The Marketing Funnel Explained: A review

An explanation of the marketing funnel & it's five distinct stages

The marketing funnel is a process that makes it easier to understand how marketing and sales work together. Although there are different versions of the model, the basic idea is always more or less the same: 1) Growing your customer base by getting leads 2) Nurturing and converting leads and 3) Closing (or cancelling) the deal. There are five distinct stages in the marketing funnel: awareness, interest, desire, action and loyalty.

Each stage comes with its own objective and steps you need to take to make sure your product reaches as many people as possible on their way towards becoming paying customers. This process encompasses all forms of marketing on the market today; from SEO to email campaigns, to social media marketing.

At its core, the goal is always the same: to get more traffic and then convert that into customers. Depending on who you ask, there are two schools of thought when it comes to naming this process. The first one believes that it consists of four stages only, while the second sees five marketing funnel stages. We don't even really need to get into why there are differing opinions about this but let's take a look at how it works in either case.

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Awareness stage: the biggest hurdle

The awareness phase is where we will spend most of our time and effort as marketers. The goal here is to create awareness and interest in your product, service or brand among potential buyers.

Typically this starts with content marketing (social media posts, blogs, etc) but it's also possible to run ads to get the word out. In both cases, you'll aim for as broad a reach as possible with your content or ads.

It's important that anyone who reaches this stage knows it's okay not to buy your product immediately. If they don' t, it's okay if they simply continue browsing through social media and reading blogs. Because of this, it's important not to have a one-sided sales pitch in your content.

The point here is about awareness and building trust so you want to produce information that will be useful for whoever reads it.  That means the information needs to be useful and valuable.

Interest: getting them hooked

Now we're moving on to persuading people who already know about your product to want it even more. This is where you make sure people will start dreaming about owning your product as soon as they're done reading that great blog post you wrote. All those promises you made in your content need to start paying off at this point.

At this stage, you 'll see more engagement with your product or service and it's also the best time to build trust by offering a free trial or some sort of discount. For instance, if you've been writing about fitness, you could offer a 30% discount on your fitness course to anyone who wants to try it out.

Desire: they want it now!

At this point, you have a potential customer who has been exposed to your product and/or service enough times that they're ready to buy it right away. In the marketing funnel, the desire stage is also often referred to as the point of conversion in your conversion funnel. This is where you can really start pushing for the sale and ask for their credit card information so they can pay for your product or service right away.  During this stage, it's all about making sure that the potential buyer is fully aware of all the benefits and uses of your product/service etc.

This is also more commonly known as the consideration stage. 

Action: getting them to buy (Purchase stage)

This is the point where you want to make sure that someone who initially didn't think they had a problem and therefore needed your product will actually purchase it. It's also possible to push for another sale here, by asking them if they know anyone else who might benefit from what you're offering. A gentle nudge never hurts at this stage.

Marketing funnels are often referred to as sales funnels because that is the end goal here; getting them to buy now. However, it's important to remember that there's more to life than just this one purchase. 

Retention: keeping them coming back

After someone has become a customer of yours, they have the potential to buy from you over and over again. Retention is a crucial stage in any business because it's so much cheaper to keep existing customers than constantly going out and finding new ones. 

It's important to remember that the first sale is not the end goal here. That is simply a point on your way to building a relationship with the customer and getting them to trust you and want to keep buying from you.

Retention is often seen as the most important stage in any marketing funnel because it's cheaper than bringing in new customers and there's huge potential with existing customers.

which marketing funnel metrics should I track?

Many often ask questions about marketing performance metrics. One of the most important KPIs which can be found in Google Analytics to track is how people find your product or service and relate to it, because what happens before they buy from you directly determines everything that comes after.

In other words: looking back at sales data isn't as useful if you don't know how they got there.

I've created an overview of different marketing funnels to show you how companies like yours can use them, and what their KPIs are about.

Let's get started!

Campaigns - what's your goal? Generally speaking, companies want to make sales; in terms of marketing that means people buying things (e.g. your product or service). 

Now, companies have multiple ways of making sales, but the most important metric is to track conversions. This can be done when you implement tools like Google Analytics.

