Full-funnel, multi-touch marketing is how to reach customers at all stages of their purchase journey. By using a variety of channels (see below) and touchpoints (see below), businesses can create a more effective customer experience that builds brand loyalty and drives sales.
In the simplest terms, full-funnel, multi-touch marketing represents a way for businesses to generate more results from their marketing and advertising efforts.
But what the heck does that mean?
How does it work?
Let’s look at the various parts.
WHAT IS A MARKETING FUNNEL?
By the time you and I make a new purchase, we’ve gone through a process.
That process may be brief or take a long time, but unless it’s an impulse item, there are stages we preceded through to buy what we choose. (And even with an impulse item, we may have gone through the stages instantly).
If you think of the last item you purchased, perhaps you did some research, read some reviews, looked at some websites, compared some prices and maybe even asked others for their opinions before you spent your money. Whatever path you took, or the process you went through, the steps can be categorized by stages in a marketing funnel.
Such a funnel helps marketers identify and better cater to the different stages you and I and other potential customers take while moving from awareness of a product or service, through to purchase.
This type of funnel is often diagramed with the widest part at the top, representing the potential customers, and the narrowest part at the bottom, representing those who have made a purchase. (Just like a funnel. You can also think of an upside-down pyramid).
Since not everyone who considers your product or service will buy from you, the narrower part at the bottom would naturally be smaller than the broad area at the top.
Although the idea of a marketing funnel can be adapted to any business and any product or service, it’s important to remember that it’s only a model. The reality is that the purchase process varies from person to person and another way to view what transpires between the initial spark of contemplating a purchase to ultimately consummating it, could be referred to as the messy middle, which attempts to describe a more realistic, yet abstract model of the consumer purchase path.
A marketing funnel is a useful (and imperfect) tool to categorize the stages along a consumer purchase path.
WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF A MARKETING FUNNEL?
Marketing funnels can be simple or complex. A simple funnel is usually represented by three stages. However, some businesses identify additional stages to better segment and refine their marketing and advertising efforts.
Here are the three stages of a simple funnel: awareness, interest and action.
1) AWARENESS or TOP-OF-THE-FUNNEL
At this stage, potential customers become aware of a problem or a need they have.
For example, a potential customer may decide they need a new car. If you manufacture cars, will this prospect become aware of what you offer? You could have the best product or service in your industry but if people don’t know you exist, or there’s only a small amount of people looking for what you offer, your sales will always be limited.
If you raise awareness in the marketplace about what you provide, you’ll have a fuller funnel, meaning more people moving through the stages, resulting in more customers.
Video advertising is an effective way to attract users and introduce your message to a new audience.
It may seem intuitive that your potential customers need to know you exist but you may not be aware of the best practices to serve this stage of the consumer path. For example, at the bottom of the funnel, the marketing and advertising focus is very narrow. It’s aimed at getting people who are ready to buy now to purchase from you.
Here, at the top of the funnel, that marketing focus is broader. It’s reaching out to people who may have only recently started thinking about purchasing what you offer (demand response). Let’s say someone wants pizza. They do an online search and see your ad, review your menu and make a purchase.
Alternatively, it also includes inspiring people to consider your product or service (demand generation). In other words, with demand generation, the consumer wasn’t thinking of buying a car or ordering pizza until they saw your video ad and then they began their purchase process.
2) INTEREST or MIDDLE-OF-THE-FUNNEL
At this stage, potential customers begin to research solutions to their problem or need. For example, someone who needs a new car may begin to research different car models.
At this stage, if you are merely pushing out messages of “Buy me now,” you may not impinge on a potential customer looking for what will fulfill their needs. They’re not ready to buy from anyone just yet. They are researching solutions and reviewing options but if you’re not demonstrating how and why you should be part of their decision process, then you’re not connecting with this potential buyer.
For products or services that are complex or expensive, this is a critical stage to understand and address. Heck, even for products that are simpler or less expensive, you could still be knocked out of consideration because your competitors are doing a better job of conveying to the same potential customers that they are a better solution.
