Marketing funnel leaks diminish business sustainability. Learn how to fix marketing funnel leaks to improve profitability and customer experience.
Marketing has always been about understanding customer needs to create, communicate, and deliver value. Despite all the technological and process innovations in marketing, one thing that has remained constant about marketing is its ability to guide target customers towards a brand’s offered value proposition.
To understand the customer journey with the brand, map different interaction points, and create meaningful content to drive conversions, marketers use the strategic tool Marketing Funnel. The marketing funnel helps in directing customer journeys and ensures brand sustainability.
Even the most effective marketing funnels can break down over time and become leaky. The result is loss of customers and profitability in the long term. However, leaky marketing funnels are not impossible to fix. Marketers can take corrective actions to fix marketing funnel leaks and ensure funnel optimization.
This guide will cover how a marketing funnel works for brands in optimal conditions, what problems can arise if a marketing funnel starts leaking, and how marketers can fix a leaky marketing funnel.
How does a marketing funnel work?
A marketing funnel is a strategic concept or model used to map every step of the customer journey. It consists of a top (TOFU), a middle (MOFU), and a bottom (BOFU), capturing the customer journey from awareness to decisions and eventual loyalty.
Take the example of an OTT service provider like Amazon Prime Video. In order to attract new customers, the brand starts promotions on social media platforms through TV ads, digital ads, and event sponsorships. Customers at the TOFU, who were previously unaware of the platform, become aware after initial and repeated exposure to the brand’s promotion.
If the communications are interesting enough, potential customers may move to the next stage of the marketing funnel and try to find out more about the OTT service. They may explore the Amazon app or website to figure out how to access Prime Video, the content available on the platform, its subscription plans, and promotional offers, if any.
Eventually, the customer may start comparing Prime Video with other OTT services such as Netflix, HBO Max, Apple TV, Disney+, etc. This consideration can turn into purchase intent if the customer gets convinced that the unique value offered by Prime Video can’t be received on any other platform. Amazon Prime’s bundle of benefits can serve as a convincing factor, and the customer may finally buy a subscription plan.
Once the purchase is made, Amazon Prime Video has to ensure successful customer onboarding via email and app notifications. Regular update of content and improvement of features has to be ensured to keep the customers interested and willing to renew their subscription.
Through this entire customer journey, marketers plan every single brand-customer interaction in the form of a marketing funnel. Effective activities and value delivery ensure that the customer progresses from the top of the funnel to the bottom without any obstruction. But, if, at any stage, marketing communication or the brand’s value proposition loses relevance, then the marketing funnel is said to begin leaking.
Problems caused by marketing funnel leaks
A marketing funnel is designed to track prospects’ flow through various marketing channels and their conversion into customers. Therefore, at each successive stage, the number of prospects moving towards the bottom of the funnel decreases. A healthy marketing funnel may have a conversion rate of 3-5%, depending upon the industry. This means that for every 100 prospective buyers becoming aware of a brand and entering the TOFU, only about 3 to 5 become actual customers and pass through to BOFU.
Now, when a marketing funnel starts leaking, a series of problems can arise:
- Leaks at the TOFU can result in declined brand awareness and weak interest of potential buyers in the brand’s offerings.
- Leaks at the MOFU can cause qualified leads to lose interest in the brand or find alternative solutions more desirable.
- Leaks at the BOFU can diminish customer experience and intent never converting into actual purchase.
- Multiple leaks in the marketing funnel can cause the average conversion rate to drop significantly, increasing the cost of new business acquisitions.
Reasons behind marketing funnel breakdown
There could be several reasons behind a marketing funnel breakdown, and before fixing a leaky marketing funnel, it is important to understand the underlying causes. Common causes of marketing funnel leaks are:
- Weak customer profiling and targeting: Unclear buyer personas can result in the wrong customer segments being targeted by marketing activities. As a result, more suspects than prospects enter the marketing funnel and eventually leave.
- Lack of clear CTAs: When brand communication is vague and does not guide prospective customers to the next stage of the marketing funnel, a high leakage rate can happen. If prospects are not presented with CTAs like sign-up, register, contact us, or request a demo, they may simply leave the page and forget about the brand.
- Confusing or irrelevant marketing communication: Confusing or irrelevant marketing communication can also cause potential leads to leaking out of a marketing funnel. To graduate from awareness to interest and then to intent, prospects should continually receive relevant information and support for making a buying decision. Taking customer feedback about content relevance can help avoid this problem.
- Poor lead qualification and nurturing: Not having quantifiable parameters to qualify leads can also cause marketing funnel leaks. Quality leads may get ignored, and suspects can remain inactive in the funnel for a longer period.
- Difficult sign-up and onboarding: Customers can also be lost at the BOFU stages if the sign-up process is too difficult or there is insufficient onboarding support. This leakage is most expensive, as customers with strong intent leave frustrated with the brand.
- Internal team issues: If three distinct teams (sales, marketing, and customer service) are accountable for the health of the marketing funnel, then inter-team dynamics can also cause funnel leakage. Inefficient handover of customers between internal teams can depreciate customer experience and cause exits before conversion.
Strategies to fix marketing funnel leaks
Since there are numerous reasons affecting the performance of a marketing funnel, fixing a leaky funnel becomes a complex task. However, with a strategic approach, funnel optimization can be efficiently managed. The following strategies are instrumental in fixing marketing funnel leaks:
- Identify the leaking stages: Before beginning a complete overhaul of marketing activities to improve funnel performance, it’s essential to determine where the funnel is leaking. If fewer leads reach the bottom of the funnel, the funnel is leaking in the middle, failing to nurture and qualify leads. But if the funnel is relatively empty of leads at the top, then the leaks are at the top, and the brand is failing to attract and interest target customers.
