When you first learned about the marketing funnel, you probably learned the acronym AIDA, which stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. These steps outline how customers learn about your brand or product and eventually complete a purchase. The AIDA marketing model was first developed back in 1898 and remains a foundational lesson for marketers today.
While fundamentally accurate, today’s savvy and complex customers go beyond those four basic steps. As we look ahead to the new year, we want to help you develop a more modern marketing funnel that also accounts for what happens after a purchase and how to keep customers coming back for more. After all, loyal, returning customers are often the best source of revenue.
Stages of the Marketing Funnel
Let’s take your marketing further In 2023 and plan for a marketing funnel that includes the following:
- Awareness. This is where new customers first learn about your brand. At this stage, the focus is simply on capturing your target audience’s attention and warming them up for future interactions.
- Consideration. At this stage of the funnel, you’ve got the potential customer’s attention — but they’re not quite ready to buy. They’re likely still researching and weighing your product/service against other alternatives.
- Conversion. At this point, a customer is ready to buy, and your brand is on their mind. Now it’s all about making it easy and worthwhile for the customer to complete the purchase.
- Loyalty. Your relationship with the customer doesn’t end after they’ve made the purchase. This stage is about their ongoing happiness and enticing them to buy more.
- Advocacy. At this stage, it’s all about turning customers into life-long fans and encouraging them to share their experiences with others.
While we call it a “funnel,” today’s savvy customers don’t always take the straight and narrow path. Your customers are human, meaning they have unique preferences and experiences. Sometimes customers jump back and forth between stages or take one step forward, then two steps back. Depending on the products or services you’re selling, certain stages of the funnel might require more time and attention than others. While there’s no one-size-fits-all journey through the marketing funnel, there are some tried and true ways you can align your marketing campaigns and budget to keep people moving toward conversion!
Let’s look at strategies that guide customers at each stage of the funnel to get more sales and boost revenue.
Awareness: Up your game on social media
If you’re looking to increase revenue in 2023, social media is where it’s at. With more than 4.26 billion people using social media, it’s not something your business can ignore or embrace haphazardly.
Too often, businesses treat social media as an afterthought because the path between a comment, like, or follow to actual revenue isn’t always clear or linear. But remember, the awareness stage isn’t about revenue. It’s about grabbing attention and standing apart from competitors, so your brand is first on their minds when a customer is ready to buy. After all, they can’t buy from you if they don’t know (or remember) you exist.
Optimize your social profiles
Before you go viral with eye-catching and memorable social content, your profile must be optimized to make it easy for customers to move to the next stage of the funnel once they arrive. The more barriers there are, the more likely you’ll lose them, or they’ll move on.
How you optimize your profile will vary depending on your brand and customers. Here are a few quick updates to consider:
- If you have a physical location, include your address on your profile so customers can easily get directions.
- Keep profile links updated and use LinkTree (or a similar tool) so customers can access multiple resources with one click. This is especially important on platforms like Instagram and Tiktok that only allow for one link in your profile.
- Tag relevant partners and influencers, so customers learn more about them without additional searching.
- If you sell products, set up and maintain your Instagram or Facebook Shop so customers can easily see products featured in your posts.
A good habit is to take on the role of “follower” or “customer” and think through how you might respond to each post, then optimize accordingly. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What will they want to do next once they come across your content or profile?
Maybe it’s just to give a like or comment for now. Great — now you’ll see more of the content. Or maybe you want to find out how to get to your location so you can shop or book an appointment. In that case, you’d visit their profile page for a link to their website, an address, or a location finder. Overall, look for ways to make ongoing engagement with your brand as simple as possible.
Embrace social trends
Many brands are still operating with a “Read our blog!” and “Check out this new product!” type social strategy that is boring and overly promotional. By taking advantage of trends, you’ll increase your likelihood of getting seen and share your message in a memorable, creative way that people won’t just gloss over.
