Sales Funnels vs. Marketing Funnels: What’s the Difference?
7 Min Read For a business owner like you, the basic goal of sales and marketing is simple: increase your sales, increase your revenue. In the past, you might’ve thought about sales and marketing as separate functions. Your teams would work in silos, never speaking to one another (or worse, getting in territorial scuffles on the reg). But these days, you’re living in the modern world, like everyone else. Today, you know that if you want to build a trusting relationship with your customers, your approach to sales and marketing is going to need a little more cohesion. While sales and marketing are indeed interrelated, they do have different objectives. Your marketing team’s job is to create awareness and solidify your brand image in customers’ minds. Once a customer becomes aware of your brand and moves closer toward making a purchase, that’s when your sales team takes over, building on that initial familiarity to bring the sale home. Knowing the difference between the sales funnel vs. the marketing funnel—i.e., the stages of each of the processes outlined above—can help you develop targeted ads and sales campaigns that help you meet those big goals. Here’s how to tell the difference. What Is a Marketing Funnel? The marketing funnel, by contrast, happens before the sales funnel even comes into play. It consists of all the activities you do to build awareness of your brand and attract people to the sales funnel. Your marketing funnel serves to generate interest, promote your brand, and build your reputation. Stages of a marketing funnel: A marketing funnel has four stages: Awareness: This stage involves targeted marketing and ad campaigns that draw the right customers to your brand. Consideration: At this stage, you’re building relationships and creating a positive brand image with the potential customers you attracted in the Awareness stage. Conversion: At this stage of the marketing funnel, a potential customer may become a qualified lead. You might direct them to your website to make a purchase or hand them off to your sales team. Loyalty: Much like the loyalty stage in the sales funnel, this involves building a reputation that keeps customers coming back. Activities of a Marketing Funnel Marketing activities vary based on which stage a customer is in the funnel. To appeal to customers at the top of the marketing funnel, you need to stand out from the competition. You can do so by knowing your target market and getting creative with your ads. Customers at the top of the funnel either don’t know much about your brand, or don’t know it at all. You can overcome this hurdle by doing market research and creating ads that highlight the benefits of your products. Top-of-the-funnel activities include search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, social media engagement, and other marketing activities aimed at building awareness. To engage customers at the conversion and loyalty stages, you need more targeted content that speaks specifically to their needs. At these stages, consider content marketing, targeted ads, and nurturing campaigns designed to keep you at the top of customers’ minds. What Is a Sales Funnel? A sales funnel is a visual representation of your customer’s buying journey. To enter the sales funnel, your prospective customer has to become aware of your business and do some preliminary research on your brand. At this stage, they know they might have a need for your product or service, and they’re starting to evaluate their options on a deeper level. Stages of a Sales Funnel A sales funnel has five stages: Awareness: When your marketing and branding efforts are successful, a qualified lead enters the sales funnel. At this stage, they’re familiar with your brand, but they might not be aware of all the benefits you bring to the table and how you can meet their needs. Interest: At this stage, a potential customer is learning more about your brand and how you can solve their problems. They may be conducting competitive research during this stage. Decision: Prospects at the decision stage are on the hook. They understand how your company can benefit them and may still be doing further research on pricing and other options. Action: Prospects at the action stage are ready to make a purchase. At this stage, you can expect prospects to convert. Even if they don’t, you might be able to recapture them later. Loyalty: Customers who have purchased from you enter the loyalty stage. They might keep buying from you or recommend your business to others. Activities of a Sales Funnel Once you’ve qualified leads from your marketing efforts and determined that they’re interested in making a purchase, you can use various strategies to push a prospect toward a sale. These vary based on whether the prospect is at the top of the funnel, in the middle, or at the bottom. Top-of-the-Funnel (aka ToFu)Your goal? Develop brand awareness beyond initial marketing familiarity and build a relationship with the prospect. During the awareness and interest stages, you should be sharing information with the prospect and answering questions. At these stages, your goal is to highlight how you can solve a customer’s pain points better than the competition.For example, if you’re in the business of selling cars, a prospect at the top of the funnel knows they need a car now, or they’re planning on buying one in the near future. They know about your brand and its reputation but don’t know much beyond that. Top-of-the-funnel activities include sharing videos and other types of content, inviting a prospect to attend a webinar, or sitting down with them for an informational meeting. Middle-of-the-Funnel (aka MoFu)At this stage, a prospect trusts you and is evaluating your brand against others. Consider conducting nurture campaigns to warm up a cold lead, or more targeted information based on the prospect’s needs. Perhaps even a product demonstration to try out your product or service?In our car-shopping example, this is the stage where a prospect would visit multiple dealerships to get a feel for different car features. They will likely take some cars out for a test drive. Bottom-of-the-Funnel (aka BoFu)Your prospect is ready to make a purchase. At this stage, you’d share