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5 Stages in the Digital Marketing Funnel

By Angela Hausman, PhD | Small Business

5 Stages in the Digital Marketing Funnel image 51f3ef4dafd9e2 85918233 priw5s5 Stages in the Digital Marketing Funnel photoI ran into this colorful infographic depicting the digital marketing funnel the other day and thought I’d share it with you.

That said, I shared this more because it’s colorful than the uniqueness of the content. In fact, the content is very similar to the existing marketing funnel. The article containing this inforgraphic, however, is really GREAT stuff and a must read for folks doing social media marketing as it describes using Google Analytics to monitor movement down the funnel to maximize your ROI.

Personally, I feel my own infographic on the social media hierarchy of effects reflecting the social nature of social media marketing is a much better conceptualization of the digital marketing funnel — without the over-emphasis on the sales aspect of the funnel.

5 Stages of the Digital Marketing Funnel

Exposure

All versions of the marketing funnel start with awareness, since you can’t do anything until consumers become aware of your brand. Digital adds another option to other forms creating awareness and harnesses the power of word-of-mouth, which is much more effective than traditional advertising. Getting users to share your content gives it the patina of legitimacy missing from advertising. Search also helps share your content. Hence, your exposure strategy consists of:

  1. SEO (search engine marketing) to get found in organic search
  2. Content marketing – to create content worthy of sharing
  3. Building a community – who shares as part of the tit for tat of the community

Add in a little traditional digital advertising through banners and PPC and you’ve got the beginnings of a great funnel.

Obviously, analyzing your success across these tasks is important for your ultimate success and KPIs (key performance indicators) act as metrics to monitor your programs.

Discovery

Once prospects find your site, the trick is to keep them there and keep them coming back. Recommendation agents are particularly good at helping visitors discover suitable products. Amazon is probably the granddaddy at this with their simple recommendation agent that recommends other books viewed by folks who bought the book you’re viewing. Netflix has a more sophisticated recommendation agent that finds movies based on your rating of movies you’ve already watched.

I use a plugin called Outbrain, which offers other posts similar to the one you’re reading. You’ll find these listed graphically at the bottom of this post. Check out a few and let me know how well the recommendation agent is working.

Enticing visitors to sign up for you email newsletter provides additional opportunities to reach them once they’ve left your site.

Consideration

Salesforce.com estimates that consumers are 75% of the way to making their decision to buy your brand BEFORE they ever visit your store or see a sales rep. Thus, it’s critical to address all their issues on your website and use influence strategies effectively throughout the site.

Conversion

Make the sale. Take as many clicks out of the selling process as possible and only ask for information critical for completing the transaction. Remember, this is a close. And, once someone is ready to buy — consummate the deal. You can get more information if you’d like AFTER they’ve closed.

And, like any good salesperson, don’t leave without getting referrals. Ask that they share their purchase with their social networks to gain tacit endorsements among their social graph. For instance, Groupon offers to refund your purchase if you get 3 friends to buy it. That’s a great incentive to share.

Customer Relationship

I was involved in marketing in the old days when we didn’t talk about building a relationship with customers to keep them coming back. Now, relationships are seen as the goal of all transactions. But some customers don’t really want a relationship with you. This was brought to my attention in some work I was doing in graduate school — sometimes you just want your waiter to bring your food and leave you alone. You don’t want them to be your best friend and keep stopping by the table to ask if you need anything. Just fill my water-glass and disappear.

Relationships rely on each party getting value. If you’re customer isn’t getting value, then it isn’t a relationship they want. So, while I might not want the invasiveness of the waiter interrupting my dinner conversation (or studying), I’ll really appreciate that they clear the table when I’m done and not bring my check until I’m ready to leave. Think about what you can do to provide value versus being an annoyance to your customers.

Retention

You obviously want to retain existing customers since it’s 5x more expensive to replace a customer who leaves your digital marketing funnel. Again, provide value and customers will likely stay. Annoy them with constant irrelevant emails and spam their newsfeeds and they’ll leave.

Monitoring

Optimizing your digital marketing funnel means assessing your success in pouring more people into your funnel, driving more folks down the funnel, and making sure folks stay in your funnel. So monitor metrics related to your digital marketing funnel that highlight problems.

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