What’s a Marketing Funnel and Why Is It Important?

A marketing funnel is a concept whereby the marketer attracts people’s attention by giving away something valuable and then proceeds to lead them from the top of the funnel right through to the bottom. A funnel is much wider at the top than the bottom, and this is why it is a useful marketing analogy. There are many more people at the wider end of the funnel because there is less resistance there. The funnel is comprised of various products, usually increasing in both cost and value as one moves from the one funnel away download wide end to the narrow end of the funnel. Generally, the funnel is narrow at the opposite end, because there are less people willing to purchase the higher value, higher cost products than those at the wider end that will accept some free information in exchange for their email address or contact details.

A marketing funnel is really important, as people are usually not ready to buy straight away. There are four main stages that a person goes through on any marketing and sales journey.

1. Suspect
2. Prospect
3. Customer
4. Raving Fan

Suspect
A suspect is anyone who falls into a target market. However when they initially come across a product, they are suspicious. There is very little trust, and the suspect will have to receive a lot of value before they begin to start to trust this person, company or product. This is the point where they enter the marketing funnel. In order to start to build some trust, it is necessary to give away something valuable. In the online world, this can take the form of a valuable information product. In the offline world, this can take the form of a sample product or a complementary consultation.

Prospect
The suspect becomes a prospect when they give their details to the marketer or promoting company. It is an expression of some kind of interest. They have made a small commitment with very little risk.

Customer
The prospect becomes a customer, when they actually buy something. They usually buy the next level product in the funnel in terms of cost and value. They may not even be aware at this stage there is more expensive or more valuable products. The marketer leads the customer one step at a time through the funnel. Not all customers go all the way through the funnel. Some have no need for the higher value products. Others find that the product may not be right for them. As customers move through the funnel, they become more educated on the different products. Therefore, a person who might never have considered buying a high value product when they entered the funnel learns more and becomes a more valuable lead.

Raving Fan
A customer becomes a Raving Fan when they are delighted with the products that they have purchased. They see great value in what’s offered, and they refer other people to your business also. They progress through the funnel and find out that you and your products are a perfect match for their needs. They will likely be customers for life.

However, if the concept of the marketing funnel didn’t exist, and marketers tried to sell their most valuable and most expensive products at once, very few people would make it past the Suspect stage. It’s human nature. Consumers need to first trust the marketers and the businesses that they are interacting with. Marketers’ main objective should be to attract their target market into their marketing funnel, instead of doing the equivalent of ‘asking someone to marry them on a first date’. As absurd as this may sound, this is what’s happening far too often in the world of internet marketing.

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