information about why your product is better than others. You would also start negotiating prices. Our car shopper would likely ask you how your car aligns with their needs and potentially make an offer. Once you’ve successfully converted a prospect into a customer, stay in touch with them through loyalty programs, social media, and/or email newsletters to keep the relationship alive and encourage future purchases. As a car dealer, you might check in to see how the customer likes their car or offer free oil changes for a limited time to nurture the relationship. Summary of Key Differences Simply put, the main difference between the two boils down to each funnel’s end goal. With the marketing funnel, your goal is to cast a wide net and draw potential customers to your brand. Meanwhile, your sales funnel goal is to convert prospects into customers. Importance of Aligning Both Funnels Today’s customer is more informed than ever, and they are constantly being bombarded with ads. The average American sees between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day, and customers today are less likely to respond to a hard sell. By aligning your sales and marketing funnels, you can develop a better understanding of leads and potential customers at all stages. You can also tailor your messaging to communicate how your business will meet their needs. Give your sales and marketing teams room to operate holistically, as this also provides cross-functional learning opportunities. A salesperson sharing notes from a pitch might offer insights into pain points the marketing team hadn’t previously considered. The marketing team can then offer the sales team information into what types of content generate the most interest, helping the sales team craft personalized sales pitches. How CTV Advertising Can Keep Your Funnel Full Connected TV (CTV) advertising offers you the reach of traditional television advertising, combined with precision targeting and accurate measurement and reporting. You can use CTV ads to target potential customers no matter where they are in your sales and marketing funnel. MNTN offers tools you can use to optimize your campaigns based on your target audience. You can launch ad campaigns for prospecting and awareness to fill your marketing funnel, or switch up your strategy to target people in the middle and at the bottom of the sales funnel. Our CTV platform even integrates with your website, so you can effectively retarget current and potential customers based on how they interact with your brand. Learn more by requesting a demo today. Marketing Funnel vs. Sales Funnel: TL;DR Marketing and sales funnels may work together, but they have different objectives. A marketing funnel helps you locate the right customers and attract them to your brand, whereas a sales funnel helps you build relationships with people who already know you to show them why your brand is right for them. By aligning both funnels, your sales and marketing teams can successfully convert more customers, getting you to those big goals: increas your sales, increasing your revenue, and ultimately, growing your business. Sign Up for the Connected TV ReportSubscribe to the report Apple, Amazon, NBC and more use to get their CTV news.
8 Benefits of a Sales Funnel for Your Business
7 Min Read Marketing—the art of converting your target audience into your buying audience—is a complex business. It makes sense, then, that techniques have evolved to make marketing as targeted and effective as possible. Breaking down the steps of your marketing and sales efforts can help you evaluate whether your campaign is achieving the results you’re looking for. You can also pinpoint the exact places in your customers’ journeys where it could be strengthened. How? By working with a sales funnel. What Is a Sales Funnel? A sales funnel is a model that represents your target audience’s journey from a potential customer to someone who purchases your product or service. Why is a sales funnel important? It’s a conceptual tool that helps you to convert potential sales leads into actual sales. The funnel shape represents the practical fact that you will begin with many potential leads and clients who will consider buying your product, but only a small percentage of those will actually move down the funnel to the point of making a purchase (or several). The goal of a sales funnel strategy is, of course, to move as many potential customers through the stages as possible. Sales Funnel vs Marketing Funnel Your marketing funnel is where every potential sale begins, but it represents a more abstract part of your customer’s journey as they go from being vaguely aware of your product to actively engaging with your company. For example, your audience may begin as visitors who stumble across your website, but the further they progress through the marketing funnel, they’ll take actions like subscribing to your newsletter or downloading gated content. By contrast, your sales funnel takes active engagement—for example, that a customer has decided they like your brand and want to buy something from you—and moves that engagement toward the concrete action of making a purchase. There are benefits to both funnel types. Here are eight advantages of using a sales funnel for your business. 1. Helps Streamline the Customer Journey While much of shopping has largely moved online, it can still be a complex process from your point of view as the seller. How do you give helpful information to your customers when they range from people who are actively looking to buy your product to people who have accidentally tapped on your Instagram ad and only have the vaguest of interest in what you’re selling (if any at all)? Having a clear sense of your funnel helps to streamline the customer journey. Knowing exactly where your customers are in their decision-making process can help you determine what you’re serving to them and how you can help them make up their minds. For example, you can use your sales funnel methodology to determine whether a visitor needs precise product information when deciding between options (as a mid-funnel strategy) or just a gentle nudge, like an offer of a 10% discount or a reminder that “you left something in your cart” (at the end of the funnel). 