Understanding your customer’s buyer journey is essential in creating a targeted marketing campaign that effectively delivers results. The buyer’s journey is a path to purchase that includes several stages that are influenced by many outside sources. Advances in technology and increased methods of communication have allowed potential prospects to learn about your product and form opinions of your brand even before visiting your website. As a result, studying consumer behavior is becoming increasingly more difficult. Buyers are gathering information and making decisions in places that your software is not accounting for. The “dark funnel” is that information gap between the customer and the marketer.
Understanding the Dark Funnel
Digital marketing is a tool that yields powerful insights into customer actions. However, much of the important information provided by customers is hidden from marketers. For example, visits to websites other than your own, and research conducted through third-parties. The dark funnel is a term that refers to the often-veiled insights marketers might fail to uncover as they attempt to understand the customer journey.
The dark funnel can be an extremely influential part of the customer journey. As the digital marketing world continues to grow, so will the gaps that the dark funnel creates between marketers and potential customers.
It is a false belief that sales and marketing can accurately monitor the entire customer journey online. The dark funnel presents several challenges as it contains the missing pieces of the customer journey. Much of that journey takes place on third-party sites and offline. The journey seldom progresses in a linear fashion. It looks different for every customer and each contains elements that are hard to see and monitor.
With the amount of technology we have access to today, customers often do a considerable amount of research about an intended purchase before ever coming to a company’s website. Research shows that most buyers will start their pre-purchase by either visiting your site, using reputation tools, or by doing their own research. Previous purchases, reviews, and comparative data also greatly influence buyers. Researching a brand or product online and by word of mouth is important to consumers. B2B purchases are also important to consider. Seeking information from a variety of sources – online and offline – before making a decision will be critical for any B2B sale.
The problem marketers are facing with the dark funnel is they can’t measure the information that they are missing from the customer journey. Without the ability to measure, no actions can be taken to engage with and nurture leads. These dark zones may be creating an impact that is not being seen or measured.
With the ever changing journey that customers take in decision making, marketers must keep up with the new technologies and emerging strategies in order to stay relevant. It is essential to constantly be watching the ways that the sales funnel is evolving. You can then work to improve your funnel accordingly.
Technology plays a huge role in overcoming the challenges presented by the dark funnel. It provides a way for marketers to better pinpoint how to obtain customers by using third-party analytical data.
Tools like 6sense are available to help marketers track and analyze consumer behavior online. 6sense’s AI platform “uses historic intent signals to reconstruct the account-based buyer journey for your business, meaning you can confidently predict where any account is in the buying journey.”
The customer journey is erratic and unpredictable. Shining a light on your dark funnel might be challenging. However, the implementation of the right technologies and improvements will allow you to maintain a positive influence on customers during their journey to conversion.