In recent times, the rules of marketing have undergone a tremendous change. Four decades ago, loyalty was the sales key for brands and many customers swore by their favorite product. But the influx of smart phones, numerous television channels, growth of internet by leaps to bounds, advertising tools and availability of data on finger tips have led customers to chose only the best among the best. This, has, in fact, made the sale of a single product or opting for a service complicated.
Old Ways Of Marketing
The traditional method of marketing was done mainly by way of mouth, having large banners of products at popular spots. As time progressed to the 1980s, marketing specialists adapted themselves to include new technology of advertising such as radio and television.
The changes have already been the norm of the day, but first let us look at the evolution of the marketing funnel.
What Is A Marketing Funnel?
The marketing funnel was used as a tool to determine the exact point the customers were during the purchasing process. The next step, regardless of where they are, is to convince them to buy the product or opt for a service.
Evolution of Marketing Funnel
In short, the stages of the old marketing funnel evolved around –
Awareness – there were very few competitions, and little awareness about products or services of other brands.
Familiarity – The customer will already have some information about the product. Example – banners kept at popular joints, or advertisements in TV or radio.
Consideration – The customers have to be just informed about the relation about their requirements and the benefits of buying the product.
Purchase – Information about the quality of product, its duration of use, and the customers opt for the sale.
Loyalty – Unlike the recent times, brand loyalty was the norm of the olden day. Seldom would a customer divert from opting for a different service company or purchase from a brand they have not chosen.
The five steps were the guiding lights to the old marketing gurus. Although the five stages are still in the marketing funnel of today, optimisations have taken place in-between. The changes in the mindset of customers due to new technological inventions have forced the businesses and marketing gurus to approach the path right from awareness to loyalty.
Advertisements on television and radio have been curbed by many businesses a decade ago and digital marketing have made a grand entry in the picture. The main reason lies in reduction of costs, simple methods to convey information and accurate results. The marketing professional gets to know information at every step while promoting the product by digital marketing. Even the age, gender and sex of the customers associated with a product can be gained from social media websites.
Social media websites act as a representative of the business and the interaction with customers can garner wide opportunity in the long run. The results can be increase in brand awareness and development. A presence on many social media platforms builds trust and generates more opportunities – the main factor to make a mark in the market.
The result is a large influx of customers who can research the products, show interest and help us generate sales.
Marketing Funnel Optimization
The first stage of the marketing funnel is the area in which you divert the potential to-be customers to the website. In the second stage, valuable services are offered if they enrolled in the list and at the concluding stages, they buy the sale (either a product or a service). But the stages are not so easy –
- as it involves a array of processes to capture information of a potential to-be customer,
- know their requirements,
- maintain a relationship,
- move them to the point of sale and
- Finally make them your loyal customers.
Digital marketing has helped in the optimisation of the old marketing funnel as it has clearly showed the flaws. Let us look at some of them –
- The customer shall always come from the initial stage to collect information about the product or service. However, the recent customer can enter the funnel at any stage – examples are, in an emergency, they can order a service or purchase the product
- Relying more on loyalty of the customer and on the quality of product and service
- The entire journey from the crest to the base had become a mismatch
- External influences were never taken to consideration.
On the other hand, the new marketing funnel, because of accountability of large amount of data, has been divided into several stages.
- The first step is the engagement of the customer where brand awareness is the key
- The second stage where the requirement of the customer is linked with the sale of the product
- The sale would involve inputs from data collected via various researches and customer footprint (analytics etc).
- The justification of purchase of product is then conveyed to the customer and finally the sale is done.
However, unlike the traditional method, the customer is not let loose even after they purchase the product. They are made part of a campaign to retain their loyalty, by which surveys are taken regarding their satisfaction of the product they use. Special offers and discounts are also conveyed to them through different mediums such as email or to their customer id in the website.
Online Marketing Funnel
More than fifty percent of the business done today is online without the customer speaking to a sales agent.
The major aspects which have crept into the world of the changed marketing funnel or online marketing funnel can be best described by the term “triggers.” There are many kinds of shopping triggers in recent times. Some of them are window shopping, making purchase at the spur of the moment even though the product is not useful or a purchase after detailed comparison of other products. The trigger is mainly perceived as the model that makes a customer view the product, gather information and then make the sale. The main point in focus is advertising.
The triggers can be distributed mainly by social media messages, discussion in online forums. The Posts have to be such that the product is given a review so that the to-be customer gets spurred to research about the product or service and opt for the purchase. Recently, companies have woken up to the “TRUST” factor where a customer is made part of the sales force. He/she can give his/her contacts awareness about the quality and benefits of a product or a service, turning them into customers.
What Are The Major Changes From The Old To The New Marketing Funnel?
The conversation, instead of being face-to-face has diverted to sharing opinions, giving advice, addressing grievances, recommendation of products and discussion on forums, blogs and interactive websites. The sale can be done with a product booked online, the payment transferred via bank websites and the required item delivered at the doorstep.
Disadvantages of Online Marketing
However, any business has to maintain a clean image throughout, even in case of social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, being a few, right to advertising campaigns. There cannot be/should not be any discrepancies in its image. The link to a new product has to be perfect, in which the prospective customer becomes interested, and clicks the button. The link should go directly to the websiteUnlike the traditional marketing funnel, new wave of technological devices will always change the new marketing funnel according to customer mindset in the future. It is up to the marketing professionals to keep tabs on the technology development, varying attitudes of customers and then make changes accordingly.
Two Factors Of Online Marketing Funnel
Online marketing funnel is dependent upon two important factors – data and strategy. A foolproof online strategy is the order of the day and a business that diverts from the path is very likely to be lagging end on the backburner. The strategy has to involve both organic and paid searches on the social media websites to get accurate information regarding the requirements of the customers. Some of the examples are PPC (Pay Per Click), Social Media Optimisation (SMO) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Google Analytics.
Why Is It Necessary To Hire A Digital Marketing Professional?
Digital marketing is more expressing in terms of ROI as it offers a two-way communication which is missing in the old marketing funnel. Companies have slowly shifted their focus as this marketing method can create a healthy customer relationship, leading to loyalty and enhancement of brand image.
A customer likes and dislikes can be used to design a product. As per the data, if it is released in the market in a particular method and perfect time, it can generate large number of sales. A customer can be turned into a prospective client and then retained as a loyal one, provided the brand satisfies the requirements.
It is only an experienced digital marketing professional, who can plan the proper strategy by making use of data from the various social media channels. The process can then be leveraged to give the product attention and creating awareness, the conclusion being the sales.
A majority of customers come from the millennial generation. Not to make an impact, but just to sustain, companies have to answer these questions:
- Online conversations about a product can make or mar a brand. The fact is, can the company respond to the situation?
- A lot of forums discuss reviews, events, and trends that can influence the sales in a large way. Does the company have a digital marketing professional to respond to the feedback and pass information to the R & D department?
- Online as well as off-line marketing campaigns give information about the customer requirements. Can the company get information at the right time to make changes?
- There are various social media websites for marketing, but only a professional can understand the right social network for advertising. For example, some media websites are excellent for B2B and not for B2C. The next factor is the time to post a relevant content. It has been noticed, that funny messages with interactive images get the maximum number of responses.
A digital marketing professional will create a plan that will have the right mix of strategy, proper content, videos, social media engagement along with paid ads.
The marketing funnel can be best described as a concept in which a marketer makes a product a focus of attraction for the people by presenting a valuable idea. The process then makes way in which the customer is led to the crest of the funnel and slowly towards the base, during which the sale is done.