Look for trending audio, memes, and discussions that you can approach authentically. To do this effectively, you must understand your customers and the meme/trend itself. A great way to spot and wrap your head around popular social trends is to follow other businesses and influencers in your industry and use tools like Google Trends or the Explore/Trending pages directly on the platform.
Kwik Trip, a Midwest-based gas station, is great when it comes to connecting with customers on social media. Check out this post using a viral audio clip from Soulja Boy.
View this post on Instagram
While they could’ve posted an image with a caption that says, “Stop by Kwik Trip to grab some snacks after work,” they took a more creative approach and used trending audio and a bit of humor to tap into something customers can relate to. While it doesn’t push a particular Kwik Trip product or encourage visits directly, the video got more than 2,500 likes. And you can bet that Kwik Trip was top of mind for thousands of hungry commuters who saw the video and wanted a quick bite that day.
Consideration: Build confidence with great content
In most cases, customers need more than one social post before buying or converting. Creating content and resources that answer questions and help customers better understand your company, products, and services will help them feel secure in your brand and future purchases.
Copy that’s too short, or that doesn’t address customers’ questions can create a lack of confidence. Why should they buy from you if they’re not 100% sure your brand is a good fit for them? If they can’t find what they need, they’ll likely jump to a competitor that does address their questions.
Share relevant product information and highlights
Update your product pages and website to include any, and all relevant information customers would likely need to know before purchasing your product or service. This can vary depending on your offerings, but ultimately customers need to be able to see if your business meets their needs and how it stands apart. Make sure the content is in-depth but skimmable.
Again, it helps to put yourself in your customers’ shoes here. What information is critical to know before purchase? Things like product sizing and dimensions, color options, materials or ingredients, pricing details, and shipping information are must-haves. Those details should be easily accessible on your product pages or other locations on your website.
If you really want to up your game, follow the lead of brands like Ikea and Sherwin Williams that use advanced augmented reality features to allow customers to see furniture and paint colors in their homes before buying. This helps build confidence that the product is a good fit.
Comparison content is also helpful so customers can weigh your product or service against other options. While it may seem counterintuitive to mention competitors and alternatives, providing these details upfront keeps customers from navigating to a competitor’s site while they weigh their options. And it allows you to shape the messaging and narrative.
La-Z-Boy has a great comparison piece highlighting differences between their furniture and Ashley Furniture, another popular brand. The piece builds up La-Z-Boy’s strengths without tearing the other brand down. On a B2B side, Slack opted for a webinar that highlights the benefits of their communication platform over alternatives like Skype and Microsoft Teams.
Collect reviews and user-generated content
You can talk about your product as much as you want, but it doesn’t hold nearly the same weight as what customers have to say about your business. If reviews and user-generated content aren’t part of your ongoing marketing strategy, 2023 is the time to start. Reviews and user-generated content are vital to building trust with customers and guiding them further through the funnel process.
According to yearly research from Brightlocal, 98% of people read online reviews for local businesses. And the growing popularity of product recommendations, unboxing videos, and 7+ billion “TikTok Made Me Buy It” searches highlight the importance of recommendations and authentic feedback from peers.
Here are a few ways to boost your reviews and user-generated content moving forward:
- Ask customers directly. Send an email to your customer list asking for reviews, testimonials, or case studies in exchange for a small discount code or incentive.
- Respond to reviews you get. Actively responding to reviews and reposting customers’ content on social media shows you’re engaged and indicates to customers that it’s worthwhile to leave a review of their own.
- Make it easy to leave and find reviews on your site. Include spots for people to leave a review directly on your website, such as on product, content, and testimonial pages. Optimize your profile on third-party review sites, such as Google Business and Yelp, so that customers can engage there as well.
Torrid, a plus size closing brand for women, puts reviews and user-generated content at the forefront of the shopping experience. They include customer reviews — and the option to post your own — at the bottom of every product page on their website. Customers can even include important details such as their size and when they purchased the item.
