What You Need to Know About Strategy: Part I The Marketing Funnel
Every successful advertising campaign is founded in sound strategic thinking. There are several different models that you need to understand—and understand how they’ve changed—before starting any campaign.
Use broad awareness channels to get the attention of customers. Your goal is to reach the greatest number of qualified consumers that you can afford, because as they travel down the funnel, more and more will fall away in the process. The middle of the funnel is where consumers consider your brand and build a preference for you or someone else. And finally, the bottom of the funnel is where a consumer is ready to take action. Making this process frictionless creates more conversions. Ideally, after the sale you have an ongoing campaign in place (like a loyalty program) that turns satisfied customers into repeat customers and evangelists for your brand. You’ll want to deploy different advertising campaigns in different segments of the marketing funnel for maximum impact.
Strategists have tinkered with the marketing funnel ever since Elias St. Elmo Lewis invented it in 1898. But whatever the customer journey is now, it’s a lot more complicated. Today, the marketing funnel looks less like a funnel and more like a strawberry—bulging in the middle.
“Every single attribution model is flawed. They all presume somehow decisions can be attributed to one thing. More likely a thousand.” —Tom Goodwin, Strategist
People don’t move through the funnel in a linear manner anymore. The customer journey is a zigzag path. In the middle of the funnel, consumers will be introduced to more options. During this active evaluation phase, you win them over or lose them to the competition with a stronger digital presence. Influence here is critical. It’s why digital budgets went up in 2015. Brands must be well represented where your customers are evaluating you. This extends well beyond your website. Digital marketing has swollen the middle of the funnel.
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In a recent Nielsen survey, American respondents said they often research products online (63%) and look up reviews (63%). The takeaway for retailers is that they can’t afford to ignore their consumers online. Browsing and research are extremely important to consumers, who often do the research legwork online before going to their local retail outlet.
Consumers are far more proactive than they were just a few years ago. They are looking for information that will sway their opinion. Google suggests that there are 10 different touchpoints before consumers make a major buying decision. Be sure the answers to their questions are easily found online. Use SEO to make your assets easier to be found in search results, so consumers don’t need to look hard. If the competition’s information is easier to find, they could easily steal your leads away. After spending the lion’s share of your budget on broad awareness, it’s easy to lose a qualified lead as they assess your brand’s digital footprint. And that’s why digital influence is more important than ever.