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What is a Digital Marketing Funnel? Everything You Need to Know

Post by
Sonu Kalwar
What is a Digital Marketing Funnel? Everything You Need to Know

In an ideal world, every customer would take the same path to purchase. For example, they might always first hear about your brand through social media, then they'd go to your website, then they'd buy something—every time.

But in the real world, things are much more complicated. Sometimes people hear about your brand through a friend, then visit your website and make a purchase. Other times they see an ad on FB and then come to the store to buy something before even looking at your website. And sometimes customers will hear about you from different sources (they'll see an ad on FB and then hear about you from a friend), before they decide to buy something.

It's not easy to anticipate how customers will navigate their way through all of these different paths, but it's essential for you to try if you're going to run a successful digital marketing campaign that generates leads and sales for your business.

That's where the digital marketing funnel comes in! The digital marketing funnel is a model that describes how people typically make decisions as they learn about, consider and choose between different products or services. It's a great tool for companies who want to understand how consumers make purchasing decisions so that they can develop effective marketing strategies that help them move through the steps of this process.

The Evolution of the Digital Marketing Funnel

For decades, the marketing funnel has been a staple in the world of marketing and advertising. This concept has been successfully used to sell billions of dollars worth of products and services to consumers all over the world. The marketing funnel is based on a basic sales model—the process by which customers become aware of a product through advertising or other channels, then investigate that product, decide it is what they want, and finally make a purchase.

The marketing funnel was originally used in print advertising but has evolved over time to include digital advertising such as search engine optimization and pay-per-click ads. Part of the reason why this model is considered so effective is that it allows advertisers to target specific consumers who have already expressed interest in their products. This reduces the amount of time that goes into advertising products with little chance of success.

In the old days, creating leads was the final level of the marketing funnel. It was that last hurdle that business owners needed to clear before making the sale. They created entire marketing campaigns with the goal of shuffling consumers into the funnel step by step in hopes of reaching the last stage and generating a lead.

But now? We've got self-guided purchasing, user reviews, and all sorts of other constructs. So where does lead generation even fit into this new funnel? From the moment users interact with content or conduct a Google search, they are bombarded with contact us forms and requests for information!

Landing pages, blogs, and other content are usually based on proven, but bland templates. This has led to the rise of uninspired marketing that focuses primarily on paid advertising. And it's worked at least for now. However, many of the leads generated from these played-out methods of PPC-focused digital advertising do not produce real results. In fact, 70% of respondents state that SEO is better at generating sales than paid advertising campaigns.

While there are many possible reasons for this trend, it is likely because paid ads generate cold leads. These leads do not understand your brand and might be completely unfamiliar with your product.

In order to connect with modern consumers, businesses must bring them down the marketing funnel from start to finish. This means being active on multiple platforms and bringing back compelling marketing content.

Leads are at the top of the marketing funnel, and while you cannot change this hard truth, you can redesign your digital marketing strategy to build a better funnel. The last stage of the marketing funnel should include a positive interaction with your team, and it should not end with a click that leads users to your website.

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The Benefits of Digital Marketing Funnels

A digital marketing funnel is a great tool for any business, but they’re especially important for small businesses.

Small businesses have limited resources to put into marketing and sales, so they need every possible advantage. Digital Marketing funnels help them maximize those resources by directing their efforts into the most effective strategies.

Digital Marketing funnels simplify the customer journey and make it easier for companies to follow. These solutions map out each stage of their client’s decision process and plan the steps they want to take in each.

It is a great way to look at how your company connects with its customers. Whether you’re looking for online sales, generating traffic for your brick and mortar store, or collecting clicks as an affiliate, a digital marketing funnel can help you

The biggest benefit of having a digital marketing funnel is its measurability. It shows you where you’re losing customers, and where you can improve your strategy. For example, if a customer doesn’t take the next step in your funnel after they click on the link in an ad or an email, then you need to adjust your strategy. Is your brand awareness campaign not working? Can you tweak the offer? Maybe they didn’t find what they expected when they got to the second step. 

