Marketing Funnel and Sales Funnel. How do they work and how do they differ?

Marketing Funnel and Sales Funnel. How do they work and how do they differ?

Both funnels must work together to gather as many potential customers as possible (marketing funnel), lead and grow their potential customers (both funnels), and then turn them into customers (sales funnel). But the work does not end there. You need to constantly maintain and strengthen your relationships with customers so that they come back to you again and again. And here it is up to the customer service.

What is a marketing funnel and a sales funnel?

The model and structure of the marketing funnel and sales funnel in itself simplify and quantify each stage of the client’s path. This is the process of turning a potential customer into a customer in terms of marketing and, accordingly, sales. That is, the process that goes from the stage of awareness, when a potential client finds out about the company, to the stage of purchase. And after the purchase, satisfaction occurs, the effect of word of mouth and, of course, customer retention.

Thus, a funnel is the main way for any business to model for itself its marketing and sales system, which will make it possible to first "connect" to a potential client, and then transform it into your client.

Both funnels work together and create a single whole, so all its stages must be coordinated with each other.

One of the advantages of using a funnel is that you can set a specific goal for yourself and track your results every day / week in this marketing and sales system. And if the results are not visible and there is no transition from one stage to another, it turns out that you need to change something, for example, increase content marketing.

Carrying out data analysis, you can easily determine how it is better to “influence” or convince a potential client at each stage.

Like the funnel itself, you are trying to capture as much as you can. Like fishermen, throwing their big net to catch as many fish as possible. But here is what happens. As potential customers make their purchase decisions, at the same time at each stage there will be a reduction in their number. As the shape of the funnel suggests (tapering to the bottom), not all potential customers will be converted into customers, most will still be eliminated. But as soon as you understand the whole process and begin to understand it better, you can constantly improve your result by making various changes.

How the funnel works

To understand how the funnel generally works, you can make out a small example (superficially, without going into details).

Suppose there is a certain travel agency.

  • firstly, the travel agency conducts its social networks, where it places some information, announcements. Most potential customers are located there now.
  • being on the company's website, potential customers carefully study it, read interesting notes, articles, view information about special offers and promotions. A pop-up window appears with a proposal to join the mailing list of information about these same promotions and company news.
  • even if site visitors do not leave their e-mail, the tracking pixel will give them an advertisement for this travel agency on other resources, for example, VKontakte or other social networks with targeted paid advertising.
  • then they can go to the company’s page on VKontakte and again see beautiful photos of the sea coast, suitable tours and interesting offers.
  • if potential customers still do not get in touch and do not provide their contacts, then you can determine them yourself using all the same social networks.
  • now it all depends on how professionally the manager of this agency works: a call, an e-mail newsletter, etc. In general, further all the actions in the usual scenario of this company.
  • further, ideally, two options: either a potential client, agreeing, becomes a client, or recommends his acquaintances and relatives as possible clients. In this situation, something “shoots”.
  • basically everything. Customers are happy, enjoy their vacation. The travel agency reminds itself on a quarterly basis: it sends emails with interesting events taking place in different countries, company shares, sends a New Year card with congratulations, calls, reminding about itself, etc.
  • soon the holiday season begins and these same customers return to the company again.

Here is a small scenario of how a funnel can work.

How did the funnel

In 1898, the American advertiser Elias St. Elmo Lewis developed the so-called "consumer funnel", which includes four stages, which is used to this day.

  • Awareness: the potential client is aware of their problems and their solutions. Marketing, with the help of advertising, attracts attention and gives an idea of ​​a product or service. A potential customer finds out that it is available.
  • Interest: a potential client, having familiarized himself with a product or service, and making sure that they are suitable for him, begins to show interest. Marketing continues to develop interest in a product or service.
  • Desire: a potential customer begins to evaluate a particular brand and project the offered product or service on itself. Marketing here develops a desire to own a product. A potential client is no longer just interested, he wants to get it for himself.
  • Action: a potential customer at this stage moves from thoughts to actions and makes a purchase. Marketing, however, tells you what actions you need to take to make a purchase.

It is worth noting that there are many marketing funnels and they all differ both in design and in the number of stages, depending on the context. But the essence is still the same.

Each company should carefully choose a sales funnel, and ideally develop its own, one that will most effectively guide a potential customer through all stages, turning him into a customer.

How to design a funnel

In fact, it’s much easier to explain how to develop a funnel that will work than to take and do. Therefore, now there are many applications offering to create the so-called "online funnel". And of course, many companies resort to their help. And some ten years ago they could not even think about it.

In order to complete each stage of the funnel and at the same time obtain the desired results, the company must carefully develop a marketing plan. That is, you need to consider in detail each step in creating a positive path for a potential buyer through the funnel. Your analytics will help here.

Funnel Digital Marketing Tools

Marketers and sales people can’t come to a common opinion and agree on who is the funnel, and which of them should control the stages of the funnel and which ones. Now, during the development of digital marketing, most of the funnel control was taken by marketers, leaving the lower part to the salespeople. But somewhere in the middle of the funnel they still meet, and then they need to work together, together, to be more effective.

Digital marketing is a powerful tool in the entire marketing funnel. The tactic that is used for social networks promotes brand awareness at the top of the funnel, benefits content marketing in the middle and builds customer relationships below.

Here are the digital marketing tools that will benefit both the marketing funnel and the sales funnel.

