Taz Papoulias: Marketing Funnel Is No Longer Linear

Murmur Group - Taz Papoulias

“The rise of digital channels, accelerated by the pandemic-driven shift in budget allocations, has complicated matters”

 By Taz Papoulias, head of media at Murmur Group

In the dynamic world of marketing, traditional segmentation based on the purchase or marketing funnel has long been the norm. Brands have devised various metrics to customize and differentiate their segmentation approach. Simplly put, brand marketing has focused on the top of the funnel, utilizing mass media, while shopper marketing has played a role in closing sales at the bottom. However, with the advent of e-commerce, social commerce, and voice technologies, the boundaries between brand and shopper marketing have blurred, necessitating a fresh perspective.

The traditional segmentation model made sense a decade or so ago when the path to purchase was more linear. Consumers would become aware of a brand through mass media and subsequently visit a physical store to make a purchase, transitioning from being a brand follower to an active shopper.

Today, the marketing funnel remains essential for understanding the consumer decision-making process and devising strategies to guide them from one stage to the next. However, the rise of digital channels, accelerated by the pandemic-driven shift in budget allocations, has complicated matters. The rapidly evolving media landscape, coupled with changing shopper behaviors, has rendered the traditional assignment of media channels to funnel stages outdated. As a result, “awareness” channels are increasingly shoppable, and “conversion” channels can effectively deliver brand messages.

To illustrate this transformation, consider the case of television, a quintessential brand-building medium focused on the top of the funnel. More brands are now directly linking their TV advertising to purchases, such as Coca Cola’s “Send me a Coca Cola” campaign, where consumers could request a sample by simply using voice assistants like Alexa or Google. By closing the loop and connecting the dots across the funnel, brands seize the opportunity to optimize their marketing efforts. Additionally, think about the sheer number of customers interacting with grocery stores on a weekly basis, both online and offline. In the online realm, media traditionally labeled as “shopper” possesses substantial influence throughout the mid and upper sections of the funnel.

Assigning a singular or fixed position to media channels within the funnel is no longer realistic. On the contrary, recognizing that a single channel can perform across multiple stages enables brands to allocate their marketing budgets more effectively, enhancing the customer experience in the process. However, brands face the challenge of adapting to this new way of thinking when “shopper” and “brand” are treated as separate disciplines, managed by distinct teams with different budgets and objectives.

This is where commerce marketing emerges as a groundbreaking discipline. Commerce marketing advocates for the creation of integrated, physical, and digital media campaigns that prioritize driving retail footfall and conversion, starting from the perspective of the store. By eliminating the division between “shopper” and “brand” or “Awareness and Conversion”,  this approach champions the idea that companies can effectively build brands while driving sales. It tackles the complexities of the middle funnel by activating cohesive campaigns that engage consumers at the consideration stage. Commerce marketing AKA “Non-linear Marketing” empowers brands to adopt a holistic and interconnected approach to their marketing campaigns, promising liberation from outdated practices in Australia and around the world.

Taz Papoulias is the head of media at Murmur Group. He joined the independent agency earlier this year. Papoulias has previously worked key industry agencies including Neil Patel Digital and True Sydney as its head of media and strategy.

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