You could try making that second step more clear and inviting or increasing the value of what people get when they make it there. The point is that a digital marketing funnel gives you information about where people are dropping off and helps adjust your strategy for different groups of customers.

Stages of digital marketing funnel

We've talked about how important the digital marketing funnel is for your business and how it can help you at each stage of sales. But what does this process look like, really? Each stage of the digital marketing funnel is distinct and accomplishes something unique during the customer journey—and we are here to break them down for you.

digital marketing funnel

Awareness

Awareness is the top of the funnel—it's where potential customers become aware of your product or service. This might be through paid advertising, social media, or content like blog posts.

This is where trust is established—by sharing your knowledge and expertise and offering value-added services like webinars, you give people a reason to buy from you over a competitor who only offers products and nothing else.

Leads

Leads are potential customers who have expressed interest in your product or service. Once you generate a lead, you have to convert them into a customer by nurturing the relationship with that person throughout the sales cycle. This is your chance to introduce yourself in a way that builds trust and makes your brand more appealing. You can nurture leads through emails, content that is more targeted around industries and brands, classes, newsletters, and more. And As your relationship with your lead deepens, they'll become more qualified and ready for the next stage in the buyer's journey.

Consideration

After leads have been changed into marketing qualified leads (MQL) at the consideration stage, they're seen as coming customers. Marketers can send prospects more information about products and offers through automated email campaigns while continuing to nurture them with targeted content, case studies, free trials, and more.

The key to continued success is to deliver value to your MQLs in every interaction. Whether it be through email or social media, by providing consistent value you will keep your MQLs engaged and interested in your product or service.

Intent

Getting to the intent stage is a big deal. It shows that a prospect is interested in buying your product, and it gives you an opportunity to show them why you're the perfect choice for them.

Intent can be demonstrated in a number of ways: filling out a survey, requesting a product demo, or adding an item to their cart on your eCommerce site are all examples of intent behaviors.

Once you get these signals from a prospect, it's important to take advantage of the opportunity to make your case for why they should choose you over your competitors.

Evaluation

In the evaluation stage of the buyer's journey, prospects are deciding whether to purchase or not. This is a crucial stage of the buyer's journey because it's your chance to convince them that your brand or services have what they need. The most important thing for you to remember during this stage is that the buyer needs information and reassurance that you can meet their needs; ultimately, they need to be convinced that your product or services are the best choices.

Purchase

You're here! This is the end of the digital marketing funnel.

The prospect has decided to buy and is making a purchase that will take him or her from prospect to customer. And what a customer! He or she has gone through the stages of the funnel, done research, decided on a product, and trusted you enough to make a purchase. This is where sales take over from marketing and become responsible for managing the transaction. A positive experience can lead to positive word of mouth that keeps prospects flowing into your top of the funnel again, and starts the process all over again.

It's not always easy to get there, but once you've got customers, you want to do everything you can to keep them coming back.

How to Build a Digital Marketing Funnel

One of the main points is choosing which digital marketing channels to include in your marketing plan. You can use all the same channels as your competitors and find ways to stand out from them. 

However, the reality is that few companies have the resources to tackle all of these channels like podcasting, paid search, social media, newsletters, e-books, etc. effectively. We recommend starting at the bottom of the funnel and working your way up. The people who are already at the bottom of the funnel are much more likely to make a purchase. Let's take an example of Monday.com.

Monday is a project management software that helps teams manage and organize their work. They use a digital marketing funnel that breaks down the user’s experience into three stages: top of the funnel (ToFu), middle of the funnel (MoFu), and bottom of the funnel (BoFu).

Top of The Funnel (TOFU)

Your customer may know they have a problem, though they may not be actively looking for a solution. They know they have an issue. It's just not necessarily clear to them that it needs to be solved, or that there is anything that can be done about it.

