The marketing funnel is what most marketers live and die by. Questions like: “How can we shorten the funnel?” “Can we accelerate this through the funnel?” “Increase marketing funnel velocity” are thrown around constantly- but what does it mean? When someone tells you to market faster, what are they really telling you? We all know the marketing funnel exists but often times we’re confused with how to approach it. If this is you, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re among the vast majority here. So, all the being said; what is the best way to manage the marketing funnel?
Defining the Buyer’s Journey
First off, there is no “best way” to manage a marketing funnel. However, you can make subtle changes to your daily workflow to maximize your efforts. The first part of that is the buyer’s journey. This is a phrase that get’s thrown around a lot with little to no meaning. A buyer’s journey, as it is, is a pathway that a consumer goes down when making a purchasing decision. Many marketing professionals will tell you that it starts with awareness and ends with a purchase. This is true, but there are unspoken peaks and valleys that come into play when considering a buyer’s journey. It’s actually more akin to a story that an algorithm. Stories have main characters- they’re narrative driven. The journey you take your buyer on should be narrative focused. Tell a story about the challenges they face, the friends (solutions) they meet, and what the ending should be. So, what does all of this look like? Your marketing from top to bottom of funnel should align with the world your buyer lives in- thoughts, feelings, challenges, acquaintances; these are all great things to add to your marketing nurture.
Now that you’ve identified your buyer’s journey, you have all the material you need to make a huge impact on your marketing funnel. When a lead is being pushed from the top to the bottom of the marketing funnel, they’re being nurtured. Marketing nurture is mostly defined as activities resulting in engagement over time. The more engagements the prospect has, the higher they score, and the higher they score, the further down the funnel they go. It sort of feels like a game, right? True marketing nurture really doesn’t happen until you have that first engagement however, and when that happens, it’s important to understand why and what happens next. When you’re reviewing your marketing analytics for the week/month, look at what content was interacted with the most. Any trends you find should have a separate marketing nurture. This is called funnel segmentation. Segmenting the marketing funnel based on engagement, funnel stage, and even your different personas will help you with that hard to grasp idea of marketing personalization, and eventually result in ROI.
The Bottom of the Funnel
One thing most marketers get wrong is how bottom of funnel leads are measured and interacted with. What is a bottom of funnel lead? Well, in terms of general marketing, it’s someone that has shown some level of consideration/ intent with your product. However, really, it’s a person who has vetted out a ton of options and selected a couple to explore further. The mistake that marketing makes is that we typically assume the bottom of funnel lead is:
- Good to go, so we don’t need to press as hard as we originally would.
- Already knows who we are and understands parts of our product suite.
This isn’t correct. In fact, more than not, bottom of funnel leads are fatigued and jaded from being marketed to, and having done tons of research. So what is the solution here? The best thing you can do at the bottom of the funnel is to go heavy on value props and competitive analysis. Again, going back to funnel segmentation- if you’ve moved the bottom of funnel lead to a new nurture track, they should be receiving content that is interactive and self-explanatory. The less the lead as to do at this stage to consume information, the better off you’ll be.
Regardless of how you manage your marketing funnel, one thing reigns true: you have to test everything. There’s no one solution to marketing funnel management, in fact, there are probably thousands. Always test your activities, look at the results, and adjust as quickly as you can. Lead management is all about timing and the only way you figure out what timing your buyers have is by testing out your work.