I’ll be writing a series of blogs sharing what I learned, beginning here with a look at the marketing funnel.
So what is the marketing funnel?
Often referred to as the purchase funnel and regularly used by businesses, this is important for third sector organisations too.
It’s the process people go through when engaging with your brand. There are several stages and, depending on what you’re reading, the number can vary between three and 12!
For the purpose of this post, I’m going to use the model six stage model recommended by Moz:
- customer relationship
Customers or supporters move through the funnel as they go from being not unaware of your organisation to becoming an advocate – but they can drop off at any stage.
Marketers in all sectors are guilty of focusing on conversion and the sections on either side. However, we need to make sure we pay attention to the whole funnel, especially the top.
Exposure and Discovery
This is the area that people focus on the least. However, there’s some great free and cheap tools you can use to raise awareness of your organisation:
Charities can access these free tools, which include an Ad Words grant.
With Google focused on keeping paid content above the fold (the part of the screen you see without scrolling) it’s important to make best use of your grant.
- Top tip: use some of the grant to bid on your own brand. You don’t want other organisations appearing when someone is searching for you. People often get distracted with what’s at the top of the Google search results.
Social media ads
Whether on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram, you can increase your presence through paid advertising. Even with a really low budget, like a couple of pounds!
Using Facebook’s look alike audience helps target people who match your existing supporter base and increases the chances of conversion.
- Top Tip: you’re not charged for YouTube ‘skippable ads’ for the first 30 seconds. Even those first five seconds that viewers are forced to watch are a great way of raising awareness of your organisation.
We often forget about the existing spaces where our brand might be. Charity shops, donation banks, collection tins – all help with a brand recognition.
There are many other ways to increase reach: press, blogs, advocates for your organisation, word of mouth, email, etc.
Think about where your target audience is and the best way to gain attention.
If you’ve heard that old marketing adage about ‘the rule of seven’, you’ll be familiar with idea that a person sees or hears about a brand at least seven times before engaging with it.
So remember: you’re not likely to see direct results at this stage of the funnel!
Consideration and Conversion
This is where your brand should be at the forefront of the person’s mind when they need what your organisation offers.
As a person considers whether you’re right for them, they’ll look at your website, your social media channels and those of other organisations which offer similar services.
They might be looking for answers to questions such as ‘how will my donation be spent?’, ‘do people have good experiences with this charity?’ and ‘what impact does this charity have on the people it supports?’
Good HQ is a great way to answer some of these questions. By encouraging your existing supporters to share their experiences on the site, you’ll help give answers to some of these questions, providing validation and social proof.
The next stage of the funnel is where you can ask your engaged supporters to do just this.
Customer Relationship & Retention
Now that you’ve converted a ‘potential customer’ into a customer, you need to consider how you build that relationship. If you can turn people into advocates for your charity, then you have assets on the ground helping with the exposure and discovery stage of the funnel. This makes it easier for you to get more people into the top of the funnel!
Analysing the funnel
You’re looking for different outcomes at different stages of the funnel. This is important when planning content, marketing spend and analysing levels of success.
So next time you look at your marketing plan, think about how you will use the funnel process to plan your communications.