Marketing teams use Google Analytics to track and develop their marketing funnels. But what is a marketing funnel exactly, and why is it so important?
Learn all about marketing funnels, including the different phases and how to develop an effective one for your business.
- A marketing funnel helps you visualize customer journeys, from initial interaction to conversion.
- The four primary stages of the marketing funnel are awareness, interest, consideration, and conversion.
- A marketing funnel enables a business to understand its audience, develop the right marketing strategies, and measure performance.
- You can add more stages to marketing funnels to cater to your marketing needs, like an intent or evaluation stage.
What Does a Marketing Funnel Mean?
A marketing funnel visually represents your target market’s journey from lead to customer. It includes various stages to help guide prospective customers toward purchasing your product or service.
The four most common stages include the following:
- Awareness: A prospective customer learns about your business from word of mouth, social media, or another platform.
- Interest: The prospect thinks your product or service can fix a problem and wants to know more.
- Consideration: The prospect researches your brand and decides to convert.
- Conversion: They take the desired action, which can be anything from buying your product to scheduling a free consultation call, or signing up for a product demonstration.
Mapping out funnels helps you understand where your target audience is in their journey and how you can develop targeted content to match.
You can add more stages to marketing funnels to cater to your marketing needs. For example, you can include an intent or evaluation stage to encourage your customer further to buy your product or service, watch a video, or download an ebook.
Regardless of the number of phases you include, what matters is that the marketing funnel leads the customer to the final action.
Your funnel will gradually decrease as your target market moves through it. Not everyone will convert, and many may drop out of your funnel at each stage. This is natural, and those left will be genuinely interested in your brand.
You may hear a marketing funnel called something else, including the following:
- Conversion funnel
- Sales funnel
- Email funnel
- Lead magnet funnel
- Video marketing funnel
- Homepage funnel
- Purchase funnel
While they can be called many things depending on usage, all funnels follow a similar path that leads a prospect to conversion.
The Different Marketing Funnel Stages
Here are the different stages of your customer journey, enabling you to turn potential customers into buyers.
In the first stage of the sales process, you introduce your product or service to your audience and relate it to their problem or concern. You can let others know about your brand via social media campaigns, paid search ads, blogs on search engines, direct mail, email marketing, or videos on YouTube.
During the awareness stage, you focus on providing information about your audience’s problems, telling them how to resolve them, and slowly connecting your brand to the problem.
The goal is to reach as many people as possible and help them become familiar with your brand. This is why it’s helpful to use a variety of marketing channels to reach people on different platforms.
If people resonate with your business in the awareness phase, some will convert immediately or move on to the next step of the funnel. However, many will likely lose interest, and that’s all right. What matters is that many people come to know your brand, product, or service.
The second stage is interest. These prospects are hooked on what you offer and want to learn more.
They will research more information during this stage by searching specific Google queries. For example, instead of Googling “how to improve your SEO,” they’ll search for SEO-related terms, like “link-building tools.”
This is why it’s important to create content for this stage that addresses the queries they are most likely to search. Conduct keyword research to find these opportunities. Then, show prospects you’re a credible source for the answers to their questions and concerns by providing high-quality content to help move them to the next stage of the funnel.
You may also want them to become a social media follower, blog subscriber, and/or email newsletter subscriber. Increasing your customers’ exposure to your brand and providing relevant information will help nudge them into the next stage.
The consideration stage is the third part of the funnel, where you convince customers why you’re the best brand, service, or product for them.
They already know their problem and that you’re a solution at this stage. However, they’re also aware of other possible solutions — your competitors.
So, how do you persuade interested customers to choose you? For one, show why you stand out from other products or services. Do you have a unique feature that only you offer in the industry? Highlight this through case studies, testimonials, statistics, and more to show how it’ll help your target audience.
Besides this, rank on search engines for modifiers like “vs.,” “best,” and “top” to allow your audience to see reviews or comparisons of your products, pricing page, or services with others.
In addition, if your site and/or social media pages come up in your prospects’ online search, it will build credibility and brand recognition in their minds.
Ultimately, your consideration phase should focus on proving to potential customers why they need your service or product to solve their problems.
The conversion stage of the funnel is the last step, where customers decide to take action. Here, you need to give them a compelling reason to buy your product or service.
Some tactics you can use to convince a potential customer to convert are creating urgency, providing a smooth buying process, or offering a discount. Ideally, you want to create a positive customer experience to make them take action.
In some cases, the purchase stage is also where sales teams get involved in helping close deals. It’s also an ideal time to include upsells or add-ons to maximize your customer’s buying power.
