Marketing tactics are constantly evolving and modern businesses are forced to change with the times.
With respect to the print journalism industry, it’s no longer viable for most businesses to increase their visibility by placing ads in newspapers and magazines.
And while other old-school practices like direct mail aren’t completely dead, they’re not exactly cheap or practical.
Yes, the buying journey has changed dramatically in recent years, morphing into an almost entirely digital process. However, the basic principles of a customer’s journey from awareness to conversion remain the same.
Marketing funnels, one of the oldest and most effective means of mapping the customer’s purchase journey, remain relevant in today’s market.
What are marketing funnels?
A marketing funnel breaks down the customer journey, mapping it out from initial awareness to an eventual purchase.
Funnels were created to help push customers through the journey toward the end goal.
Throughout the buying journey, a brand should nurture their audience and push them through each phase.
By adhering to funnels, marketers look to turn readers, site visitors, or followers into loyal customers who will continue to make purchases and advocate for the brand.
Marketing funnels don’t necessarily need to be complex in order to be effective.
By creating a simple funnel and continually optimizing it in response to an ever-evolving market, you increase your odds of boosting conversions.
But funnels are not static.
Much like marketing methods have changed throughout the years, so too have the funnels themselves. The key to keeping funnels relevant is to embrace new technology and adapt to worldwide trends.
For example, once the awareness stage could have come from a customer seeing your storefront or reading a print advertisement.
Today, that could come from a search engine result or a display ad on a social media page. The journey has changed, but the mapping process remains the same.
Here’s a real-world example for you.
Once, the only way to go from New York to Los Angeles was on horseback or in the back of a wagon.
Then, train travel became more commonplace and sped the process along. Then planes and cars were invented. The journey is still traveling from one city to another but the means by which you arrive changes dramatically and becomes far more convenient.
Much like long-distance travel, marketing funnels will always be relevant as a means of guiding a customer from initial discovery towards purchase.
Today’s funnels might look less “traditional” and more like these e-commerce funnel examples from Shopify:
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of how the buying journey is still relevant today.
Why the buying journey is still relevant
Marketing is always changing, but the buying journey used to build marketing funnels is still commonly categorized into three main portions.
At the awareness stage, a potential buyer realizes that they have a want or need for a particular product or service.
During this stage, they are most likely searching on Google to get a better idea of what it is that they’re looking for.
In modern times, the way to nurture prospects in this stage is to build an effective SEO strategy. To do this, you must rank for keywords that your audience would be searching for.
To uncover which keywords you should be targeting, use a tool like this free one from SEMrush. Enter a keyword you already rank for.
Then, look at related keywords to uncover similar ones to add to your list.
Ask yourself what questions buyers might be asking at this stage and try to answer these queries with blog posts.
Most people at this point are just seeking information to resolve their pain points.
To appeal to people within this stage, try to create and optimize SEO for content like:
- Educational blog posts
- Industry reports
- How-to videos
Why is This Still Relevant?
No matter how a business evolves, the initial hurdle that they all must leap over is getting their product before the eyes of their audience.
This was true for traveling merchants in the Old West, it is true for online shopping companies today, and it will be true 100 years from now.
In fact, 89% of modern B2B marketers still list brand awareness as their most important goal, with sales and lead generation following.
During the consideration stage, most buyers will have landed on their end goal and have decided to actually address it.
At this point, they will start to consider different methods to meet their goal or solve their problem.
For example, if they have back pain and gained awareness of a brand of special orthopedic shoes, they might start researching and comparing different brands before making a final decision.
During this stage, it’s important to nurture prospects by thinking about which categories they might investigate. Put yourself in their shoes (no pun intended) to figure out how they will educate themselves.
Don’t forget to consider how they might weigh the pros and cons of each option.
This is the stage where you have to convince customers that your product is worth having. You should also push the idea that it’s worth having right this second.
Make it as frictionless as humanly possible for them to buy. You can offer perks like an easy checkout process, free shipping, or a special discount code to move them along to the next stage.
You can also use this opportunity to collect an email address for future retargeting in exchange for a discount.
The goal here is to remove any obstacles that might stand between your prospects and a purchase.
Once you’ve done this, you can direct your attention to the decision portion of the buyer’s journey.
Why is This Still Relevant?
Not only is the consideration funnel still relevant, but it’s also more important than ever.
Once upon a time, if you were the village shoe store, you pretty much had a corner on the market. In order to even investigate other businesses, your prospects would have to travel further.
