The marketing funnel is a framework for understanding how a customer (or voter) journeys from one step to another as they learn about your product, service, or organization. The ultimate goal is to drive the individual to take action (aka “conversion”) by the end of the funnel, which is why it is often referred to as a conversion funnel.
Typically, a marketing funnel has four steps and they are awareness, interest, consideration, and conversion. The image of a funnel that is broad at the top and narrow at the bottom is apt because fewer individuals progress to each subsequent stage.
Effective digital campaigning involves designing and executing marketing funnels to guide supporters on their way to specific actions, like donating, volunteering, and voting. A supporter can move quickly or slowly through a conversion funnel. Some donors will give the first time you ask while others may wait until just before Election Day.
The most essential form of awareness in politics is name ID – what percentage of the electorate knows who you are? Digital campaigning supports this by ensuring more voters and potential supporters know who you are, what office you’re running for, and what party you belong to.
This involves a combination of paid, earned, and shared media. At the top of the funnel are people who don’t know who your candidate is. Advancing them from ignorance to knowledge is the awareness stage.
Once a voter knows a candidate’s basic information, she may be interested in learning more. This is the first narrowing stage within the funnel. If I’m a liberal Democrat and I’ve just become aware of a conservative Republican running for Congress, I don’t need to advance any farther.
The awareness stage serves as a trigger to learn more. Your digital campaign must be prepared to accommodate and capture this interest. If a voter sees your ad on TV or reads about you in the news and is interested in learning more, they may turn to Google to learn more. What will they find there?
If you’ve put in the hard work of search engine optimization (SEO), they’ll visit your website or social media.
During the interest stage, your objective is to share with a voter the different ways he can support your campaign. It could range from opting in for email or SMS updates and signing up to volunteer or making a donation or pledging to vote for you.
Of course you want supporters to do all of these things, but you only have a few seconds of their attention at any given time. That’s where multiple conversion funnels come in. As a voter is considering what they want to do next after they’re aware and interested, make their next step easy and obvious. Signing up for an email is the start of a new marketing funnel for volunteering or donating.
At the bottom of the funnel is the conversion step where a voter takes action, but you still have to guide them through this stage. Make signing up for email updates as low friction as possible by requesting only email and ZIP code (you can get more info later). Ensure your donation form is mobile friendly and secure.
There should always be another marketing funnel ready to go following a successful conversion.
Every campaign has multiple conversion funnels – volunteering, RSVPing, donating, and voting to name the most common. Sketching each of them out is a crucial exercise for building a focused digital marketing effort.
Marketing funnels aren’t magic. You must do the work to advance supporters along each stage.