The marketing funnel is the main tool for brands and companies that want to analyze consumer behavior. With it, it is possible to identify points that can be improved during the purchase journey and opportunities for growth, generation and qualification of leads.
When there is a “bottleneck” between different stages of the marketing funnel, it is necessary to identify the cause of the problem and seek solutions. Among these problems, some stand out because they are more common, especially in companies that are changing their methodology.
Therefore, in this post we will make clear what the steps of this funnel are, how it relates to the consumer journey, what are the most common problems and how to solve them. Read on!
What is a marketing funnel?
The marketing funnel is a strategic tool to guide consumer interest in the solution offered and guide the process until closing a sale or contract.
The consumer enters the funnel as a visitor and is nurtured and worked on until going through different stages, becoming a lead, then a qualified lead, and finally becoming a customer of your company or brand.
Marketing funnel or sales funnel?
The marketing funnel and the sales funnel are related and we can say that they are two terms for the same strategy, which seeks to direct the potential consumer to purchase, from the first moment of contact with the brand until the purchase or contract is completed, often including after-sales.
Today the term “marketing funnel” has gained traction, mainly with the growth of inbound marketing in the sector's strategies. And, with marketing becoming more and more relevant throughout the funnel stages, the term has also become popular.
But don't be fooled: marketing and sales must go together and have married strategies for a funnel and an efficient consumer journey that delivers results.
How does the marketing funnel relate to the consumer journey?
The shopping journey or consumer journey is the entire path that the consumer travels between the awakening of a question or need and the purchase of a product or contracting a service that will solve this issue.
This journey presents specific ways to attract attention and communicate with potential customers. The steps of the consumer journey are:
- Learning and discovery;
- Problem recognition;
- Solution consideration;
- Buying decision.
For each stage of the shopping journey there is a correspondence in the marketing funnel:
- Visitor attraction;
- Lead conversion;
- Relationship with opportunities;
- Selling to customers.
A good trick to map the funnel is to explore the so-called pirate metrics (or in English Pirate Metrics ), which take this name from the correspondence with the acronym AAARRR, which recall the sound of pirates represented in movies and cartoons.
- A – Awareness;
- A – Acquisition;
- A – Activation;
- R – Revenue;
- R - Retention (Retention);
- R – Referral (Reference).
Taking a closer look at this nomenclature for each phase of the funnel, you begin to better understand how it works and also begin to see bottlenecks and points for improvement that may exist in your process.
We will address this subject in detail shortly, here in this same content.
What are the steps in the marketing funnel?
Okay, you understand what the steps of the shopping journey are and how they relate to the sales funnel. Now, let's take a closer look at this topic.
When we talk about funnel stages, we divide them into three: top of the funnel (ToFu – top of the funnel), middle of the funnel (MoFu – middle of the funnel) and bottom of the funnel (BoFu – bottom of the funnel). It is important to know each phase of the funnel to design the actions and type of marketing content that will be offered, according to the purchase maturity in which the user is. Let's get to know each of them in detail?
Top of the Funnel - Attraction and Conversion
The first phase of the funnel, also called the top, is the phase related to attracting visitors and converting them into leads. In this phase, related to learning and beginning to recognize the problem, the visitor still has little contact with the brand or with the solution offered. The focus should be on the pain and difficulties that the visitor faces and not on the sale.
Contents for the Top of Funnel
At the top of the funnel, free and attention-grabbing content can be offered, such as blog posts and rich materials such as e-books and infographics, which are provided to visitors on Landing Pages, in exchange for personal information such as name and email, the that sets up the visitor's first step in the marketing funnel: the shift to lead.
Middle of the funnel - Relationship
The middle of the funnel, in turn, is related to recognizing the problem and considering the solution. We are no longer dealing with visitors, but with leads, who have had previous contacts with brand content.
Here, the focus remains on the lead problem, but this time it is more focused on the type of solution that will solve it. It is the solution that we should focus on and not the brand he will choose for it.
Contents for the Middle of Funnel
At this stage, the brand-lead relationship is strengthened. This is also where much of the lead nurturing and qualification takes place, so that these contacts become opportunities and get heated up to the final stage of the funnel, the sales stage.
To do this, explore marketing emails, automation flows, and useful tools for leads, such as in-depth content on topics of interest, lists and spreadsheets that can help you.
Funnel Bottom - Sale
At the bottom of the funnel is the purchase decision stage. Here, the lead has already understood the problem he has and already knows how he wants to solve it, all that remains is to decide with which brand or company will make the purchase. In a well-constructed funnel, it's time for the sales team to take action by approaching those consumers who are ready to close.
Funnel Bottom Contents
These can be funnel-bottom offers, free samples or free trials, in addition to more commercial and persuasive materials, with special conditions, complete catalogs and other advantages. Marketing can and should also create materials that will support the sales team at this stage.
