The marketing funnel is a phrase that describes the journey a customer goes on from first contact with a brand all the way through to becoming a customer (and beyond). How that funnel is structured, what content is within it, and how you position your brand message depends entirely on how your business is set up and how you want to communicate with your customers.
In this article, we explore:
Every business will have some form of marketing funnel, either consciously or unconsciously. A funnel aims to take someone from obscurity to a valued customer. They act as a guide to help customers at every stage of their journey.
Each marketing funnel is different according to the business, the prospects, and the product or service. Generally speaking, the higher the value of the purchase, the longer a prospect will take the transition through a funnel. These are more considered purchases compared to low-value impulse purchases, which will have minimal requirements for a marketing funnel beyond awareness.
Marketing funnels require a variety of content, input from team members across the business, and likely a number of specialized marketing tools.
The AIDA model in marketing is one of the better-known and typical marketing funnels. The acronym stands for; Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. These titles apply to various points along the customer journey and, for simplicity’s sake, can be viewed in chronological order. In reality, it’s not as simple as that, but in a straightforward analogy, people work through the stages in a linear fashion. Realistically, it is perfectly normal for a customer to bounce back and forth between stages, sometimes even skipping steps entirely.
The vast majority of consumers work through funnels of this description on a subconscious level; they’re not aware that they are in the “interest” stage of the funnel. Instead, they will exhibit tendencies or interact with the company in a way that shows they are positioned there.
The AIDA model is used by brands to consider what marketing content they should create at each stage. They should create content based on user requirements per stage and also consider that the content is consumed by a greater number of people at the top of the funnel versus a smaller number lower down it.
The awareness stage of the funnel is right at the top. The aim of the awareness stage is to make customers know that your brand exists and that you likely have something that they would be interested in. The overall focus is to simply bring your brand into their sphere of influence so that they will consider you as an option down the road. Content plays a major role during the awareness stage, although many brands make the mistake of focusing on content that is purely sales driven. That type of content is only useful later in the funnel.
Awareness seeks to answer questions and act as a base where customers can simply find information. Think about the pain points that your customers typically have and make them aware of potential solutions. Selling shouldn’t really feature at all in content at this point. The aim of the awareness stage is education, helping the consumers understand their options or simply answer a question.
The interest stage aims to make customers interested in your products or services. Not only interested so far as they know they exist, more they can understand how your offering can help them find a solution. They need to feel an affinity with the product. During the awareness stage, you’ve grabbed their attention. You need to keep hold of it during the interest stage.
Typically interest is built through content linked to your website. You’ve drawn in a customer within one of your awareness blogs. Now they want to see how that solution will work for them. It needs to feel necessary and exciting for them to work with you. Your content needs to have an empathetic ear for their problem, and your company values must match theirs.
It is during the interest stage that businesses should leverage social proof. Show prospective customers just how you have helped others in their situation and how happy they were with your work.
The desire stage is all about getting people to want your product. They’ve already gained an understanding that the product exists during the awareness stage, and they’ve begun to like the product during the interest stage. Now you need them to want it. It is at this stage that people will be seeking relationships with companies that they can trust.
Trust is the magic word at this point in the process. Why should they trust you with their solution, and how do they know what they’re going to purchase is actually going to work? This is where your content keeps working hard. Stopping at this stage allows the prospect to drift toward a competitor. Keeping the content coming shows that you’re invested in their problem and that you genuinely want to offer a solution.
The key at this stage is to show prospects what their future could be like if they were to work with you. You’ll usually find a great deal of before and after content created at this stage of the process. There will also be a great number of case studies backed up by hard stats and figures.
In the final stage of the AIDA funnel model, at the action point, the purchase is almost made. You want customers to make their decision. It is at this point that you need to present absolutely no roadblocks and have a completely frictionless purchasing process. Deliver as much value as possible, with as little effort required from the prospect.
On your website product or service pages, you need to make it clear precisely what the prospect has to do to make the leap from prospect to customer. If it’s adding to cart, make that obvious. If they need to book a call, make it a streamlined process. Whatever the act of purchasing is, it has to be straightforward.
