Years back, there was a time when it was okay to order for mass advertising to be sent via fax machines, in an attempt to increase leads and ultimately sales. You are probably reading this and wondering, “Fax machines to generate leads?” Well, absolutely the very thought of using fax machines has itself become outdated with the turn of time. With the generation Z taking over the business fields now days the truth is they don’t even know how to operate a fax machine, and honestly why should they know it, everything has gone digital.
Back in the days marketing was all about creating awareness, triggering interest and desire in the product and finally getting the customers to buy the product. This was what we called the “Marketing Funnel”, which I will explain in detail later through this article. Now, it is time for us marketers to answer an important question, “if the technology from the 1980s are outdated then why are we still stuck using the outdated marketing funnel?”
With changing times and technology, even the customers’ buying journey has seen tremendous change, as they are all now exposed to many digital marketing campaigns and advertisements thereby making them smarter and more inquisitive. This article will help you understand:
- The Old Marketing Funnel
- The Digital/Modern Marketing Funnel
- Tips on strategies to adopt at each stage
- Top of the funnel
- Middle of the funnel
- Bottom of the funnel
The Old Marketing Funnel
In graduate school, this was a concept we kept discussing until the day we graduated. The old marketing funnel was what we learned as the AIDA concept, Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. It defines and identifies the stages that a buyer goes through while he/she makes the purchase decision. The main goal of this funnel was to create brand awareness, trigger interest among customers to instigate a need or want among them, which would slowly transform into a desire of wanting the product and finally the purchase was made.
With the outbreak of social media and Internet marketing, however, buyers are now exposed to more than just one product campaign and have immense knowledge about a product. Buyers now days make only smart purchases as they indulge in detailed research before they make a purchase decision. Therefore, the AIDA model has evolved in order to be able to match the changing buyer behavior.
The Digital/Modern Marketing Funnel
This model will show you that though the stages are similar to that of the old marketing funnel, this model functions in a loop form. Confused? Let me explain to you why I call it a loop model. The main phases in this marketing funnel are awareness, consideration (accompanied by research and discovery loop), and purchase and finally post-purchase (loyalty loop). In short, there are two main loops within this modern marketing funnel and it is very essential to understand these phases and loops, as it will impact your marketing strategies because of the changing buyer patterns.
There are two ways looking at this model, the liner way or the circular way.
I personally advise to look at the funnel in a circular manner, as it will help you see the loops and how each buyer phase determines their behavior patterns as well. That being said, the linear model will be used while explaining the strategies that need to be used later in the article. The best way to explain this model is with the help of an example, so we are going to take a hypothetical character Roy who is in need of yoga training.
The funnel starts from when Roy realizes that he needs to reduce his weight and aim at getting fit. He checks his body weight, runs blood tests and finds out that he is completely unfit for a guy his age – this is the awareness phase of the buyer and generally during this phase, the buyer’s behavior is overpowered by confusion. At the next phase, Roy takes to Google to find out what ways can be adopted to reduce his weight and stay healthy, and this is where the consideration phase starts. This Google search takes Roy to a blog article that suggests some home remedies and exercise (awareness again). This is followed by another series of consideration where Roy Google searches each available option, which leads to further awareness.
Finally, after a series of consideration and awareness, Roy reads about yoga and this leads to the final consideration phase in the funnel. This further leads him to find an institute that seems feasible to him and he makes a purchase by booking a session at the yoga school. Finally, since he used Google search to find details about the yoga school, Google prompts him to leave a review, which is the start to the loyalty loop.
As you can see from this example, it is evident that the research and discovery loops are very prominent now days. It is not as simple as it used to be, where you ambush buyers with enticing advertisements and they would end up making a purchase. Now days customers are exposed to a variety of advertisements and information with the help of social media and the Internet. Even before going to a restaurant, buyers Google to see which is the best restaurant to go to. In a world where buyer behavior and access to information is evolving on a daily basis, we marketers need to constantly evolve to match up to them.
Tips on strategies to adopt at each stage
Now that we have established an understanding on what the old marketing funnel is and how it has evolved into the digital marketing funnel, it is time to understand what strategies need to be adopted at each stage. Since the digital platform paves way for so many techniques that can be used, it is important to devise a perfect strategy in order to be able to reach to buyers as well as trigger a need to purchase the product. As mentioned before, to help you understand the use of these digital techniques, we will now refer to the liner digital marketing funnel model.
The funnel, as depicted in the above diagram needs to be divided into the bottom, middle and top of the funnel. Each phase of the funnel has different goals and so the strategies need to be devised in order to cater to these goals.
Top of the funnel
At this phase of the funnel, the goal is to create awareness, or in other words, get the buyers to see the product offering via digital channels. The buyers at this level are an audience who are yet to find out about your product or haven’t realized that they need your product yet. Therefore the aim in this phase is to communicate with these buyers and convey the benefits of using this product and ultimately be seen by the buyers.
Keeping these goals in mind, the digital marketing strategies at this level are social media marketing and pay per click (PPC) advertisements. Social media platforms are in abundance now and so any platform can be used to display photographs, videos, and blog articles in order to raise awareness of the product and its uses. Apart from this, PPC advertisements or the display channel reaches approximately 90% of the global Internet users and buyers digitally. Therefore, using these two techniques will help you grow digital presence and thereby increase brand awareness and recognition.
Middle of the funnel
At the top of the funnel your digital strategies help buyers engage with the advertisements and help to push them down the funnel, and here in the middle of the funnel, things get a little tricky. Here the buyers start their research process and so here your digital strategies should focus on retaining the authority your presence and push buyers to keep visiting your website. Since buyers are constantly educating themselves and making a careful purchase decision, the digital strategies in this phase include search engine optimization (SEO), video marketing, email marketing and again PPC display advertisements.
Since 4 out of every 5, that is 71% of the buyers use search engines to research a product, SEO is a good strategy to increase organic traffic for your website. It is important to know that no user goes on to pages 2 and 3 of a search result page, and so using rich content and keywords to optimize your website will help in bringing your prospective buyers into the website, as a way to educating them. The same way, some buyers prefer watching videos instead of reading heavy content to learn about a particular product. Keeping this in mind, video marketing is a good tool to educate buyers and proves to be very successful.Email marketing is a low-cost tool that helps buyers remember your brand and it has proven to help increase the ROI of a company as well.
Bottom of the funnel
This is the final stage of the funnel and here the aim is to make the customers make a final purchase. This stage is followed by the loyalty loop and so the digital strategies incorporated need to also work towards retaining these buyers. The strategies that work well in this funnel are a combination of SEO, PPC and email marketing. With the help of PPC and promotion of video marketing tools, digital marketing companies can give demos to customers to help influence them to purchase the product.
Email marketing is a tool that will help retain buyers and reach a level of advocacy where they become ambassadors of your product. Taking care of the buyers are very important and so stay connected with them and understand the suggestions they give as they can help you evolve and grow.
Having understood all these important elements it is clearly evident how powerful the digital world has become. We start and end our day on one or the other digital platform and it is a fact that this very access has helped us become informed customers. As marketers, our job is to evolve with the buyers, if we stick to the age-old techniques that we once learned; we are bound to fail in this competitive market. Constantly studying the market and devising strategies to match the buyers’ behavior and convince them is where we can really shine as marketers. And so I would end this article by saying, keep evolving.