At this stage, longer videos can convey how your product or service will fulfill the buyer’s objective or solve their problem. For example, “How To” videos that demonstrate how to use your product or service, or other educational videos, are some common ways of appealing to the researchers in this stage.
Providing and even promoting product specifications, payment options, service timelines, delivery choices, customer support information, refund/return policies, as well as any other information important to your specific customers will influence buyers to make their purchase from you.
3) ACTION or BOTTOM-OF-THE-FUNNEL
At this stage, potential customers narrow down their options and decide on a particular product or service. For example, someone researching car models may decide to buy a particular make and model of car. In this case, he or she would traditionally go to a dealer.
For some businesses, this stage may represent a new lead. If you’re a company in which all your customers go through a salesperson, then this is handled by your sales department. Sometimes a person calls ready to buy and you simply facilitate their purchase. Other times, they may still be in the research stage and the salesperson serves as a bridge to answer their questions and bring the lead from interest to purchase.
Many businesses understandably focus on this latter part of the sales funnel: getting to the sale. And anything you can do to make it easier for a customer to buy is a worthy effort.
For an online business, you want to ensure your shopping cart is easy to use.
Nevertheless, it bears emphasis that if you’re a business that is seeking more customers, then not only should you make sure your Bottom-of-the-Funnel is properly developed, but you should seek ways to further develop your Top-of-the-Funnel. You could have a great sales team or a perfectly functional online shopping cart and some great content that helps consumers understand what you offer. But if there are not enough potential customers who are considering your product or service, your sales will always remain limited. Conversely, competitors who may have a less developed Bottom-of-the-Funnel will win more new customers because they started building a relationship earlier at the Top-of-the-Funnel and are simply doing more to generate awareness for their brand while helping customers move along their journey to a purchase decision
Note: For simple or inexpensive products or services that are well understood, such as a pizza shop, customers can go through these stages in seconds or minutes. A person or family is visiting a new town. They decide they want pizza. They search on their phone and find the closest pizza place and go there or have the pizza delivered. The more complex and/or expensive a product or service is, the longer the process. For some people buying a new car make take several weeks or months and for others, the process may be longer than a year, when considering the time elapsed from the moment they first recognize the need to the moment they drive their new car home.
WHAT IS FULL-FUNNEL MARKETING?
Full-funnel marketing seeks to engage potential customers at every stage of the funnel, or purchase path.
This type of marketing is differentiated from a sole focus on the Bottom of the Funnel, which is common among small- and medium-sized businesses. Marketing and advertising that focuses on the Bottom of the Funnel are important but limited.
This means small- and medium-sized businesses have the most to gain from a full-funnel marketing approach.
The idea behind full-funnel marketing is to engage customers multiple times to make them aware of your product or service, educate them about its features and benefits, and help them make their purchase.
It includes the idea of building a relationship.
Instead of merely running at full speed to find new customers today, it integrates the idea of continually building awareness for your brand in the minds of those who are not ready to buy today but are going to buy from somebody tomorrow.
By the way, it’s worth re-emphasizing that this does not suggest that you shouldn’t be doing everything you can to generate new customers today. Yet, when done well, full-funnel marketing provides many more opportunities for new customers today, because they were nurtured yesterday.
The benefits of full-funnel marketing are that it can help you reach potential customers who are at different stages of the purchase funnel. It also provides the opportunity for you to nurture potential customers until they are ready to buy. Since people tend to buy from those they like and trust, just by the simplicity of developing a relationship with potential customers earlier in their journey, you have an inherent advantage over other brands your prospects may discover later in their research.
Full-funnel marketing can be adapted to any business and any product or service.
WHAT ARE MARKETING CHANNELS?
Channels, in this context, represent the different avenues that can be used to engage a prospect. Here are some examples.
- Pay-per-Click advertising
- Video advertising
- Public relations
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Search engine optimization
- Social media marketing
- Direct mail
- Affiliate marketing
- Influencer marketing
WHAT IS MULTI-TOUCH MARKETING?
