The Digital Marketing Funnel: A Small Business Guide - Kase Dean
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Marketing Strategy

The Digital Marketing Funnel: A Small Business Guide

January 14, 2021

A digital marketing funnel will transform your business and this guide explains exactly how you can use one to grow your business.

With a new, small business or big business, the focus is often on sales.

The goal is to make every website visit or social media follow result in a purchase.

While this is a great goal, it can’t happen immediately.

If you think about your own purchasing decisions, how often do you buy something the first time you see it?

Whether buying online or offline, you need time to learn about the brand, the product, and convince yourself that it’s worth parting with your hard-earned cash for.

The same can be said for your customers too.

With this in mind, you can’t go for the hard sell straightaway, you need to get clients used to your offering, and the best way to do that is through a digital marketing funnel.

What Is A Digital Marketing Funnel?

A digital marketing funnel is a description of the journey a consumer takes.

It starts from when they first meet your product or brand and follows them through their purchasing journey and beyond.

How Does A Digital Marketing Funnel Work?

There are many different types of digital marketing funnel, and they all take slightly different approaches.

However, all funnels focus on considering how a customer will interact with your brand and what they will want from you.

Each step and each interaction should guide them closer to making a purchase.

Broadly speaking, marketing funnels have four main stages;

  • Awareness
  • Deliberation
  • Buying
  • Retention

Modern Digital Marketing Funnels

Like all marketing strategies, digital funnels have had to change with the times.

The way that consumers make decisions about products is changing.

80% of users now start their product research online, so you need to be discoverable on search engines.

Furthermore, as much as 50% of those searches will be done through digital assistants.

So not only do you need to be mobile-ready, but you also need to be voice ready as well.

How They Used To Be

Traditional marketing funnels used to be quite prescriptive.

They worked on the assumption that all potential customers would follow the same linear journey, and they would all react in the same way.

Modern digital marketing starts with the assumption that every potential customer is going to be unique.

They’re going to follow their own path through your funnel, and they won’t all feel the same way about everything.

If the modern marketing and sales funnel sounds more challenging for a business, that’s because it is.

It puts the focus on the user’s experience. So, it produces better results.

And ultimately, that’s exactly what you want. Put the work in early, and it will reward you down the line.

What Marketing Funnel Models Are There?

When you start from the position that every customer will follow their own path, then a simple funnel might not be the best model anymore.

Consequently, there are many funnel examples that you might see and decide to deploy.

There’s no right or wrong funnel; they’re all tools to help you plan your marketing campaigns.

So, it’s best to pick the one that resonates with you the most and feels the best fit for your goals and your customers.

Here’s a brief intro to three effective but different funnels.

1. Looping Digital Marketing Funnel

The Looping Digital Marketing Funnel

This is a flexible model. It acknowledges the variety of non-linear journeys your customers may take. The stages go as follows;

  1. Awareness – This is where a need or problem is identified.
  2. Consideration – This is where the information the user has is reviewed.
  3. Research and Discovery Loop – The user will hunt for new brands and solutions and then return to consideration; this will repeat until they are ready for the next step.
  4. Purchase
  5. Post-Purchase Experience – This is every interaction that follows the decision to buy a product or service. If done right, it should lead to the final loop.
  6. Loyalty Loop – This is everything you do to build brand loyalty and keep them coming back.

2. Micro-Moments Marketing Funnel

The Micro-Moments Marketing Funnel

This is a funnel that isn’t really a funnel.

It’s based on considering what a customer would do in four critical moments in their buying process.

Your business then uses this information to ensure you can provide what they need in those moments.

The four moments are; ‘Want To Know,’ ‘Want To Go,’ ‘Want To Do,’ and ‘Want To Buy.’

The underlying theory here is that if you can get inside your customer’s head, you can provide them with what they are looking for and guide them towards making a purchase.

3. Hourglass Marketing Funnel

The Hourglass Marketing Funnel

In this model, the aim is to take users from being complete strangers to being advocates for your brand and your products.

This subdivides the whole process down into more detailed steps than the four main themes from traditional digital marketing funnels.

At the top of the funnel, you have:

  • Engagement – Interactions that build brand awareness
  • Education – Finding or discovering a problem
  • Research – Looking for the solution

In the middle of the funnel, you have:

  • Evaluation – Figuring out how the product solves the issue
  • Justification – Finding ‘the reason’ to make a purchase
  • Purchase

At the bottom of the funnel, you have the post-purchase phase:

  • Adoption – experiencing the product or service
  • Retention – keeping the user/customer happy
  • Expansion – upselling to your satisfied customer
  • Advocacy – they start guiding new customers to the top of the funnel

A Blueprint For Creating Your Own Digital Marketing Funnel

Funnel Blueprint

If you don’t have a marketing funnel, you need to decide which one is best for your business and then get to work building it.

To guide you through the process, these are the recommended steps to help you achieve success as quickly as possible.

Choose Where To Start

The right place to start will depend on the current state of your business and your online effectiveness. You can’t work on every part of your funnel in one go. It’s more effective and efficient to optimise one section at a time.

If your business is pre-sales or only has limited sales figures, then you’ll want to start at the top of the funnel.

It would be best if you start by casting your net wide and getting more eyes on your brand and your products.

You can then follow your new customers as they move down the tunnel and build it to address the leaks as you go.

If you already have a fair amount of sales, then you’ll be better severed by working from the bottom up.

This will let you build your revenue and turn your existing customers into more valuable recurring customers.

