’re the right company to go with than a plain document with dry text. 

And finally, have you reviewed how your quote sits against competitors? Make sure that you have competitive pricing and that your customers understand the value of your businesses. Make sure to follow up with customers routinely through this process to ensure they are kept engaged and informed. 

Why it’s important to understand the lifetime value (LTV) of customers 

One thing that many businesses overlook is that many customers will not just be one-time service purchaser, and if you deliver a great product, they will be likely to continue their relationship with you for many years. When assessing the ROI of marketing, it is important to consider this to ensure that your budgets are going into the most effective areas. 

For example, there may be differences in the quality of leads from different sources. For instance, you could find that the paid search channel leads to one-off purchasers, whereas your word-of-mouth referrals lead to repeat customers. A robust CRM stores where leads come from and allows you to run reports on the lifetime value of customers. With this information, you can understand these differences and make sure that you’re putting your efforts in the right direction. 

An exercise that is helpful when assessing the quality of a lead is to do an LTV estimate. Start by calculating the number of years that an average customer stays with your business. Then multiply their lifespan by an estimate of their yearly revenue; this will help you realise their worth.

It is also helpful to rate the lead on their potential to grow as an account and how much of a resource they will take up when delivering their service. All of these factors will determine how much energy you will put into the sales process and how you want to quote their work. 

Closing note

If all of this sounds like the types of things you want to get into as a business owner and you’re looking for a partner to help you along the way, then get in touch with shaun@eyeweb.co.uk. We can provide a face-to-face consultation and help you with your marketing strategy.

Photo shows a marketing meeting to discuss marketing straategy