The Customer’s Journey: Mapping an Effective Digital Marketing Funnel

January 12, 2016 | Customer Acquisition, ECommerce, Marketing Strategies

Grabbing a customer’s attention and keeping it all the way through the buying process can be a difficult feat, especially for online and ecommerce businesses.

Customers are bombarded with an onslaught of ads, products, and options like never before, and researching those options have never been easier.

An effective digital marketing funnel can be part of the solution to this problem.

Understanding a customer’s behavior and journey through the sales funnel can help businesses create effective digital marketing funnels that not only generate sales, but creates loyalty and advocacy in its customers.

1. The Customer’s Mindset Though the Buying Cycle

Anywhere a customer goes online, they see an endless stream of ads, brands, and products popping up in front of them, all from your competition. They also have more research tools, all of which are easier to use than ever before; all it takes now is a few clicks.

Consumers are increasingly choosing to shop online because of the convenience. Even if they don’t, the large majority will research what they want online before they ever set foot in a store. This means that whether you’re business is purely ecommerce or only a part of your business is online, you should still expect that your online presence is going to be an important part of your business.

Consumer Behavior By the Numbers

digital marketing funnel

Customer reviews matter, but it can be difficult to stand out against big names when trying to find new customers.

Thanks to Google, users are able to compare competitive products almost instantly. They will compare what you say about your product, how much it costs, how soon they can get it, and what other reviewers say ( 71% of buyers say this matters).

Somehow, in the midst of all the chaos,  you need to find a way to create customer preference and loyalty.

How can you capture a user’s interest and make sure the preference they develop is for your product and your brand? How can you turn a one-time purchase into lifetime loyalty?

Customer loyalty is getting harder to create and maintain, thanks to an endless number of options and a lack of personal, face-to-face bonding. Because of this, there needs to be a strategy in place to build trust by offering continual value throughout the buying process and stages of consideration.

That strategy often relies heavily on a digital marketing funnel.

2. What is a Digital Marketing Funnel?

A digital marketing funnel is a multi-staged process that acts almost like an online sales rep, taking users along the buying process. It starts with the user discovering your product. Users who make it through all the way through the funnel will not only purchase, but can become advocates for your brand and product.

Sales funnels are often enhanced with tools like newsletters, content marketing, and highly targeted messages delivered with campaigns like those on Facebook Ads.

This is highly effective both for spreading awareness of your product—which is the first step in a sales funnel—as well as to convert on the fence potential customers into a client.

What Are The Goals of a Digital Marketing Funnel? 

A digital marketing funnel’s goal is to create customers. The idea is to find users who had never even heard of your brand and inform them about your product, influence them through the consideration stages, motivate them to purchase, and then build customer loyalty.

This is often accomplished by educating and entertaining them with content while sending users highly targeted messages depending on what stage of the digital marketing funnel they’re in.

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Why Do Digital Marketing Funnels Matter?

An effective digital marketing funnel is about more than just getting a sale, though that’s definitely an accomplishment.

With digital marketing funnels, you are creating customers instead of hoping they just find or choose you. This eliminates some of the luck or chance we sometimes rely on, and puts more control back into our hands as ecommerce business owners.

More than that, you’re establishing value with your customer, which in turn helps them to build a preference and loyalty towards you and your brand.

As the customer moves through the digital sales funnel, it’s your job to make sure you’re providing them with the best experience possible to ensure that their journey is positive enough that they’ll build a lifelong relationship as your client.

3. Stages of a Digital Marketing Funnel

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A customer’s journey through a digital sales funnel can be divided into 6 distinct segments, each of which are uniquely valuable to the process.

The stages of a digital marketing funnel are:

  • Awareness. A user is discovering your brand and/or product. This is likely the first time they’re exposed to it. You can use tools like Facebook Ads to connect with new users, making sure to run a campaign excluding users already connected to you.
  • Consideration. The user is researching your product. They’ll visit your site, do research off your site, and look for reviews of the product. They’ll be looking at your competition, too. Offer value to visiting users to make sure you stay in the forefront of their mind.
  • Preference. Customers are establishing a preference and making up their mind about who to buy from. Again, offering value can matter a great deal here. Address any concerns the customer may have in a place easy to find.
  • Purchase. The customer decides to purchase from you. Keep the checkout simple and safe, with as few clicks and pages to load as possible. Always thank the customer for their purchase and follow up shortly after.
  • Loyalty. After a customer purchases, they’ll have a sense of loyalty. Continue to foster and build that loyalty by continuing to provide value and staying in touch with them. Loyalty discounts and a feeling of exclusivity can go a long way.
  • Advocacy. Your customer is now advocating for your business. Encourage positive advocacy by offering incentives and referral programs.

