In every online business management tutorial or guide, you’re likely to come across terms such as “marketing funnel” or “sales funnel”. What is it with marketers and their obsessions with funnels? Well, a funnel is a model of how businesses acquire customers from a given sample of the target market.
Ideally, everyone in the target market will become our customers, but at each step of the buyer’s journey (a continual process of brand discovery and interest), not everyone goes through to become actual buyers. That’s why the number of engaged prospects dwindles before the final decision to purchase is reached – and this is common and observable anywhere.
The classic marketing & sales funnel
Marketing and sales funnels have been developed long before the Internet exists. The so-called “classic funnel” has served many corporations large and small for a long time. It is simple to understand, yet so versatile in many if not all industries.
The top section of the funnel
is usually where mass and disruptive advertising takes place. Television ads, radio ads, billboards, magazine ads, flashy neon displays, and even cold calls serve only one purpose – to tell as many viewers as possible that a brand exists and is open for business.
In the middle section of the funnel
a different campaign takes place to grow interest rather than brand awareness. Interest is nurtured in many different ways. For retail and brick-and-mortar shops, strategic pricing and window display is usually enough to push people inside the store. Agencies, brokers, and services with an office usually wait for an interested customer to call back – and this is where the sales team comes into play.
The middle-bottom section of the funnel
is where sales executives try to convince an already interested group of customers that they want and need the product. When finally the customers decide to purchase the product, they exit the funnel with the product or service, and the store may never hear from that customer again.
What is the digital marketing funnel?
So maybe you wonder what happens after the funnel. You’d be right to say that customers can become satisfied repeat customers, and they would recommend the product to other people, essentially becoming brand advocates.
But this is usually omitted in the classic funnel because beyond the walls of the store, office, or a session of phone call, a company’s engagement with the customer was very limited. Companies had no way of measuring whether the customer is truly satisfied with the product, or whether they are sharing their brand experience with other people. The closest thing to an engagement would have been a post-purchase phone call and customer service.
With the Internet and an online presence, that has all changed. Digital marketing is not just about digitizing adverts and optimizing targeting, but also increasing the quality of public engagement. Greater emphasis is placed upon post-purchase experience, and measurement of customer satisfaction is easier to be done with digital marketing.
The digital marketing funnel isn’t a different kind of funnel; it merely adds onto the classic marketing funnel that was incomplete. The digital marketing funnel is non-linear, flexible, and may even come with an inverted funnel at the bottom after sales to represent customer advocacy – making an hourglass.
Funnels and hourglasses in marketing
The hourglass model works like this. The funnel part of the hourglass represents a dwindling number of interested prospects, and the collector part (the inverted funnel) of the hourglass represents an increasing number of prospects gained from successful sales and delightful post-purchase experience. These new prospects can then enter the funnel at any stage, increasing the chance for prospects to become customers.
That being said, the digital marketing funnel and hourglass model is more appropriate for modern businesses. But here is a very important point to note – enhancing post-purchase experience is nothing new. What is new are the measuring tools, as well as the media space in which both brands and customers interact.
The digital marketing tool belt
Whether you are a business owner or a marketing executive, it’s important to stay updated with the variety of marketing tools that are available (and free) to use. Here are some of them:
1. Google Analytics
If you have a website, it’s highly recommended to link it with Google Analytics and insert tracking codes into your source code. In this way, you can gain valuable insight on how your digital marketing funnel is doing on the website property. Be sure to have a pop-up notification that you’ve used cookies on your site, to comply with European GDRP law.
2. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is another useful tool for organic search and search ads. While Google Analytics allow you to view visitors’ browsing behavior, where they’ve come from, and where they spend their time on your site, Google Search Console will tell you which keywords your site is ranking for, simplifying your content development process.
3. Google Keyword Planner
If you would like to run search ads on any search engine, but particularly Google, the Keyword Planner allows you to look at the estimated search volume and competitiveness of a chosen keyword with which to show your ads. You can also directly see the cost per click for each keyword.
4. Social Media analytics tools
Your social media business account will come with its own analytics tools, but to gain even more insight, use tools such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer Analyze and Social Report. It’s highly recommended that you use analytics tools other than the ones provided by each social media platform. This is because third-party analytics tools can help you distinguish between metrics that matter for your business from superficial or ‘vanity’ metrics such as Likes, Comments, and Shares.
Finally, if you haven’t built a website at all (which is highly recommended), you can always install WordPress into a hosting server of your choice after you’ve bought a unique and brandable domain. Building a simple website with the bare minimum of features in WordPress is easy and straightforward. However, in order to stand out of the Internet crowd (a very huge crowd), having a well-designed website can set you up for success.
The digital marketing partner
If all the above sounds technical and complicated, don’t worry. You are not alone, and most business owners shouldn’t focus on every small detail in the vast and intricate business system. You can always choose to partner with a digital marketing agency such as Island Media Management.
We are a digital marketing agency and consultant in Bali and Jakarta, and we are constantly paying attention at how to optimize digital marketing funnels – both in terms of customer acquisition and customer satisfaction. Using premium tools at our disposal, we can help you track your brand’s mentions across the online universe, and prime your brand’s listening ears for any sign of dissatisfaction.