We are going to look at how to model marketing funnels based on customer behavior data.
When you think of a marketing funnel is this the image that pops up in your head?
Marketers typically think of a funnel as something linear and simple, just as the image above. People develop an awareness of their problems. They start considering a solution and then they click on a CTA and buy the product.
Only if it were that simple.
In the real world, it hardly ever works this way. A realistic customer journey is more complex with people moving in and out of the funnel. There are dozens of different touchpoints, there are stages of consideration and reconsideration before someone converts.
We will look at this in further detail below.
Stage 1 – Recognizing the Problem
The realization that you have a problem kickstarts the buying process. If you don’t have a problem there wouldn’t be a need for you to look for a solution. If your car runs on gas you will quickly start searching for pumps nearby. Running out of gas is a pressing issue. You want an immediate solution.
Not all problems warrant immediate solutions. Three are a number of products where you need to educate your audience for longer.
Say you’re selling a drug. Say the person shows physical symptoms. But, only when the symptoms have been persisting for some time are they going to take some action and start searching about the problem and potential solutions.
Stage 2 – Searching for Information
Once you know you have a problem THE SECOND step is searching about the problem. At this stage, you’re doing everything you can to understand the problem in a better way.
Your leads are doing the same thing. Creating content for this stage brings potential leads before you transfer them to the second stage of the funnel.
The strategy that you use to gather information depends on both the size of the business and who you target.
A report from Google says that over 51% of customers will use Google to research and find more information about their purchases before shopping.
People aren’t spending all this time looking for promotional content. They want potential solutions.
At this stage, people know they must have a solution. They however may not be fully aware of what the solution might be though.
They are looking for answers that might help them move to the next stage. They’re developing a better understanding of the problem and looking at how different products can help.
Your goal at this stage is to build brand awareness by targeting the right customers. To do this successfully, start by providing educational and informative content, offer them a trial of the product, or target them through informational webinars.
Ideally, you shouldn’t force customers to look at your product. Instead, focus on providing as much value as you can to potential customers with the help of content. To understand your customers’ needs better, you can also use call tracking software that helps to analyze incoming calls from consumers who share their pain points with your customer support team. Based on this you can start segmenting potential customers.
Plus, help people find you through search engines and social media. This is where search engine optimization can help.
- Generating awareness through SEO
Most of the organic traffic to any site comes from Google. Build awareness for your brand through blog posts, videos, or lead magnets by researching lead magnet keywords.
Imagine this. Someone is searching for email marketing tips. Later down the road, he may also want to purchase email marketing tools. Creating content for the keyword helps you get hold of the customer at the very start of the funnel and egg them on to learn more about what’s on offer.
Here’s an example from Mailchimp on the very same keyword email marketing tips.
You can also raise SEO awareness through guest posting on other high-authority sites relevant to your niche.
Provide the reader with valuable content. This establishes your site as high-quality and you come across as an expert on the topic before the target audience.
- Generating awareness through PPC
To build awareness with PPC the key is to focus on high-intent search traffic and work how these keywords figure into the consideration stage.
Always consider high-intent keywords because you multiply the odds of conversion with those.
What are high-intent keywords?
High-intent keywords can be classified as such:
- Navigational intent is built around reaching a specific page or pages, say the trial page or product demo page
- Transactional intent is around intent to purchase.
Understanding these behavioral triggers helps you create a working strategy.
For instance, when I search for something like the best CRM, the ad invites me to start their free trial today.
Clicking through I get a landing page that asks for only my email to start the free trial.
With PPC you’re effectively paying for each click the ad generates. That’s why you need to take the next steps as painless as possible. That’s how you maximize the number of leads you get.
- Generating awareness through social media
To raise further awareness you should ideally be present where your audience is. As per Statista, Facebook is great for targeting B2B and B2C audiences. Instagram is ideal for targeting B2C audiences.
Here’s an example.
Here’s another ad. This ad from AppMaster targets anyone who wants to create functioning apps but doesn’t know a thing about coding.
Such ads that target people when they are searching for information around the problem can improve brand awareness, tempting anyone in the consideration stage.
Focus on engagement. This is the currency social media channels are using to curate feeds. Post engaging content. You should aim at achieving social media engagement growth. The more likes, comments, and shares the content has the more eyes you get on your brand. To achieve growth, you can
Stage 3- Evaluating Alternatives
Once consumers learn of alternatives they’re going to cross-compare them based on what products they already found.
At this stage, they will either bounce or proceed to check out the options so that they can evaluate different solutions.
The messaging should be less about educating the audience on the pain point and more about why your solution is the best choice for them. How to do this?
Start by listing the unique features of your product or lead by sharing the pricing of the product that makes it a more preferred solution to pick.
Here’s an example from Brevo (formerly Sendinblue), an email marketing tool.
The landing page wastes no time in describing why Brevo (formerly Sendinblue) is superior to other email marketing programs.
