A Marketing Funnel is best described as the stages a person goes through before converting into a customer. Many people take the first initial steps, and the numbers generally thin out as they pass down the funnel.
The Linear Marketing Funnel
Until now as marketers, we have used demographics to guide and approximate user intent and marketing practices to date have focussed on the following stages:
Marketing campaigns go into the top of the funnel
The Sale – comes out of the end of the funnel.
With this standard linear marketing funnel, a user was thought to follow roughly the same standard steps to purchase:
- Use search to identify brands offering the product/service they are looking for
- Consider from the options on offer from various brands and choose
- Purchase/engage or not
What’s Changed Exactly?
The most important thing to point out is that it has changed drastically over the years and is no longer a linear funnel. Each person’s marketing funnel is more and more unique thanks to the speed of technology change and the behaviour this allows.
People want a more personal approach from brands and they want more help in making their purchase decisions. This might not seem like much of a change, as consumers haven’t we always wanted that? Yes of course but the way we go about it has changed, the way we search and the intent of each stage of the search journey. The brands that can predict and target that intent through the customer journey are winning.
What Does the Modern Marketing Funnel Look Like?
Here is an example of a much less linear marketing funnel, you’ll likely be familiar with these behaviours yourselves as consumers:
Olivia is considering a new foundation to deal with her sensitive skin issues. She’s been told to avoid a certain ingredient, and the product also has to be vegan.
- Olivia starts by Googling the ingredient she needs to avoid, learning as much about it as possible. She does this on and off over a week, learning more about said ingredients and other peoples experiences.
- She then, googles ‘makeup brands free from X’. This narrows down her search however she’s not yet convinced on where to go as she has other considerations. The brand must be suitable for vegans, price is a consideration etc.. she is also not sure which product to choose for her skin colour and type.
- With a handful of brands, she then takes to social media to see what others are saying about these sort of products. She looks for vegan friendly ingredients, watches videos, follows a few brands she likes the look of and their influencers on social media etc. This goes on for several more weeks.
- Olivia signs up to some email newsletters from brands she thinks are right for her to see what sort of emails they send out and what kind of promotions they run.
- Finally she has narrowed down her search to 2 different brands that match all of her needs. She ultimately settles on the brand that has a really helpful ‘what’s your skin type’ wizard as well as a makeup online chat feature to help narrow down her needs.
Understanding Search Intent
Search is usually the start of the modern marketing funnel with mobile search leading the way thanks to the convenience and speed of 4G/5G (or 3G if you are lucky and live in cornwall). Most websites now cater for mobile visitors with a responsive design and this is a massive step forwards for mobile ecommerce and users alike. So what sort of intention do users have when they use search?
Searching for information – in reaction to some news perhaps, or an initial thought on something that they may be considering purchasing in the future. May use a phrase like ‘what is vegan skincare’ for example.
Searching for something to buy – will sometimes use words like shop, or buy in the search phrase ‘shop vegan skincare’. These are the customers most likely to convert, as we can assume the intention is to purchase
Searching for discounts/deals/freebies only – these people are the ones least likely to buy as motivated mainly by freebies and discounts.They may use search phrases such as ‘free vegan skincare’ or ‘vegan skin giveaways’ perhaps.
Catering for these different sorts of searches is important as you want to be able to offer content and products that your users are actually looking for. Consider the copy and keywords used on the landing pages users come to, do you even know which searches generate the most traffic to those pages?
Catering for Different Intentions
You will have website visitors that will land on your site at various stages of the marketing funnel, and we’d recommend that to make sure you are ready to assist and convert these users, you take a look at the following activities:
- Know what sort of search queries people use to come to your website. Install Google Search Console if you haven’t already
- Look at your keywords for selected landing pages, are they appropriate for the users they are targeting? and for the correct stage in the marketing funnel?
- Revise your keyword research regularly – this should be part of your standard SEO practices
- Consider the different touch points people have with your brand, on various channels and at various stages of their user journey, are you always touting product and sales? Could you be offering expertise and advice?
- What about automation? for example when a potential customer signs up to your email newsletter, what type of communications do they receive and is this followed up, can it be automated?
- Focus on the customer experience, how can you guide that potential customer into an actual customer, you might find our post about ecommerce customer experience useful.
- Talk to your audience, use social media, email, surveys to ask key questions, what do they want from you?
Hopefully some of this will spark an idea or thought, or even just prompt you to look at something you haven’t considered or just haven’t looked at for a while. We hope you have found it interesting, it’s always lovely to hear from you, so please drop us a line if you think we can help you today.
Other articles you may be interested in:
Ideas for how to plan and compete against bigger budgets than yours
We talked to one young person to find out what inspires and motivates to buy online.
A guide to using influencers to promote your brand
Making sure you do whatever you can to make your visitors have a positive experience with your brand
Understand what makes your customers tick/spend