As a digital marketer, you’re surely aware of what a digital marketing funnel is and how it should guide your online marketing efforts, such as search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns, social media, email marketing and pay-per-click (PPC). As a tool, the digital marketing funnel serves as a visual representation of the buyer’s journey.
Learning how to use it effectively can help businesses reach the right audience at the right time, but these unprecedented times are changing the way we do things and the demand/s of the online world is growing as well.
First Things First – What is the Digital Marketing Funnel?
The earliest model of the digital marketing funnel provides the four main stages a consumer goes through as they transition from being a potential customer to becoming an actual buyer. The AIDA model categorises their target market and crafts a strategy according to:
- This is the stage where the audience has no idea about the business or a brand. To build awareness, a brand needs to attract the attention of its audience. Increasing brand awareness and maximising the power of consistent messaging can be done through persuasive and engaging content marketing.
- This is the stage where the audience shows signs of curiosity and is paying attention to the brand, albeit partially or substantially. When the audience starts thinking about what’s in it for them, a brand creates a buzz and generates interest about its products or services. This also encourages potential buyers to search a little bit, browse and research. Building social signals is one way to generate interest.
- This is the stage where the audience feels strongly about a brand. When a brand showcases its value to its target market, the demand for its products or services can only grow. By effectively reaching out to their audience and building an emotional connection, a brand can help turn consumer wants into needs. For this relationship to be real and genuine, you’ll have to check on how is your customer service performing. For example, have you been replying to online messages quickly enough?
- This is the stage where the audience is compelled to purchase products or pay for services, because the potential customer has all the reasons to buy from a business. A brand can do this by showing its target audience why they are the most suitable provider.
The concept for this model has been in use for over hundreds of years, but it remains to be relevant today. At its core, it serves to determine the most basic of stages that a potential customer can be—whether offline or online. That being said, it is necessary to look at and study the distinguishing factors of the digital marketing funnel and how it is constantly evolving.
A Look at the Modern Digital Marketing Funnel
One thing to consider with the modern times is that the buyer’s journey is no longer linear. This is why variations of the AIDA model exist – from circular models to expanded funnels. The digital marketing funnel of today warrants a combination of brand engagement and a careful consideration of the buyer’s journey online. However, the essentials of the modern digital marketing funnel often involve the following stages:
- The attract stage refers to building your online presence and increasing brand awareness.
- The nurturing stage refers to cultivating a relationship by taking care of your customer base.
- The conversion stage refers to turning potential buyers into paying customers.
- The delighting stage refers to engaging your customers and keeping them satisfied by providing positive online experiences.
Modern Digital Marketing Strategies for the Modern Buyer
With the four basic stages in the digital marketing funnel, the modern strategies involved in creating an effective online marketing campaign can branch out into more specific activities. Take, for instance, how the online buyer’s journey can be viewed through this modernized funnel:
- Engagement or brand awareness
- Education or identifying a problem
- Research or finding solutions to the problem
- Evaluation or assessing needs vs wants
- Justification or quantifying the value of a purchase
- Purchase or transaction
Engagement or brand awareness
Brands can build engagement online through various social channels. Knowing which amongst the most powerful platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest and Tiktok, just to name a few, can best translate your brand into a social persona can help you reach your target audience. The goal here is to reach an audience and establish your brand’s presence.
Education or Identifying a Problem
After brand awareness, a potential buyer is allowed the opportunity to learn more about a business and its products or services. Having all the pertinent information, such as informative and engaging content, can help a potential buyer identify what a brand has to offer. It’s basically helping your audience realise if there is a personal problem that your business can solve for them. Oftentimes, brandishing your unique selling point can hook them in right away.
Research or finding solutions to the problem
Buyer research is crucial to providing real value to your consumers. Having insightful data on what your potential customers need and what their problems are can help you provide a range of solutions. At this stage, a potential buyer can be looking into what your products or services can offer them. SEO is also enabled by data-driven audience information. Harness the potential insights that data offers and help provide a solution.
Evaluation or assessing needs vs wants
As competition exists in any free market, a smart buyer will look for similar business offerings from other brands and weigh their options accordingly. On the one hand, it can also be that your audience is considering their needs versus their wants. An awareness of you competitors’ business can help you gain an advantage by helping you answer questions like, “What makes their product any better than yours?”; or “Are they providing better solutions to a problem?”; “Why should the customer buy?” Help them realise what you have to offer by providing detailed and helpful on-page content, such as product descriptions, blogs and reviews or testimonials.
Justification quantifying the value of a purchase
This is where a brand helps a potential buyer decide by providing them with all the reasons to make the purchase. Through engaging content, emphasising how a product or service can help improve the quality of their lives is one way to convince a potential buyer. It is important to remember that for first-time customers, reaching this stage can take some time, whilst repeat customers and clients have already been acquainted with this stage.
Purchase or transaction
Usually the final stage in the digital marketing funnel, this is where potential buyers become actual clients. Upon realising the particular benefits that they can gain from your business, a customer’s journey can either end here or continue—it all depends on retention. Delivering on your initial offerings and meeting your buyers’ standards is a good indication that the relationship can develop into brand loyalty.
Post-sale and retention
This is the stage where the buyer has supposedly exited the funnel, right? It depends on you, as a digital marketer or business owner! A business should recognise that if the buyer’s journey is no longer linear, it can then be cyclical. Consider how post-sale opportunities can help your business keep your customer satisfied. Providing educational materials, sustaining engaging communication channels and excellent customer service are some ways to deliver on this stage of the funnel.
The Modern Digital Marketing Funnel
For every stage in the digital marketing funnel, there are modern strategies that can help a business effectively reach their target audience and take them through the different stages of the buyer’s journey. Given the various types of marketing funnels, such as the AIDA model, its variations and expansions, and the See-Think-Do-Care model, here’s a quick summary of what you can do as a digital marketer when working on your marketing and sales funnels:
- Social media and display ads can always initiate the awareness and intention stages, prompting online users to think about a brand or business. Check out the user statistics for Facebook, Instagram or Youtube to see how much opportunity for reach and engagement exists on the various social media platforms.
- Improving your website’s domain authority can impact your SEO and help increase your brand’s online presence. Consider how 71% of consumers use search before shopping and 97% go online to research on products, services and brands. Make your business accessible but consider their place in the funnel and set specific touchpoints throughout their journey.
- Invest in video marketing, because in the constantly evolving digital landscape, 50% of consumers search for videos related to a product or service prior to making an actual visit to the store. Whether it’s for whichever stage in the funnel, there is always an opportunity to produce video content that can help guide or enlighten potential customers. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, as the attention span is getting shorter after all—keep it short and sweet but engaging and visually appealing.
Conclusively, it’s worth noting that every digital marketing campaign should consider revisiting their strategies occasionally. Updating your marketing funnel and knowing how a business should communicate their brand in these constantly changing times is critical. Not only does it empower a brand towards survival, it also provides insights on how the market is changing.
Use the right digital marketing strategy for every stage in the modern marketing funnel and grow your business today.