Perhaps there's something you could do to help bring the problem to their attention or offer a solution that isn't immediately apparent to them. 

For example, Monday is a project management software that helps teams manage and organize their work. Their target audience may find that managing a project is annoying, but they may not be aware that project management platform such as Monday exists to solve it, so they likely won't even be thinking of looking for a solution. 

However, if they see or hear an advertisement of a project management tool designed for project managers, agencies, they might have an “aha!” moment and do some further research on the subject.

Therefore, If you're trying to get potential users' attention, you'll want to target them at the "awareness" stage. This is when people are just becoming aware of and beginning to think about your industry or your product. At this point, they're probably not consuming much content about it, so you'll need to reach out to them directly. Here are some of the most common channels for reaching out:

  • Paid Ads (Facebook, YouTube, Google, etc.)
  • Podcast advertising
  • Influencer marketing
  • Attending webinars
  • As you can see from the channels listed above, there are many ways to get your content in front of potential customers. Some channels will drive direct conversions (such as paid ads and influencer marketing).

This is also interruption marketing which means inserting your message into content that the listener or viewer isn't actively seeking out. So if you're interrupting, you're hoping that your message will resonate with a pain point that they're currently experiencing.

Top of the funnel strategies

  • You sell a SaaS product and Advertise on a podcast that has an audience interested in your SaaS product.
  • Partner with a beauty blogger for a free product in exchange for a blog post about the product.
  • Pay for Facebook or Google ads to promote your plastic surgery services only to people who live within your geography.

Middle of the funnel (MoFu)

MoFu is the second stage of a buyer's journey (the first being awareness, and third choice), and it is where a prospect has realized they have a problem and are looking for options to solve it. In this stage, you want to provide enough information so that your prospect can make an informed decision on how to proceed. It’s also important not to overwhelm them with too much detail about any one specific solution too soon, so use this time in their journey to educate them on what solutions exist and which ones are best suited for their needs.

Example of Monday.com, after someone clicks on the advertisement, they are then directed to MoFu. Here, they have an opportunity to convert users into free trial users. The MoFu has a number of different strategies that help with this. They include retargeting ads, remarketing ads, email marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, social media advertising, and email marketing campaigns.

middle of the funnel

Middle of the funnel (MoFu) is that part of the buyer's journey 

MoFu is that part of the buyer's journey when a prospect has realized they have a problem and is looking for options to solve it. They're comparing different solutions, as well as seeking general information about the product to see if it would be a good fit for their needs.

A good MoFu landing page will:

  • give the reader an understanding of how the product works
  • give the reader an understanding of how the product helps solve their problem

How do you reach this stage with your content?

If you want to reach this stage with your content, make sure that it:

  • Is educational—helps the prospect understand their problem and the potential solutions.
  • Is easily accessible—since prospects are starting to research, they’re likely to prefer resources like whitepapers, ebooks, and infographics.
  • Helps the prospect learn about your company—they can trust what they’ve read because it came from a credible source.
  • Connects with them in some way—the prospect should feel like you “get” them and that you can help them solve their problem.

Blogs and articles

Blogs are a great way to attract and educate leads. They're easy to write, share on social media, and update (which helps your SEO). You can also use blogs to build authority by becoming a thought leader in your industry. Basically: people will be more likely to trust you if they read something you wrote and found it helpful or interesting.

So how do blogs attract leads? It's simple: with the right keywords and links, visitors will discover your blog post through Google search results or social media feeds, which encourages them to click on the link that takes them directly to your site. If they like what they see once they get there, chances are good that their next step will be giving you their contact information for something like a free consultation or an e-book offer.

Videos

Videos also offer a fantastic opportunity to show how your product can help your customers. If you're trying to sell marketing tools, for example, you could create videos that showcase how you used the tools yourself to achieve success with other clients. These videos should be both entertaining and informative while illustrating the value of your products or services.

