The formula for a winning full funnel marketing strategy

Published Oct 23 2023 Last updated Nov 1 2023 9 minute read
marketing funnel formula
Contributors
  • Sean Dougherty
    Written by Sean Dougherty

    A copywriter at Funnel, Sean has more than 15 years of experience working in branding and advertising (both agency and client side). He's also a professional voice actor.

Is your conversion rate up-and-coming? Is there room to improve it and get more prospects to become happy brand advocates? (Hint: The answer is always "yes.”) A well-rounded full funnel marketing strategy is the place to start. 

Your marketing strategy aims to take the prospect's hand when they're still just a soft lead and guide them through the funnel stages as they sit on their decision and eventually buy into your product or service. 

It's important that your marketing funnel tactics meet the prospect where they are at every step, and creating a funnel optimization plan is a key way that you can ensure that your funnel is clear, compelling, and aligned with your prospects' needs and intent.

 

Understanding the marketing funnel

Before optimizing your marketing funnel, you must understand it inside and out.

What is the marketing funnel?

The marketing funnel is a conceptual framework that represents the stages a lead goes through before they make a purchasing decision or take action to buy your product or service.

There are several iterations of the marketing funnel, some of which have additional stages beyond the purchase action. The traditional marketing funnel model has the following stages:

  • Awareness: This is the top-of-the-funnel stage. It's the first time potential customers become aware of your brand or service. Your goal during the awareness stage is to attract a broad audience of potential customers and generate interest in what you have for them.
  • Consideration: This is the middle-of-the-funnel stage. During the consideration stage, potential customers know that you have a potential solution to their problem, and they're considering it. Your goal during this stage is to demonstrate what makes your solution better than all the others.
  • Conversion: This is the bottom-of-the-funnel stage. During this stage, your potential customers are about to make a real purchasing decision, hopefully with you. Your goal during this stage is to convince potential customers they'll be happy with your solution.

Why is the marketing funnel important?

The marketing funnel is a neat and tidy framework that lets marketers and business owners contextualize the customer journey as it applies to their marketing strategy. It's a structured way to understand how potential customers interact with your brand and move toward making a purchase or taking an action. It also helps you gain insights into their behavior, preferences, and pain points at each stage of the journey.

The benefits of optimizing your marketing funnel include:

  • Enhanced conversion rates: By analyzing every stage of the marketing funnel, you can systematically identify parts of your strategy that are blocking your conversion rate from improving. This is the single biggest benefit to marketing funnel optimization.
  • Cost efficiency: Funnel optimization allows you to allocate your resources more effectively by pinpointing which stages or strategies need improvement. This leads to a reduction in customer acquisition costs, making your campaigns more cost-effective.
  • Better ROI: When you enhance your conversion rates and reduce acquisition costs through optimizing the sales funnel, you can get more value from every marketing dollar you spend.

Key strategies for optimizing your marketing funnel

Optimizing your marketing funnel starts with a strategy. You'll want to tailor your approach at each stage based on what your potential customers are looking for.

 

Top of the funnel (Awareness)

During the top of the funnel stage, you're aiming to meet your target audience where they are and make yourself known. This is the time to spread awareness of your brand far and wide, but don't bother targeting mass audiences indiscriminately. Instead, you'll want to target your marketing campaigns to the specific target audience that you want for your brand.

Some potential strategies for the top of the funnel stage include:

Content marketing

This strategy is the best way to tell your target customers that you truly understand their pain points and you're here to hear them out and give them a real solution. That means creating high-quality, informative, and engaging content that addresses what your readers need and lets them know you're there for them.

For example, Lucidchart implemented TOFU content marketing by creating a use case for optimizing the buyer experience with account maps in their proprietary software. 

Search engine marketing

No matter who your potential loyal customers actually are, they are almost certainly users of Google or another search engine. Search engine marketing involves establishing pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns that propel you to the top of the search results.

Establishing better pay-per-click campaigns for the top of the funnel involves targeting and engaging potential customers in the early stages of their buying journey. TOF PPC campaigns are typically designed to create awareness, generate interest, and capture leads.  

Influencer marketing

Aligning with a trusted and beloved influencer is a great way to build credibility within your audience of prospective customers. During the awareness stage, you can harness influencer marketing by collaborating with influencers who align with your brand values and have the same target audience as you.

