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[Google] Foundations of Digital Marketing and E-commerce: The traditional marketing funnel to the digital marketing funnel

A marketing funnel is a powerful way for businesses to focus and coordinate their marketing efforts. To get the most out of a marketing funnel, businesses must optimize their work at each stage of the funnel to reach desired outcomes.
This article introduced you to a simple and generalized funnel design with four stages:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Conversion
  • Loyalty

You also learned that there are multiple versions of marketing funnels. Marketing funnels have been revised over time to reflect changes in business, technology, and even customer behavior. This reading provides a brief history of the funnel’s evolution.

Evolution of the marketing funnel

How is tofu related to a marketing funnel? Actually, ToFU (not the bean curd product) is an acronym for Top of Funnel. There’s also MoFU and BoFU which stand for Middle of Funnel and Bottom of Funnel, respectively. When using any funnel, the aim is to get the most desirable outcomes for ToFU, MoFU, and BoFU. As you read about different funnel designs, you can also think about how the desired ToFU, MoFU, and BoFU outcomes for each are similar or different.

Traditional sales funnel

Funnels probably took shape first as sales funnels. A simple sales funnel has awareness, interest, decision, and action stages as depicted in the following graphic.

Funnel with Awareness, Interest, Decision, and Action as downward-progressing stages of the funnel.

Desirable outcomes for a sales funnel, like the one shown in the graphic, might be:

  • Awareness (ToFU): The customer has a general awareness of your brand, product, or service.
  • Interest (MoFU): Your brand, product, or service comes up as a top choice when the customer researches, comparison shops, or thinks about options.
  • Decision (MoFU): The customer chooses your brand, product, or service over your competitor’s.
  • Action (BoFU): The customer purchases your brand, product, or service.

Combined marketing and sales funnel

Most likely, combined funnels for marketing and sales grew out of sales funnels. One example is shown below.

Funnel with Traditional and Digital Marketing inputs at the top of the funnel and Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action, and Conversion as downward-progressing stages of the funnel.

Desirable outcomes for a combined sales and marketing funnel, like the one shown in the graphic, might be:

  • Awareness (ToFU): The customer has a general awareness of your brand, product, or service.
  • Interest (MoFU): Your brand, product, or service comes up as a top choice when the customer researches, comparison shops, or thinks about options.
  • Desire (MoFU): The customer has motivation or an incentive to purchase your brand, product, or service.
  • Action (BoFU): The customer purchases your brand, product, or service for the first time.
  • Conversion (BoFU): The customer makes regular purchases and a customer relationship is established.

Digital marketing funnel

As business and technology evolved, more specialized funnels were then developed, as in the case of a funnel entirely dedicated to digital marketing. An example of a specialized digital marketing funnel is shown below. Note that the Remarketing stage of the funnel is only for customers who engaged with your brand, product, or service at least once before and didn’t previously convert. New customers can proceed directly from the Consideration stage to the Conversion stage.

Funnel with Awareness and Engagement, Consideration, Remarketing, Conversion, and Retention as downward-progressing stages of the funnel.

Desirable outcomes for a digital marketing funnel, like the one shown in the graphic, might be:

  • Awareness and engagement (ToFU): The customer has a general awareness of your brand, product, or service, and engages in online activity to learn more.
  • Consideration (MoFU): Your brand, product, or service comes up as a top choice after the customer has engaged.
  • Remarketing (MoFU): The customer who didn’t convert is re-engaged to consider your brand, product, or service again.
  • Conversion (BoFU): The customer purchases your brand, product, or service for the first time.
  • Retention (BoFU): The customer makes regular purchases and a customer relationship is established.

Other marketing funnel variations

Today, specific funnels exist for many individual areas of marketing. Examples include an e-commerce marketing funnel, a social media marketing funnel, and even a content marketing funnel.

E-commerce marketing funnel

An e-commerce marketing funnel can include the following stages that focus on attracting and retaining customers:

  • Awareness: Build awareness of your e-commerce business.
  • Consideration: Build the brand.
  • Differentiation: Stand out in the business category.
  • Purchase: Reach shoppers most likely to purchase.
  • Brand readiness: Increase the potential for shoppers to make return purchases.

Social media marketing funnel

A social media marketing funnel can include these stages that turn a customer with brand awareness into a customer who is an advocate:

  • Awareness: Attract potential customers unaware of your brand, product, or service.
  • Consideration: Stand out among your competitors so potential customers have a good impression of your brand, product, or service.
  • Action: Convince potential customers to act and make a purchase.
  • Engagement: Keep customers engaged after they make a purchase so your brand, product, or service remains top-of-mind and in the spotlight.
  • Advocacy: Build trust with customers so they recommend your brand, product, or service to others.

Content marketing funnel

A content marketing funnel can include these stages to help marketers organize and focus their content:

  • Awareness: Build web pages, blogs, social media posts, infographics, and podcasts.
  • Evaluation: Focus on surveys, email, webinars, and educational events.
  • Conversion: Provide customer success stories, webinars, specifications, and demos.

Key takeaways

The key takeaways for funnels are:

  • There isn’t a single funnel that fits all needs.
  • Funnels are created for general sales and marketing needs.
  • Funnels are also created for specialized areas of marketing.
  • Effective marketing efforts incorporate funnels to optimize desired outcomes.

Finally, as a reminder, although this reading introduced a variety of funnels, the marketing funnel that you will refer to often in this program is the one shown below.

Funnel with Awareness, Consideration, Conversion, and Loyalty as downward-progressing stages of the funnel.

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