Conversions are moments where someone becomes a customer or ends up being interested in what you're offering. To track these conversions companies usually set goals , which are defined as specific actions people take on their website

Here are some common companies goals:

- Sign up for an account (you can track by email, username or Google sign-in)

- Buy something (tracking the transaction goes beyond just revenue - e.g. average order value or number of transactions)

- Download your app/software/ebook/etc. (you can track by file name, a Google referral code or a custom parameter)

- Watch a video (you can use YouTube campaign tracking to show specific videos to certain audiences on different platforms - e.g. your website, YouTube and Facebook)

The most important thing here is that they're all actions people take on your site . As such companies should be looking at the following three metrics:

- How many people have seen or clicked on your offer? 

For example, this could be a banner ad, a Google PPC ad or an email. In terms of marketing it's easy to track impressions and clickthrough rates , but you also need to know how many people actually follow up on your offer.

- How many people have actually signed up? 

Sometimes companies are selling an actual product, which means they want to track sales conversions . This might be a one-time sale, but companies also run subscriptions where people pay for the service before they can use it (e.g. Spotify) or purchases where companies want to upsell additional services or products (e.g. companies that charge per article).

- How many people have downloaded your app/software/ebook/etc.? 

You can track these events by setting a Google referral code, a file name or even a custom Google UTM parameter. In some cases companies want more data on their customers, like companies that use the Facebook pixel: it's a way to track people who visit their site and what actions they take (e.g. add-to-carts, purchases, etc.).

how to optimize your marketing funnel for the customer journey

Marketing funnels are a popular tool used in marketing to visualize the customer journey from the moment you have an idea about your business, to when a customer interacts with your brand.

This works well if you know the habits of your target audience. Your marketing funnel provides more value to your marketing strategy when you understand your customers then you can make informed buying decisions to improve the customer experience as they move through the shopping journey.

 We cover how you can use a marketing funnel to optimize your content, design and user experience for different buyer personas. We'll also show you how your sales team can optimise each stage of the sales funnel for one of our clients.

At the top of the funnel, you have lots of people who are interested in your offering, but not ready to buy yet. The middle of the shopping journey represents those customers who are qualified and engaged enough that they're actively considering purchasing. Finally, at the bottom of the funnel, you have your close customers who have bought and are happy with what you offer.

The basic idea is that you want to do everything possible to turn interested site visitors into qualified leads, then into paying customers. But how does this all work in practice?

To help answer this question, let's look at a content marketing funnel for a fictitious startup.

·          10,000 people visit the company website each month (top of the funnel)

·          After reading some articles and watching a webinar or two, around 200 people request a demo (middle of the funnel)

·          About 15 people become customers (bottom of the funnel)

If you're wondering how we did the math, check out this explanation .

Let's look at what tactics and strategies were implemented at each stage of the funnel.

10,000 site visitors per month:    Top of the funnel activities include SEO, guest blogging and outreach to increase organic traffic. We like to get a good mix of long-tail and head terms to attract a wide range of potential customers.

200 leads per month:    The middle of the funnel focuses on lead generation activities like drip marketing, paid advertising, content syndication, email newsletters and retargeting so these leads are more likely to turn into paying customers. We'll talk about this in more detail in a future post.

15 customers per month:    Finally, the bottom of the funnel is all about closing the sale and delighting your customers with excellent customer service so they keep buying from you. This can involve up-selling, cross-selling or creating referral programs if it makes sense for your business.

As you can see, each stage of the funnel relies on different tactics and strategies, with a clear goal of moving customers through the sales process.

The abandoned cart is the hidden aspect of the shopping journey

That shopping cart you filled but didn't buy? Behind the scenes, it's having a second life.

Retailers and two thirds of e-commerce sites recycle abandoned carts by sending discounts or coupons for those products to customers who leave items in their online shopping carts without buying them.

E-mail marketers can even integrate with shopping cart systems to trigger an automated e-mail at each stage in the process, saying they're sorry for any inconvenience or letting customers know the items will be going on sale shortly.

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what is the difference between the marketing and sales funnel?

Today's businesses use a sales funnel to map the sales process and guide them through it. There are distinctions between the marketing and the sales funnel, but there is plenty of overlap too.

There was a time when business owners used one all-inclusive funnel to track their progress in selling their products or services. Today, though, many entrepreneurs choose to split those processes into marketing and sales funnels, each of which have a number of points in common but also quite a few differences.

The process of conversion is very different for both models.  The marketing funnel leads to a page which is viewed by a potential customer, whereas the sales funnel leads to a phone call or some other form of direct contact between a business and its lead. The marketing process is designed to generate an interest in the product, whereas the sales process is designed to convince somebody to buy something they don't yet own.

