What is a marketing funnel?
With a marketing funnel you map out the customer’s buying process: from the first contact until they actually become a customer, and the stage after that. This way, you can determine which marketing actions are needed at which stage of the customer journey.
Picture an actual funnel: wide at the top and narrowing towards the bottom. This gives you a useful image for understanding how your customer base is formed. You start with addressing a large group of potential customers, narrowing them down to a smaller group of website visitors, who eventually proceed to conversion. This conversion might be a purchase in your online shop or a reservation at your restaurant. This means: the deeper the customer goes into the funnel, the more interested they are in your product or service.
Understand your customer
Before you use a funnel, first research your target group. Who is your customer, why do they want to use your product, and how do you reach them? You use this knowledge to create personas. A persona is a detailed description of your customer. You describe the following characteristics of the persona: their gender, age, hobbies, online activities, (social) media use, where they are in the buying process, and the expectations they have of your product, service, or company.
Strategic thinking with the See-Think-Do-Care model
You can design your funnel with Google's See-Think-Do-Care model. This model focuses on the different stages of the customer journey. It highlights the customer’s contact and decision moments. The personas help you determine which resources to use. This way, you offer your target group the right information at the right time. The model has 4 stages..
1. See: be visible
At this stage, you introduce yourself to the target group. These are people who do not (yet) know your company and do not yet have a purchase intention. At this stage, you mainly focus on reach and findability. Marketing actions at this stage are:
- Share content (for example: blogs, pictures of your product, etc.) on social media.
- Place advertisements on social media based on the interests of your target audience.
- Share blogs in online groups where your target audience has a strong presence.
- SEO: write content on your website for customers who are not yet familiar with your product or service, and have no purchase intention yet.
- Have an influencer publish content about your product.
Link a goal to this stage. For example: X number of visitors to your homepage or X number of readers of your blog.
2. Think: convince your target group
At this stage, your target group are considering a purchase and you need to win them over. This group is searching and comparing products and services from several providers. They know you from the See stage and now you want them to seriously consider your company. This is the stage at which you seek interaction with the potential customer. You do this by sharing knowledge and inspiration. This way, you show that you understand the product or service they are looking for. Consider the following actions:
- SEO: write content that fits the situation of the customer who is comparing products.
- Search Engine Advertising (SEA): use keywords without a direct purchase intention.
- Lead generation: share whitepapers and email marketing to convince the customer of your expertise.
- Create a specific landing page (a web page designed to attract visitors to your product or service).
- Use Google or Instagram shopping, so the customer can compare your products with those of competitors.
- Encourage your existing customers to write testimonials or reviews. 9 out of 10 customers read online reviews before buying.
Set a goal for this stage as well. For example: X number of newsletter sign-ups or X number of visits to the landing page.
3. Do: make the buying process easier
This stage is all about conversion, the moment of purchase. By now, the potential customer has had several encounters with your website. Now they know what they want to buy, and where they want to buy it. Focus your communication on making a purchase. Marketing actions:
- SEA: use a purchase-oriented message.
- SEO: write content aimed at a purchase intention.
- Affiliate marketing: advertise on other websites.
- Optimise your webshop. If the product information is insufficient or the payment process too complicated, the customer may stop shopping.
Goals linked to this stage are: X number of sales or X amount of turnover.
4. Care: build a lasting relationship with your customer
The customer has bought your product or service. The challenge now is to turn them into a regular customer. This results in more purchases from this customer, but also in word-of-mouth advertising. This stage focuses on customer loyalty. Marketing actions are now:
- Email marketing: keep customers interested with relevant content. Example: you have sold them a piece of jewellery. After a while, send an email about how they can keep the jewellery in good condition.
- Service: contact your customer to ask whether everything is to their satisfaction.
- Stay visible on social media for your customer to encourage new purchases.
Goals linked to this stage are: X number of returning visitors within a certain time frame, or X number of opened newsletters.
This table will help you apply the See-Think-Do-Care model.
And then... evaluate
Evaluate your marketing actions to keep improving your funnel. This way, you will find out if your target is achievable and whether your marketing actions work. Or perhaps you will need to refine or optimise them. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I reaching the right target group?
- Are my marketing actions generating enough website visitors?
This way, you can make timely adjustments.
Want to know more about researching and targeting your market? Check out these articles on marketing.