Funneling + Targeting: The Recipe For Successful Digital Marketing Strategy

funneling and targeting

Creatives are an important aspect of digital marketing, there’s no doubt it. A wonderfully crafted copy or a well designed image can at times produce overnight success for your brands. But while working with over 100+ businesses on their digital marketing strategies, what I have realized is that even the most creative designs fail in the long run if you haven’t worked on two things: Funneling and Targeting.

Isn’t engagement and ‘Lift’ all we need?

Before we dive into what these both terms mean in the digital marketing context, let’s examine how this problem arose. With the gradual rise of digital marketing, came terms like viral marketing and newsjacking. And suddenly businesses were more inclined to produce  viral content which is liked, commented on, and shared by everyone. While engagement is no doubt important, the problem came up when while even when people liked, commented and shared your posts, no tangible business results in regards to performance occurred.

One might argue that for those looking for branding related results, this virality and engagement does matter. I agree. However, in my personal experience I have seen countless viral content produced on social media and other digital channels appreciated in an instance and forgotten in another.

The dilemma of social media:

The need of targeting and funneling (yet to be explained further) arose because of a core problem in social media and digital marketing: lack of long term impact and recall. Compared to the days when we actually used to watch TVCs and billboards, we are now exposed to so much branded content that our brains are unable to process and store them. A single scroll can bring content of 2-3 different pages. And personally, I make around 30-40 scrolls a day on my phone.

Secondly, with the cost per impression rising every single day, the overall marketing to the ‘masses’ seems to be getting unfeasible — unless you are a big company with deep pockets. Digital efforts and executed in an unplanned way and sometimes even so haphazardly that most startups and SMEs end all their digital marketing efforts after a few months, stating it as a fad and as something without any tangible results.

We got it! So what’s is funneling and targeting?

Though the words themselves are self-explanatory, funneling and targeting refer to making a complete end-to-end user journey. The goal is to motivate a set of users to take your desired set of actions. What most brands and businesses clearly forget while creating content is to ask themselves two important questions: for whom am I creating this content and what action do I want them to take. Do you want them to make a purchase, do you want to establish a stronger recall, or maybe want to turn your current customers into ambassadors?

In either case you need to ask: who is this marketing campaign for and how the end goal shall be achieved. The reason funneling and targeting are not usually considered is because a decade ago they weren’t a potentially possible solution in marketing problems. All traditional marketing was based on “exposure”: trying to reach different sets of audiences through different platforms. There was no journey, just one campaign curated for television and newspaper.

Digital marketing and the power of “connection”:

It is only with digital marketing that we can actually connect with the audiences whom we are serving ads to on different digital platforms. You can map the audience seeing your ad on Facebook and the audience clicking on your banner ad. That’s where the power of funneling and targeting comes in: with digital marketing you can pre-define a set of audience based on their interests, behaviors or past interactions with your brand and take them on a journey where the end result is the goal what so ever you wish to achieve. With funneling and targeting you keep adding your target audience from the top of the funnel and ensuring you have something for them at whatever stage of buyer cycle they are.

So how can I implement funneling and targeting to my business (with example)?

The most important step is to determine the end goal you wish to achieve through digital marketing. So let’s take an example to understand this whole process better. Suppose you are a cycle repair shop and want to unleash the potential impact of digital marketing on your brand. Your goal is to create awareness which can result in more clients to your shop. Next is determining which target audience can help you achieve this goal. In this example they will be cycle enthusiasts that live around 2-3 miles around your business (ideal distance a customer can travel for local business).

Creating first set of audience funnel:

So you start by creating relevant copies, content and the most importantly offer(s): something of value that you are ready to giveaway once you have the attention of your customer. So for example you create a guide on ‘10 easy ways to ensure you can use your bicycle for a long period’ and place it on your website with lead generation form. When you start running ads there will be a lot of people who will just check out your website and go away while a handful will download this guide.

What you get as the result of this campaign is two sets of audiences: one who took interest in your copy/design and visited your website, while the other smaller set is of those you call potential leads. Their downloading the guide is a clear sign of interest; that they don’t just own bicycles but are also interested in its maintenance (thus, they will be definitely interested in repairing them as well).  You can also add those who checked your services or visited your contact page to this second set of audience.

Preparing the second set of audience funnel:

While many businesses successfully create the first funnel, most don’t know what to do with the results they get from it. That’s the reason either most businesses start showing blatant ads following the visitor on every website they go to. Or they create further guides, hoping that the customer will eventually contact them. However, this is where the second part of the funnel comes in: now you need to build relevant copy, content and offer for both of these audiences so that those interested can be turned into leads and those in the lead phase can be turned into potential customers.

For example, those who downloaded the guide or visited pages such as services/contact have already shown deeper interest in your brand/service and now only need a reason to convert. So how about offering a 20% off coupon on the first their visit to your service center? Similarly for those who just visited your website, how about a small quiz at the end of which they can know ‘how healthy is their bicycle’.

Not everyone will be your customer:

The reason to apply targeting and funneling in your strategy is not to turn all those visiting your website or engaging with your ads as your customers. However, what it ensures is the flow of the right kind of audience at the top of the funnel and creates such a strong recall that either the potential customer converts or considers you as an option whenever he is planning to buy.

So in conclusion, all you need to do is keep adding more people in the funnel and ensure that you are targeting each stage with unique content and offers till they become your customers. In fact, your funnel should have another stage of turning your customers into your promoters and ambassadors as well.

Have you implemented funneling and targeting in your digital marketing strategy? Share your story and experience below in the comments. In the next blog we dive deep into targeting with special focus on Facebook. Till then, check out our Digital Bulletin where we share updates from digital platforms that matter to business owners and marketers!

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