The marketing funnel is something marketers understand well, but music retailers aren’t always familiar with. Your marketing funnel is critically important because it allows you to attract and convert new music retail customers, day after day.
The first thing you need to know: The marketing funnel is all about sending people the right message at the right time. If you send top-of-funnel people a bottom-of-funnel message, it won’t work. It’s like listening to hardcore punk music at the dentist’s office - it just doesn’t feel right.
Let’s head into the funnel and take a closer look at what’s happening within it.
Jumping Into the Funnel
Your marketing funnel is your step-by-step process for winnowing down your audience from “the whole entire world” to “our loyal customers.” Most marketers divide the funnel into 4 basic stages:
- Awareness: Someone first becomes aware of your brand or message
- Interest: You attract them to learn more
- Desire: They begin to crave your products or services
- Action: They’re converted and take action, becoming a customer
These 4 stages may happen within moments, or it might take months of repeated interactions before a customer makes their first purchase. Your website might move people from Awareness to Action 5% of the time, like most online retailers, or a staggering 74% of the time, like Amazon.com.
In fact, let’s take a moment to look at the funnel for Amazon.com as an example. How do they get people to the bottom of their funnel? Here are the steps the average person might go through to buy from Amazon.com:
- Awareness of something they need
- Research on the best product to buy
- See Amazon.com among their online search results
- Visit Amazon.com
- View various products
- Desire a certain product among the choices
- Add to their shopping cart
- Make the purchase
All along the way, there are many opportunities for the person to abandon the process and not make it to the bottom of the funnel. At the Awareness stage, they could get distracted, forget what they needed, and go eat dinner. While researching online, their eye could settle on a competitor to Amazon, taking them into a completely different funnel. Or, while on Amazon’s site, they might get frustrated and just give up. And on and on.
Any business does best when the funnel is working efficiently - and when it’s working efficiently, people are far less prone to abandoning it. Next, let’s look at the stages of the funnel and how to keep it moving at top speed, all along the way.
Stage 1: Awareness
If you don’t catch their attention, they’ll never become customers. The first step is standing out in the crowd. Of course, you have to do it in a way that matches your brand - a scantily-clad woman and a raunchy message might catch the eye, but it wouldn’t necessarily bring music customers into your store.
At this stage, it’s important to think about your customers’ desires and unfulfilled needs. What are their concerns? What do they need urgently? What do you provide that they can’t find anywhere else?
Here’s something else that’s important to remember about awareness: It’s not just familiarity. Most people are familiar with the businesses in their neighborhood, but it doesn’t mean those businesses immediately come to mind when they need something.
Awareness goes a step beyond familiarity, nudging toward enthusiasm. To keep them moving down through the funnel, you’ll need to connect with them on a deeper level. Here are some tried-and-true ways to build awareness:
- Partner with a trusted brand, and build awareness through their channels
- Start a referrals program, so current customers help build new awareness
- Target a small niche heavily, and get maximum exposure among a small audience, rather than very limited exposure to a mass audience
- Experiment with content formats, like blogs, infographics, and videos, which catch the eye of new customers
- Rely on the power of free by advertising free and freemium products more heavily
- Be educational and helpful everywhere you share your messages, because people react most positively to helpful companies that teach them something
Okay, they’re aware of you. Maybe they saw your ad online, spotted a banner outside your store, or started a chat with one of your salespeople at a community event. Now it’s time to turn their awareness into interest.
During this stage, you’ll have to be very careful about overwhelming people with too much information. They’re interested, but they’re still cautious. They’re almost looking for a reason to walk away - a type of skepticism that’s a normal part of consumer psychology.
Short, clear, tempting messages are best at this stage. Stick with the highlights. And though it might be counterintuitive, it’s probably best NOT to focus on price at this stage. People are more interested in whether to put trust in you - whether you can even meet their needs.
A famous example of the right approach to this stage is Apple’s introduction of the first generation iPod. They made a 1-minute video and put it everywhere people were searching for music online. The video is rather simple, and just shows a guy selecting music on the iPod and rocking out. The only words are: “iPod - a thousand songs in your pocket. Think different.”