The 3-stage model is a slight variation of the AIDA funnel type. It’s arguably even simpler and splits the whole buying journey into 3 clear parts. The top of the funnel, the middle of the funnel, and the bottom of the funnel. Sometimes referred to as TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU. These work well as typical larger segments that you can pigeonhole content into.
The top of the funnel, often referred to as the awareness stage, encapsulates everything mentioned above during the awareness and partly the interest stage. Your marketing will include pieces of content that aim to draw the eye and begin an engaged relationship with the prospect.
You’ll likely be creating content such as:
There needs to be as little required from the prospect as possible. It is too early in the relationship to request something from them. They simply don’t know or trust you yet. Instead, offer as much value as you can for free.
Also known as the evaluation stage, the middle of the funnel is where prospects are considering and evaluating their options. At this point, businesses want to still be sharing as much valuable information as possible. Personalization begins to come into play as much of this information can be given in exchange for something as simple as their email address. You might begin to know a little about them in exchange for some information that better helps you market towards them.
Content examples during the middle of the funnel include:
Towards the bottom of the funnel, you’re looking to turn the prospect into a conversion. This means beginning to sell to them in a more direct manner. It doesn’t mean picking up the phone and specifically asking them to purchase, but rather tailoring your content so that it compels them to buy from you.
Much of this content can still be part of your website, but it may also involve some further discussions individually with the prospect. Content might include:
It’s at this stage of the funnel where interactions between your team and prospects will be at their highest. That means customer service needs to be on point, with sales associates ready to communicate as quickly as possible.
When you’re communicating with your prospects, the style and content vary at different marketing funnel stages. When planning your content strategy, you should consider what content you might produce for prospects at every stage. You should be able to see a clear flow from one stage to the next, with multiple entry points.
You’ll also find that there are various means of communication. In the beginning, you might rely on articles and videos, whereas later, when the sales process is getting more personalized, you might sell on WhatsApp and direct messages.
When writing content for the top of the funnel, it’s important that you remember one important point. At this stage, people have absolutely no intention of purchasing from you.. They barely know you exist. Approaching a customer with a hard sell is a surefire way to lose them at this stage.
Instead, you should focus on the idea that you are providing content solely to inform, educate, or entertain. You should ask for absolutely nothing in return, not even a social share or an email address. People should simply engage with you.
This approach should be relaxed and casual, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be created without research. You should think about questions the customers might have, ideas they might be interested in, and topics they’d like to learn about. Then you can create content that aligns with those sections. The content can be anything you’d like. Just be sure it’s in a medium your target audience wants to consume.
Middle-of-the-funnel content is arguably the most challenging content to create. You’ve grabbed the prospect’s attention and need to keep it. This means creating content that aligns with their thinking and consistently delivers value. Going into detail about your offering is welcome at this stage as they are beginning to consider their options, but it should be done in an educational rather than sales way.
At the core of the offering is value. Your prospects need to feel that they’re getting something of value in exchange for what they’re parting with. At this stage, they’re likely parting with their time or their data, and it has to feel worth it.
Be subtle, but be sure to position your brand as the best solution to their problem.
By the time a prospect reaches the bottom of the funnel, you can consider them a genuine lead. Even if they don’t eventually make a purchase from you, they understand that they have a problem and your product or service can resolve it.
Content is often more personalized at this stage and gets more specific to your product, your prospects, and their problem. Offering case studies help build empathy, while demos or tutorials show your product in action.
Feel free to share detailed information about your product and your services; they’ve come this far and now show genuine interest in your products and offerings. They specifically want to find out more about it.
No matter what your product or service is, having a marketing funnel is a great way to gauge and guide how your prospects can interact with your business. Even if you don’t think you have a funnel right now, chances are you have the structure in place already. It just might need refinement.
Communication across the funnel is essential, and a great way is through direct WhatsApp marketing. Zoko is the perfect platform to launch your WhatsApp marketing strategy. See for yourself in this demo.