“Touch,” in this context, simply means engaging a prospect. Typically it takes multiple touches or engagements with a prospect before they convert into a paying customer.
Multi-touch marketing campaigns may use a combination of online and offline channels, such as pay-per-click advertising, email, social media, direct mail, TV, and events.
If a prospect responds to an ad, visits your website, watches a video, signs up for a newsletter, and over the next several weeks reads four email messages before becoming a customer, that would constitute a multi-touch marketing and advertising sequence.
EXAMPLES OF FULL-FUNNEL, MULTI-TOUCH MARKETING
Full-funnel, multi-touch marketing campaigns would include these two steps:
- Define your target audience
- Measure the results of all campaign aspects to inform future improvements
It should also be emphasized that an important part of any marketing campaign is what occurs after the sale. Hence, retaining and growing customers through world-class customer service is essential.
The following examples are simplified for educational purposes. Actual full-funnel, multi-touch campaigns are more robust.
NEW CAR LAUNCH
- Run national TV commercials and online video ads to announce new vehicle.
- Feature the car at events that draw lots of attendees.
- Promote and share videos and web content that provides in-depth information about the car’s features and benefits.
- Furnish phone numbers for dealerships and test drives.
- Provide dealerships with point-of-sale brochures and specification sheet to give to potential customers.
- Offer customer incentives to buy now, such as sales and low-interest loans.
- Build awareness, establish trust and credibility with potential customers through thought-leadership by advertising and sharing content such as videos, blog posts, white papers, e-books, webinars and any other channels the target market consumes.
- Build relationships with potential customers through personalized emails and targeted social media outreach.
- Nurture potential customers through ongoing content and offers that address their specific needs and pain points.
- Convert potential customers into paying customers with compelling product demos and free trials.
PROMOTE A RETAIL STORE OR RESTAURANT
- Broadcast local TV commercials and local online video ads
- Feature seasonal product promotions on website and video ads. For restaurants, offer discounts for patrons who visit off-peak hours.
- Nurture brand recognition and loyalty by offering a discount for those who sign up for a newsletter and send informative messages all year (not just advertisements).
- Support local nonprofits in exchange for promotion at their events.
- Promote specific store/restaurant sales via online ads, direct mail, email marketing, and social media.
- To build awareness, a realtor could use online video advertising, signage, print advertisements, social media and networking.
- To promote interest, a realtor might hold open houses, offer property tours and host events.
- A realtor might also provide educational resources, such as guides to buying or selling a home, to help potential clients make informed decisions.
- Realtors (or brokers) could provide customized search tools, such as a list of properties that match the client’s specifications, to help the client find the perfect home.
- A realtor should stay in touch with potential clients through regular communication, such as email newsletters, phone calls and direct mail.
- To inspire action, a realtor might offer special incentives, such as a free home evaluation or a discount on real estate services and/or simply provide such an abundance of customer care that prospects select you for their purchase due to service.
HOW DO REMARKETING AND RETARGETING RELATE TO FULL-FUNNEL, MULTI-TOUCH MARKETING?
There are a number of channels noted above. Remarketing and retargeting represent a specialized aspect of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. In fact, it’s where the greatest benefits and value from PPC are derived.
When you consider that for most websites, only 2% of web traffic converts to leads or sales on the first visit, that leaves plenty of opportunities to re-engage the others. Retargeting is designed to help businesses reach the 98% of users who did not convert right away. Similarly, with video ads and regular ads, the majority of engagements will not result in a conversion. Retargeting allows you to strategically position your ads in front of these audiences on other websites they visit later to remind those past visitors about your brand and/or to make a purchase.
You have likely observed this type of advertising. You clicked an ad or watched a video or visited a website and then more ads from the same company followed you around the internet.
The core idea of remarketing is to target potential customers with a new ad, who have completed some previous action. These actions could include watching a video on YouTube, LinkedIn or Facebook, visiting your website, downloading a white paper, or viewing a specific product or service page on your website, etc.