As we’ve mentioned above, establishing and offering value to the customers is an important part of the digital sales funnel. Offering continued value creates trust and loyalty.

Because of this, content marketing is a powerful tool for the digital sales funnel. Being able   to educate, entertain, and/or engage a potential customer will build trust, confidence in your brand, and trust.

4. Key Tactics of a Digital Marketing Sales Funnel

These stages of the digital marketing funnel are all straight forward, but all must be considered carefully and uniquely.

Finding ways to address and interact with users at all stages of the sales funnel is crucial to keeping them moving forward through the buying process.

This is where a lot of ecommerce businesses unintentionally drop the ball. They think that because a customer clicked an ad to their site and saw the product, they’ll either convert or they won’t. That’s technically true, but there’s still a lot you can do to influence it.

You want to be able to focus on users in all parts of the buying lifecycle. Examples of how to do this include:

  • Creating content, such as blog posts or free resources, for users at all stages. Content educates, entertains, and establishes your expertise. It also gives you the options to add in CTAs and promote your products.
digital marketing sales funnel

Nasty Gal’s blog Nasty Galaxy provides content that is meant to educate and entertain users, building loyalty and keeping them around.

  • Running Facebook Ads campaigns can be valuable with users at all stages of the marketing funnel. Remarketing campaigns tend to have higher conversion rates, and you can easily target users in all stages of the buying cycle in separate campaigns with highly targeted messages thanks to custom audiences. You can, for example, target users who have visited certain pages.

create an effective digital marketing funnel

  • Newsletter and behavior-based emails can directly prompt users further along in the digital marketing funnel, and offers the ability for you to add a (seemingly) more personal touch.
create an effective digital marketing funnel

If a user adds an item to their cart but doesn’t complete the purchase, a well-timed email following up can get the sale.

5. Real Examples of Effective Digital Marketing Funnels

A digital marketing funnel allows a lot of room for creativity, innovation, and new strategies for how to best win over and keep your customers’ loyalty, and they can vary depending on whether you’re running an ecommerce or mobile funnel.

Ecommerce Funnels

Ecommerce digital marketing funnels are well equipped to take a customer throughout the full digital marketing funnel, all the way from awareness down to advocacy.

Content marketing often plays a large role in the ecommerce digital marketing funnel, as it’s one of the best ways to establish value.

digital marketing funnel

Trunk Club  is a great example of an ecommerce business that has a strong digital marketing funnel. As soon as you get to their homepage, users are taken through an interactive questionnaire about their style and asked for their contact information.

Their blog, which is titled The Club House, offers style advice and posts like “The Six Essentials,” which educates users and promotes their services simultaneously. It will keep users coming back to their site, establishing value for users at all stages of the buying cycle.

digital marketing sales funnel

Getting a user’s name and email can be essential for remarketing purposes.

Everlane is another ecommerce site that does well funneling users through different stages of the buying cycle. When you visit your site, you currently see an offer in the top right hand corner for free shipping within 24 hours of sign up.

This does two things; it gives users an incentive to sign up (after all, they don’t have to purchase), as well as then motivating them to purchase (it is free shipping).

Mobile Funnels

Mobile marketing funnels are often more effective for “lower funnel” marketing (generating sales or mobile app downloads) than it is for “higher funnel” marketing.

digital marketing funnel

JackThreads utilizes a great mobile marketing funnel. When you first visit their mobile site, you’ll be prompted to sign in or create an account, providing them with your contact information. After you do (or exit out), you’ll have access to their site, with a banner at the top encouraging you to download their mobile app.

Having users install mobile apps on their phones is a great way to build loyalty and continue to generate sales since it keeps you present in your users’ minds.

Frank & Oak also encourages users to download their free mobile app, as well as offering an immediate incentive for users to convert with a risk-free 90 day trial. This incentive will push users into converting, and they’ll be more likely to purchase and stay loyal customers.

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6. Tactical Takeaways

Understanding a customer’s journey through the buying process is essential to creating an effective digital marketing funnel.

By offering continued value and maintaining highly targeted messages to users within all stages of the buying cycle and sales funnel, you’ll be more successful at not only generating new leads and clients, but creating loyal customers that are advocates for your brand.

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James Dickerson

Founder of CrushCampaigns

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