The marketing funnel describes the process through which an entity goes from being totally unaware of your company's existence through to being a customer and potentially out the other end.
As with most models in the commercial world, there are lots of different versions offering different perspectives depending on what the creator wants to describe ( or sell).
Marketing led models like AIDA tend to describe the action that you want to drive in the customer at that point beginning with raising awareness of the proposition or just the issue it addresses, promoting interest, creating desire and prompting action. As these came out of the Advertising industry, they are much more focused on the consumer market than B2B. They are also difficult to apply to processes, being a bit more esoteric.
Content Marketing models tend to focus on actionable and performance-based models. Hubspot, Pardot and Marketo would be examples, although Hubspot has moved to a flywheel that recognises that communications post-purchase is important, and this may not be right for all businesses.
Sales models tend to be driven by the data structures of CRM's and focus on categorising the stage a customer is at for example a prospect becomes a lead, which is qualified to create an opportunity which is converted to a sale. If you are heavily engaged with a specific CRM, this will dictate your methodology, and Salesforce offers a good model for how the process is supposed to work
Which model works for you will be very dependent on what you are trying to achieve, but they all have a few things in common.
The shape is relevant as it demonstrates that there are more entities at the top than there are at the bottom. This has two implications. Firstly that you will be communicating to a significantly broader audience at the top than at the bottom, and secondly that you will lose people as you move through the process
There are distinct groups and layers in your marketing funnel that can be classified and measured. Each of these layers has specific needs and requires specific actions, needs to be differentiated and potentially owned by different groups.
The funnel is not a bucket, it is a process that has direction and layers. Maximising the number of people that you get out of the bottom needs two things
- As many people as possible going into the top
- Efficient migration of entities as possible from layer to layer.
Both marketing and Sales have traditionally considered their roles to be art, not science and one will always blame the other if they aren't hitting the target. Moreover, they are competing objectives. Marketing's view is to get as many leads in as possible, whereas Sales just wants the best leads.
This is where operational management comes in and builds structures that allow mutually agreeable objectives and clear measurement