By utilizing both the marketing and sales funnels side-by-side, a business is better able to track its progress through the sales cycle.  Without understanding the difference between the two, it would be difficult for a business to generate leads or score sales.

Marketing and sales funnels work in tandem and both contribute important information about your web traffic.  Marketing funnels tell you which sources are bringing in the most traffic, while sales funnels help you track your revenue.  You can use this information to inform your advertising spending and measure how successful these efforts are.

creating valuable content for each stage of the funnel

Understanding how Digital Marketing funnel works will ensure that your actions are more accurate, making better use of your company's available resources and impacting users who may become consumers of your brand.

Content for exposure stage needs to be very informative, but it should not be sales-oriented.

The exposed consumer should be able to find out about your company, what it is selling, its products and competitive selling points. The most important thing you have to do in order for the exposed consumer to stay in the funnel is provide them with quality content that will keep them interested in your brand. You can do this easily by creating blogs that highlight different aspects of your business.

People learn differently, and this should always be kept in mind when it comes to content creation. You need to make sure you create a variety of content that appeals to different learning styles, including writing blogs, creating videos with video editor, info-graphics and other types of visual content.

As a Digital Marketing professional, you should always have the target consumer in mind when it comes to content creation. This is why you should also think about your company’s brand when creating exposure-stage content.

The stage of consideration of purchasing

A lead may have had a problem and searched for its solution online. It was not so long ago that you discovered your company’s products or services. Now you are aware of the existence of your brand, but there is one issue: You know that some leads still doubt about whether to choose you as their supplier.

You must offer them information that shows them why they should trust in your company and, above all, how it is better than any other option they might have. The first step to convert those leads into sales is by offering an FAQ on your website or blog: Use this opportunity to present them with the reasons they need to make a purchase right now.

When planning what information include on such a page, make sure it answers as many questions as possible. In some cases, you can also include a link on this page to download a white paper or FAQ. With the leads’ interest already piqued, those kinds of documents would convince them even more of their need for your services.

Remember that sales conversions are at stake with every piece of content you create and publish online. You must offer clear and concise information that really helps the consumers to understand why they should buy from your company instead of the competition.

Once you have gained their trust, nothing else stands in the way of closing a sale!

There are many paths that lead to discovery, but this is the final stage before they acquire a product or service.

It is now time to make them realize how your product will help them solve their problems. This way, you’ll encourage visitors to take action and buy what you’re offering.

One of the ways of doing this is by using storytelling in your copywriting. Your visitors will see themselves in your customers and be encouraged to follow their path.

Another good tactic for encouraging conversion rates at this point is to show social proof (testimonials). You can achieve this by sharing anecdotes from past clients who were also enthusiastic about what you offer after purchase.

Stage of Conversion

First, you need to understand the importance of conversion. Now that you have shown the pros and cons of your offer, it’s time to help them to make the decision. After all, you want loyal customers.

So, it’s time to focus on more and more personalized content and according to your goals, preferences, and challenges. It’s time to create customized campaigns.

With sponsored links, you can draw the user’s attention to a specific landing page (you know: each product has its own values), focused almost exclusively on its conversion. A hint of content for these pages is free trials (letting the user experience your product or service for a while) and detailed comparison tables (the key is to be transparent concerning the advantages).

how to create a funnel for your business

the difference between B2B and B2C marketing funnels?

The differences between B2B and B2C marketing funnels are vast. It is important to note that many companies employ both strategies simultaneously, but there are notable differences in how they should be managed. If you’re looking for a short answer, the most salient difference is that in a B2B funnel , salespeople follow up with businesses after the initial contact with specific information, whereas in a B2C funnel, customers receive direct marketing from marketers about specific products or services. In this article, we will explore these key differences and outline some of the best practices in both instances. 

It starts out making it seem like if you want a "short answer" then that's all there is to it.. since I'm the one writing this, I'm going to say that is exactly what it is. You can find more details by reading on..

B2B marketing funnels are designed to attract and engage with businesses for lead generation. Since many of these companies have different needs than consumers, B2B marketers spend a lot of time segmenting their database into subsections based on specific demographics or business requirements. Because of the immense number of variables that must be taken into account when engaging with businesses , including everything from typical customer lifetime value (CLV) to preferred method of communication (email vs. phone), they also take longer to develop than standard B2C marketing funnels

building a B2B marketing funnel

Here is an explanation for each phase:

Phase 1: Lead Generation This phase is all about getting people interested in attending your webinar. To do so, you have to craft a description that speaks directly to your target buyer persona and incentivizes them to register for the event. For example, if you are selling event management software one of the many ways you could accomplish this would be by using something like "Don't Miss Out on These Revenue Enhancing Features", coupled with an image of a time-strapped attendee focusing on their laptop during a presentation rather than taking notes.

