A classic marketing funnel measures how successful a brand is at moving consumers through their purchase journey including stages such as awareness, familiar, consider, purchase, repeat and loyal. From a strategic view, the brand funnel tells you where your brand is now, and when analyzed with intelligence, it provides hints as to where you can go next. The marketing funnel is also referred to as a sales funnel or brand funnel.
We use the brand funnel analysis to help determine where your brand sits on the brand love curve, which outlines how consumers build a bond with a brand, as they move through five stages: unknown, indifferent, like it, love it, and onto the beloved brand status.
Our brand love curve sets up the brand strategy of where to go next. Indifferent brands have very skinny brand funnels with low awareness, low purchase and negligible repeat and loyalty. Brands that are liked but not loved, have high awareness and sales, without an emotional connection, they almost have no loyalty. And finally, at the beloved brands had the most robust brand funnels, with strong awareness, purchase, repeat and loyalty scores. This analysis is part of our deep-dive business review and can be used to set up your marketing plan decisions.
To illustrate, click on the marketing funnel diagram to zoom in.
The fundamentals of marketing matter
The marketing fundamentals that we show in this article are part of what we use in our marketing training programs. Marketers will learn strategic thinking, brand positioning, brand plans, writing creative briefs, advertising decision-making, marketing analytics, and marketing finance.
Every brand should understand the details of its brand funnel. It’s one of the best tool for measuring your brand’s underlying health. It explains your consumer’s purchase journey. It is the equivalent to knowing your blood pressure or cholesterol scores. A classic sales funnel should measure awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase, repeat, and loyalty. At the very least, you should measure awareness, purchase, and repeat. It is not just about understanding the absolute scores on the funnel. You need to understand the ratios that explain how good of a job you are doing in moving consumers from one stage of the funnel to the next.
I will show you how the robustness of your brand’s sales funnel explains where your brand sits on our brand love curve. The broader the funnel, the better connected your brand is with consumers.
Marketing funnel analysis
Marketing funnel analysis using absolute scores
- A: On the chart below, the first thing to do is look at the absolute marketing funnel scores. There are many types of comparisons you can do, whether you compare to last year, competitors, or category norms. Then look at the marketing funnel ratios, which is the percentage score for how well your brand can convert consumers from one stage of their purchase journey to the next. To create ratios, divide the absolute score by the score above it on the funnel. In the example above, take the familiar score of 87% and divide it by the awareness score of 93% to determine a conversion ratio of 94%. This means 94% of aware consumers are familiar
Absolute funnel scores
- B: Then, on the next chart below, lay out the absolute scores and the ratios in a horizontal way to allow a comparison. You will notice these are the same scores as “A” and “B” in the previous chart. The crucial numbers for Gray’s Cookies are the ratios of 94%, 94%, 77%, 25%, and 12% at the top of the chart. Then bring in a close competitor (Devon’s) with their absolute and ratios scores to allow a direct comparison.
Marketing funnel ratios
To illustrate, click to expand the diagram to see marketing funnel / sales funnel details.
Marketing funnel analysis using ratios
- C: Above, find the ratio gaps by subtracting the competitor’s ratio scores from your brand’s ratio scores. In the example, the first ratio gap is -4% ratio gap (94% – 98%). This means Devon’s does a 7% better job in converting consumers from awareness to familiar than Gray’s Cookies.
- D: As you create ratio gaps along the bottom, you can see where your ratio is either stronger or weaker than the comparison brand. These ratios show how well you can move your consumers along their purchase journey.
- E: Finally, start analyzing the significant gaps between the two brands and tell a strategic story to explain each gap. Looking at the example, you can see Gray’s and Devon’s have similar scores at the top part of the funnel, but Gray’s starts to show real weakness (-23% and -51% gap) as consumers move along their purchase journey from repeat to loyalty. You need to address and fix these gaps with your brand plan.
Stages of the marketing funnel
It takes a strategic mind to figure out brand love
For new brands, they were completely “unknown” to consumers. Unless there were genuinely compelling messages, consumers would walk past without even looking. To achieve some success, the priority for these brands is to get noticed within the clutter of the market.
At the “indifferent” stage, consumers feel O.K. about the brand, similar to how they usually feel about commodities, like fruit and vegetables. These brands satisfy the consumer’s basic needs. Consumers will only buy the brand when it is on sale, but switch back to their other brand choice when it is not. Make your brand more than just a commodity. Brands need to be better, different, or cheaper. Otherwise, they will not be around for long, and you waste your investment.
Brands that reach the “like it” stage experience the first sign of business success. Their consumers see the brand as a logical, functional, and smart choice. However, the lack of any emotional connection leaves the purchase up to chance. Consumers will still switch brands randomly. Brands at the like it stage stress the product performance so much they forget to trigger any emotions.
As consumers start to love your brand
Brands at the “love it” stage start to see more emotionally engaged consumers. The rule of love you must follow: Consumers must love the brand before you can tell consumers you love them. Consumers see the brand as a favorite choice, usually connected to a favorite part of their day. They are loyal and build the brand into a routine. These brands must also find a way to demonstrate their love toward consumers and continue to tighten the bond with their most loyal brand lovers.
The “beloved brand” stage is where the brand becomes iconic, with a core base of brand lovers who cherish and defend the brand. These consumers see the brand as a personal choice, a badge they proudly hold in their hand or wear on their feet. At the beloved stage, the brands must create magical experiences that inspire brand lovers to share with their friends.
Our brand love curve explains how consumers feel at each stage of their purchase journey
Marketing funnel metrics
Matching marketing funnel analysis to the brand love curve
You can begin using your consumer tracking, sales funnel, market share, and the voice of the consumer to help explain where your brand sits on the brand love curve.
Indifferent brands have skinny sales funnels, starting with inferior awareness scores. Consumers have little to no opinion. Concerning performance, you will see low sales and poor margins. Your brand plan for indifferent brands should increase awareness and consideration to kickstart the consumer’s purchase journey.
The like it brands have sales funnels that are solid at the top but quickly narrow at the purchase stage. Consumers see these brands as ordinary and purchase only on a deal. When they are not advertised or on sale, sales fall off dramatically. These brands need to close potential leaks to build a loyal following behind happy experiences.
The love it brands have a reasonably robust sales funnel but may have a smaller leak at loyal. They have stronger growth and margins. Look for ways to feed the love at various stages of the consumer’s purchase journey turn repeat purchases into a ritual or routine.
The beloved brands have the most robust brand funnels and positive consumer views. These brands should continuously track their funnel and attack any weaknesses before competitors exploit them. Also, it is time to leverage that brand love to influence others.
How consumer brand strategies should match up to the brand love curve
Five major brand strategies help move your brand from one stage of the brand love curve to the next.
Leading a business review
For unknown brands, the strategic focus should be to stand out so consumers will notice the brand within a crowded brand world, where they see an estimated 5,000 brand messages per day.
For indifferent brands, the strategy must establish the brand in the consumer’s mind so they can see a clear point of difference over their current brand choice.
At the like it stage, the strategy is to separate the brand from the pack, creating happy experiences that build a trusted following over time. Only after they trust the brand, they begin to open up.
At the love it stage, the focus shifts tightening the bond with the most loyal brand fans.
At the beloved stage, the strategic challenge is to create outspoken, loyal fans who are willing to whisper to their friends on the brand’s behalf.
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