How do you define marketing? If you believe it’s to get someone to take an action or make a purchase, you’re halfway there. In the marketing world, that’s the final result of a campaign; you want to turn the prospect into a customer, motivated by your ad. In marketing as well as sales, there’s an entire funnel and consumer path through which you can earn business or achieve your goal. Each part of the funnel requires a different strategy, but first let’s start at the top.

Think of a funnel that you would use to put oil in a car; it’s open and broad at the top but then it becomes narrow. Apply that to marketing. Some consumers are ready to complete your task at this very instant. Those would be leads who are at the bottom of the funnel. There are also prospects who are a few months away from making a purchase. These leads would be at the top of the marketing funnel. To implement a successful strategy, a marketing campaign should always align and support your business goals.

Phase 1: Creating Awareness

Starting at the highest point of the funnel comes the most basic and non-conversion driven objective; awareness. An awareness campaign in marketing is driving attention to your business to as many people as possible, regardless of where they are in the funnel. Some examples of marketing tactics that work to build awareness are billboards or Google Display Ads.

In digital marketing, awareness campaigns are exponentially more effective as well as more cost-effective than traditional methods for several key reasons. If you have a billboard, not only are you limiting your audience to someone on a specific commute, you also know nothing about them. Most importantly, you don’t know how many people viewed it or which views led to a conversion. With digital marketing, you have the ability to view several key metrics in real-time. Aside from measurement, you’re able to optimize your ads to appear on specific sites as well as control the maximum amount of times an individual will see your ad.

Maybe you’re looking to spread awareness through digital ads for the opening of a new apartment complex. The Google Display Network, where these ads are placed, includes over 90% of the entire internet. Depending on who you’re targeting, all they must do is visit a website that is included in this network and boom – there’s your ad and you don’t even have to pay for it unless they click it.

Phase 2: Engagement

Once you’ve reached an audience and raised awareness for the brand, you want to engage the audience. This could take the form of a visit to the website, subscription to your email list or clicking on your ad to learn more. One effective way to move a contact down the funnel from awareness to engagement is by retargeting your audience to a different type of website visitor. Rather than someone who briefly visited your website’s homepage, you may want to target someone who perused the site, added items to a shopping cart, read content, or even filled and submitted a form.

Let’s say you’re an institute for higher education; a visitor went to your site by clicking your ad and then requested more information about a specific program. Digital marketing is so hyper-targeted that you’re able to display to that specific person an ad that is different from what they had originally seen or clicked on. Maybe this ad is more geared toward the lower section of the marketing funnel and brings visitors to a page on your site about alumni success stories or benefits. Tailor your strategy based on the user’s demonstrated preferences.

Going even lower down the funnel from visitors who previously were on your site, you’re able to target a specific audience based on their interests as well as demographics. Using interests as a targeting method is also known as an affinity audience — a predefined category to help reach your ideal customer. Depending on which platform you’re using will depend on how these audiences are defined. If done correctly, this should increase the quality of traffic that is entering from your ad. This targeting comes in quite a few categories including age, income level, and education, to name just a few.

Everything makes more sense with examples, so here’s another. You’re in charge of promoting a new bank branch location and your identified audience is a younger, affluent professional with greater earning potential. Starting with Google, you’d begin by selecting an affinity audience such as Banking & Finance and/or Lifestyles & Hobbies (Business Professionals). Then comes selecting the specific age demo you’re trying to reach. From Google’s targeting algorithm, this will be specific to your online tendencies that are saved in the form of cookies, cache and browsing history.

On Facebook, targeting is specifically related to the Facebook pages one follows, some personal info that appears on profile pages such as job title, and then how the user engages with content. Generally speaking, Facebook is frequented by a younger demographic. It also happens to be mobile heavy as 75% of Facebook users are using the platform on their mobile device; not to mention this is by far the most used cell phone application in the world.

Phase 3: Activation

So, you have your Facebook Ads and Google Display Ads running, now what? Paid Search, specifically Google, is arguably the best platform to reach the lowest-funnel, ready-to-buy consumer. This is due to the fact that people who are actively searching for something are much further down the funnel than someone who might stumble upon your ad on Facebook. By using Google Ads you’re able to appear above all other search results which gives you prime positioning to get clicks to your website. If done correctly, your ads should only appear in relevant searches related to the product or service based on your campaign goals.

It also helps that 65% of all search engine queries are done through Google. When you don’t know the answer to a question, have you heard someone say, “Bing it”? Me neither. Depending on what you’re looking to accomplish, this could be your meal ticket to attracting more valuable and engaging website visitors. No matter which of the several campaign types you choose, your audience will be there.

Now that you’ve learned a little bit about how the marketing and sales funnel fits into your marketing strategy, you may have some questions. Feel free to reach out at any time to learn more about how Solomon McCown can help you reach your marketing and PR goals.