We explore how successful brands use engagement funnels to authentically interact with their audience at each stage of the buying journey.
If you’ve spent more than ten minutes in the world of marketing, you’re familiar with the good ol’ marketing funnel — top, middle, bottom, awareness, education, conversion, and so on.
And while the traditional concept of the marketing funnel is helpful, it also has a problem: it tends to be a one-way monologue directed at prospects rather than a dynamic conversation.
You know the drill: the customer downloads a lead magnet, you send them a bunch of emails and retarget them with ads, and then eventually, you make your pitch.
This type of one-way conversation doesn’t fit well into the ever-changing, increasingly personalized internet landscape.
A shift is needed from talking at customers to engaging with them.
You need an engagement funnel.
Think of an engagement funnel as a methodology where your audience becomes customers by engaging with your brand.
Now more than ever, it’s easy for brands to communicate, connect, and engage with their customers. The brands that thrive will know how to authentically interact with their audience at each stage of the buying journey.
Calling it an engagement funnel rather than a marketing funnel accounts for the ever-changing ways customers and brands interact with each other. Instead of pushing customers down the marketing funnel and hoping they’ll eventually purchase, successful brands lead customers by the hand, engaging with them at each step along the way.
When comparing the engagement funnel to the classic marketing funnel, the difference isn’t so much in the structure or stages of the funnel but how customers and brands interact at each stage.
While the traditional marketing funnel works in theory, it doesn’t account for how digital engagement impacts marketing a product today. The reality is that customers expect brands to behave differently than they did 20 years ago. Customers want brands to actively interact with them, answering questions, providing support, and being genuinely helpful.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to harness the tools available to turn engagement — not just marketing — into conversions. By focusing on creating an engagement funnel, you’ll reach more potential customers and get more conversions.
The structure of your engagement funnel doesn’t necessarily need to be different than the traditional marketing funnel. It can still contain the conventional stages:
What needs to change is how your brand interacts with people at each stage of the funnel. You need to use strategies, tools, and platforms that promote engagement rather than one-way conversations. Whereas before, the education stage might have only included sending prospects whitepapers or case studies, now it might also involve inviting them to webinars or doing Q&As on social media.
When it comes to engagement, few things are more powerful than video.
According to Wyzowl’s 2021 Video Marketing Report, 94% of video marketers say video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service, and 83% say video has helped increase the average time their visitors spend on a page.
Video leads to more conversions because it gives audiences a chance to see what companies are all about. Whether in the form of virtual events or product demos posted to social media, video allows customers to form deeper connections with brands, translating into more loyalty and sales.
Now that you know the why behind engagement funnels, let’s talk about how to build one.
At this stage, your goal is to make potential customers aware of your brand. You want to cast a wide net using a variety of methods.
Video can be particularly helpful in generating awareness for your brand. Because videos keep people on social media platforms longer than other types of content, they tend to be given more exposure.
So, for example, say you recorded a video interview with a prominent influencer in your industry. If you post that video on social media and tag the influencer, there’s a good chance that people who follow that influencer will see the video.
Or, if you posted the same video to YouTube, the YouTube recommendation engine will likely recommend the video to those who have watched similar videos.
When people interact with the video, respond to their comments! The more engagement the video has, the more the various algorithms will prop it up.
Once prospects have become aware of your brand’s existence, it’s time to help them discover more about what you offer.
Your goal is to start showing up everywhere your prospects are. This means utilizing multiple marketing channels and strategies so that your prospects are repeatedly exposed to your brand.
You should maintain an active presence on social media, posting a variety of content types (including video for reasons noted above). Depending on the platform you’re using, you can create retargeting ads that will be shown to those who watched the initial video.
SEO is also an essential strategy in the discovery stage. By creating optimized content on your site, you can attract organic search traffic for the relevant top-of-the-funnel keywords. One particularly effective SEO strategy is to put relevant videos within text-based content, such as blog posts. This keeps visitors on the page longer, which is a signal to Google that the content is both relevant and valuable.
PPC ads are also effective at the discovery stage. You can use them to target essential search terms on Google, retarget those who have visited your website, and get brand exposure on specific sites frequented by your target audience.
At this stage, you begin to engage with customers on a much deeper level than in the previous two stages. Engagement in previous stages most likely looked like mainly responding to comments on social media or blog posts. Because the content itself was not extremely in-depth, the engagement isn’t either.
However, customers who have made it to this point are willing to give more of their time and attention to what you have to offer. You can provide them with more in-depth content that addresses their questions, helps solve their problems, and demonstrates your expertise.
This may take the form of a live webinar where you directly interact with those in attendance. You could also provide prospects with long-form blog posts or whitepapers that cover more technical subjects. Or you could host a livestream where people can ask you anything they want.
At this stage, you need to be willing to invest significantly more time in direct engagement with prospects. Yes, doing a live webinar takes more time and effort than posting on social media, but it’s also a really effective way to help prospects take the next step in the buying journey.
At this point, prospects are actively considering who to purchase from. They’ve probably narrowed it down to a few companies, including yours. Now is the time to show them why you’re better than the competition.
Online events are really effective at this stage and can go a long way in helping differentiate you from the competition. You can use product demos to show off different features. You can do one-on-one video meetings to answer specific questions a prospect may have. You could even do a video where you compare your product to your competitors side-by-side.
Engagement is especially important at this stage. If you can connect more effectively and authentically than your competitors, you stand a good chance of winning a prospect.
You have successfully converted a prospect into a customer. Congratulations! But you’re not done yet. The purchase experience has a significant effect on whether the customer stays with you for the long term.
You want to do everything you can to make the entire purchase process as smooth as possible. Every step should be clear, and it should be easy for customers to find answers to their questions. Offering a live chat support function can be particularly helpful in making sure a person completes their purchase. If they have a question or objection and can’t find the answer, they might not pull the trigger. Live chat goes a long way toward preventing this from happening.
As you probably know, it costs a lot more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one. Hence the need for a strong focus on customer retention.
Some effective ways to engage with customers at the retention stage include:
The key to retention is remembering that engagement doesn’t stop after the initial purchase. Rather, it’s an ongoing process throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
To create a powerful engagement funnel, you need a robust video engagement platform.
You need a platform that makes it easy to:
Once you have a robust video engagement platform in place, you can begin creating engaging videos and incorporating them into your engagement funnel.
For more help on choosing the best platform, read our in-depth guide: What Is a Video Engagement Platform, and Why Should You Use One?
Molly Hocutt has been a Content Manager at Livestom since 2019. She has more than five years of experience in SaaS content writing and B2B marketing.
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