Phase 2: Awareness Now that you've attracted attendees' attention, it's important to keep them engaged until the day of the webinar. To do so, make use of things like email follow up sequences ("Did You Miss The Last Webinar?"), a countdown to the webinar ("Only 7 Days Until . . .") and case studies to boost credibility.

Phase 3: Credibility/Social Proof By this point, you've already got people interested in attending your webinar and want to keep them thinking about it until the day of. This can be done by sharing statistics from past webinars (such as "Join Us To Learn How Our Attendees Saved Over $12 Million In Annual Travel Costs") or testimonials from happy customers who have already attended the event ("Ready To Increase Your Sales Pipeline? Read What These Industry Leaders Have To Say About ."). Best yet, share links to previous recordings so they can get a sneak peek before signing up themselves.

Phase 4: Conversion By this point, people have already been primed to attend a webinar about how your product or service can help them but the question now is: Will you be able to convert them into leads? Here's where it all comes together. You know which problems your buyer personas are looking to solve and what types of content they're most interested in (ex: "Top Challenges For Marketing Managers"). So try using that information as inspiration for creating valuable educational webinars that will generate leads at the end. To make things even easier, we've created an info-graphic below with more insights on how you can create a successful webinar funnel:

how to build a B2C marketing funnel

There are three typical processes for building Online B2C Marketing Funnels:

(1) You could try to grow organically - usually you will need time for this and it often takes months before you actually start making any significant money online with this business idea;

(2) You can buy an existing website that makes money already  - you then simply need to improve upon or change its current structure and content to grow your conversions; or

(3) You can try to create your sales pages and funnel from scratch - this will likely take the longest time, but it may also be the most rewarding.

We will describe these three processes in more detail below.

How to grow organically - build your B2C marketing funnel

he first process that you could use is the organic growth of your business idea via content generation on different platforms within social media combined with targeted external traffic sources for your website(s). This means that you would release regular content (blog posts or videos) about topics related to building custom mountain bikes online, which people mostly find through search engines, i.e., they are looking for information about certain keywords and search queries, such as "building a custom mountain bike" or "how to order your own custom mountain bike".

 However, you can also attract external links from other websites via guest blogging and link building in general - this is especially helpful if the website that you are trying to get a backlink from is a high authority site. You can also use tools such as BuzzBundle to help with your research on potential guest blogging targets. Of course, all of these activities take time and effort while they may have little impact on increasing organic traffic at first (before you build up some serious rankings for certain keywords).

Buying an existing B2C marketing funnel

The second process is buying an already established business online that has proven itself

In this case you would buy a website with an already existing B2C marketing funnel that is shown to be profitable by the current owner - maybe he has been willing to sell it for less than originally paid or because he had changed industry focus and did not see a lot of future potential in his business anymore.

 So, buying an established business means that you get a proven product line based on currently popular keywords and key phrases that are associated with your online product or service. You can then simply keep up with maintaining or improving upon what is currently working - using split testing will give you even more insight into what works best for your customers.

You may also want to add new products to your assortment if they have been successful on other similar websites.

Creating your own unique B2C marketing funnel from scratch

The third process is designing, building and launching your own website(s) with the goal of eventually converting visitors into future customers for your product or service. This means you will have to do all the work yourself instead of buying an online business that has already proven itself to be profitable - it's up to you to make this business idea a success or not.

 Building a new B2C marketing funnel requires sufficient knowledge about Internet Marketing in general, but especially about search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertising via pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, conversion optimization through split testing, branding and design as well as content development and creation. You can outsource certain parts of this process to freelancers or agencies if you feel that the full scope of the project is too big for you to manage alone, but keep in mind that outsourcing costs money and not all tasks may be feasible to completely delegate.

The marketing funnel is a staple of B2B and B2C marketing strategies, yet the journey each prospect takes through the funnel differs. To better understand those differences, let's take a look at an outline of how both b2c and b2b consumers move through the buying journey:

B2C: The b2c model is more straightforward than b2b. b2c marketers use consumer actions and conversions through the funnel to understand their audience and tailor content accordingly to the digital buyer.