Social networks are, one might say, the most important tool that you need to use at the very beginning of the funnel to increase brand awareness. It is equally great for retaining existing customers and those who show their interest in your brand.

Email is another powerful funnel tool that can be effective at any stage, especially at the retention stage.

User reviews are often a deciding factor when making a purchase. Approximately half of the people consider the information in the reviews more important than that given with the help of other marketing material.

Website and SEO are important in the awareness phase, but you want to get traffic to your website. It is important here to create SEO-friendly content, that is, maintain your blog, work with backlinks, etc.

Lead magnets are a valuable offer provided to a potential client in exchange for contact information (email address, phone number). This could be, for example, a free e-book or a gift coupon.

Funnel Stages

As noted earlier, there are a great many options for the funnel, but they are all built in the same way and carry the same meaning. Therefore, six stages of the funnel are allocated as a standard.

So what are these six stages or, in other words, levels?

The top of the funnel:

1. Awareness and problem recognition

The first step in any funnel is awareness and recognition of the problem. When a person begins to realize a certain need for something, the first stage of the funnel is already starting. At this stage, lead generation occurs. The brand should attract the attention of potential customers so that they know that such exists and is accessible to them. And the potential client, in turn, must realize two things: there is a buyer’s problem and there is a solution to this problem that a specific company offers. It is here that the business should throw its marketing networks as far as possible and, in order to attract attention, settle down where its target audience is. Try to interact with potential customers, try to establish confidence in yourself.

2. Interest and information search

As soon as marketing has created awareness and interest in a product, brand or service, the next stage begins - interest and information search. Potential buyers begin to learn more about the company / brand and what the company / brand offers. Content marketing here should be more informative and be of some value than just basic brand awareness. At this stage, funnels begin to establish relationships with future customers, here they get acquainted with the services of the company.

You can increase the number of potential customers using targeted marketing such as email and newsletters, how-to videos, webinars, in-house research, targeted advertising, etc. The goal is to show the potential customer that he is in the right place and direct him to where he should find out about the offer.

It is important to position yourself as an expert in your industry and provide useful information that can really help people. Whatever the target audience, you need to try to create such content that will help in solving the problem.

To begin with, you can research keywords using Google Trends or Yandex.Wordstat, and other tools will give an idea of ​​what search queries people carry out in a particular industry. Then you can create content that matches these needs.

Of course, each company wants to understand for itself the parameters by which the client will choose exactly its product or service and what it has for that reason. So, future buyers will look for a solution to their problem in search engines or social networks, and this, first of all, depends on the product or service. For example, using voice search on Maps, you can easily find nearby cafes, and for a larger purchase, such as household appliances or a car, you just need to visit several stores.

The middle of the funnel:

3. Review and assessment

After searching for information, the next stage of the funnel begins - consideration and evaluation. This is what used to be called “desire”, but now it is called the “middle of the funnel”. At this stage, the consumer begins to formulate his decision, so the task of marketing is to develop a desire to possess a product or to use a service.

Various case studies will also be useful here, because they can highlight previous success and increase credibility. Marketing content should contain more information about the product or service, you can provide exclusive offers to potential customers, and posting frequently asked questions and delivery information on the site will only make you more comfortable.

Depending on the type of product or service, the time spent at each stage varies. In general, it is believed that the review and evaluation phase is often the longest in the funnel, and can last weeks or even months. Marketers, on the other hand, must consistently strengthen their relations with future customers and timely provide the necessary information, which these same customers will subsequently be guided in when making their decision.

4. Intention / Commitment

Beyond the review phase, potential customers move on to intentions and commitments. They are almost customers. These people showed some interest in buying a product or service. Here free trial versions, consultations, meetings can be offered, as consumers are already ready to make contact. Perhaps potential customers put the product in a basket on the site and thereby showed their intention to purchase. The task of marketers is to convincingly substantiate why their product or service is the best choice for the buyer.

Also, this is exactly the place where salespeople intersect with marketers and take responsibility for the work of the funnel. That is, the tactics of collaboration between marketers and sales people is to stimulate the decision-making process and convince the buyer.

Funnel bottom:

5. Conversion / Purchase

If a potential customer has reached the bottom of the funnel, then he decided to buy and become a customer. That is, the client went through all the stages - he realized that he had a problem, and determined that a particular company could solve it.

At the conversion and purchase stage, the sales processes have a kind of control over the client. The goal is to make the online purchase process as simple, safe and effective as possible. It is important to reduce any risk to the client. You can also sell something to the client or turn his attention to a more expensive product or service.

If this stage works efficiently and customers are satisfied with their purchase, then you can no longer worry.

6. Loyalty and propaganda

Everything that happens after the sale is key, but for some reason many companies fail here. Satisfied with the planned sale, they allow many potential future customers to simply leave. You need to be able to keep your best customers, because the fastest and cheapest way to conversion is through existing customers. Loyalty and propaganda is the last stage of the funnel.

Email and social networks are excellent tools to use at this stage, which allow you to stay in touch with customers and maintain relationships with them. You can send an offer and inform the client about what is now on sale. In fact, another value is laid here - to try to create a relationship with your client so that he leads, so to speak, brand propaganda. Indeed word of mouth, as you know, a powerful marketing tool and also free! You can try to create a kind of “fans” who will subsequently become brand advocates.

Thus, we can conclude that the marketing funnel and the sales funnel work inseparably from each other and form a single whole.