Conversion: Make it easy to complete a purchase or sign-up
Customers are ready to buy or take the next step at this stage. Your job now is to make that as easy as possible. Optimizing the purchasing or contact process across platforms will help minimize cart abandonment before purchases are finalized.
Offer one-click checkout
One-click checkout is a great way to simplify the purchase process to ensure that customers don’t drop off out of frustration or time constraints.
Businesses generally need a lot of information to complete an online order — credit card info, shipping info, delivery instructions, email for confirmation, and more. One-click checkout means customers only have to enter all this information once — and then it’s stored and easily accessible for future orders. This one-click capability is built into a lot of ecommerce and website platforms.
Shopify notes that one-click purchasing is especially beneficial for low-cost, “impulse” buys, such as kitchenware items and books. People looking for more complex and expensive purchases like hardware and B2B technology may be more wary of quick purchases.
Use chatbots and stellar customer service
Supporting your customers through the purchase process is key — and chatbots and knowledgeable customer service are two helpful ways to do that . These features allow your business to address last-minute hesitations that may cause customers to change their minds and abandon their cart.
Thanks to ecommerce, customers can opt to buy whenever and wherever. Chatbots allow you to assist customers at all hours without keeping employees available 24/7. Bots can answer common customer questions, provide updates on orders or product availability, and even offer personalized product recommendations. And if there’s a question the bot can’t answer, it can connect the customer with a knowledgeable human representative.
Feebi is a chatbot designed to automate up to 80% of a restaurant’s online conversations. It can handle reservations, menu requests, and more. The chatbot helps secure reservations and revenue while allowing restaurant staff to focus on patrons currently in the restaurant.
Loyalty: Offer perks in exchange for ongoing support
You’ve made the sale, and customers are happy. Now it’s time to show them how much you appreciate them — while enticing them to spend more with your business. Discounts and personalized upsells are the top way to turn someone from a one-time buyer to a repeat, loyal customer.
Who doesn’t love a good deal? According to a survey from Hawk Incentives Research, respondents noted that shopping for deals provides “emotional satisfaction.” And 40 percent of respondents said they “feel smart” when they find good deals.
You can tap into that emotional satisfaction by incentivizing customers to keep shopping with your brand. Maybe it’s 10% off their next purchase, a free item after they spend a certain amount, free shipping, rebates, and more. Or perhaps it’s an upsell with a product that goes well with the one they just bought. The goal is to get customers excited and keep them engaged with your business.
Kohl’s, a popular retail store, connects with customers at this loyalty stage with its popular Kohl’s Cash program. Promotions vary, but the gist is the more customers spend at Kohl’s, the more money they can earn for future purchases at Kohl’s. Starbucks is also known for Starbucks Rewards, a loyalty program that allows customers to earn “stars” that can be used for future purchases. Starbucks patrons also receive personalized promotions and recommendations through the app to encourage future orders.
Advocacy: Create referral campaigns
Loyal customers will continue to buy — but true advocates will get their friends, family, and colleagues to buy too. Referral and partnership programs are a great way to engage your customers and allow them to do some of the hard work of recruiting new customers for you.
Referral programs provide incentives to customers who get others to buy your product, sign up for your service, or engage with your brand in some way. Because people tend to associate with others with similar needs and interests, they probably know people who would be the perfect fit for your business. And, of course, these new customers mean more profit for your business with minimal effort on your part, so referral programs are a win-win.
When it comes to referral programs, the important thing is to choose an incentive that makes sense for your customers. SoFi, a financial company, offers a variety of referral programs for different products like loan refinancing, credit cards, and checking/savings accounts. If customers refer someone to sign up for a credit card, for example, they’ll earn $100. However, the cash reward is higher if the referral goes through the more complex loan refinancing process. Instead of a cash incentive, Dropbox, a cloud storage platform, gives you extra storage space in exchange for referrals.
Improve your marketing funnel in 2023
Are you ready to upgrade your marketing funnel and campaigns for the new year? We’re here to help! Let’s chat about how we can improve your marketing funnel and boost revenue in 2023.