Activating the 21st Century Marketing Funnel

By Alec Robertson

When you think of a funnel, you immediately think of a space that get smaller and smaller and eventually ends at a certain point. A marketing funnel demonstrates the same concept, but the end point expresses the desired result for a potential customer engaged by a marketing campaign. It essentially has five levels beginning with cold prospects, that turn into leads, become first-time buyers and finally transform into multi-buyers or brand loyalists. With the continual changes in the communications landscape, the biggest question in the 21st century of marketing is, what is the best strategy to move potential customers down this virtual funnel?

The short answer is “Content is King.” Essentially, the goal of your marketing strategy is to tell your story through content that can be delivered through multiple platforms. Each type of activity in the marketing mix such as public relations, email, social media, video, texting, advertising and more, plays an important role at each level of the funnel. The closer you get to the bottom, the more specific the content must become to the targeted customer.

Since each step in the marketing funnel needs to contain content that is strong enough to move a prospect to the next level, you must strategize carefully as to what is appropriate. You don’t want to pepper a prospect with basic “about us” information when they have already signed up for updates on your product or service. 

You might start with a Facebook ad with an engaging message that merits a click-through to a landing page you’ve created. The content on the landing page must then be valuable enough for the prospect to provide you with some type of information such as their email address or contact and company name. 

Another staring point could be crafting creative story ideas and pitching them to the traditional media. Once the material is published, interested readers impressed with your thought leadership might visit your website where they will reach the next level in the funnel which should contain a specific call-to-action. 

Once you have their name and know specifically who they are, you need to focus on the individual points of contact between your organization and the customer. As a rule of thumb, it takes about eight touch points to convert a prospect into a customer. You must consistently reach them through their preferred communication channels with value-added content that conveys the uniqueness of your company as compared to the competition. 

Like an actual funnel, as you bring leads deeper into your organization, the number at each level will dwindle. To make the most of your efforts, study the relationship between the content delivered and the consumers that you have both lost and retained. This information will not only help you with your content creation, but it will continually refine the persona of your target market and help you expand the reach of your content delivery.

As you build a marketing plan, keep in mind that your content strategy needs to be planned and created well in advance – most often done in the form of a content calendar. If you are prepared to deliver relevant content, and have outlined the correct timing for the delivery of this content at each level of the marketing funnel, you’re on the right track towards achieving your marketing objectives.

Alec Robertson