The marketing funnel goes something like this: Awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, decision. Normally, marketing is responsible for the first part of the funnel, and then sales takes over toward the end. However, the digital transformation has changed—and is continuing to change—the roles within the funnel.
Technology has introduced new kinds of marketing tools that take the guesswork and grunt work out of marketing. Specifically, and thanks to data and analytics, marketers have a much more intimate picture of who their customers actually are.
Below is a summary of how technology is being used to personalize marketing efforts for the customer:
This step of the funnel is where you introduce yourself to potential customers. An effective way to shine a positive light on your business is via marketing automation (MA), which continues to play an integral role in the marketing funnel, as it is a proven time and money saver. CRM software also helps put your best foot forward by helping to segment an audience, perfect messaging for targeting email campaigns, nurture leads, and evaluate progress. Employing personalized marketing efforts like branded and targeted strategies make the customer feel as though their voice is heard. Predictive analytics and other data marketers know who their customers are and can predict who is most likely to move further down the marketing funnel.
If you’ve made a good first impression, your potential customer has moved down the funnel and expressed interest in your product or service. Analytics, while potentially overwhelming, shed much needed light on our customers, showing us where they are and what messages are likely to pique their interest. Data gleaned from Google Analytics provides a wealth of information from customer demographics to what they click the most to the specific keywords they used that landed them on your site. Once you know who your customers are, it’s much easier to give them exactly what they want. Additionally, a Software Advice surveyreports nurturing leads by way of data collected for things like targeted email campaigns results in 451% increase in qualified leads. To maintain customer interest, don’t crush them with the details that are still irrelevant in this step of the funnel. Things like price and added features aren’t necessarily important right now, as we learned from Apple’s 2001 one-minute TV spot for their new-at-the-time iPod. Rather than focus on how the iPod was ahead of its time or would ultimately replace then-popular CDs, Apple played up customer interest by simply saying, “iPod, a thousand songs in your pocket.” Targeting marketing means less is more.
At this point in the funnel, marketers want to turn a customer’s interest into action. To do that, they use predictive analytics once again to determine any additional messages that would make a difference for their audience. With the information learned from generated interest in the aforementioned step of the funnel, marketers effectively transition customers from “I like it” to “I want it.” A Harley-Davidson store in New York is a fantastic example of how using predictive analytics can successfully boost sales leads. This particular store boosted leads to the tune of 2,930%! This unprecedented increase was in response to their “lookalike” marketing efforts made possible by an accurate CRM system. To turn consideration into action, marketers can also compare their products to the competition’s. Many sites give customers the option to compare similar products of one or many brands. This kind of transparent marketing essentially earns consumer trust.
This stage of the funnel is a customer putting an item of interest into their shopping cart. Customers are intending to buy, and at this stage, marketers and the sales team can use AI and chatbots to answer any additional questions. The goal is to close the deal then and there, but if a customer leaves an item in the cart, marketers will then return to the previous steps in the funnel. Even if a customer has left the site, AI uses the information gathered—email address, Facebook profile—to communicate the “forgotten item.” It’s usually at that time AI offers would-be customers a discount or another promotion to lure them back in. And it’s no coincidence that the “forgotten item” begins to automatically populate in Facebook and Google sidebars as the customer continues to peruse the ‘net in search of a better buy. This kind of personalized direct marketing is innocuous yet effective, and continues to influence customer purchases.
The sales team takes over here to complete the transaction, but not without a little help from their friends, namely AI. Predicting customer behavior and closing deals is simplified by the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of revenue comes from 20 percent of the prospects, and 80 percent of the pipeline comes from 20 percent of the campaigns. Predictive analysis like AI identifies the 20 percent. Not only do we strive to close the sale, but the ultimate goal is to earn buyers’ trust, effectively creating loyal, come-again customers. What does that look like in the marketing funnel? It looks like digital personalization, like a coffee shop sending en-route repeat customers text messages asking, “Shall we have your usual waiting for you?” Using an IoT-connected order history can improve the customer journey in ways we haven’t even imagined yet.
Digital transformation continues to change the marketing funnel, customizing the buyer’s experience at every turn. To effectively measure success, marketers must create data-driven metrics that, above all else, view customer feedback an invaluable part. Embracing the right technology allows marketing strategies to educate and inspire customers, creating a lasting, loyal customer base.
This article has been published on Forbes.