The marketing funnel and the customer journey are two business frameworks that are often discussed in very similar terms. We could even say that there is a little confusion in terms of using one or the other appropriately.
It is true that these two models have many similarities, but the truth is that there are just as many differences.
In this post, we’re going to look into both to discuss how one, the marketing funnel, is a communication approach, especially used in the context of digital media, the other is a branding framework designed to help create touchpoints and experiences that are aligned with your brand and its values.
With no further ado, let’s delve right into the topic.
The Marketing Funnel – A Marketing Mindset
In the marketing funnel, the user is analyzed based on his\her purchase behavior.
3 essential steps are taken into account to determine the customer’s stage and buyer’s intent.
Top of the Funnel
At the beginning of the marketing funnel, a user is acknowledging a new problem or challenge he\she may need to overcome. In order to address the problem the user goes online (or elsewhere) and starts collecting information to understand the problem with more clarity. This step is what we call the top of the funnel, when purchase intent is low, as users are not even considering making a purchase, as the problem they need to solve is still to be figured out.
What brands do to interact with customers in this stage, is to create helpful, informative content that can help users figure out the situation they are in. In order to connect to customers’ problems, many brands use the “Jobs to Be Done” approach, which is founded on behavioral marketing. If you’d like to read more on this marketing framework in this post, we address it in detail.
Middle of the Funnel
Next, we’ve got the middle of the funnel. Once the problem has been charted out and understood, the user may be looking for potential options in terms of the product he\she could acquire to solve the problem. Here we see an increasing purchase intent, as the problem has been defined and more than one option may be available to solve it.
At this stage, the user enters the comparison of alternatives stage. In this stage, the user is looking for different potential options to overcome the challenge.
These different options can be part of entirely different industries.
For instance, if a user is looking for a remedy for sleep deprivation, an option is to take sleeping pills, the other is to take a vacation.
In this step, the purchase intent is higher, and usually, brands use social media to make sure their message finds the right tone of voice and brand personality to stand out from the crowd. If you’d like to read more about the benefits of a persuasive social media presence, in this post we discuss the matter in more detail.
Bottom of the Funnel
Finally, at the bottom of the funnel, we have the choice of the right service provider. The customer now knows what product to buy but at the same time, he\she needs to choose who to buy it from.
At the bottom of the funnel, the purchase intent is the highest, and this is why often online and physical retailers interact with customers through paid ads, in order to intercept high-value traffic. Advertising at the bottom of the funnel can be very effective, and we discuss why that is the case in more detail in this post.
When To Use the Marketing Funnel
All in all, with this model, brands are choosing the right communication strategy for the purchase state the user is in.
By using the funnel approach a brand may provide the most relevant and convincing information to the user so that the number of customers potentially pushed through the funnel can be maximized.
The marketing funnel helps customers understand what content typology to create and where to position it to increase the chances of converting a user into a customer, taking into account the fact the through both top and middle of the funnel content, the user will be exposed to the brand’s communication strategy repeatedly.
In the next section, we’ll be looking at the Customer Journey as a branding strategy which presents some similarities, but also many differences with the Marketing Funnel.
The Customer Journey – A Tool To Create In-Brand Experiences
In the customer journey, a brand manager plots out all of the events that are part of a customer’s purchase journey.
Customer Journey Mapping Example: Shopping at the Supermarket
Let’s say that we are charting a day shopping at the supermarket.
The customer may have to go and pick up the car, drive to the store, park it, pick up a trolley, shop, wait in line for checkout, drive the shopping home and then carry the shopping to the house.
Assuming the shopping in itself can be considered relatively pleasant, the rest of the events are a bit of a hassle. This is because driving through traffic, finding parking available, waiting in line, and carrying bags home is not fun.
As a result, despite the core experience being somewhat enjoyable, the rest of it is just a little bit of a headache.
As a result, the feelings we get when we think about the supermarket are conflicting or even overpowered by negative emotions. We don’t mind the shopping, but everything else is a little bit of a chore.
How The Customer Journey Helps Build In-Brand Experiences
This is when the brand manager comes in and using the Customer Journey considers out of all of the evens we have discussed, which ones are the most painful or the most positive.
The brand manager will try to enhance the positive events and limit the negative ones as much as possible to make the brand’s associations stronger and more positive.
More than that, a brand manager will make sure that all events connected to the brand – also called brand touchpoints – will inspire customers with feelings and experiences that are connected to the brand.
For instance, if we want to have a fun brand, then fun needs to be something we feel in many of the steps that we go through in relation to our purchase, not only when we use our products.
As a result, a customer journey is a tool used to make sure that the experiences we’re providing to customers are aligned and consistent with what our brand is about.
The customer journey revolves in fact around a variety of intangibles, that can’t be ignored, as they comprise the added value our brand is bringing to market.
Now that we’ve clarified the differences between these two models, it’s time to draw some conclusive remarks.
There you have it! In this post, we’ve looked into the differences between the Marketing Funnel and the Customer Journey. These frameworks are often used in very similar contexts but in reality, there is a great deal of difference between them.
On the one hand, the Marketing Funnel is about finding a way to connect to your customer based on his\her purchase behavior, and making sure your unique selling proposition is displayed in the right context, making your product useful and appealing.
A good marketer uses the marketing funnel to fully tap into the variety of content typologies, messages, and media that your brand can use to make a case for itself.
On the other hand, the Customer Journey is about mapping the experiences that are part of your customer’s daily life and understanding how that experiences connect him\her to your brand. A strong brand manager is able to understand how to make those experiences more pleasant or less painful, while still keeping the context of the communication fully aligned with your brand.
As we’ve seen, both frameworks have to do with guiding your customer through a series of choices, but ultimately, these two approaches focus on different dimensions of your customer’s experience.
If you’re interested in reading more about branding and marketing in the context of fashion, then don’t hesitate to look into our blog, where we’ve got a wealth of material for you to discover. Enjoy!