marketing funnel

Quite simply, a marketing funnel (sometimes called a sales funnel or conversion funnel) expresses the stages a customer goes through on his or her way to becoming a customer.

This image shows a typical marketing funnel, showing how consumers move through:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Intention
  • Conversion

If you want to learn more about each stage in the marketing funnel, here’s a little something I put up previously.

Bounding the marketing funnel

A few things that aren’t really clear in the marketing funnel.

First, conversion isn’t the end of the process. It’s just a waypoint. Once a consumer becomes a customer, your job is only half over. Now, you need to keep that customer happy by providing extraordinary customer support and great product performance. According to research, it’s 5X harder (and more expensive) to replace an unhappy customer than to keep that customer happy. Add to that the negative word of mouth (which travels much faster than positive word of mouth) and you’re talking about a major problem when you don’t retain customers over time.

Google adwords expert

IfIf Image courtesy of Coast Digital

Second, it’s imperative that you mind your metrics for each stage in the marketing funnel.

In this image, Coast Digital shows how visitors escape the funnel in droves, leading to a small ROI. Tightening up control at each stage in the funnel generates much higher returns. For instance, increasing flow-through by 1% generates 50% more leads — in this B2B example — or more sales.

Here, we talk about QUALITY, not just quantity. And, if your marketing team tries to baffle you with BS figures, including likes, visits, shares, etc, you need to ignore it.

Sure, quantity matters, but not nearly as much as quality. Bringing the right people to your website is much more important than driving a ton of traffic. So, if your team is busy posting clickbait on Facebook and Twitter in hopes of generating sales, they’re dead wrong — read the link to see how TechCrunch destroys this strategy.

Strategies for optimizing the marketing funnel

Mind top of funnel activities

Bringing visitors into your store (whether brick or click) is critical for optimizing market performance. Unfortunately, firms focused on ROI sometimes resent the spend on top of funnel activities such as content marketing (SEO), social media marketing, influencer outreach, etc, because it’s harder to map these activities to sales (of course, you could say the same thing about traditional advertising, except no one seems to question the importance of broadcast advertising).

Bringing in more visitors, especially the RIGHT type of visitors is critical for success. So, don’t scrimp on these top of funnel activities.

Instead, focus on demonstrating their impact on revenue by using attribution modeling and tracking to your links. That way, you can trace back revenue to your top of funnel activities.

Monitor leakage

Funnel leakage comes from a variety of sources.

Your job is to track down leaks and plug them up. Here are some of the major culprits of leakage:

  • Slow page load times
  • Too many clicks — Amazon increased revenue substantially by going to 1-click buying options
  • Requiring retyping information on multiple screens or requiring entry of both billing and shipping information when they’re the same
  • Login problems — don’t offer guest shopping, don’t offer easy password recovery options, don’t use single sign-on (commonly social sign-on), lost password option doesn’t return proper link (you’d be astounded how many times this happens)
  • Poor navigational tools
  • Poor image quality
  • Bad descriptions

You need to plug these leaks, which starts by identifying what’s causing them — and often there are multiple causes.

That means you’re gonna be spending some serious time with Google Analytics or other, paid analytics tools, like KISSmetrics. Set up a funnel in your analytics software then start digging around by looking at how the funnels change based on source, device, country (or other user demographics) …


Remarketing is a term Google uses for marketing to folks who already engaged with your ad, but it also means marketing to folks consistently, over time.

An email marketing program is a great tool for remarketing to folks interested in your brand. Offer periodic sales or special offers to subscribers and use email marketing as a tool to encourage loyalty.

Build social media platforms to engage folks interested in your brand then share posts related to your products and other content these folks might find interesting (80% non-promotional content is recommended).

Content for each stage

Possibly the most critical factor in optimizing your marketing funnel is to provide the right content at the right stage of the conversion process.

For instance, in the awareness stage, I don’t want to get bogged down with a lot of details. Give me the facts, just the facts. Why do I NEED this thing you’re selling. And, give it to me quick, don’t make me read a lot.

That changes at the consideration stage where more information is better.

Once I’ve reached the intention stage, make it easy for me to buy with as few clicks as possible and let me navigate back and forth easily.

Marketing efforts to match each stage

digital analytics

Image courtesy of Occam’s Razor

Avinash Kaushik, he’s the guru over at Google Analytics, has a great way of looking at the marketing funnel that he calls, See, Think, Do. And, here’s his graphic.

Notice, the marketing focus changes as consumers move down the marketing funnel, which means you need activities that fit each of these tactics.

More important, Avinash lists metrics that you should monitor to track your performance at each stage in the funnel.

A holistic image

If a picture paints a thousand words, then this last graphic from Digital Marketing Philippines sums up much of this conversation, including both traditional views of the marketing funnel as well as new ways of constructing it.

The great folks over at Digital Marketing Philippines also offer some strategies for each stage in the marketing funnel as well as metrics you should monitor to help optimize the funnel.

Read more: