If you are a digital marketer you probably already have an idea of what a digital marketing funnel is. In this guide, I share both beginner and advanced knowledge and insights on all things digital marketing funnels. Your digital marketing funnel is one of the most important components of your digital marketing strategy. Your funnel is what allows you to maximise your lead generation, sales, online purchases, customer loyalty and pretty much improve every aspect of your performance marketing.
What is a digital marketing funnel?
A marketing funnel is a framework through a business like yours can build a series of lead / customer interaction and communication points through various communication channels starting from first touch point which could be an Ad that led to a landing page visit, all the way to purchase and becoming a brand ambassador.
Some people also refer to it as a sales funnel or a conversion funnel. It’s essentially a flow of events in the world of online marketing that compound against each other to convince your prospects to buy your product or service.
It’s more likely that if you are still starting out, you will build one funnel as a starting point. But sooner rather than later, you will want to build other funnels and ‘journeys’ based on your products, business model, audience diversity, etc.
However, if you have a large internal marketing team or perhaps work with a digital marketing agency that’s experienced in building funnels, you will more likely have a more complex and optimised marketing funnel.
Why is it important?
Simply put, on average, only 3% of your prospects and visitors make a purchase on the first visit. 47% will make a purchase in the future given your marketing was on point and 50% will never make a purchase. They call this the 3/47/50 rule. Obviously, the exact numbers vary from one industry to another and from one company to another. But you get the point. A tiny fraction of first time visitors will make a purchase decision the first time they come to your site. And almost half of your visitors will be potential buyers if you did the right things and built highly performing funnels.
Some of the main advantages and direct benefits of using a marketing funnel are:
- Improve the overall buyers and customers experience
- Allow you to have a more personalised and personal communication
- Increase your target audience’s trust in your business
- Move your prospective buyers further along the purchase journey
- Convert visitors to buyers
- Convert one time buyers to repeat buyers
- Maximise brand loyalty and positive word of mouth
Working with one of the best digital marketing agencies is definitely going to help you maximise your marketing funnel potential and sales for that matter.
The anatomy of a digital marketing funnel
Okay. What’s a marketing funnel made of? There are many components and tools that you will be using to build a funnel. If you are using an enterprise or a sophisticated marketing automation platform, you might not need any additional tools but we’ll cover this in a separate post.
A funnel typically comprises the 3 main parts – Top of the Funnel (TOFU), Middle of the Funnel (MOFU), and bottom of the funnel (BOFU). These are digital marketing terminology you maybe already familiar with.
Your top of the funnel is extremely critical to get right. Its basic objective is to convert your digital advertising to leads aka get the foot through the door. It’s the main building block of your digital marketing funnel. What you are really trying to do is to maximise the conversion of website visitors or ad impressions who are at that point, complete strangers to you, into a lead. A lead is someone who was compelled enough to enquire, share their personal info, initiate a shopping cart, subscribe to your email newsletter or even engage with your Facebook Messenger chatbot. There are endless ways you can turn traffic and visitors into leads and the first part of the funnel is all about maximising that part of your marketing strategy.
Your TOFU is extremely important to get right. That’s because if you don’t get people through the door, your marketing investment is wasted. On the other hand, your MOFU and BOFU although are indeed important, you already have your leads info and if the funnel is not as effective as it should be, through A/B testing and other tactics we’ll cover later, you can still manage to convert your leads.
Your MOFU is where all the juice is. A lot of the heavy lifting in your digital marketing funnel happens at the MOFU stages.
Middle of the funnel is about engaging, connecting and educating. It’s about sharing value as much as possible according to what ‘value’ means to your prospects. What’s valuable to some people is completely irrelevant to others. So it’s quite important to do a full deep dive into your buyers’ personas so that you can communicate that ‘value’ to them according to their needs.
For example, let’s say you sell a personal credit repair service. Your audience is likely people who have been hit with bad credit score and are anxious about their financial affairs. They are probably also worried about their ability to get loans in the future. Providing value to them here can mean a few things. It can mean educating them on what factors contribute to bad credit. Or, sharing case studies on how some of your customers have turned around their credit. Or even telling them what they immediately need to work on. Generally speaking, educating them extensively on your product or service is of great value.
