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What is Dark Funnel Marketing?

In marketing, new terms pop up all the time. Likewise, we often wind up with multiple terms for the same problem. Until the issue becomes mainstream enough to be picked up by an authority like Google, these terms can get very confusing. Dark Funnel Marketing has been popping up more recently and while I don’t know if this is the “official term”, it seems to summarize the idea nicely. While I always had an impression of what this concept was, I never pinned a name to it. I’m glad someone finally did. So, what is Dark Funnel Marketing and why should it matter to you? Great questions! Let’s dive in.

Dark Funnel Marketing highlights all that is frustrating about marketing and analytical reporting – the things you can’t see. There are so many things that we, as marketers, just simply can’t know. Despite all the crystal balls and tarot cards, I can’t know ultimately how many conversations someone had about buying that pair of shoes they’ve been vying after for months before they final decided to do it. I don’t know if they tried them on in the store first before ordering them online. I can’t know if they asked their friends for reviews about the brand first. I don’t know how many competitor’s websites they visited first. I can’t keep tally on anything that happens offline.

Even some things that do happen online, I may not be able to fully track what is occurring. As an example, a website may show traffic coming from Facebook to their website. The problem is that their Facebook gets no engagement. According to their Google Analytics traffic, they’re receiving 140 visitors from Facebook per month. Why does this matter? Because those 140 people are getting an impression of the business from the Facebook page and choosing to visit the website. What was it that sold them? I don’t know! It’s frustrating.

The Takeaway: Market to Your Person

The good part about this type of marketing is that you absolutely must focus on your potential buyer persona as a person. It forces us to evaluate not just on data but on consumer behavior. It can also change some of the motivations around our campaigns. We may want to run a campaign simply for awareness (not focused on conversions) targeted at the type of persona that is on relative sites but isn’t fully in the funnel yet (programmatic advertising).

Think of the stages that your consumer moves through including conversations and research. Provide content not just for conversions sake but to help build Trust with your buyer. Our goal is to stand out in their mind, even if they don’t immediately engage. Build an emotional connection with your buyer that will last long after they commit to the purchase. Even if we can’t measure offline engagement, we can make it easy for clients to think of us by thinking of them first.

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Cassia Spurlock

Cassia Spurlock

Cassia is the Digital Marketing Director at First Call Digital Agency. She loves all things data but with a carefully placed kick to the shin, you can get her to stop talking about Google. When she's not diving heavily into analysis, she's backing way up to do high-level strategy. She thinks of marketing as a holistic practice and never hesitates to change gears to find something more effective. Find her on LinkedIn