Pick 1 or 2 Tactics For Each Stage

There is a massive selection of tactics that you can employ at every stage in your funnel.

To start with, just optimise one or two tactics at a time. If you try to do everything in one go, it will end up slapdash and ineffective.

Just like with building a home, you need a strong foundation for building a long-lasting marketing funnel.

Content Creation

Once you’ve got your plan outlined, get the content made. Consumers don’t like advertisements.

You need to provide them with something of value that will also carry your message. 70% of people prefer articles to outright adverts.

Video is even more important as 80% of people will watch a video about a planned purchase.

You need to be really on point with your content. Each item doesn’t need to address the whole of what you offer.

Bite-sized is better. According to Pardot, 70% of buyers will return to Google 2-3 times to get a full picture of a product.

The best strategy is to focus your content creation on small chunks that address your key targets.

Connect Your Tactics

As soon as you have more than one tactic developed, it’s time to start connecting things.

Since every user will follow their own path, you want to create as many routes to follow as you can so that they stay on a path that leads to your store.

Connecting your tactics is easy. You can use a call to action at the end of posts, offer an upsell whenever you offer something for free, and always make use of your email marketing.

Tactics For Each Part Of The Funnel

There are a few key ideas that will stand you in good stead for all stages of your funnel. Try to keep these in mind as you execute the step-specific tactics.

Have 24/7 support

Customers will look to you to answer their questions and guide them at every stage in their journey. The easier it is for them to get help, the better.

You need to have something that will provide some level of support at any time of day.

You don’t have to have an employee always on call. There are easy ways to give your customers resources that will make them feel supported.

For example, have an FAQ, write user guides, and invest in a chatbot.

Keep track of what your customers are asking and make sure that information is always available.

Target the Right Customers

When it comes to marketing, it can be tempting to take a scattergun approach. However, not all customers are equal in value to your business.

Rather than getting every potential customer through the door, you’ll get a better ROI if you focus on the most valuable ones instead.

Evaluate which type of customers spend the most with your business and which return. These are the customers that will build your long-term success.

Use Your Brand

One of the most valuable assets of any business is its brand. You need to be putting that to work to continually affirm that you understand your customers’ pain and that you have the solution.

Top Of The Funnel

Top of The Funnel

Your tactics at the top of the funnel are focused on attracting potential customers to engage with relevant content to build their awareness of your brand and your products.

The content you create for this stage of the tunnel should be free, educational, entertaining, and have broad appeal. You don’t want to focus on selling your product at this stage.

It would be best if you focused on providing something of value to your target audience.

Things to focus on:

  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • PR/Press
  • Paid Advertising
  • Partners – influencers or community partners are both excellent.

Metrics you can measure:

  • Number of sessions
  • Bounce rates
  • Traffic for different channels
  • Percentage of new sessions.

Remember, your aim here is to be found and then recognised. Display ads are a great option. According to Google, 90% of all internet users can be reached through these ads.

That’s a pretty broad mouth to start your funnel.

When it comes to social media, that stats are also quite compelling here. The average user spends 28% of their time on social media sites.

That means that if you can hone in on the social media channel your target audience inhabits, you are ideally placed to catch their attention.

Middle of The Funnel

Middle of The Funnel

This stage is all about generating leads. This means you’re aiming to get contact details or connections with your potential customers.

If you have the means to contact them, you can direct more content towards them.

An excellent way to get something like an email address is to offer an exchange. In return for an email address, you might offer some ‘premium’ content.

A typical route might be that a user engages with something you provided for free.

Then you offer something more, but they can only access it in exchange for their email details.

Things to try:

  • Create a PDF or ebook
  • Offer webinars
  • Provide trials or demos
  • Build an ‘exclusive’ community

Metrics you can measure:

  • Number of leads
  • Email list numbers/growth rate
  • Conversions of visitors to leads
  • Click rates and open rates for emails

Bottom of The Funnel

Bottom of The Funnel

The goal here is probably the one you are most invested in. This is all about turning your leads into revenue.

It is at this point that you are looking to drive sales, either new or recurring.

At this point, it’s no longer about providing content; it’s instead about providing motivation.

You want to focus on giving your customers a reason to go through with their purchase.

Tactics you can try include:

  • Creating scarcity
  • Upselling
  • Bundling
  • Presales
  • Launch offers
  • Email Marketing

Metrics you can measure:

  • Revenue
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Conversion rates
  • Number of new customers

There is something of a myth that email marketing is dead. Or that it’s incompatible with modern marketing strategies.

But that truly is a myth.

Compared to other methods, email marketing can generate 50% more sales conversions.

So, if you’re struggling to know where to start, you could do a lot worse than creating an automated and engaging email marketing campaign.

Ready To Get Started With Your Digital Marketing Funnel

There is a lot of information there for digital marketing funnels, so don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed.

The first step is to work out exactly who you are trying to attract to your business.

It simply won’t be viable to create the perfect route straight away.

As customers begin to filter through the funnel, you’ll find ‘leaks’ or diverging paths which you may not have considered before.

Just keep tweaking, improving and checking your performance against your chosen metrics to get the most out of your funnel!

Still not sure where to begin?

Don’t worry, to help you get started, try this 30-second funnel quiz which will help you identify which of the five best funnel ideas is right for you and your business.

Try it now and see what marketing funnel magic that you can implement!

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Kase Dean works with consultants, coaches and a select group of small business owners who need help selling more of their services and making more revenue using automated marketing and sales systems.

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