They say that no snowflake is the same. We can neither confirm nor deny this claim. But that’s what they say. And if they say it, it must be true. Anyway, marketing funnels are sort of the same way. They might not look exactly alike, but they’re all the same thing.

According to our business development wizard and marketing guru, Stephanie Danielsson, there are five key components of a highly effective marketing funnel.

1. Awareness

Who is your audience? What does you audience want? Why should they come to you for your service? Before you begin your marketing campaign, you (or a team of friendly marketing partners) must answer these questions. Once you’ve conducted some consumer research, you’ll have a better idea of how to reach them.

From there, it will be easier to create your marketing content (commercials, print and digital ads, promos, giveaways, blogs, emails, direct mail, media). In this first phase of the funnel, your prospective customers are aware of their problems and possible solutionsthey just might not be aware of you… yet. So here’s where you should be sharing your story with people who want to, well, share it with you. People can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist.

Right now, your customers are searching for more info. Now’s the time to provide them with some answers.

Stephanie says…
When it comes to brand awareness, you’re generally casting a wider net. You’re looking to be known to those in need of your product or service (now or in the future), or for those who can connect with your brand story.

Think high-level content like blog posts or thought leadership articles. Think television and radio spots. Think social media ads.

You want to consider where your potential customers are engaging, what are their habits, what do they care about, and then be present there.

2. Consideration

Okay, so people are starting to see who you are, what you’re up to, and why. It might look and sound pretty good, but is it right for them? In this stage of the marketing funnel, you’re starting to build a relationship that is bringing you closer to a mutual benefit. The audience is the same as they always were, only now that they know a little bit more about you, they don’t need to be sold as hard on the big picture branding stuff.

At this point, your customers are seeing how you measure up against the competition. You’ve piqued their interest, but you need to keep them moving with product info, deals or discounts, retargeted ads, emails, free trials, customer testimonials, and so on.

Stephanie says…
Simply put, you’re being evaluated. Are they buying the thing from you or from someone else? Your goal here is to deepen your connection to your audience, providing value and building trust. It’s ideal to provide more in-depth resources that allow your audience to better vet your offering. Depending on your industry and whether you’re B2B or B2C, you may consider some different tactics here.

For example, demos, white papers, or webinars provide great context and build trust with B2B buyers. Meanwhile, social proof, real customer stories, and a great email marketing approach can go a long way in a B2C environment.

3. Conversion

Oh, baby! Now we’re talkin’. Here’s where you’ve created a smooth, seamless, satisfying purchasing process. Communicative. Timely. Accurate. Make sure you’ve got the logistics in place to lay down the most agreeable experience for your customer.

Remember, though: The deal may be done, but your relationship is far from over. If you want your customer to come back for more, you need to keep them in the loop, on the line, and ready to revisit at a moment’s notice.

Stephanie says…
A key objective in most marketing plans is to drive revenue. By now you’ve put in all that work to introduce yourself to people and build enough of a rapport that they chose to buy from you—awesome! Make it easy for them and back it up with support from marketing.

Maybe you’re running an e-commerce business. Implement a solid email strategy to coincide with a purchase. Let your customers know what to expect and invite them to engage in your community.

Always have a plan to say “thank you” for doing business with you. After all, a simple conversion is not the endgame!

4. Retention

You love your customers, right? Tell them! Thank them. Reward them. When you keep the line of communication open with your customers, you create new opportunities for them to come back for more. If your customers are satisfied, collect their thoughts and share them with the world. If your customers have a bit of a bone to pick, acknowledge it and do what you can to reasonably reconcile their difficulties. You can’t retain your customers if they forget about you, so remember to send them cool stuff, show them you care, and remind them how awesome you are together.

Stephanie says…
A thank you goes a long way, but be prepared for more. Invite your customers to engage with you online—active customers on the web provide great social proof for potential new customers.

Constantly be of value. Consider the challenges your future customers may be trying to solve. Provide resources and content that will be helpful to your existing customers. This will help you deepen their relationship to your brand.

Think newsletters, blog posts, product tutorials, etc. 

5. Advocacy

If you’ve done everything right, you’ll have your customers spreading your message, talking you up, and promoting your business. At the very least, you’ll have garnered some good reviews from folks who like what you’ve brought to the table. But what about big-time brand ambassadors such as other companies, social media influencers, and even your own employees? There’s nothing more powerful than the word-of-mouth advertising to advocate for you brand or business.

Stephanie says…
Social proof. #GOALS. Having someone outside of your business refer you, sing your praises, or simply validate that you of value is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your arsenal.  

It is so important to find ways to connect to your customers and allow them to actively connect with and share your brand. A referred customer inherently finds your brand more credible and trustworthy from the beginning because someone they trust recommended you.

Build opportunities for a community to exist around your brand (social media, events, etc.), and consider a reward system for your brand advocates.

The brand funnel looks good on paper, and it might even seem easy—but of course we know that’s not always the case. A great marketing plan will help you identify and address how to move your audience successfully through the funnel. If you or your team are looking for an extra edge in marketing, you know where to find us!

Make sure to follow Stephanie Danielsson on LinkedIn for more insights on marketing, and don’t forget to catch up with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.