I once was speaking with a client, and he said he had devised a “chain” his users would “move up” that were essentially “Russian Nesting Dolls” that would eventually get people to make a purchase. He was pretty proud of himself. But, unfortunately, I had to tell him his genius plan was called a marketing funnel and that it is one of the foundational concepts in marketing.
The marketing funnel is a standard idea within marketing. It’s the process by which a user gains interest in your brand. It’s a funnel because there are a lot of people at the top, but as they move down into the various stages, people drop out.
What Marketing Funnels Look Like
The picture below is a pretty good representation of the marketing funnel.
You can think of the funnel as the level of interest a user has in your brand. At the top of the funnel, the user is only aware of your brand and hasn’t engaged with much of your content, if any. But at the bottom of the funnel, they are loyal customers who brag about your brand to others. Thus, the funnel is how you convert a customer from being aware of your brand to being a brand ambassador.
As users move down the funnel, users engage with your different content. For example, a journey down a funnel could look like this:
Assume someone has only heard of Nike shoes. They’ve seen some ads, but that’s about it. But the ad caught their eye, and they were curious, so they read some blog articles and see if any famous people wear Nike. They find out that Nikes are precisely what they’re looking for, so they go to the store and try them on. They fit great. So you purchase a new pair of Nikes and then tell all their friends to buy Nikes.
If you think about it, we all have certain brands we like and tell others to use. Chances are, our journey from finding out about a brand to advocating for it is similar in some respects to the example above.
In the example, the person got more and more interested and more likely to make a purchase the further down the funnel they went.
It’s important to remember not all interactions are equal. You’ll hear people say that it takes nine interactions with a brand before someone will make a purchase. But this doesn’t capture the whole story. A Facebook ad impression is an interaction, just like a phone consultation. But someone going through a phone consultation is far more likely to convert than someone seeing a Facebook ad. Where that person is in the funnel matters.
There’s a lot more to be said about marketing funnels. There are some great tools out there that will help you set up a marketing/sales funnel: Hubspot and Click Funnels. But, for now, realize that people take a journey from when they first hear about you to when they make a purchase. And that your goal is to help them down the funnel by providing them with owned content and marketing.