- Determine the reasons behind leaks: With the leaky stages identified, the next step is to determine the underlying causes of diagnosed leaks. Customers interact differently with the brand at each stage of the marketing funnel, and therefore their exit from the funnel could be caused by a variety of reasons mentioned above. Carefully monitoring customer behavior and reviewing marketing channels can reveal the problems that need fixing.
- Optimize marketing content: If the problem lies in confusing or irrelevant content, content optimization is required to fix marketing funnel leaks. A structured content strategy designed as per the marketing funnel and a clear content calendar is an excellent place to start. Selection of appropriate content formats and channels for each stage of the marketing funnel can also ensure maximum impact:
- TOFU: Awareness creating formats and channels like blogs, social media updates, infographics, webpages, e-books, podcasts, newsletters, etc.
- MOFU: Content facilitates brand evaluation, such as educational resources, quizzes, surveys, emails, webinars, events, etc.
- BOFU: Conversion-focused content such as demos, brochures, customer success stories, etc.
It’s equally important to measure content performance with predefined KPIs such as click-through ratio, conversion ratio, subscriptions, social mentions, engagement, etc.
- Structure lead nurturing: Content is not the culprit at times, and the marketing funnel may be leaking due to unstructured lead nurturing. By setting defined processes for qualifying and nurturing leads, leaks in the MOFU can be fixed, and lead flow towards the BOFU can be improved. The following approaches can generate concrete results:
- Installing a dedicated team for managing leads and defining key activities for lead nurturing.
- Frequently sharing relevant content with active leads keeps the brand in the consideration set of potential customers.
- Omni-channel engagement of leads via emails, app notifications, SMS, website content, and social platforms.
- Offering personalized information and promotional offers for leads to create urgency for purchase.
- Prioritize Customer Retention: Customers who feel ignored or no longer satisfied with the brand’s value proposition may also never re-enter the funnel to make repeat purchases. To fix this kind of marketing funnel leak, it’s important to prioritize customer retention. The following measures can help:
- Web and app UI/UX must be reviewed to improve customer experience with the brand continually.
- Customer onboarding should be sensitive to all aspects of the customer journey and extend beyond the first usage.
- Value-adding content should be frequently shared with paying customers to maintain brand recall and cultivate brand loyalty.
- Loyalty and referral programs should be promoted to bring referral leads into the marketing funnel and increase net conversions.
Tools to identify marketing funnel leaks
Several marketing automation tools are available to build and manage a leakage-free marketing funnel. Marketers can select the tools as per their brand’s specific needs and ensure funnel optimization. Some essential tools for fixing marketing funnel leaks are:
- Google Analytics: Google analytics provide several helpful diagnostic reports to track marketing funnel health and identify potential leaks. These include funnel visualization reports, conversion and bounce rates per device, high traffic pages, high bounce or exit pages, landing page conversion rates, user flow reports, conversions per traffic source, and new versus returning customers reports.
For Fixing Leaks in TOFU –
- Email Marketing tools: Tools like Mailchimp, Sendinblue, Sender, Omnisend, and Hubspot are great for setting up automated email campaigns and drip campaigns for lead nurturing.
- Social Media Marketing tools: Social media automation tools such as Heyday, SparkCentral, Hootsuite Publisher, Facebook Business Suite, Buffer, SocialPilot, etc., can be used for streamlining content publishing on social media. Leaks at the TOFU can be effectively fixed by AB testing, social engagement reports, and content performance reports offered by these tools.
For Fixing Leaks in MOFU
- Customer Journey Mapping tools: Automate mapping customer journey with tools like Lucidchart, Microsoft Visio, Gliffy, Custellence, OmniGraffle, Smaply, etc.
- CRO Tools: Optimize conversion rate at the bottom of the funnel with Qualtrics, Google Optimize, Adobe Analytics, Heap, Hotjar, CrazyEgg, etc.
- Chat Bots: Chatbot tools like Botsify, Chatfuel, Flow XO, TARS, etc., can be used for automating lead nurturing and successful qualification to BOFU.
- TalkBots : Person8.ai
- Landing Page Optimizers: Tools like FullStory, Hubspot, HotJar, Wynter, Qualaroo, and Google Optimize can be used for directing web traffic through landing pages.
- CDP Tools: Customer data platforms like Bloomreach, Segment, Klaviyo, Emarsys, Insider, etc., can centralize customer information and drive integrated lead nurturing across Omni channels.
- Content Personalization Platforms – Tools like Lemnisk, Hubspot, OptinMonster, Segment, Insider, etc., can personalize content for different channels and customer needs.
Also read: The Complete Guide To Performance Marketing
For Fixing Leaks in BOFU
- Product Demo Builders: Provide interactive demos for pushing conversions with tools like Articulate, Go Animate, Demostack, Canva, etc.
- Remarketing: To ensure that customers don’t exit your marketing funnel at BOFU, use remarketing tools like Adroll, Criteo, Facebook Custom Audiences, Google Display and Video Remarketing, SharpSpring, etc.
- Marketing Automation: Enterprise-grade marketing automation tools like Marketo, HubSpot, Pardot, Userfox, Eloqua, etc., can streamline the entire marketing funnel and weed out any leaks lowering conversions.
As a strategic tool, the marketing funnel enables brands to create rewarding customer experiences and boost net profitability through increased conversions. Instead of reviewing the funnel whenever conversions decline, it is better to regularly monitor every stage of the funnel for existing and potential leaks.
Timely diagnosis and identification of underlying causes can support sustainable funnel optimization. Any leaky marketing funnel can be fixed and brand performance restored with the right strategies and tools. Ultimately, the end goal is restoring brand equity while bringing continual value to the target customers.