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Explaining the Marketing Funnel

Although online display ads have traditionally been thought of as most useful in the first part of the marketing funnel, they have developed into a tool that can be used in every part of the funnel.

Understanding the Basic Funnel

The basic marketing funnel that has been around since the late 1800s and was introduced by Elias St. Elmo Lewis. It has been taught in universities for many years in its most basic from which is summarized in the acronym AIDA, which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire/Decision and Action. In this basic marketing funnel the traditional place for online display ads has been in the first phase, attention. But, as technology advances and marketers get more creative, display ads are being used to impact customers throughout the marketing funnel.


Many people have thought of online banner ads as somewhat of an online equivalent of a billboard. While offline billboards may get your attention, historically, they have been thought to do little more. Online display ads, however, can be much more compelling in a variety of ways including the addition of images, animation, audio or video. These dynamic elements can help get readers' attention and increase the effectiveness of your ads.


Good ad design can increase interest and, with the ongoing developments in making online ads more dynamic, this is more true today than ever before. Marketers can generate interest for their product or service by focusing on the benefits their offering can provide. By drawing attention to how their offering can be the solution to their prospects problem ads can move past just getting attention and begin to stimulate prospects to be interested to find out more.


Once you have customers interest, the next step is to translate that interest into desire. This distinction between interest and desire is subtle, but important. To move to desire your customer must perceive that, not only is your offering interesting, but it can solve their problem. Once they believe you can satisfy their need, you will have gotten them to desire your solution.


One of the most often missing elements in many marketers' efforts is effective calls to action. Banner ads are great for calls to action. This is where you want to tell your prospects to do something. Whether it is to sign up for your e-mail newsletter, download a content piece or buy a product, you must actually come right out and tell them what you want them to do.

Your call to action should be telling prospects what to do to move them closer to satisfying a need they have. This is what they need, but without clear calls to action most people tend to just not do anything. If your product or service can satisfy your prospects needs you may be doing them a disservice if you don't call them to action.

Gone are the days when online banner ads served only to get attention. With proper design and placement banner ads can be an effective tool to move your prospects through every phase of the marketing funnel. Reach out to one of our specialists today to start reaping the benefits of the proper use of online banner ads.

Leslie Van Zee is passionate about entrepreneurship and understanding what makes small businesses successful.  An avid fan of lean startups, she makes sure to get out of the building as much as possible in her role as manager of marketing...

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