How Marketing Funnel Works

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You’ve probably heard the phrase “marketing funnel” thrown about by presenters and speakers. Here’s a basic rundown of what this is.

What is a Marketing Funnel?

Put simply, it’s a set of stages on a website that a potential visitor will have to take in order to carry out an action that you desire. So if you want visitors to fill out a form, the funnel refers to the actions they’ll have to take in order to do so.
Let’s say you want visitors to purchase an item. What steps are they going to have to go through in order to do that?

– First they have to visit your site.
– Then they have to view that product.
– They’ll need to select that product to move it to their shopping cart.
– And then they have to click on purchase.

This is an example of a purchase funnel. Of course, the customer could simultaneously be looking at the about or careers pages of the website. Those don’t count in the purchase funnel, however, since they don’t contribute to the purchase of the product in question.

Why is it called a funnel?
The funnel is meant to represent the behavior of website visitors. The first step to the purchase funnel was visiting your site. A lot of people would take that first step. However, fewer people will view that product, and even fewer will move it to their carts, and then purchase it. This is just like a funnel, where you have a wide top and a thinning bottom. The more interested a buyer, the more like they are to move down the funnel.

That is why marketers are always trying to “widen the funnel”. The larger the top of the funnel, the more people will trickle to the bottom of it. Widening the funnel is all about increasing traffic to the website. This can be done by advertising to newer audiences, using techniques like inbound marketing and increasing overall brand awareness.

Funnels aren’t just relegated to purchase, of course. It all depends on what goals you want the website to achieve. You can use the funnel to see how visitors go about signing up for a newsletter too, for example.

How do funnels help?
Funnels allow you to see just where you’re losing customers. A purchase funnel report, for example, will show you the number of customers who:
– Visited the site
– Viewed the product
– Put it in their shopping carts
– Purchased it

You can figure out if there’s a significant roadblock between steps by looking at how wide the gap between the numbers for two subsequent steps is. For example, if 100 people visited the site, but only 20 viewed the product, it could indicate that most viewers are unable to see that product displayed on the site. Or if there’s a large gap between the last two steps, it could indicate that customers might be facing technical difficulties when they try to purchase the product.

Using funnels therefore allows management to improve their processes, and make the steps of conversion easier to go through.