The marketing funnel is actually not a concept that only exists in online sales. It’s the process in which sales have worked for hundreds of years. The biggest difference between the marketing funnels of old and the current versions is that now, particularly in online marketing, the step-by-step process is very clear. 

What is a Marketing Funnel?

A marketing funnel is a process that a buyer goes through from the moment they see a product to when they purchase it. These days, an important part of the funnel is being able to retain clients so that they’ll end up making multiple purchases.  

Example of a Marketing Funnel 

Suppose a brand is running casino promotions because it wants people to sign up and play on its site. The brand first needs to attract the potential client and make them aware of the product. Since this is an online casino, it will likely run social media ads. 

The ads may feature slot machines, a media personality, piles of cash, or anything that can catch the attention of someone scrolling on their phone. Once a person is interested, they’ll click on that ad, and this is where the second part of the process starts. 

In this casino example, the second stage usually has a login page, but most importantly, information about the games available on the site or app. 

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The third stage of the funnel is when the client decides to buy the product or sign up for the site, sticking to the previous example. After that, the final stage of the funnel revolves around keeping the client happy in hopes that they’ll return. Traditionally, this stage is where the business had less control over the potential client’s decision, but that’s changing a bit. 

Marketing Funnels Don’t Just Apply To Online Sales

As mentioned, marketing funnels are as old as sales because they refer to the buying process. Companies can create marketing funnels through other forms of advertising. The problem with some of the more traditional forms of advertising is that there’s no way to track the client’s journey toward the purchase, like in the example about the business side of gambling

Previously, a person would see an ad on TV that attracted them; that attraction phase completes the first part of the funnel. From there, the client could, in fact, decide to go to a store and make a purchase. The biggest difference in this example is that a company running TV ads has no way of knowing who saw their ad and if those people are potential customers. 

How Do Funnels Drive Business Growth? 

Good marketing funnels drive business growth. The main benefit that online marketing funnels grant over what happens in traditional marketing efforts, apart from control, is information. When a company runs a social media ad that gets plenty of impressions but low conversions, it has a problem. 

Luckily, in this scenario, the problem can basically be only one of two things. Either the ad is being shown to people who are not the company’s main target, or it isn’t appealing enough. The company’s next step is to change the ad design or the audience it’s being shown to.  

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Businesses that fail usually give up right in the middle of this stage. Instead of looking at poor results as an opportunity to pivot the ad campaign, some business owners believe their product isn’t appealing enough. When these first couple stages of the marketing funnel do not provide the expected results, the problem is usually the ad campaign or whatever is used to attract potential customers.

What marketing funnels ultimately do to drive business growth is to lead potential customers to buy the product or service and to provide a roadmap for the business to follow. When things go bad, the company must redirect its efforts. When things go right … Well, why fix what isn’t broken?       

When Is It Time to Start Worrying About the Product and Not the Marketing?   

As mentioned, some businesses will give up on the idea or products because the results are not there the first time around. The good thing about understanding the marketing funnel concept is that it provides steps, and particularly with digital ads, it’s easy to say which part of the process isn’t working.  

When the ad is viewed by many people but few interact with it, it’s either the ad or the audience that’s the problem. In situations where people did, in fact, click on the ad but didn’t buy the product, then there may be a price issue, or the buying process may be too complex. 

The issue is typically the product when sales are decent, but there are few repeat buyers. Maybe that wouldn’t necessarily be true for a furniture store or another business that sells items that don’t wear out as quickly, of course. When there are plenty of returns, then the product is definitely the main issue that’s killing the company’s growth.   

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Final Thoughts on Marketing Funnels and Business Growth

Perhaps the biggest problem with marketing funnels is how they are currently advertised. Most people who don’t have a marketing background hear about marketing funnels from companies that claim to “sell them.” The ads for marketing funnels claim that marketing funnels, or “the product,” will help drive sales.

That’s not necessarily a lie; a good marketing funnel should help drive sales and, therefore, business growth. What marketing funnels truly provide, though, is data, and the potential success that a business can have will depend on how people interpret that data.

Does this mean that businesses should just create one marketing funnel and wait for the results to see what they need to do next? That’s technically true, but it doesn’t mean that companies should only try one Facebook promotional post at a time. Ideally, these companies will be running different types of ads through all of the company’s social media channels and maybe even some traditional promotional methods. 

With multiple marketing funnels running, the company can track where customers came from through simple surveys post-purchase. Once all that data is gathered, the next round of marketing funnels can focus on the ideas that had more success while adjusting what didn’t work as well.


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