Say for instance that someone wants enterprise-level email automation programs, they’re aware that such a piece of software can easily set them back by $500 to $1000 per month. Zeroing down on a solution requires extensive research on different solutions.
A potential buyer will cross-compare solutions, going over each feature for a number of products before they find one that perfectly suits their needs. To this end, they try to educate themselves by watching videos, signing up for product demos, and even talking to other users of the product to better understand how each product performs.
If you’re running an accounting business, your customers are most likely looking at a bunch of different service providers and need pricing guides or in-depth guides on what their business requires, say an accounting agency, or a single accountant.
What you can do at this point is offer dedicated educational resources that you can use to target the right lead.
With access to multiple touchpoints prospects are in a better position to analyze things and make decisions. They are always looking at and comparing their options ahead of making the purchase decision.
At this stage you can use:
- Reviews and testimonials
- Case studies for different customer demographics
- Product or customer experience webinars
- White papers
Remember to use personalization to your advantage. In the consideration stage, you often have customer data before you. This is from site visitors or people who signed up to your list.
You can use the previous interactions from the customer to run retargeting ads engaging those who left without converting.
You can also use their historical data to send them personalized emails.
For example, with this cart abandonment email, Adidas offers a number of compelling reasons in the form of testimonials and reviews by fellow customers.
Prospects at this stage are more serious about the purchase than ones who are doing the initial research and don’t have to begin at the top of the funnel.
Stage 4 – Purchase Decision
The purchase decision comes last and now they know which option suits them best.
You can provide trials or solid money-back guarantees to move people closer to the purchase decision.
These offers can make trying out your product a no-brainer.
By this stage, you’re already around finishing 100% of the work.
To accomplish this, you can deploy various CRO tactics.
Here’s what you can do to make it a no-brainer for a prospect to become a customer:
- A 30-day money-back guarantee
- A free trial for $1
- A pay by performance pricing structure
- Customer support chat
Why the typical marketing funnel model fails?
The pyramid marketing funnel assumes a linear direction for the customer lifecycle. A customer hears of your business. They visit the site. They sign up for a demo or complete a form. The sales team contacts them and presto they’re a customer.
The truth is marketing funnels are rarely so straightforward.
A realistic customer journey is more complex. It has many touchpoints as well as obstacles on the way to the purchase.
Your funnel may not be as complex as the one shown above. The important thing to remember is a consumer doesn’t move down the different stages of a marketing funnel linearly.
A customer may consider and reconsider his decision time and again.
Think that each stage indicates the present state of the consumer’s mind. Target customers with content they need wherever they’re in their journey.
You can map actions based on customer interactions and assign these actions to the stages of the marketing funnel.
Think of this situation.
There’s a person who’s been visiting your site. Let’s call him Person 1.
Person 1 has visited the site a number of times. They’re in the consideration stage and know what it is they’re evaluating.
The actions he has taken take him closer to closing the deal with you and you get the chance to engage them directly with a product-focused webinar that shows your brand as the top choice.
You can choose to deliver content based on what prospects did before. Every interaction moves them closer to a purchase or repurchase.
As the business keeps growing, you can keep mapping content for each stage of the funnel based on patterns or their past activity. Track customer actions starting from their first interaction.
Here are things you can start tracking:
- The landing pages they visited and the order of their visit
- The marketing tactics that converted them
- The emails they clicked through
These are the different conversion pathways someone takes. But each time look at which pathways the customers used to convert the highest number of times to get the shortest and the most profitable pathways.
If you don’t have the raw data to work from, build the strategies based on the aptest content choices for different customer personas.
Eliminate conversion friction
To increase conversions, make it as easy as possible for people to complete a purchase. Doing this requires some conversion rate optimization (CRO) marketing.
Based on what you’re selling and your transactions, it can draw out resources and it may result in a/b testing, user testing and accurately measuring goals.
If you have the resources, start by running tests to see if you can improve your conversion rate.
If your checkout process consists of a number of steps, ideally streamline the process to make the experience smoother. If shipping costs are high, use alternative methods to bring down the cost.
Without data and resources, you need your focus on key principles to make things work.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Reducing page load time
- Having one goal per piece of content
- Removing distractions
- Leading with benefits
- Use headings that speak to the audience directly
- Use desire or fear.
To create a marketing funnel modeled on customer behavior, think about the customer from his viewpoint.
Think about what he’s thinking at each step of the journey beginning from awareness to conversion.
The traditional marketing funnel can be a starting point but make sure there are several touchpoints and you need to focus on each one.
Use data to understand which tactics work at each stage and fill in gaps by mapping out the pathway.
Track and measure what you’re doing. Performance metrics will steer your campaigns forward.
Author bio: George is a marketer and writer who spent the last 10 years writing about marketing and CRO on blogs like CrazyEgg and Kissmetrics. He now blogs at Kamayobloggers.com