What is a funnel in marketing

Designing a marketing funnel in a targeted manner: this is how it works.

Effective marketing funnels don't happen overnight. Because in addition to a uniform strategy, this requires a lively exchange between the sales and marketing teams. The effort involved is not necessarily small, but a marketing funnel is essential in order to win over interested parties as paying customers.

This guide will give you the know-how needed to develop a marketing funnel that will lead your brand to success.

What is a Marketing Funnel?

The marketing funnel depicts the various phases that a customer goes through in the course of the customer journey from perception to conversion. Also called a sales or conversion funnel, it provides a model for analyzing the customer experience, with the help of which you can better meet the requirements of your target groups, identify and fix any problem areas and thus limit the loss of leads on their way through the funnel.

Some brands are now turning their backs on the model. In general wrongly, because with its help, despite the initially opaque broad spectrum of interested parties, in the end a direct and comprehensive understanding of which leads are in the funnel, where their buying interests lie and what they will buy accordingly in the future could. Instead of turning your back on the marketing funnel, it should be examined to see whether its different phases interlink. Then the maximum benefit can be generated through strategic measures in each individual phase.

Stages of the marketing funnel.

The path through the marketing funnel is not the same for every customer. The goal of every customer journey, however, is to move from the vague perception to the definitive sale. The individual stages of the funnel are less important than their more general categories: the upper end, the middle and the lower end of the funnel.

Top of the funnel.

Here the funnel has a wide opening and contains a large number of potential leads. The marketing team at this stage works primarily to generate interest by providing information about the company's products or services. Strategically, it uses email campaigns, search engine optimization (SEO) and content such as blog posts, videos, e-books and white papers.

At the top, among others, differentiated the following phases:

  • Name: This is the point at which a person puts their contact details in your database.
  • Interaction: This is where the contact moves by performing a certain action, e.g. B. by clicking a link or opening an email.
  • Target customer: At this level you should evaluate the lead according to whether it qualifies as a potential buyer and whether further marketing measures are necessary.

Middle of the funnel.

By reaching the middle of the funnel, it is considered likely that a lead will become a customer. From here on, the marketing team should prepare it to be handed over to sales, who then contact them personally. However, the sales department may have to pass the lead back to the marketing team for further nurturing, since the lead is usually not yet ready to buy at this point. Nonetheless, personal contact with sales is an important element in developing the relationship at this point.

The center of the funnel can be divided into two stages:

  • Lead: From here on, the contact is considered an actual lead based on their confirmed interest. He can then be transferred to the next phase through a direct exchange with a sales representative.
  • Sales Lead: The lead only achieves this status if it has been qualified as ready to buy. Otherwise it has to be handed back to the marketing team for further nurturing.

Lower end of the funnel.

At this end of the funnel, the most promising leads are concentrated: those who are ready to buy or existing customers who you want to encourage further purchases. Regardless of these two cases, at the bottom of the funnel you interact with the leads in a more direct way, for example with offers for product tests, promo codes or product demos. In this phase, sales should take over and provide the content with which the lead can be won as a customer. However, he shouldn't be too aggressive yet in order not to alienate the lead.

At the end of the customer journey, a distinction is made between two phases:

  • Opportunity: This is the name given to sales leads who are ready for further interactions with sales and who actively express their interest in buying.
  • Customer: Once the lead has become a customer, your relationship with him is only just beginning, because from now on you have to continuously cultivate him in order to keep him.

With the knowledge of the individual phases of the funnel and how you should guide your customers through them, you can determine the appropriate lead generation measures for each phase.

Strategic implementation of the marketing funnel.

The first step is to identify the combination of tools and strategy that will fit the funnel designed for your company. When planning the implementation, you should consider the following tips for optimizing your marketing funnel:

Leverage marketing automation.

With the help of marketing automation, you can generate promising leads more efficiently, keep an eye on interactions and make caring for potential customers easier. With the right tools, your marketing team can not only automate everyday marketing activities. Data-based decisions can also be made without having to manually analyze vast amounts of information. Tools that work in conjunction with your CRM are best suited to deliver precise information about customers in real time, personalize the customer experience in every phase of the customer journey and address leads with content that most appeals to them.

Applies lead scoring.

Once leads are in the funnel, you need a well-defined and consistently applied process to determine which leads are most likely to convert so that you can maximize the ROI from your sales and marketing efforts. This is exactly where the so-called "lead scoring" comes in, a rating system with which leads are classified according to their value. This is expressed as a number that is calculated from the value forecast for the potential customer.

The assessment should be based on a number of key factors that together make up the profile of an ideal lead.

Demographic factors.

These factors affect the characteristics of the contact and give you a better picture of the person addressed. This includes:

  • title
  • role
  • Eligibility to purchase
  • Years of experience
  • Type of email address used
  • Activity and influence in social media
  • Personal affinities and affiliations
  • Professional interests

Company-specific factors.

These factors affect the company you are addressing. In the B2B area, these factors are important guidelines for addressing relevant decision-makers. These include the following properties:

  • Number of employees
  • Company turnover
  • Branch
  • Financial strength
  • Location

Behavioral factors.

This includes the actions of the lead. Their influence on the rating can be either positive or negative. Regular visits to a website, opening a link in an e-mail or subscribing to the company blog count positively in the rating, while unsubscribing from newsletters, missing website visits for more than 30 days or statements directed against the company be rated as negative behavior in social media.

Make the content selection balanced.

Not every lead responds to the same type of content. For example, if you only offer blog posts, you will not respond to prospects who ask for more extensive content such as e-books or white papers. If the content is limited to text material, however, you fall out of the grid of leads who prefer visual content such as videos or live streams. The more balanced you design your content, the wider the range of potential customers you will reach.

The aim of your content should also be to stimulate interaction and to inform, but not the sale itself. Because if the content looks like a drawn-out sales pitch, only a few will interact with it. Rather, the content should prompt its recipients to take action at suitable points with relevant calls-to-action (CTAs). In the phase in which the aim is to arouse the interest of a lead, informative blog posts, in which relevant products or services are interspersed rather subtly, are suitable. Once you've brought the prospect closer to your company and their views, they'll also be more open to your CTAs.

Vote for a flawless handover.

The moment when promising leads are passed from marketing to sales is critical and should be accompanied by strategic meetings between both teams. In this way, discrepancies can be avoided to the extent that the marketing team has a different idea of ​​what constitutes a qualified lead than the colleagues from sales.

The constant exchange between marketing and sales avoids errors in coordination. There should be agreement on the definition of a Sales Qualified Lead. In addition, data should be examined jointly for behavioral patterns that signal the willingness of leads to buy. Marketing and sales both get stronger if they stay in lively exchange and clear up discrepancies in advance.

Understand how customers go down the funnel.

If you analyze the customer journey, you can make communication between marketing and sales more effective than ever. Because this recording provides the conceptual basis on which both teams speak virtually the same language with regard to data and strategies. On the basis of this basis, it is then determined whether a lead can progress in the funnel or has to be ranked higher up in order to build trust and nurturing. The collaboration between marketing and sales in this way makes each phase of the funnel many times more effective.

Customer journey mapping is about comparing your ideal image of a lead with the actual results. Pay attention to how leads interact with your content and how they behave. Don't be afraid to ask them questions either. In fact, previous customers or leads who leave the funnel are often open to sharing how their expectations and experiences in the funnel made them make their decisions.