Finally, remember to always include a call-to-action at the end of every video: "If you have any problems with this service or would like to learn more about it, please contact us," or "For an estimate tailored to your specific needs, email us at [email address]."

Webinars

  • Webinars are one of the best ways to move your leads through the middle of the funnel. They're a powerful tool for explaining your product or service in more depth and demonstrating your expertise.
  • Content webinars are a great way to nurture leads and generate new ones—even if you give them away for free.

Testimonials and case studies

Testimonials and case studies can be powerful tools in your library of marketing materials—it's a great way to show how you've helped others, but it also builds trust and credibility, which is important in the middle of the funnel when prospects are trying to make a decision.

If you have a satisfied customer who's willing to write about their experience with your brand, use it! Testimonials and case studies can be used in different ways depending on your goals:

  • Increase brand awareness by sharing them on social media networks or through word of mouth
  • Demonstrate ROI with statistics and testimonials from customers
  • Build trust by including reviews from happy customers

Infographics, e-books, and whitepapers

Infographics, e-books, and whitepapers are powerful forms of marketing that work well at the middle of the funnel. The most obvious way they work is by grabbing the attention of potential customers and bringing them to a decision point at which they can decide whether or not to become a customer. In this case, it's easier for potential customers to evaluate your product or service when you provide them with an image than with words. They can also be used as a form of education that helps potential customers understand exactly what your business does.

Bottom of the funnel (BoFu): what is it?

Once someone has signed up for a free trial account with Monday, they move into BoFu where they can begin using the product in earnest while also giving feedback on it so Monday knows what features are working well and which ones need improvement or removal altogether.

The bottom of the funnel (BoFu) is the most important stage of the marketing funnel. It's where you're trying to convert leads into customers. What's a lead? A lead is someone who has expressed interest in your product or service but isn't ready to buy yet. Leads can come from various sources, such as web traffic and referral partners, but once they've expressed an interest in your product or service, it becomes your job to guide them along their customer journey so that they become a customer. Here's how you can do it;

Educate your audience and convert them into customers

The main purpose of BoFu content is to help your audience make a final decision on whether to buy your product or service. To do this, it tends to focus more on the specific features and benefits of your product or service.

BoFu content also acts as a point of contact between you and your potential customer. Whether that’s by offering:

  • Recommendations for products or services
  • Customer reviews
  • Case studies
  • Free trials
  • Live demos

Helps with decision-making

BoFu content gives you the opportunity to educate your prospect and help them make a smart decision.

  • Say you’re a B2B company that sells accounting software. Your prospects may have reached your site because they searched “best accounting software,” or similar terms. Prospective buyers may not be familiar with all the features of your product, like its audit trail or rule-based financial data validation. BoFu content can explain these benefits to help potential customers understand why your solution is right for them.
  • A SaaS business could take advantage of BoFu content by creating a case study about how it helped their client accomplish some goal, such as saving money or improving efficiency

Examples of BoFu content

For example, at the bottom of the funnel, your content might include:

  • Case studies. These give prospective customers a solid look at what you can do for them by showing examples of success stories in their industry or niche.
  • Product demos. Seeing is believing! A product demo allows your lead to get an inside look at how your product works and what it can do for them.
  • Personalized demos. This is a more customized form of a product demo that focuses on addressing specific pain points or needs this buyer has. By speaking directly to these, you can show that your solution is right for them.
  • Free trials. Sometimes the only way to know if something will work is to try it out! Free trials are also great in place of demos because it lets your prospect test out the full experience of using your solution for themselves by letting them use some features free of charge (or with a free trial period).
  • Consultations. Whether over live chat, phone or video, consultations allow you to have a 1:1 conversation with someone interested in learning more about your solution's benefits and pricing options before they commit to purchasing anything from you.
  • Webinars are an excellent way to introduce potential clients to your offerings and the chance for them to engage with you. It gives you the opportunity to speak with customers directly and answer any questions they may have.

