A prospective buyer’s journey doesn’t end when they discover your website; it only starts there.
In fact, it’s very unlikely for someone to come across your company and immediately purchase whatever you are selling.
Let’s assume your monitor needs an upgrade. Will you instantly buy the first thing you see online? Of course not.
You will research a replacement that could provide you with all your needs—a 4K display or at least 16:9 aspect ratio, either flat or curved, etc..
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, it’s time to decide where you should order—online or in-store?
Buying online will save you from the hassle of going to the mall, but shipping can be expensive and may take several days.
The latter, on the other hand, will give you the chance to personally check the product and take it home the same day.
After going through a countless number of websites and several visits to the nearest mall, you've decided the deal on Amazon’s LGs 27UD88-W LED Monitor is the best value that you could get for your money.
Every one of us goes through this buying journey.
For marketers, it’s called a marketing funnel, a concept developed by Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. The idea is each consumer travel through different phases before making a buying decision.
In each stage, you can influence their behavior through different marketing and sales tactics, instilling a steady and continuous flow until a prospect becomes a loyal customer.
It involves five stages:
Awareness: making your products or services visible to your target market.
Consideration: initial stage of strengthening your relationship with a potential customer by presenting your goods or services and how it could resolve a problem or add value;
Conversion: making the sale.
Loyalty: planning for customer retention.
Advocacy: creating brand advocates.
For years, marketers have built their strategies based on this traditional marketing funnel.
However, as the world of digital marketing continues to advance, grow, and evolve, the once linear, funnel-shaped marketing process has transformed into a looping hourglass—and it’s better not only for customers but also for businesses.
Instead of following a single flow of movement, prospects can now enter and exit in any stage whenever they want.
It may seem bad news for businesses but, actually, it’s not..
With a new, continuous lifecycle, marketers have more chances to acquire customers, present more valuable content, build customer retention, and even make more sales. Here’s how the new marketing funnel works:
Build brand visibility
Similar to its traditional counterpart, the new marketing funnel’s first stage is awareness. Why awareness, you may ask?
If you aren’t able to make your company visible in your chosen industry or niche, how will your prospects know you exist, and move to the next stage of your marketing funnel?
Brand awareness strategies can help your brand get recognized. You can go with different approaches like ad campaigns, press releases, social media, blog posts, and webinars.
Now that you’ve made your business more visible, and have acquired qualified leads, it’s time to learn more about your prospect’s problems and pain points.
New prospects can enter during this stage.
So, make sure to take notes of their challenges and how you can help them alleviate and even solve these problems.
Customers will consider you
At this point, your acquired leads are now considering buying or availing your services. To pursue them to make a purchase, use the information you’ve learned from the previous step; engagement, to present your products or services and how it could solve their pain points.
Prospects can exit if you are unable to provide a solution to their pain points.Source
Making a purchase
Once you’ve convinced them that you are able to provide solution to their pain points, your prospects will now purchase from you.
During the purchase stage, you shouldn’t take it for granted—they may abandon their cart out of the blue.
To prevent abandonment, you should be able to provide your customers with a clear and straight-forward buying procedure from you.
Build a long-lasting customer relationship
You may think that a successful purchase is the end of this new marketing funnel however that’s not the case.
You should be able to build a long-lasting relationship with your customers. You can do this by providing onboarding tools and resources.
A welcome and even perhaps a thank you email is a great way to build a foundation.
Ensure customer retention
Welcoming your customers to your business is not what makes them purchase from you again—it’s about continuously engaging them with valuable content.
But don’t just send any email that comes across your mind.
Think of it, what made you unsubscribe from an email? More often than not, it’s because you are getting bombarded with announcements and newsletters which are not useful and waste of time.
Expand your customer connection
Just like with almost everything, change is inevitable even for your customers’ interests and needs.
The data you have during the engagement stage may not be as useful as before.
In order to alleviate or even prevent customer boredom, you should expand your connection through customer data collection.
This can be easily gathered through short surveys and question forms.
Ask them about their buying experience, what needs to be improved, and more.
With the data on-hand, you can apply their opinions and suggestions accordingly to your company’s goals. As new solutions are being presented, expect more prospects to come in.
Advocate your brand
Even when you have existing customers, that shouldn’t stop you from acquiring more.
Advocating or marketing your company through online channels such as advertisements and partnerships can bring in new customer prospects.
Once you’ve piqued their interest, just like your existing customers, they will go through into the unique hourglass marketing funnel starting off with brand awareness.
Long gone are the days of a linear and streamlined customer buying experience—although the old funnel shaped marketing process may seem still applicable today.
The ever-changing marketing climate could bring more possibilities for your company, and sticking to it could close doors for you and your prospects.
Remember, as the online marketing industry continues to grow and evolve, so should your marketing funnel.