2. Sorting and Ranking Your Leads The sales funnel approach can help you determine who your most realistic leads are as they move from the marketing funnel to the sales funnel. Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) are prospective customers who are ready for your sales team to target. Every stage of the sales funnel can be broken down further in granular detail, as you can read about here. Having benchmarks based on digital data left by your customers helps you sort the sheep from the goats, as it were. As a business owner, even with generous marketing resources, you can’t focus on everyone. If your business is more niche, your funnel should focus more on customer retention. If it’s broader, you’ll be looking to make as big a splash as possible. Either way, a funnel can help you look at who’s moving from general to specific interest in your brand, and prioritize from there. Sometimes, a lead is looking to buy something now but needs specific guidance; other times, a lead is less sure of their needs (or their organization’s) and requires more long-term cultivation. It benefits you to know how to distinguish, and ultimately treat, your leads. 3. Better Allocation of Resources Having a clearly-defined funnel will allow you to focus your resources where they can most effectively move the needle. That could mean focusing on the last stages of the funnel, or it could mean allocating greater portions of your time and budget toward initiatives such as making video content that speaks precisely and clearly to different stages. 4. Precise Forecasting of Sales Volume Funnels are an excellent way of forecasting how many actual sales you will have. Most marketers believe that a 3.1% to 5% conversion rate from visits to sales is the right range to aim for. Of course, you can then use all of your strategies and data to increase those odds. Your marketing efforts can either be aimed at increasing your pool of possible customers at the top of the funnel or focusing your efforts on the bottom of your funnel. Either way, your numbers will be accurate and allow you to then measure and optimize your marketing efforts. 5. Better Measurement and Optimization Funnels allow you to work smarter, not harder—allowing you to start with a general picture of your target audience. By knowing your target audience’s social media habits, for example, you can build awareness on their favorite sites, leading some potential customers to your landing page. This then gives you an email list of engaged subscribers to whom you can send interesting and appealing content and provide a discount to people who actually buy your goods. For your next cycle, you can examine each step, see where you lost potential targets, and then plug the “leaky” parts of your funnel. 6. Improved Customer Targeting Customers at different points in your funnel will require different kinds of content and engagement. By breaking your funnel into stages, you can target customers in specific and concrete ways. These four stages are: Awareness Consideration Conversion Retention There are even ways to further subdivide these stages, but the general pattern—from “just looking” to “buying a case”—is the same. Your content will look different across these stages. For example, during the awareness stage, you’re raising recognition of your brand, so you may wish to make videos highlighting your company culture or behind-the-scenes experiences you’re proud of. By the conversion phase, you’re looking to demonstrate that using your product is as frictionless as possible. Here, you might want to consider product spotlight videos, how-tos, and testimonials to convince any skeptics. By getting an accurate picture of your customer at different key decision-making points, you can address the real concerns they may have. 7. Increased Conversion Rates One of the most important benefits of a sales funnel is that by focusing more intently on techniques to target your clients and push them to the point of action and retention, you will increase your conversion rates. Having a plan and being methodical gets results, as opposed to a haphazard approach to marketing and sales content. At the start of your funnel—if you’re selling mattresses, for example—your content will focus more on articles like “Why getting a good night’s sleep is important.” By the end of the funnel, you’ll be telling consumers more about the specific advantages of your mattress, and offering discounts to entice them. But all of this content will have a single focus: to convert potential customers to actual ones. 8. Increased Customer Loyalty Your sales funnel doesn’t end when a customer makes a purchase. You also want to consider retention. Once you know a customer has bought and enjoyed your product, you can sell them accessories that complement it, follow up to make sure they are satisfied, and find ways to keep them as a part of your brand’s family. It can be easier to retain clients than find new ones, so while your task as a marketer is not done, at least you know you’re engaging with a receptive audience. How CTV Advertising Can Keep Your Funnel Full Connected Television (CTV), or TV delivered via the internet rather than traditional broadcast and network channels, is a vital part of how we consume entertainment. While TV has traditionally been seen as a tool for raising awareness at the start of your funnel, CTV has changed the game. Now the biggest screen in any household can be a performance tool that is excellent at retaining and reengaging existing customers. MNTN has helped transform CTV from a branding-focused marketing channel into one that allows you to launch self-managed campaigns that focus on conversions. By working with MNTN, you can ultimately combine the power of TV with a suite of optimization, attribution, and targeting tools to help drive customers from awareness to purchase. Importance of Sales Funnel: Final Thoughts The sales funnel is a powerful visual representation of your leads and the journey they take to become customers. To keep your funnel full and make your campaigns a success, make sure that you are engaging with all of the tools at your disposal—from sorting leads to Connected TV. Sign Up for the Connected TV ReportSubscribe to the report Apple, Amazon, NBC and more use to get their CTV news.