The internet has revolutionised marketing. Therefore, the way brands connect with customers has also changed. A brand’s relationship with a customer no longer ends after they’ve completed a purchase — that’s only half of it.
The classic marketing funnel was straightforward, accounting for the buyer’s journey with a brand through the AIDA model:
The AIDA model above is designed to lead customers through a sales funnel and considers the buyer’s first contact with your brand down to the point of sale.
In the past, the ‘Action’ stage would be represented by a buyer’s purchase of product or service. Now, the AIDA model is used by marketers as more of a communication model.
According to Smart Insights, the AIDA model assists brands in knowing how and when to Engage with buyers, which platforms to use, and the kind of information the brand should provide.
But then stepped in the new wave of marketing: the digital marketing funnel.
The push for traditional marketing to evolve has been driven by technological advancements, but also through the rise of social media. It is believed that we are bombarded with over 10,000 messages a day. For brands to cut through the noise, it’s in their best interest to foster a strong relationship with consumers even long after the buyer has made a purchase.
Thus the new digital marketing funnel expands the AIDA model to consider this new brand and buyer relationship:
At the top of the digital marketing funnel, are leads or potential customers that visit or engage with a site. At this stage, the main objective is to attract and capture their interest. Objectives for brands at ToFu include:
When potential customers further develop a relationship with a product or brand, they are considered at the middle of the funnel. Here, they may engage with a brand on social media, attend company events, or seek further information about their products and services.
The final segment of the funnel is known as the bottom of the funnel where potential customers are likely to convert into paying customers. At this stage, they become advocates after having established a strong connection with a product and brand.
The digital marketing funnel puts the buyer first, considers their needs, and directs the brand to create campaigns that meet those needs.
By understanding the different stages of a robust digital marketing strategy, it is also crucial that brands are able to iterate and improve their efforts through the ability to measure success.
According to 500Startups co-founder Dave McClure, there are 5 key metrics of which marketers should focus on to measure their marketing efforts. Marketers can use these metrics as key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the effectiveness of their campaigns at any specific stage of the digital marketing funnel.
Acquisition: In the acquisition stage, brands measure a person’s first contact with a product or website. Initially, this can be measured by unique views. For websites, this can also be measured by bounce rates.
Activation: Activation refers to the product or service use. How many of the people you’ve acquired and engaged with actually use your product? Measuring what constitutes an activated user or buyer depends on the product or service offered, or the brand itself.
Retention: You want people to come back for more, not just use your product or service once. How often they return varies, and you can choose according to what is appropriate for your brand.
Referrals: How many users ended up advocating for your product, and how many people did they bring in? You can measure according to how many views or people inquiring about your brand, or how many a customer referred and ended up being customers themselves.
Revenue: Measuring revenue isn’t just about the total profit, but also considering the LTV (lifetime value) of a customer. The LTV metric is why there are 4 other stages or metrics that are crucial to measure before revenue.
Marketing is no longer simply launching a campaign and obtaining once-off purchases from buyers. It’s a long game, that if done correctly can generate rewarding results for businesses. Avinash Kaushik’s See-Think-Do-Care Model gives strategy suggestions depending on where the buyer is at on the digital marketing funnel.
At the top of the funnel during the Engagement or Acquisition stages brands can employ:
When customers are in the middle of the funnel, during the Research, Evaluation or Justification stages brands can use:
At the bottom of the funnel, during the Purchasing stage, marketers can use:
Now that you know what to do, why do it, and how to measure your success, the last step is execution.
There’s a lot that needs to be done and done well. How do you balance your time or your marketing team’s resources when there are 10 stages to the buyer’s journey, each requiring different strategies to be implemented?
This is where marketing automation comes in.
Marketing automation, according to Hubspot, “refers to the software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions.” It is often done for repetitive tasks like email marketing and social media posting.
Here’s how you get started on automating some of your marketing tasks:
Some common tools used to automate tasks in your digital marketing funnel include:
The shift to an expanded marketing funnel compared with the classic AIDA model has accommodated our current area of digital disruption, but this is by no means the end of this marketing shift.
Experts predict that the future of marketing includes Account-Based Marketing (ABM), where brands instead identify their target companies or groups, expand to decision makers, engage with them through personalised marketing plans, and convert them to advocates.
This trend essentially ‘flips the funnel’, where brands will start off with a narrow list of target entities. This targeted approach hopes to help address the problem of marketers having a hard time getting their prospect’s attention.
As brands and companies (especially B2B) start adopting the ABM approach, one thing is clear: marketers and brands need to stay on top of industry practices and adjust rapidly to changes.
Agility is key to growing your brand, and agility in marketing strategies is now more important than ever.