Now, customers have an entire world of products at their fingertips and can do every bit of their consideration sitting on the couch in their pajamas.
Businesses went from competing with two or three neighboring establishments to duking it out with the entire planet.
Competition only becomes more fierce with time and convincing your customers that you have the best product or service in the industry. Nurturing them toward an eventual conversion will never stop being absolutely essential to the sales process.
In the decision stage, prospects might be double checking other sources to make sure that they can’t find a better deal with one of your competitors instead.
If you’ve marketed to buyers successfully during the awareness and consideration stages, you’ll have an advantage over the competition throughout the decision-making process.
At this point, the buyer will have all of the information required to actually make a choice. This is the very bottom of the funnel.
Now they’re ready to make a decision and go through with the purchase.
At this stage, all of the information that you have given and the trust that you have built come together to finally pay off.
Instead of getting salesy, try to offer extra value to buyers here, like a free trial, more benefits, free samples, or a live demonstration of how to use the product to really seal the deal.
A real-life example of this is the complimentary gift of choice offered by Estee Lauder Cosmetics to customers who spend at least $45.
Offer something similar of extra value to make it a little easier for customers to go ahead and click “purchase.”
Once they have, you’ve successfully funneled them through the buying journey. Now all that’s left is to retarget buyers by asking them about their experience with your brand.
This stage is commonly known as the “post-purchase experience.”
This engagement will encourage them to make future purchases and will give you a chance to make things right if they had a problem with your product or service.
This point is the time to send them an after-purchase email. Or you can ask them to rate their experience with your company.
Encourage repeat purchases by sending them special discounts, entries into giveaways, and updates about new products or services.
Use Freshmarketer’s funnel analytics tool to uncover drop-offs on your site and improve your marketing funnel.
Why is This Still Relevant?
A conversion or purchase is the ultimate goal of every marketing campaign.
That has not changed and will never change.
Whether you’re looking for a customer to buy, volunteer, or just spread the word or subscribe to marketing materials, this is the endgame right here where you either win or you go back to the drawing board.
The decision process has undergone many changes over the years.
Once transactions had to be made in person. Then came the age of catalogs and ordering products over the phone. Now, it’s as simple as the touch of a button on your computer or mobile device.
Conversions can happen anywhere and at any time.
That means that not only is the decision funnel still relevant, but it also is more important than ever due to increased competition. It also requires a lot more effort than it once did.
Uncover Drop-Offs with Freshmarketer’s Funnel Analytics
Because of the aforementioned importance of marketing funnels, it pays to utilize a funnel analytics tool like the one offered through Freshmarketer.
The main reason why you need a funnel analytics tool is to determine where your funnels are succeeding and failing.
If you’re noticing that customers gaining awareness and successfully converting are coming from social media marketing efforts, then you’ll want to place more of an emphasis on that platform.
Alternatively, if you see that customers gaining awareness of your brand through Google ads are not converting, it shows you that you have to focus your efforts on the consideration journey of those audience members. At what point in the funnel are they falling off?
Once you isolate that problem using analytics, you can abandon ineffective marketing platforms in favor of funneling more money into those that are converting.
LeadsMarket improved their conversion rate by a whopping 25% by using our funnel analysis tool.
This feature helped them uncover where their web traffic was dropping off in their form fields.
Based on the results, they were able to create better form fields that yielded more effective results.
You can use the tool to find out exactly where your site visitors are dropping off.
For example, do you know how many visitors reach your home page and then find themselves making a purchase from the checkout page? Our tool can tell you.
You can also use our reorder option to create permutations and combinations of paths to learn more about your site’s visitor journey.
Our virtual pageview feature allows you to track additional interactions of your web pages, like pages opened through pop-ups and overlays.
Marketing funnels are just as important now as they have ever been.
The stages within a funnel haven’t changed, and the objectives to the buying journey remain consistent. The only piece of the puzzle that continuously shifts is the means by which the purchase journey is made.
The awareness stage now includes organic search results on Google. The consideration stage includes comparing prices and competitors online. And, the decision stage includes adding an item to your virtual cart and providing the merchant with credit card information.
After the point of purchase, it’s also important to retarget buyers. So you can turn them into loyal, repeat customers who are willing to advocate for your brand.
To uncover drop-offs on your pages that can give you insights into perfecting the buying journey, try Freshmarketer’s funnel analytics.
Create your very first funnel experiment in Freshmarketer today to perfect your marketing funnel before your competitors win over your prospective buyers.