What is the importance of a marketing or sales funnel?
But why do you need a marketing or sales funnel? Some entrepreneurs are even disappointed when they hear that it really takes a lot of contact moments before people make a purchase. That must mean that bringing in customers is much more difficult than you think, right? Perhaps not. This large number of contact moments also offers advantages. It provides your company with the opportunities you need to constantly improve your products and services, to follow your customers and to position a product in such a way that it compels them to buy it. In this way, you optimise not only the contact with the customer, but also the website and the products and services themselves. All these things contribute to an even better running company. Something you can only be very grateful for as an entrepreneur.
The AIDA model
In order to optimise the contact moments of the target group, it is important to take a number of factors into account. Marketers have been bending their heads for years to come up with the best marketing strategies so that that purchase is finally made. The so-called AIDA model is often used. This model can be used to estimate how the process before the purchase works. When you understand this process, you can also discover why a customer sometimes chooses not to come back or why the prospect does not make a purchase at all. The AIDA model stands for:
Attention: the customer is looking for a specific product or service and is aware of your company
Interest: after visiting the website, the customer begins to show more interest in the products
Desire: the customer feels more and more the desire to actually buy the product
Action: the customer decides to purchase
This model sounds a bit simple of course, but these are usually the steps in the process of a purchase that are taken. There are of course intermediate steps involved in these different phases. Ways in which you can persuade the customer to enter the next phase and thus ultimately make the purchase. Shortcuts are useless. You can endlessly mention prices and try to sell your products to a customer, but this will not work if they are not interested in the products, do not know what they do or simply do not know anything about your company.
A well-designed marketing funnel makes sure that each phase of the AIDA model is done and that both the sales and marketing departments are well attuned to each other. This way, the sales department can focus on the prospects that are in the final stages, while the marketing department still has to make sure that more leads are generated.
Reliable source of information
Think about how you think when you make a purchase. Chances are you mostly buy from companies you are familiar with. But what about when you buy from a company that is unknown to you? Most customers think the same, consciously or unconsciously. They first want to know everything about the company and the products before they are interested in buying the product. So there is a lot of time between the first and second phase of the AIDA model above. Customers want to be sure they are making the right choice. Therefore, as a company, it is not only important to bring your products to their attention, but also to fulfil the role as a reliable source of information to perfection. A sales and/or marketing funnel offers the opportunity to present your products in a thorough and reliable manner, to draw attention to them and to offer a solution for what your customer needs.
Distinguishing between a marketing and a sales funnel
When entrepreneurs speak of a funnel, it is quickly referred to as the sales funnel. That is actually quite strange, because the sales part is actually only useful at the end of the purchasing process. Marketing covers a much larger part. That is why it is important to understand the differences between the two and how to approach it. Without a good digital marketing funnel, there will be no sales funnel either. These two should reinforce each other in order to ultimately make the process for the customer run as smoothly as possible. High time, therefore, to list the differences:
Digital marketing funnel
When you are working in the marketing funnel, it means that you are doing everything to attract prospects, generate leads and ultimately convince the customer of your products. This can be done by advertising, writing informative blog posts or web texts, ranking higher in search engines, and so on. In short, the piece with which you put your company on the digital map and the communication with the target group can begin.
In the digital marketing funnel, it is important that the target group is not only informed as well as possible, but also that they come into contact with less misinformation about your products. In addition, you do not want to be pushy and you want to advertise in a clearly visible way. That is why you never start by praising your products, but rather start by making possible problems that the target group may have present. Address issues and ultimately show that your products can be the solution to them. However, do not speak of a solution until much later, because otherwise the target group will quickly see through your intentions and the information will be seen as much less reliable.
You only enter the sales funnel when the marketing part has gone well. In short, when the customer has become interested in your products and would like to come and talk about them. Where previously a lot of attention was paid to the sales funnel, or the final contact with the customer, we now see that the attention has shifted to the marketing funnel. After all, it makes little sense to first invest a lot of time in better sales, if your products are not at all known to the general public. First things first!
Building an effective digital marketing and/or sales funnel
Both a sales and a digital marketing funnel are important in order for the customer to finally decide to buy. Because there are quite a few contact moments for this, it also means that you have the time to adjust things where necessary and improve the communication with the prospects. When building an effective marketing and/or sales funnel, it is important to take a few things into account:
Get to know the target group
The world wide web offers a lot. Almost everyone uses the Internet these days. Both young and old. The big advantage is that you always know how to reach your target group. The big disadvantage is that the competition is also very fierce. Investing as much as possible in a large reach makes less sense. That is why it is good to know who your target group is. This is not only useful to attract the right people, but also to improve your website, products and internal communication. After all, the search query of a 16-year-old is very different from that of an over-55s. Be aware of this.
List the different phases
Using the AIDA model, you can roughly predict which phases customers will go through in order to make a purchase. However, this is not the same for every company. Some target groups go through these phases completely differently. That is why it is good to pay extra attention to this. For example, you can conduct a survey among existing customers and have them explain what drove them to make a certain purchase. With this information, you have a very powerful tool in your hands. When you know the different phases that your target group goes through, you can optimise them in order to attract and retain new customers.
Think of different means of communication
Now that you have a thorough understanding of your target group and also understand which phases they go through, it is time to examine the appropriate means of communication. Because how exactly are you going to get your message across to the prospects? What do you really want to let them know about your products and with which phase(s) does this information fit in? In addition, it is also important to take into account the shift between marketing and sales. When, for instance, does the change occur between simply leads to prospects? How do you handle this within both the marketing and the sales funnel?
By making sure that both funnels are attuned to each other, you save all the departments within the company a lot of extra work. A well-functioning funnel is worth its weight in gold to ultimately increase the company's turnover. Investing some extra time in it and possibly involving online marketers is therefore worth everything.
Maintaining customers and prospects
If we look at one of the later phases within the AIDA model, we see that the customer becomes more and more interested in the products and considers purchasing. Once you have done everything possible to generate leads and the prospects have reached this phase, you are at the point where you have to strike the right tone. This is the tipping point between making a purchase or not.
This also applies to repeat customers. You know they are interested in your products because they have made a purchase before. They might even hesitate to try something new. This is therefore the moment when you have to intervene and ensure good communication with these customers or prospects. Think for example of e-mail marketing. Regularly send informative articles or convince them in another way to buy products. This does not always have to be real advertising. On the contrary: by mainly providing information and less obvious advertising, you build a much stronger bond of trust and the company comes across as more reliable. This way, you can eventually convert these important leads into (returning) customers.
Invest in an automated digital marketing funnel
An automated digital marketing funnel can be a great tool to help your company grow and to better align the various departments within the company. Let's not make a difference between marketing and sales anymore, but let these two work together to form a well-oiled machine that puts communication with the customer first and thus not only generates more leads, but also drives them to action. Monitoring leads and customers remains an important process. That is why it is a good idea to call in a marketeer who will look at this funnel with you and come up with a strategic plan. This way, you save time, have more data for sales and a higher closing rate.