Brand Funnels, Marketing Funnels, The Customer Journey. What does it all mean for your business?
On average, customers engage with 3-5 content posts before taking steps to purchase or enquire. Each customer goes through a journey from the moment they see a piece of your marketing content and show interest, to the final sale and deal close, all the way then to the advocacy phase, where they simply can't get enough of your brand (for whatever reason).
Your Brand Funnel (sometimes known as a marketing funnel) is your brand's approach to attracting prospective customers and whetting their interests enough to get them to buy. How you approach this point in the marketing spectrum is up to you, and a lot of marketers suggest different approaches.
Below we'll tell you all about the Brand Funnel, from the awareness phase to the advocacy phase, and also about ways you can tailor your content to suit each of these stages.
The top funnel, sometimes known as the awareness phase, is focused on targeting people who know nothing about your brand but have similar interests and so may find intrigue in your products or in what you have to offer. It's made up of marketing campaigns and generally leans on highly creative, abstract or 'big' ideas in order to capture the attention of the target audience when they're scrolling or walking along the street.
Top funnel marketing is generally where you begin your brand recognition process, and may not lead to any new paying customers but will pave the way for their journey towards buying with you.
The top of the funnel is where you'll usually target a large, broad audience in your target area, with less emphasis on catching sales but more on catching attention.
Some examples of top-funnel advertisements:
The mid funnel is correlated with the interest phase, where you've gathered a list or database of people who've shown interest in your top funnel ads, whether it's through clicking your links or visiting your site. This phase of marketing bridges the gap between initial intrigue and the final sale, and focuses on refining the message you're sending to already-interested people.
Mid funnel marketing content generally has a more direct and concise message, usually something informative/instructional to help potential customers better understand what exactly your brand can do for them, and guide them on their buying journey. This segment of marketing can also proactively work on creating brand loyalty in these potential customers, through consistent connection at customer touch points.
While top funnel content focuses on broad reach, the mid funnel's objective is to hone-in on those that are proven (through analysing your previous top funnel data) to be more likely to buy.
Some examples of mid-funnel advertising:
The evaluation phase, or low funnel stage, is where customers end up when they've seen your top funnel and mid funnel content, and when they've shown increasing interest in your ads and in your brand. Low funnel marketing is the process of finalising or cementing-in your potential customer's desire to buy with you, and content within this stage is generally much more to-the-point and precise, usually including a noticeable call to action such as "Get started now" or "Buy Cadbury's Chocolate" (These are obviously simplified examples).
Generally, low funnel marketing is seen on social media, websites or other device-related systems where the user can easily click on the call to action right from the advert. Once potential customers see this type of content, the goal is that they'll finally press "Buy" or "Book now" or whatever other call to action you've placed, and will end the first chapters of their buying journey.
With a generally quite small and refined reach range compared to top funnel and mid funnel marketing, this stage is when you're only really targeting users who have shown consistent and increasing interest in your brand, or have added and left items in their cart, or abandoned a contact form mid-way, and so on. The idea is to give potential customers another final reason to buy with you, and can even come in the form of a special offering, free goodies or flash sales for people with abandoned carts.
I found some examples of low-funnel ads by scrolling Facebook, each with a clear, bold call-to-action:
So you've held your customer's hand and brought them from the start of their prospective journey right up till the end - but wait, surely that can't be it, right? Where does the customer go afterwards? Do they leave the very idea of buying from your brand in a distant forgotten memory?
Of course not, because directly after they buy with you, a new opportunity arrises where you'll want to retain your existing and new customers, build brand loyalty and also even advocacy, meaning they're crazy about your brand, for lack of a better description.
The post-purchase stages are as follows:
You've locked onto your customer and they've made a purchase. Now your objective is to retain their interest in your brand and potentially even up-sell them with other, bigger products to increase their spending with you over time. 50% of your brand's repeat buyers make a second purchase only 16 days after their first.
50% of your brand's repeat buyers make a second purchase only 16 days after their first.
This is where your customer's personal preference for your brand comes into play. They'll start to identify more with your brand on a personal level, and as a result they might consistently purchase form you and are much more likely to refer your brand, products or services to a friend or group of friends. Brand loyalty can be attained through more personal messaging within your marketing content, and also through community development and engagement, to show your customers that you're always around and you'll always care for them, essentially.
It may take a long time and consistent connections with your customer to achieve advocacy from them, but this is more or less the end goal for each customer's buying journey.
Advocacy can be seen as product reviews, posting (or even bragging) about owning your products on social media (think Apple), and is the peak of the customer journey. Brand advocacy means customers are completely loyal to you, will potentially refer you to everybody that might be interested in what you offer, and can often bring more awareness to your brand through posting, blogging or reviewing products.
Naturally, since each stage in your marketing journey is different and targets a different segment of your target audience, you need to create content that will suit and shape the way people begin to engage with your brand.
Top funnel marketing is done generally through channels like blogs, search engine marketing (SEM) or social media marketing (via targeted advertisements).
Your audience here is mainly looking for answers to various (sometimes subconscious) questions they have, relevant opinions on your brand, interesting or engaging insights, and so on.
Some ideas for top-level content:
Mid-level content is targeting people who know about and show interest in your brand, and the idea here is to help those people understand more about you, the services you offer or how your solution is relevant to their problem or pain-point. Your potential customers at this point want to know whether your brand is the right fit for them, and it's your job to convince them that it is. To quote Hubspot writer Amanda Sellers, "In the consideration stage, the buyer persona is still considering solutions to their pain or problem. For this reason, product comparisons are a great way to help them make a decision."
In the consideration stage, the buyer persona is still considering solutions to their pain or problem. For this reason, product comparisons are a great way to help them make a decision.
Here are some effective content types for Mid-level:
Low-level content is based around a smaller segment of your target audience - the people who are ready to buy now (usually). At this point, it's your job to convince them that your brand or product is better for their problem or pain-point than your competitors.
The Brand Funnel is the way in which a business or organisation approaches their prospective customers' buying journey and how it manages to guide them through that journey. Each stage in the process can be mapped to a certain content type, a certain look, feel or message within that content, and can also factor your audience size at any given moment.
From awareness to advocacy, there's a long road ahead of your potential customer, and understanding the basics of a brand/marketing funnel can help you make that journey easier and more delightful for the customer. Positioning your marketing efforts correctly by creating a brand funnel is also a great (if not essential) way to retain existing customers and build brand loyalty over time, leading to referrals and sometimes even free traffic in the case of customers reviewing or posting about you or your product.
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