 

 

Upselling

Upsell is offering customers a more expensive version of whatever they are already buying. For example, Monday.com offers an early bird discounts to convert their free users to paid users with more advance features and options.

Upsell often increases average order value because it gives customers the opportunity to buy something they may not have considered purchasing before. However, it can also turn off potential buyers because they don't want to spend extra money on that product.

Upselling strategies

Upselling can be a tricky business because you don't want to make your product look so bad that the customer feels they shouldn't buy it. So how do you use upselling to grow your business? Here are some smart strategies:

  • Make sure the upsell is relevant. If someone is buying an iPhone, you don't want to offer them an Xbox and tell them it's better (and more expensive). That's the opposite of relevant and won't encourage sales. Instead, be smart with your sales pitch. For example, if someone is buying an iPhone 6 and you have a new iPhone 8 in stock, then tell them about the features of the iPhone 8 that are better than their choice but also explain why those features might not be worth paying for. You're offering them something better without saying that what they're buying isn't good enough.
  • Offering additional features is a tried-and-true method of upselling.
  • Creating a sense of urgency using scarcity
  • Bundling Products
  • Using discounts as an incentive

 

The Difference Between B2B and B2C Digital Marketing Funnels

When you're trying to sell your product or service, the question of who your audience is may seem obvious. But when it comes to marketing, a lot depends on whether your audience consists of individual consumers or businesses. There are two main types of digital marketing funnels that businesses use: B2B and B2C. Each one is based on different tactics and strategies, but what are the differences between them?

Let’s take a look at how B2B and B2C digital marketing funnel is essential to using the right strategy and tactics to help generate leads and convert sales.

Business-to-business (B2B) digital marketing is used when companies market their products or services to other companies. They market directly to the decision-makers within those companies, such as CEOs, COOs, or top executives. This type of funnel is aimed at a small number of high-value prospects who have the ability to make or greatly influence buying decisions.

On the other hand, business-to-consumer (B2C) digital marketing is used when a company markets its products or services directly to consumers—that’s people who buy for their own personal use rather than for business purposes. B2C digital marketing campaigns target broad audiences that extend beyond just decision-makers and can include large numbers of consumers with varying levels of buying power.

 

How to Build a B2B Digital Marketing Funnel

To make your B2B campaign successful, you need to define a buyer persona and pinpoint your audience's pains. But wait! Your potential customers may not even know they have a problem. Find out how to help your potential customers realize they have problems, rather than offering a solution immediately. Learn which content formats work best at each stage of the funnel, how to create them, and get them to convert. 

Try combining blog posts, downloadable offers, whitepapers, PPC ads, videos, and social media campaigns to boost your digital marketing strategy.

Now when you're trying to move customers from awareness to consideration, this is a great time to push yourself to your middle-of-the-funnel goals to show them why your product or service is the best solution they can get. You could try case studies and guides, webinars and email campaigns, retargeting ads and podcasts, checklists, and more.

Your prospects will be working their way through the funnel, and you need to help them decide to buy from you. Free trials, live demos, consultations with salespeople, training, testimonials, and discounts are all good ways to do this.

In B2B, it's imperative that you make the funnel work for you by including the post-purchase stages. Make sure your customers remain engaged using a combination of digital marketing, social media, and personal interactions. This will help you increase customer lifetime value.

How to Build a B2C Digital Marketing Funnel

B2C customers often base their decisions on emotions, and in order to grab them in the funnel's top stages, you need to make that emotional connection.

You can do this by engaging with your audience on social media and engaging in guerrilla marketing tactics such as viral social media posts, PR publications, and PR interviews.

In the first stage, use email campaigns and web push notifications with special offers, promo codes, and more. Sign up for SendPulse to build great campaigns in two clicks and send them automatically.

