One of the most fundamental principles in digital marketing is the marketing funnel. The “marketing funnel” refers to the buyer’s journey a business leads their customer through from awareness to purchase. This visual is used to better understand consumer behavior in effort to send appropriate messaging and optimize conversion.
This leads us to the question: Where does social media fit within the marketing funnel?
Although there have been attempts to modify the funnel overtime to adjust to the latest technology, the core principles have remained the same.
In this post, we are going to look at how social media applies to the marketing funnel and how implementing it into a marketing strategy can be powerful in today’s digital world.
Social Media and the Marketing Funnel
When social media was introduced as a marketing tactic, it was primarily thought of as an awareness tool and appeared at the top of the funnel. However, we have seen that social media has the power to influence consumers and apply to all stages of the funnel. Let’s take a closer look at each stage of the marketing funnel and how social media ties in.
The Four Stages of the Funnel
The core stages of the traditional marketing funnel consists of 3 basic segments:
You’ll notice our funnel has an additional segment. We’ve split the consideration funnel into two: interest and engagement and consideration. Also, the final stage of the funnel “conversion” has been replaced with “action”.
Image via jcsocialmedia.com
Stage 1: Brand Awareness
At the very top of the funnel is brand awareness. This is where a brand first catches potential consumers’ attention. In this stage, the consumer learns about the existing solution, product or service. The type of content people are looking to consume in the awareness stage includes: answers, resources, blogs, educational content, research data, opinions and insight.
Virtually every social network is another opportunity to get a brand’s content in front of new eyes. We recommend utilizing brand awareness ads on Facebook to reach your ideal target audience. This stage can be measured through impressions and reach.
Stage 2: Engagement and Interest
Once someone is made aware of the brand, they move along the funnel into engagement and interest. As a marketer, this is where you nurture leads by building a relationship and establishing trust.
Social media allows consumers to sit in between initial brand awareness and more serious consideration. Being aware of a brand and showing interest in a brand by engaging are very different.
At this stage, the consumer is actively looking for a solution to their problem. This is where the business can position themselves as a helpful industry expert. Do some keyword research to figure out what your audience is searching for and create content around that. In the keyword search example below, we used the free keyword tool, WordStream. Web traffic may increase, as consumers are searching. This stage can be measured through likes, clicks and shares.
Stage 3: Consideration
Stage 3 of the funnel, consideration, is closely represented by the decision-making stage. This is where we transition audience members into making a purchase. The consumer has moved past looking for a solution and is now eliminating those that aren’t a good fit. Social media can effectively be used to influence consumers’ decisions.
Tactics to implement during this stage include sharing content like testimonials and reviews to your engaged audience. Additionally, creating an urgency by offering a limited-time offer, free shipping or special to urge consumers to that final action stage.
Traffic to specific landing pages or product pages is relevant in this stage. Messaging may become more sale-oriented with specific calls-to-action.
Stage 4: Action
This is the final step where a consumer becomes a customer. ‘Action’ includes a number of outcomes. This can be an online purchase, an enquiry form completion or booking a meeting.
Although this essentially is the end of the marketing funnel, the work is never done. Action is for the consumer and the marketer. As a marketer, it’s time to focus on customer retention and turning that 1 purchase into 10, 10 into 100 and so on.
An Effective Social Media Marketing Funnel Example
To create a better understanding of the social media marketing funnel, let’s look at an example. Let’s use “Arizona Smilez”, an orthodontic practice, as an example.
Awareness: To bring awareness to the practice’s surrounding community, Arizona Smilez builds a Facebook Ad campaign. They place a 10 mile radius around the practice and target women ages 25 to 55 with children between the ages 8 and 18. The purpose of detailed targeting is to reach your ideal audience, so make it as specific as possible. The ad consists of a picture of a smiling teen with the text, “Give Your Child a Beautiful Smile that Will Last a Lifetime”.
Pro Tip: In this phase you can experiment testing with different variables such as creative, audience and placement. This is called Facebook A/B Testing.
Engagement and Interest: In the engagement and interest phase, Arizona Smilez focuses on nurturing their engaged audience. With a quick search of “braces” on GoogleTrends, they discover that “how to know if you need braces” has been searched 150% times more in the past year. Arizona Smilez creates a blog post around this topic and distributes it on their social media, linking back to their website.
Consideration: Arizona Smilez creates a limited-time offer to urge consumers to that final action stage. They post on their social media that they’re offering $500 off orthodontic treatment as a new patient special during summer break. In the post, they include buzz words like “act now” and “don’t miss out”. The post links consumers to the consultation request form on the Arizona Smilez website. They measure the success of the offer by the traffic on the consultation request form landing page.
Action: The final, action stage for Arizona Smilez is measured by the number of consultations booked. Obviously braces cannot be purchased online so the purpose of Arizona Smilez social media marketing funnel was to lead new patients to book a consultation.
Facebook advertising is a great place to start with implementing social media into the marketing funnel. JC Social Media states, “Facebook advertising is a perfect example of how social media can be used throughout the customer journey”. Facebook’s ad platform is designed around the buyer’s journey and begins with selecting a marketing objective based on the marketing funnel stages.
While social media remains a powerful and effective tool in today’s digital market, the social media marketing funnel is applicable. Following the funnel allows marketers to influence consumers at each stage during the buyer’s journey. It’s the marketers job to give consumers the fuel to move along the funnel toward an action.
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This post was inspired by JC Social Media, “The Social Media Marketing Funnel”.
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