Sperry took an interesting approach to influencer marketing by recruiting users who were already posting cool, high-quality photos of the brand's famous boat shoes, and asking them to create influencer content for the brand's Instagram. 

Social media marketing

It's incredibly common for prospective customers to flock to social media to get a sense of their options. You need a strong presence on social media with paid social media advertising and valuable shared content.

Citibank shared a powerful campaign that showed the moment young girls learned that men get paid 29% more than women. The powerful emotional reaction that the social campaign elicited ensured lots of engagement. 

 

Middle of the funnel (Consideration)

The middle of the funnel stage sees prospective customers considering the solutions to their problems. They know that your solution is a possibility, but now their biggest question is whether your solution is the right one for their needs. Your job during this stage is to show the customer that your solution works and could change their life.

Some effective marketing tactics for the middle of the funnel stage include:

Content marketing

You'll notice that content marketing is actually effective at every stage and is possibly your biggest asset when it comes to promoting awareness, supporting consideration, and influencing decision-making. At this stage, you might consider showcasing real, existing customers and their success stories by publishing case studies or educating the customer about your solution by providing guides and how-to content.

This case study created by Google in collaboration with Beats is accessible with plenty of white space and shareable imagery. It shows how Beats and its content agency took advantage of the Super Bowl platform to create an incredible, impactful ad. 

Lead nurturing

While the lead is actively evaluating their options, you can gradually educate them, build trust, and guide them with automated lead nurturing sequences that send a series of emails or messages over time. This is an incredibly important way to build a relationship once a lead has shown interest in your product.

Here's what an effective lead nurturing campaign could look like:

  • Week 1: A welcome email goes out to new leads who signed up for your newsletter or downloaded a lead magnet. 
  • Week 2: A blog post or video goes out addressing a common pain point and providing valuable insights with a CTA. 
  • Week 3: Send an email with a case study or success story that shows how your product or service solved a customer's problem. 
  • Week 4: A personalized campaign goes out, with a CTA asking the reader to share specific challenges and goals that they're facing. 
  • Week 5: Based on the responses from the prior email, send a follow-up email with tailored solutions related to those challenges. 

This is a simplified version of what a lead nurture campaign could look like. In reality, the buyer journey isn't always a straightforward sequence. One best practice for lead nurture is to create a specific nurture campaign for each phase of the funnel, and each campaign should have its own funnel-based goal. For example, your lead nurture campaign built around awareness could aim to get the prospect to sign up for your newsletter. 

What's most important is that your lead nurture campaign allows you to constantly engage with prospects. When the time is right, that constant contact will allow your prospects to convert to customers. 

Lead scoring and segmentation

Scoring leads enables you to prioritize who to nurture first. By scoring leads based on certain metrics, you can optimize your process, save time, and contact the people who want to be part of your brand and product.

You can segment leads based on:

  • Demographic information
  • Content engagement
  • Email engagement
  • Website behavior
  • Social media interaction
  • Previous brand interaction

Retargeting ads

You can retarget website visitors who have shown interest in your product but haven't converted yet. This means you follow them and continue to show relevant ads based on their interest. Additionally, you can tailor the actual content of the ad to aid the viewer in their consideration stage.

A MOFU retargeting campaign includes:

  • Display ads
  • Social media ads
  • Search ads
  • Custom landing pages 
  • A/B testing and optimization 

Bottom of the funnel (conversion)

Bottom of the funnel marketing strategies support the actual decision-making part of the customer journey. At this stage, your prospects are about to make a choice, and your hope is that they'll choose your solution. Content at the bottom of the funnel should align the potential customer's needs with your solution, making it clear why they should buy in.

Some examples of conversion-focused marketing funnel tactics include:

Product demos

Sometimes, seeing your solution firsthand is what it takes for your prospective leads to buy in. A demonstration is a great way to allow leads to experience your service or product firsthand. You can also offer free trials with personalized support and guidance.

The MasterClass brand is, well, a master at product demos. Their workshop demo videos prove that the knowledge they're offering is valuable and insightful by showing it firsthand. 

Discounts and promotions

If you see that somebody has been stuck in the consideration stage for a while, it makes sense to entice them with limited-time discounts, special offers, or promotional codes as an incentive to act. You can use scarcity and urgency to prompt immediate action.

