Whether you're brand new to paid advertising or a seasoned ad buyer, chances are you hear the term "marketing funnel" on the daily. But what is a marketing funnel, really? How is it defined and used in advertising? Running a paid ads house, we also use these terms regularly, especially in conversation with our clients. One thing we've learned over almost a decade in business? Successful strategy happens when everyone speaks the same language! So for all our business owner friends, the best thing you can do before outsourcing your paid ads strategy is to ensure you understand the language involved with paid advertising—what better place than to learn from the experts themselves? Understanding advertising vocabulary doesn't have to feel like you're using a foreign language, so we're breaking down exactly what a marketing funnel is, what it isn't, and how it's used in our world of Google, Facebook and Instagram paid ads.
Unlike some lingo (we see you ROAS), a marketing funnel is exactly what it sounds like—a cone shaped plan for getting people's attention and converting them from interested to obsessed. Think of it as your brand's roadmap for where your customer is in their journey to checkout, so you can showcase the right messaging, videos, photos and offers at the right time. Now let's go through the lingo often used in talking about a marketing funnel, so everything fits together with context that explains why this term is frequently used.
If you imagine an inverted pyramid, it's widest at the top. This is a general area we call "top of funnel" or TOF in marketing. It's where people begin to know your brand and recognise it amidst the sea of other brands. In a marketing funnel, the top of funnel strategy might include entertaining content, a helpful blog post or a sale alert. The strategy at the top of the marketing funnel isn't pushy or FOMO inducing, it's inspiring, relevant and straight up enjoyable. It’s also when you begin to condition people to click when they see your brand. As the introduction to your brand, this spot in the funnel should grab your audience and leave them interested in more from you.
Continuing down the funnel as it narrows, the "middle of funnel" or MOF, is by and large where people begin to attach to your brand and are likely curious about a purchase. Now, some people in the top of the funnel may choose to stay there. They're not quite at the point where they're showing more interest, and that's okay! But a good amount of your audience will keep sliding down this marketing funnel as it narrows. As they do, they'll be warming up to the idea of buying from you, because in the middle of your marketing funnel, you'll be sharing even more content and brand awareness that really pulls them into what you have to offer.
When you visualise the funnel, the lower portion is the narrowest. The same goes for your marketing funnel! After all, some people may still be lingering in the middle of your funnel, and that's perfectly normal. When you think about your own purchasing habits, you're likely to learn more about a brand before buying or fall in love but bookmark it for later when you might need it. The bottom of the funnel has the select pool of your audience that is straight up ready to purchase! They've gotten to know, like and trust your brand, all the way to check out.
After learning about the magic of the marketing funnel, it's incredibly common to feel like it should be a black and white roadmap for marketing success. But the key to an exceptional marketing funnel? Recognising that a marketing funnel should have nuance, just like the people in it. Funnels are rarely straight from awareness to checkout. Sometimes people can enter your marketing funnel right at the checkout stage because they received a referral from someone who already loves your brand. (Word of mouth is so powerful like that!) Another example of a non-linear marketing funnel journey might be someone who has purchased from your competition but wants a change, so they head straight to you.
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Any successful marketing funnel truly depends on your understanding of your people. Who your brand devotees are, and who is just around the corner from becoming a brand devotee. With thoughtful research and data based strategy, this marketing magic can truly be right at your fingertips! Curious about how we approach ads for our clients? Read all about our approach here.