Customizing Your Marketing Funnel


5What is a marketing funnel? Think about your normal funnel (used at home), the idea behind is to get your liquid content safely from a container (wide or narrow) to another container (most likely narrow)so that nothing spills. We define a marketing funnel as the different stages your customers go through when marketing your products up to the point of use. That’s the stage at which customers use your product. Ensuring nothing spills in this context means you try as much as possible not to lose customers.

A funnel is the set of steps consumers needs to go through before they can reach the conversion. A good example is an ecommerce site’s purchase funnel. There are a few steps a visitor has to go through before they can purchase a product. Here’s how it looks:

  • They have to visit the website
  • View a product
  • Add a product to the cart
  • They have to purchase

There are additional steps/actions that have to be taken before, between and after each of these steps. The set of steps to a conversion is called a “funnel” because at the beginning of the process, there are a lot of people who take the first step. Then, as the people continue along and take the next steps, some of them drop out, and the size of the crowd narrows. And even further along in the process, your sales team have to get involved to help close the deal.

In this post, we’d walk through the process with a fictional friend “John”, who wants to buy a laptop.

There are 5 basic steps that occur during this process:

1.  Need

No matter how good your communication and marketing strategy is consumers have to have a need for your product. A lot of people get in at this phase of the funnel and it starts to get narrow after this phase. The trick here is to get as much people to come in at this phase, needing your product or services. So, when you hear people say “widen the funnel,” you now know what they are referring to. They want to cast a larger net by advertising to new audiences, increasing your brand awareness, adding inbound marketing, etc. in order to drive more people to their site, thus widening their funnel. The more people there are in a funnel, the wider it is and the higher the chance of moving to the next phase of the funnel.

John gets into this stage because his laptop got stolen from the back seat of his car at third mainland bridge. A crude way to teach a man not to drive down a traffic laden road with his windows down. Now that he doesn’t have a laptop anymore, he’s in the market for one.

2. Research:

People have recognized that they need your product. But is it really worth all the hype and scale of preference that comes with it (priorities). Can they do without your product even if they think they need it? At this phase of the funnel they do extensive research online and offline. They depend on any source of information available like:

  • Reading reviews online
  • Asking friends for recommendations
  • Deals and discounts
  • Visiting a store for a hands-on demonstration
  • Searching Google for options

The strategies used to gather information tend to vary based on the size and scope of the purchase. Realizing that you are hungry, for example, might result in a quick Google search for restaurants in your area, but buying a new car will require extensive research on models, price, shipping, durability, fuel consumption and so on.

After a lot of research that night on his phone, John decides that the best laptop for him to buy would be a simple Intel based laptop with an i7 processor and 8GB of RAM. Now that that’s sorted, we can move on to the next phase.

3. Options

There is always an alternative. Might not be a direct alternative but it will be close and possibly better than what you offer and maybe at a cheaper rate. This is where content marketing comes in; you need to convince them to buy your product. Some good ways to do this are descriptive videos, reviews, blog, and search engine optimization (organic result builds trust). Price is a key player here because overall this where the decision to buy is most likely taken, so you really need to have that edge. Quite a number of people have dropped off at this phase.

There are several options for this basic laptop specs out there, so John is basically on a deal hunt. He finds options on Konga, Jumia, PayPorte and Yudala. He’s also considered computer village but its too much of a hassle going there. He’d rather stick with Konga, they seem to have the best prices.

4. Decision to buy

The buying moment is the conclusion of the preceding stages. Consumers have admitted a need, weighed their options and chosen which one is best for them. Now it’s time to make the purchase. Even at this stage users can still drop off. Things like last minute discounts from competition, non-availability at the moment of purchase, one last bad review online or offline could change things. Quite a large number of consumers in the funnel might drop off at this stage if proper sales mechanism is not put in place.

Now John is placing the order on Konga through his mobile phone. He sees the KongaPay option that gives him 5% and that kind of seals the deal, he’s hooked. He makes the purchase

5. After-sale

Outside of some products or services, where support isn’t needed, like buying airtime, this phase is just as important as the preceding ones. You need them to come back and buy more. Typically after sales activities include customer service, on-boarding processes, and warranty. The experience your customers get from here is what brings about better reviews, recommendation, brand loyalty and product endorsements. The opportunities that lies at this phase are endless, you might be able to retain current customer base that made it to the last phase of the funnel but most importantly get back the ones that dropped off at one stage of the funnel  or another. And also attract those who never made it to the funnel in the first  place.

It is important to get John’s feedback on the purchase he just made, so *in an ideal world* a Konga staff reaches out to John after a month of purchasing the laptop to check if everything worked out as planned.

In conclusion

With a funnel report, you can see where you are losing customers. Typically it takes a lot of time and resources to track an offline store funnel but online stores are quite easier with the use of tools like Google analytics.

Below is a report of marketing funnel of an online store:

google funnelIn this example, 6,574 people made it to the funnel (added to cart), and 1,157 people purchased. You’d notice that the highest drop off happened on the cart page, only 33% made it to the next phase of the funnel

A lot has been said, so here is quick recap:

  • When someone on your website does something you want them to do (i.e., sign up, make a purchase, fill out a form, etc.), it is known as a conversion.
  • A funnel is used to track the steps that led up to that conversion. For example, Ecommerce companies want people to purchase products on their website. Their funnel may have these steps – visited site > viewed product > placed product in cart > purchased.
  • Using a funnel report you can see where people are dropping off in the path to conversion.
  • Google Analytics, Alexa and some other tools provide funnels. Each has their unique use cases.