To run a campaign based on urgency and discounts effectively, start by setting clear goals and defining your target audience. Craft an irresistible offer, such as limited-time discounts or flash sales, and establish a strict deadline to create a sense of urgency. You have to support that offer with attention-grabbing visuals and persuasive copy, incorporating countdown timers and prominent CTAs. 

Promote the campaign across your marketing channels, including email, social media, and website banners. Finally, continuously monitor and optimize the campaign's performance, and analyze results to refine future campaigns.

 

Abandoned cart remarketing

 Try implementing abandoned cart email campaigns to recover lost sales from potential customers. A timely email can prompt users to complete the transaction after they added items to their carts but didn't complete the purchase. Sometimes, a customer gets stuck in the middle of the funnel because they merely forgot to check out or spent too much time waffling on their decision.

For example, you could send the following email sequence:

  • Email 1: This email goes out within an hour of cart abandonment, with the subject line "Don't forget your items!" and a CTA.
  • Email 2:  Sent 24-48 hours later, with the subject "We saved your cart!" and a CTA. 
  • Email 3:  Sent three to five days later, with the subject "Last chance to grab your favorites!" and a CTA. 

Reengagement email campaigns

Try identifying dormant or inactive leads stuck in the middle of the funnel, and send them emails to get them back in action. Offer incentives, updates, or new features to rekindle their interest and encourage a return to your website.

Here's what a reengagement campaign might look like:

  • Email 1: With the subject line "We miss you!" and acknowledges the reader's past engagement and your brand's desire to reconnect with them. 
  • Email 2: With the subject line "Unlock exclusive benefits just for you!" and reiterates the benefits of rediscovering your brand. 
  • Email 3: With the subject line "Don't miss out on this last chance to reconnect!" and urges the reader to take action to keep receiving emails. 
  • Email 4: With the subject line "Farewell for now!" and bids goodbye to the reader, stating that they'll be removed from the subscription list and giving an option to resubscribe. 

Tips for optimizing your funnel marketing strategy

Before you get started optimizing your marketing funnel, take the time to learn from these handy tips and tricks.

1. Know the customer journey

First, make sure you know the marketing funnel stages inside and out. You should know what makes a prospect more likely to take action and move along the funnel during the awareness, consideration, and conversion stages. You should have your finger on the lead's pulse through the entire customer journey, and know exactly what motivates action at every stage.

2. Personalize the experience 

Customers want to know that you're truly listening to what they want and need. They need to know that you hear their pain points and you're willing to walk them through their problem to find the ultimate solution (your product). Personalization should be implemented at every stage of the customer journey. You'll be rewarded with customer loyalty and improved conversion.

3. Make it hassle-free to buy in

Are there friction points making it hard for leads to progress through the funnel stages? If a potential customer finds it hard to add an item to their cart, find out more about the product, or opt in to a subscription, they simply won't act. Make it a point to exhaustively test your platform or website for the user experience, identifying and fixing any friction points along the way.

4. Use every marketing channel 

You have an entire world of marketing tools and channels available to you on this journey. It would be a mistake to use only the platforms you're familiar with. It's not enough to have a good website and stellar social media presence. You need to be email retargeting, using paid ads, and constantly doing research to find other platforms.

5. Optimize by funnel stage 

Finally, try breaking the process down into stages. You shouldn't try to apply the same blanket digital marketing strategies to every part of your sales funnel. Instead, take some real time to investigate the awareness stage, find out where leads are getting stuck, and solve those problems thoroughly. Take your time with each stage and build a full funnel strategy from the ground up, one stage at a time.

 

Consider getting help on your marketing funnel strategy 

Don't be afraid to get help with identifying and nurturing your funnel prospects. With the right marketing metrics at your fingertips, you can identify what's working and what's not in an instant. It just takes the right analytics tool to give you better control over your funnel performance.

A great analytics tool can help you understand all the supporting metrics that help improve your conversion rate. It also helps identify friction points and bottlenecks so you can create a friction-free experience for your prospects.

 

Boost your funnel with one all-inclusive hub

With Funnel, you get access to a single data hub that will empower all the reporting and analytics you need to control the customer journey and improve your conversions. Using any visualization tool, with Funnel by your side, you can create an all-inclusive dashboard packed full of the marketing funnel metrics that matter. You have the power to take control of your marketing funnel at every stage and get the conversion rates your solution deserves.

Get a personalized demo today and see for yourself how Funnel can transform your marketing model and support your marketing team.

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