You should keep customers coming back if you stay in touch with them, even after they make a purchase. You can offer them contests, surveys, or engage through social media by communicating.

Qualifying Leads in Your Funnel: MQLs and SQLs

If you want to direct your customers through your digital marketing funnel, you need to figure out how leads will be qualified throughout the process.

This makes it possible to better use salespeople more efficiently only when they have been qualified as prospects, allowing you to optimize the efficiency of your sales process. Unfortunately, not every prospect who completes stages one through three of the buyer's journey will be a good fit for your company. For example, a prospect might complete stages 1-3, but not have the financial resources available to complete the purchase.

And In this scenario, the lead might be incredibly excited about your product, but they are not the decision-maker in their organization. All of these scenarios are common, and although content can help educate all prospective customers and move them through the different stages of your funnel, it's important to understand these two concepts:

  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
  • Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)

Which Digital Marketing Funnel Metrics Should I Track?

So, You've done the hard work and set up your funnel how your personnel will interact with it.

Now that you have your funnel mapped out, it's time to put your plan into action. The last thing you need to do is figure out how you'll track metrics to see if your funnel is working. The easiest thing you can do to see if your funnel is working is to look at the SQL and MQL data. You'll be able to see how people who close interact with your content, channels, ads, etc. This can help you to know how to make your funnel work better.

But a word of caution. With every piece of content you create, you're creating data. While all of this data is useful in some way, it's easy to get caught up in the numbers and metrics instead of focusing on the few key performance indicators (KPIs) that will provide the information you need to make meaningful improvements.

For this reason, it’s most likely a good idea to try out tracking all the metrics below (or any others that you think could be significant), however, it’s best to focus your attention on 2-5. 

If you wish to add more later, you should make sure you are actually making changes based on the data you generate from these few metrics before expanding your data operations. Here are some of the metrics you should track;

Conversion rate 

If you’re going to focus on only a few metrics, make sure you track them all. This metric includes everyone who enters your funnel and your conversion rate. As you make changes in marketing, seeing this number improve will let you know you’re on the right track.

Funnel Entry Point 

Monitoring where people are entering your funnel can help you track its effectiveness because it can give you ideas for expanding your digital marketing campaigns. For example, if you see you have gained most of your customers from a single guest blog post, it is time to consider expanding on that blog post by adding a free consultation guide or finding similar opportunities to give guest articles.

Funnel Stage

 If you had the opportunity, then your marketing content could be compelling enough to make people move from the TOFU to the BOFU in one day. And When prospects are falling behind in one stage of the buying cycle, it's worth finding out what questions they're asking and what issues they're struggling with. You'll want to provide more information on your site to address those concerns.

Exist

 In the same way, seeing a rapid drop in people out of stage is indicative of not doing enough to respond to their questions or that you’re asking them for too much of a commitment too early. Add more content to give them the information they need to move forward or make it easier for people to convert (e.g. don’t ask for a phone number when they’re downloading a certain e-book).

Engagement rate 

If your blog posts or other onsite content pieces have calls to action(CTA), you'll want to find out which content pieces are sending the most converted customers through your funnel so that You can then organize your efforts around that piece of content or CTA by updating the content, sending targeted or paid traffic to the content, promoting it via email marketing or social media, or creating more content like that.

Sale close rate 

Your close rate or “win rate” (the number of leads you can use to make a sale) is the key metric to watch when setting up or adjusting your funnel. If your close rate is much lower than you expected, look at some of your other metrics for ideas about how to increase your success rate. You may be getting lots of leads from your content, but if those leads are unqualified and will never turn into customers, you need to think about ways to target a more engaged audience.

There are a number of different tools available for tracking the most important aspects of your business, though for most businesses Google Analytics provides the best complete, and easiest data.  It's the best data tool for most businesses, and it's free! You can use the service's funnel-tracking tools until you determine that you need something more advanced. You can then move to other programs or start using a complete marketing automation program.

 

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