An important point to recognize is that you don’t need to know who these people are, but you can still advertise to them.
For example, you could show follow-up videos to people who watched an introductory video about your product or service on YouTube. Although you have no idea who these people are, Google does. (Google owns YouTube).
Google remarketing provides the opportunity to show another video or even a sequence of additional videos to those people who viewed your introductory video.
All by itself, this is a powerful multi-touch opportunity, because it allows you to build awareness and educate prospects without having their contact information.
Furthermore, when customized to touch prospects at different parts of their purchase path, it represents a vital component of full-funnel marketing.
A more specific example of using remarketing as part of a full-funnel, multi-touch approach on YouTube would be to show 15-sec introductory video ads to those in the geographical area who would potentially be prospects for your product or service. Those who watched the 15-sec video ad would then later be presented with a sequence of longer videos over the next few weeks educating them about your product or service. This could also be interspersed with very short (6-second) videos that remind them of your product or service or specific features. Occasionally, additional 30-sec videos would feature special offers to buy now.
Remarketing and retargeting should be used as part of full-funnel, multi-touch advertising.
SPLIT-TESTING AND FULL-FUNNEL, MULTI-TOUCH MARKETING
Fundamental to all marketing and advertising and especially full-funnel, multi-touch marketing is split-testing, which represents the process of determining which specific messages and channels generate the best response for your product or service from your specific buyers.
Split testing is a process of comparing two or more versions of marketing components or channels, to see which one performs better.
Split testing can be used to test different aspects of a full-funnel, multi-touch marketing campaign, such as videos, ads, product features, service benefits, and even pricing. It provides real-world feedback on what works and what doesn’t and sometimes the results can be counter-intuitive.
Split testing is an ongoing process of showing two (or more) versions of the same video, ad, or message to different users, in the same time period, to determine which resonates best with your prospects.
This is the key to how marketing and advertising campaigns are made more effective and profitable.
Utilizing split-testing marks a distinct contrast between amateur and pro marketers. Amateurs operate on the principle of “let’s try this once and see if it works.” (It generally won’t). This represents the population of businesses that state “advertising doesn’t work.” And yet, advertising costs continue to go up year after year because those businesses who do split-testing and take advantage of full-funnel, multi-touch marketing, continue to pump more and more money into advertising because they find it is profitable.
Make no mistake, split-testing, and full-funnel, multi-touch marketing require more thought and labor than just randomly trying things once. But if you don’t take advantage of these marketing best practices as described here, your results will be constrained.
For more detailed information on split-testing, visit this article: Split-Testing: What is it? Where to Start?
The benefits of full-funnel, multi-touch marketing are that it helps you connect with potential customers at the specific stage of their purchase path. It provides opportunities to nurture and build relationships with potential customers, increasing the likelihood they will buy from you.
The central idea is to provide prospects with multiple touchpoints so that they can become aware of and learn about your brand and your product or service.
Full-funnel, multi-touch marketing includes an emphasis on converting buyers today. But it is differentiated from businesses that solely focus on today by strategically identifying and serving future prospects and customers so that there is a greater volume of potential customers today.
Furthermore, this type of marketing is how to increase return on ad spend (ROAS) as a more holistic approach to servicing your prospects and converting them to customers.
A full-funnel, multi-touch campaign caters to every stage of the marketing funnel, from awareness all the way to purchase. This requires careful planning and execution and also includes ongoing split-testing.
Sometimes we offer special promotions for Split-Testing and/or Video Advertising Trials as an initial step into full-funnel, multi-touch marketing. Visit our Skyworks Marketing home page to see what we’re offering this month.
Avid hiker, bicyclist, motorcyclist and long-time advertising pro. Founder of Skyworks Marketing, Nonprofit Fire and Our Ventura TV (cable TV). One career highlight was working on a small team that built a business from nothing to over $100 Million in 3 years. Skyworks Marketing provides lead generation and video advertising services. We create custom marketing funnels that provide the highest-quality leads and sales.