However, if you sell cosmetics or makeup products, your audience perception of value is completely different. You might want to think about UGC (user-generated content) which other buyers of your product are doing tutorials on how to use your products, how they found them and what they love about it.
In all cases, the MOFU part of the funnel is about building trust and authority without coming across as pushy or trying to push them to buy.
The bottom of the funnel is where you finally convert your leads to buyers. All the hard work your effective marketing automation, great content marketing and all the other efforts put together come to fruition at this point. By the time your prospects are at the BOFU stage, they would typically have had at least 6 – 8 touch points with your business/brand.
At the BOFU stage, you do the hard pitch. You present your case loud and clear. You give incentives to make the purchase. You showcase what your product or service has done for other people like them. Don’t be conservative at the BOFU stage. Say it like it is. They will appreciate you for it. They’ve already engaged with you all along and still are which means they are very close to making that purchase decision.
What makes a marketing funnel perform well?
How engaging your content is whether delivered through emails, messenger chatbot or a personalised website page. And engagement is really a factor of knowing who your audience is, and delivering, relevant content to them.
Knowing what to say is great but knowing when to say it is just as important. For example, overwhelming your target audience with too much technical info at the very early stages will lose their attention. Think of your funnel messaging like a pyramid. They build on top of each other, one step at a time.
Your tonality and brand voice plays a huge role in the effectiveness of your digital marketing funnel. If you think your branding needs some work, I highly suggest you work on that first before you get heavily invested in your marketing funnel. In addition to that, you really want to focus on bringing authenticity to the conversation. People are bombarded day in day out with endless emails and promotions. What really sticks out is authenticity. Be you. Don’t try to imitate any other brand’s language or tonality.
How to build the perfect marketing funnel
To build the perfect digital marketing funnel, there are a few steps that I believe you need to follow.
- Do market research and buyer persona research to understand and segment your audience more precisely.
- Create and curate the relevant and value-adding content for each stage of the funnel.
- Focus on building a powerful TOFU and lead generation to ensure your funnel has a high volume of leads coming in.
- Personalise your content as much as possible according to the data and information you have about your prospects.
- Set and measure your KPIs to see how your funnel is performing
- Improve your funnel by introducing new components and A/B testing them against your current funnel/components.
Digital marketing funnel best practices
Testing is going to be key to improve your funnel. You want to prioritise the things you want to test by what you think is going to have the biggest impact. For example, changing the Call to Action in one of your emails from “Enquire Today” to “Speak To A Consultant” can have a significant impact. But, how does that compare to personalising the email subject line which can dramatically improve your open rates?
You also want your testing to be focused on the areas where there are bottlenecks. So for instance, in this last example, if your email open rate is already quite high but the click-through rate is low, you’d want to prioritise testing the call to actions over the email subject line.
Like with any type of A/B testing, ensure you control the other variables as much as possible. That way you are able to make sound conclusions and determine what components are behind the superior results.
A winning content plan
Your funnel content is not going to be effective if you write it from the perspective of what you think is going to work and resonate with your target audience. It’s much more about understanding the small details and nuances and what your prospects want to see and hear at every stage. It’s possible to have some overlaps of your content across the 3 stages of your funnel but for the most part, you want to ensure your content speaks to your audience based on how far they’ve progressed in the funnel.
To really nail your content plan, working with a content marketing agency is probably a good idea.
How to measure your funnel’s effectiveness
To maximise your customer acquisition potential, you need to have specific KPIs to measure the performance of your digital marketing funnel. Here are some KPIs I recommend you use and measure.
- Number of leads generated
- Landing pages visits
- Landing pages time spent
- Open Rate (Emails & Chatbots)
- Click-through rate (Emails & Chatbots)
- Lead to Sales conversion rate
- Lead to Sales conversion time
- Incremental revenue from the funnel
- TOFU to MOFU progression rate
- MOFU to BOFU progression rate
- Customer Life Time Value