4 Examples of Large Business Marketing Funnels
Sales funnel steps setup will always follow this top, middle, and bottom funnel setup. The types of strategies applied to the marketing funnel vary according to the type of business as well as the company's objectives. For this reason and to illustrate, we brought some models of different applications of the marketing funnel.
Forrester / SiriusDecisions
Forrester (formerly SiriusDecisions) is a globally recognized research and consulting company. The company has a robust sales funnel, which has been optimized over time, and always shares its insights and learnings with the public.
For this reason, Forrester is remembered by many professionals as a reference in building their own marketing and sales funnels. Below, we show 3 versions of the funnel, according to its evolution in the timeline:
The first version, from 2006, is very reminiscent of the traditional funnel format, with MQLs, SQLs, closed deals, etc.
The 2012 version, much more robust, takes into account the origin of leads, dividing them between inbound and outbound. This differentiation can help companies that have different lead capture strategies to map the conversion rates and efficiency of each.
The latest version, from 2017, is a more visual representation of the previous funnel, focused on a new company strategy: Account Based Marketing (ABM) (notice that at the top of the funnel is the account prospecting stage).
DemandGen is an American company that provides services such as consulting, management and data analysis for companies that want to evolve their digital marketing strategies.
The interesting thing about this example is that it is not limited to the marketing funnel, but also considers the steps a customer goes through to expand their service package or make a new purchase / business. (Remember the pirate metrics?)
What are the main issues at each step of the marketing funnel?
Some problems in the development of marketing funnel actions are common, especially for companies that are now changing the methodology, but companies that already have experience in the area can also always learn and optimize the applied funnel.
We separate the main problems and solutions according to the steps in the funnel:
Troubleshooting at the Top of the Funnel
Few visitors, few leads
One of the top funnel top issues is visitor acquisition which results in a low number of leads as well.
See, the funnel doesn't take that name by chance. It is common for the number of consumers to taper throughout the process. Not all visitors will become leads, not all leads will become opportunities, and not all opportunities will become customers. Therefore, it is necessary to generate a large number of visitors, so that part of them will proceed to the next step. If even your company cannot generate visitors, all other stages are compromised.
How to solve?
- Invest in traffic campaigns for your Landing Pages and website;
- Do marketing work also to acquire visitors through organic content, whether on blogs focused on research on platforms like Google or with relevant content on social networks;
- Pay attention to ad text and materials that point to the pages you want to attract visitors. A good copy makes all the difference;
- Always use an impactful call to action that directs you to the most important pages.
Too many visitors, too few leads
Another common problem at the top of the funnel is the low conversion rate. This means that visitors are coming to pages but not becoming leads.
Low conversion rates can have different reasons: the offer or content may not be interesting to the visitor, the pages may not be persuasive enough to stimulate conversion, the language may not communicate correctly with the brand persona, the static form it may ask for too much information or not generate interaction, the ads may not correctly deliver what the visitor will actually find on the conversion page…
- Understand your audience's needs and interests. Only then will you be able to offer content that sparks conversion;
- Again, the written and visual language needs to be very refined;
- Replace your static forms with more interactive tools.
Too many leads, too few qualified leads
A typical mid-funnel problem is disqualified lead generation. This means that you manage to bring an interesting volume of visitors to your website, and you also manage to achieve a good lead conversion rate. However, some leads do not engage along the marketing funnel and arrive at the end of it disqualified.
Marketing actions are not being able to nurture, guide and generate interest in the solutions offered or the audience that is converting is not the audience that is interested in the solutions offered by the brand.
For example, let's say you generate a fairly high number of people who download an e-book on gardening. The audience you would like to reach would be retailers who could resell their equipment, which today cannot be bought directly by the final public. If you offer content that is of interest to the final audience, you will end up capturing many leads that will be of no use to your commercial, as they will only have disqualified leads in their hands, even at the end of the funnel.
- Understand your audience profile when developing content, themes and acquisition strategies. Make sure what you are creating is in the interest of the audience you want to have as a customer.
- Define at the beginning of the shopping journey which qualifiers for the leads are;
- Involve the sales team in building nutrition and qualifying leads;
- Offer the right content for each stage of the journey.
- Test different qualification hooks on automation flows.
Troubleshooting Funnel Bottom
Too many qualified leads, too few sales
Now, if your problem is at the bottom of the funnel, the scenario is different. Here we have a high number of visitors, satisfactory conversion rates, qualifying leads and opportunities… But the commercial cannot close sales.
This can be indicative of a strong marketing process and a weak sales process.
- Do surveys with qualified leads to understand why they are closing with a brand other than yours;
- Review the sales process and business approach;
- Support the sales team with support materials and systems to follow up on generated opportunities.
The funnel is an amazing marketing and sales tool when properly applied. To leverage your strategy, you now know what the steps in the funnel are, how to build content for each step related to the consumer journey and, most importantly, how to identify and solve problems at all stages.