B2C: A b2c company's offer typically begins with highly engaging, educational content geared toward helping consumers solve a problem or answer a question. b2c consumers may never directly interact with a company representative, especially on ecommerce websites, so b2c marketers must make up for this lack of direct contact to establish trust and provide value.

B2C: b2c companies often invest heavily in engaging content and media to bring their customers further down the funnel toward a sale. b2c marketers hope to find customers who are willing and able to make a purchase, but keep in mind that b2c consumers may be highly involved in the research and purchasing process and may need additional resources and incentives to take action.

B2C: b2c companies end with purchases or calls-to-action to encourage b2c consumers to buy their product. b2c marketers often rely on strong calls-to-action and offers in order to drive b2c conversions.

B2C: b2c companies use the funnel to gauge the success of different marketing channels and campaigns, changing or removing ineffective content and doubling down on effective content. b2c marketers use b2c conversions to determine the effectiveness of their b2c campaigns.

B2B: A b2b company's funnel overlaps with a b2c company's in regards to educational content, but b2b companies place less emphasis on this stage. b2b marketing initiatives typically include direct interactions with sales representatives. 

B2B: b2b companies typically begin their buyers' journey with educational content, but this content is designed to warm up sales representatives and potential clients. 

B2B: The b2b buyer's journey continues through the direct solicitation of a potential client         

B2B marketers use content to demonstrate their product's or company's value proposition and encourage consumers to contact a sales representative. Generally, b2b companies won't place as much emphasis on such highly educational articles because most of their business comes from forming relationships with potential clients.

Implementing an Email list for your marketing funnel

If you're selling something online, I can almost guarantee that your email marketing campaign is one of the most important parts of your sales funnel. It is essentially your asset list that you will build to communicate with your customers.

Asking people for their email address isn't just a way to grow your list. It's also one of the best ways to build trust and get people interested in the offer you're promoting.

To help you out, I've put together this simple step by step guide on how to build an email marketing funnel for conversions. So let's get started…

Make it Obvious You Want to Get Their Email Address

One of the main reasons people are hesitant to give out their email is because they're scared.

They're worried you'll send them too much promotional content, or sell their information to other companies.

This is why it's very important that you make it obvious you want people to sign up on your email list. But don't worry, I've got you covered:

Place a message in the footer of every page of your website saying 'Sign up to our newsletter'. This is simple and gets the job done. You can also add an exit popup which asks for people's emails as they leave your site           .

Add a sidebar opt in form on every page. This is a very popular practice amongst Internet Marketers because it's so effective.      .

Add a pop up opt in on your website. This is an alternative to the sidebar form and has become very popular recently. There are both free and premium options available depending on what you're looking for.

Create a lead magnet which gives people access to something of value for free in exchange for their email. This allows you to build your list and start building trust with potential customers at the same time. I like to use lead magnets that provide 'quick wins' because they're usually very effective and people love them (example: How To Get A 52% Conversion Rate On Your First E-commerce Store).

Be Persistent and Consistent

Once you've collected people's emails at, it's time to start thinking about your content strategy.

The first thing I'd recommend is that you send out a 'welcome' email straight after someone signs up to your newsletter. This is a great way to make sure they know you exist!

From there it's important that you send out consistent emails to your subscribers on a regular basis. You can use tools like Mailchimp to schedule post in advance or just send them as and when.

A/B Test Your Emails

One of the best ways to improve your email marketing is to test different styles and layouts of content. If you're not A/B testing your emails at the moment, this is an easy way to increase your open rate which can have a huge impact on conversions.

To get started, try sending out two different styles of emails and split test the results. I've found that this works really well for my blog and it makes a big difference to the amount of traffic I get to my site every day.

Use Social Proof in Your Emails

A great way to increase conversions is by using social proof in your emails. This means including testimonials, reviews and 'case studies' from existing customers.        It can make a big difference to how people perceive you and the trust they have in your business           .

If you're not doing this to your current list, why not start? You can use places like Facebook reviews to get testimonials, or you could even ask people in person. A quick message on social media asking for reviews is often all it takes!  

 So there you have it. The marketing funnel in all its glory. It can be a little daunting to think about all of the work that goes into making a sale, but if you break it down and take things one step at a time, it’s not so bad. And hey, even if you don’t hit every stage perfectly, as long as you keep moving forward your business will grow. Are there any other aspects of the marketing funnel that you’d like us to explore? Let us know in the comments!

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