In fewer than 10 words, Apple was able to explain what was great about the iPod. The message was interesting, but not overwhelming. Suddenly, everyone wanted a thousand songs in their pocket.
How would you sum up your business - or your top-seller - in 10 words or fewer? Decide this, and you can use your highlights everywhere you need to build interest, like:
- Online landing pages
- Outdoor signs near your business
- In-store and point of purchase displays
- Headlines and subheadlines of blog posts
- At the end of videos
When someone is fully interested, their interest can become full-on desire if you keep them moving down through the funnel. At this point, they’re open to being totally converted into buying customers, but they’re vulnerable to buying inhibitors.
- Richard Shell, who wrote the book, “The Art of the Woo,” sees a set of common roadblocks that prevent companies from keeping customers in the marketing funnel. Most of them revolve around your company’s reputation and relationship with the customer.
Common buying inhibitors include:
Relationship. They like the item, but they don’t have a strong relationship with your store.
Credibility. Something about your company’s credibility is holding them back.
Price. They like everything else about the item, but it’s just too expensive.
Durability. They’re willing to invest, but concerned about how long it will last.
Incompatibility. Sometimes, they don’t feel like they’re the right person your company wants, or realize the item they were seeking wasn’t what they desired after all.
When a potential customer’s desire wanes due to these factors, how do you keep them on board? This is an important issue to address, because you’re so close to sealing the deal. Losing them at this stage is a real heartbreaker.
Address the roadblocks above through methods like:
- Testimonials from other happy customers like them
- A “Your Story” section of the website, also displayed at the cash register, so they can understand your company’s culture and beliefs
- Q&A videos that answer common questions about durability and value
- Blog posts and ebooks that create a deeper connection with your company
- Money-back guarantees and return policies that reduce skepticism about the purchase
We’ve hit the bottom of the funnel. From all the people flowing past the top of the funnel, you’ve managed to draw in a group of interested buyers who desire your offerings and are ready to take action. Now what?
You need a call to action (CTA). CTAs are critical for your website - on your main page, on your landing pages, and everywhere else. There must be a clear, simple way to finalize the purchase the moment they’re ready.
A CTA is vital because it gives site users a clear indication of where to go and what to do next. Psychologically, people hope to see a CTA one websites, because it makes them feel relieved from the burden of hunting around.
CTAs can be links, buttons, or images, and don’t have to be complicated to be effective - in fact, research shows that some of the most clicked-on CTAs are very simple buttons that say “add to cart” or “order now.”
Here are a few examples:
- Request a free sample
- Connect with a repair expert
- Download our flute ebook
- Make an appointment for lessons now
- Add this instrument to my cart
- Skip to the ordering page
What do all of these CTAs have in common? They follow the internet’s best practices for CTAs:
- They’re short - fewer than 5 words, ideally
- They begin with an action word, like “Download”
- They offer something helpful and tempting
- They sound free or no-obligation
- They’re easy to understand for non-experts
CTAs must be highly visible to be effective. Set your CTA off in a bright color, within a large button shape, and it will be unmistakable to your customers.
Reassurance and smooth performance are also very important at this stage. You don’t want anything to slow them down as they take the leap into buying. Your online shopping cart should allow a fast, seamless transaction. A stop at the in-store cash register should be efficient and enjoyable.
As they wrap up the transaction, reinforce their decision. Remind them that they have made a great choice that will improve their life. Online, this can come through a confirmation email; in-store it can be a positive message on the outside of the shopping bag.
Refilling the Funnel
Keep in mind that it’s natural to lose people at every stage of the marketing funnel. In fact, losing people along the way is a success, not a failure. It’s a waste of time and money to constantly focus on wooing un-woo-able people.
Your goal is to connect with a core group of buying customers - the kind of people that will become loyal, lifetime fans who spread the word about your company.
If you need more advice about drawing people into your marketing funnel, let’s talk. Octave Media works with some of the music industry’s most successful retailers and offers free resources for extra help with marketing.