Marketing Funnel Example
Marketing funnels often start with marketing campaigns, like a content marketing campaign, social media post, video ad, or a white paper download.
Then, it will include marketing activities or offers like incentives, discounts, or free trials, leading the customer to purchase, click, or download.
Here are some examples of the customer journey.
- Facebook Ad > Landing Page > Discount > Conversion
- Blog Post > Email List > Exclusive Offer > Conversion
- Influencer Post > Landing Page > Discount Code > Conversion
Ideally, you want to track the clicks, time spent on the page, engagement, and other metrics at each step to improve them further and get the customer closer to converting.
Why Are Marketing Funnels Important?
Why should you consider creating and improving your marketing funnel? Here are some reasons why businesses use them.
Understand Your Target Audience
Creating your own marketing funnel allows you to specify your target audience, learn what they like, and know how they respond. Using this data, you can tailor your content, products, and services to their needs and wants.
As a result, you can make better products and services for your customers, develop a better relationship with them in the long run, and establish your credibility as an industry expert.
Develop Marketing Tactics That Work
A marketing funnel will help you see which marketing strategies work and which don’t work for each stage, especially in the conversion phase.
For example, you might learn that paid Facebook ads drive more sales than TikTok videos in the awareness phase. Using this information, you can invest more budget and time on paid ads than creating TikTok videos.
Maximize Your Purchase Cycle
Different items or services sell quicker or longer, depending on their average order value. If you know how long or how often it takes for your products to sell, a marketing funnel allows you to see where and when to invest efforts to make them sell consistently within your timeline. Ultimately, it’ll help you improve future sales.
Measure Your Strategy’s Effectiveness
Lastly, a marketing funnel allows you to measure your campaign’s effectiveness for each stage. For example, are you losing potential customers at the consideration stage? You may need better campaigns to nurture them and lead them to convert.
Using Google Analytics, you can use Custom Funnels under Custom Report to check your funnel and track your current campaigns. The data in this report will help you see which campaigns perform well and lead customers to take action.
Overall, a marketing funnel applies to any customer interaction, regardless if your goal is to generate more paid traffic or higher ebook downloads.
How to Build a Marketing Funnel
After identifying how many stages you’ll need, follow the simple steps below to kickstart your marketing funnel. Remember that creating a quality funnel is the key to gaining marketing-qualified leads.
1. Choose a Funnel Marketing Stage
Start by prioritizing a specific stage, depending on your business’s current status.
If you already have regular customers, start by focusing on the bottom of the funnel and move your way to the top. However, focus on the top of the funnel toward the conversion phase if you have yet to make sales.
If you’re just starting out, you don’t need to have the purchasing process down. Instead, focus on one stage at a time to learn more about your potential customer and increase sales over time.
2. Select Tactics for Each Funnel Stage
Choose one or two tactics to implement for each stage. You don’t need a lot of campaigns running simultaneously for each phase as long as they’re implemented well. If a strategy doesn’t produce results, try something else.
3. Produce Content for Your Tactics
After choosing your strategies, create the content or assets to execute them. Again, focus on creating content for your current stage or goal to avoid wasting or overproducing marketing efforts.
4. Connect Tactics for Continuity
Connect your tactics between each stage to lead customers to convert. For example, write a blog post to attract new and existing customers and use a pop-up on the blog page to nudge readers to subscribe to your email marketing list, which is the next stage of the funnel.
You can also set up a loyalty program to gain repeat customers and have a continuous flow of customers in your marketing funnels. Loyal customers are the backbone of many successful businesses.
How to Measure the Success of a Marketing Funnel
How do you know if a marketing funnel works? If your funnel produces conversions at every stage of the funnel, then you’re on the right track.
You’ll want to keep track of cost per acquisition (CPA), customer lifetime value (CLV), and conversion rates to accurately measure success. You’ll also want to know conversion rates per marketing channel to help gauge effectiveness so you know where to focus efforts.
Funnel Your Way to Success
A marketing funnel provides a visual aid for your customer’s journey. Ultimately, it helps you and your marketing team convert new customers into paying customers by developing an appropriate marketing strategy for each stage.
Now that you know what a marketing funnel is, you can create one for your business. Start with the four basic stages, create relevant campaigns, and identify growth opportunities.
When creating a marketing funnel, remember that it’s not all about gaining new customers for your business. Instead, the goal is to make them brand advocates who will share your products or services with others.
Barbara Lawson is a marketing writer with over ten years of experience teaching marketing at a university level. Her content is backed by extensive research, and her expertise in the field is invaluable. Living in the beautiful city of Burlington, Vermont, Barbara enjoys practicing yoga to stay centered and focused.