One of the biggest mistakes we see business owners make when it comes to marketing?
Focusing on only one stage of the marketing funnel.
The marketing funnel represents the various stages a buyer goes through when making a purchase.
The marketing funnel begins with awareness (this is where the funnel is the largest and you reach the most people, even those who are not yet seeking your product or services), followed by consideration (the funnel begins to narrow, there are less people in this stage and they are beginning to consider your product or service, comparing it to others), then conversion (this is when your audience is ready to make a purchase decision, it’s intent-driven and somewhat transactional).
But the funnel doesn’t end there.
Following conversion is nurture and what we at OTM like to call loyalty or engagement. This is where you work to retain, re-engage, upsell or cross-sell your existing customers (pro tip: it costs far less to keep a customer or client than it does to land a new one!)
There are a lot of reasons that a business owner or a CMO might narrow in on one stage of the marketing funnel, but there are two scenarios we come across a lot:
- They focus on only the bottom of the funnel (cough, lead gen):It can be sexy in marketing to talk about driving leads, cost per lead, return on ad spend, cost per conversion, etc. However studies show time and time again that brands that are well known (aka, have top of funnel awareness) perform better in lead generation activities. For example, when you Google “running shoes” and a lineup of advertisements appear, are you more likely to click on Nike or a brand you’ve never heard of or seen before? (Regardless of your answer, the data says you will click on Nike). How does a brand build that type of awareness? By investing in marketing strategies at the top of the funnel!
- They focus only on the top of the funnel (think: billboards and commercials): We tend to see this when a business owner is excited about seeing their own company on display… or when a new CMO is trying to make a “big splash.” Top of funnel is important, but the activations have to align well with the overall audience and the ROI has to make sense. Top of funnel activities reach the most people (because it is where the funnel is the widest), so they tend to be more expensive than the other stages. There is a time and a place (and hopefully a budget and a rationale) for top of funnel marketing, but it should be about your customers and not about your ego.
Whether you own, operate, or market a B2B professional services firm, a car dealership, or a multi-location franchise, it’s important to meet your customers where they are throughout their entire journey – not just the part of the funnel that intrigues you or looks good on paper (or a big screen).
When you leverage the entire sales and marketing funnel, from awareness through to nurture, you’re not just marketing to your audience, you are guiding them through their customer journey.
We call this full-funnel marketing and it’s the approach we take when building out strategies for our clients.
How to Build a Full Funnel Strategy in 3 Steps
Step 1: Generate Awareness
You want your customers to know about you and your services before they ever need you. By creating awareness, you are giving yourself a competitive advantage. You don’t necessarily think about the roofing contractors you know until you need one – but you have two or three in mind when you do because you’ve passed their wrapped truck on the road, seen a billboard, or ran into the owner at a local golf tournament fundraiser you recently attended.
You can create brand awareness through:
- OOH advertisements (OOH stands for out of home, think billboards and bus shelters)
- TV, print, and radio advertisements
- Digital advertisements (note: not ALL digital advertisements are brand-building, it’s all about your targeting and ad objectives)
- Social media marketing
- Educational content and thought leadership
- Public relations and community involvement (sponsor those events, do it!)
These are just some of the types of activations that can help you build the top of your full-funnel marketing strategy.
Step 2: Show Up for Consideration & Conversion
At this stage of the process, a potential customer is aware of their own need or want and is doing research on what will best suit their needs.
Based on their need, they can be doing this research in a number of ways including:
- Talking to friends and family (referrals are KING in almost every industry)
- Running transactional searches on Google or Bing (think “marketing company near me” vs. “what is full-funnel marketing” which would be higher in the marketing funnel)
- Viewing similar products or services and comparing them to one another
- Checking reviews online (reputation management!)
Having the proper SEO and reputation management procedures in place will help your business rank high for these intent-driven searches, and having clear language, a good customer buying experience (UX) and visible conversion points will help you convert more customers.
Ways to promote your business in the consideration stage include:
- Running Google search ads targeting high-intent keywords
- Targeting intent-driven keywords in your online content through blogs and optimization
- Regularly checking and responding to your online reviews
- Abandoned cart emails with promotional offers
Take our work with our client Karrikins Group for example. To build a content strategy that would span the entire sales funnel, we launched a new website focusing on SEO and future content creation, along with a multimedia content distribution model incorporating email marketing, blogging, on and off-page optimization, and social media marketing.
You can learn more about that project here.
Once the potential customer has done their due diligence and selected your product, they have now converted into a customer in the marketing funnel. Congrats!
Step 3: Maintain Customer Loyalty & Advocacy
Now that you have the customer, you need to continue to work to keep them and turn them into loyal customers and peer advocates. Not only will this continue to nurture your current customer relationship, but it will continue to help build your brand through word-of-mouth recommendations to friends and family.
Actively engaging with current customers is more than a monthly newsletter, though that is a great place to start.
Other ideas for creating lasting customer relationships that help feed your full-funnel marketing strategy include:
- Targeted digital advertisements to current users or lookalike audiences
- Welcome campaigns for new users
- Creating a loyalty program to reward repeat business
- Email campaigns based on content-type
- Reminders of upcoming product or service needs based on the product lifecycle
It’s important at this stage to nurture your customers to ensure they are getting more from you than just a product or service. They are receiving additional benefits that keep them coming back.
Creating a full-funnel marketing strategy is more than knowing you have a product or service your audience needs. It’s about knowing what they are thinking and feeling before or as they are doing it. Put yourself in their shoes and think through what it looks like to get from start to finish. By allowing yourself to understand their sales journey, you will be able to see how you can show up before they know they need you.
Looking to build your full-funnel marketing strategy but not sure where to start? We’re here to help!