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What is a marketing funnel?

Marketing funnels are everywhere, and they are an extremely important marketing tactic that can help brands grow and attract new website users, along with customer retention.

What Is A Marketing Funnel?

A marketing funnel is a collection of stages that prospective customers move through. Each one is a different stage influencing a potential buyer, with the first being the awareness stage. The different types of funnels were designed to push these potential customers through the buyer’s journey to ultimately purchase a brand’s products or services.

Throughout the different sales funnel stages, a brand needs to nurture the audience and continue to send them through the different funnel steps. A marketing funnel is the process of trying to convert those audience members into a customer and then convince them to continue to purchase products, ie. become a repeat purchaser and brand advocate.

Basically, the funnel incorporates your target audience from the first time they hear about your brand until they purchase your products or services. If you take one thing from this article remember that marketing funnels do not need to be complex. You should start out with a simple marketing funnel and then continue to optimize once you see what is working and what isn’t in terms of key performance metrics in order to increase conversions.

The Buyer’s Journey

One aspect of marketing funnels that many people get wrong is how they nurture different types of leads. Many people think that they can treat every lead the same. However, this is not true.

How you treat your leads depends on which stage of the buyer’s journey they are in. For instance, a lead that is at the top of the funnel should not be given the same content marketing as a lead at the bottom of the funnel. These two leads are completely different and by giving the top of the funnel lead the wrong content, you could scare them away from your brand.

If you were to give a top of funnel lead a discount right away they may be turned off because a) they don’t know enough about your brand, and b) they are not ready to purchase. On the other hand, if you were to give someone at the bottom of the funnel a discount, the outcome will be much different as they are already aware of your brand and are more likely to be ready to purchase.

It is important to understand that not every potential customer is ready to buy. On rare occasions, those top of funnel leads will in fact convert, but this is very rare. Most leads need to be nurtured through the marketing funnel until they are ready to purchase. So, now that you understand that each stage needs to be treated differently we can explain the three stages and how they should be nurtured.

Ideally, each lead needs to be given the right message at the right time, therefore helping push them closer to purchasing. While this may be tough, getting close to this goal will help immensely.

Awareness Stage

The top of the funnel of the awareness stage is composed of people who have yet to hear of your brand, product, or service. They are completely brand new and will need to be educated on your services. They don’t understand the problem yet which is why it is your job to make them aware of this problem. This is a significant stage for brand awareness.

A mistake many people make is that they assume potential customers are ready to buy in this marketing funnel stage. In this stage, you should not be pitching them your products, but instead making them aware of a problem they face. That way, down the line you can introduce your product as a solution.

In addition, instead of trying to capture as many customers as possible, try to capture the right customers instead. If you are selling beauty products most likely men will not be your main target audience. Understand who your ideal prospective customer is and market to them. It will make the conversion a lot easier because the product is made for them. The role content marketing plays for this audience is blog posts, guides, videos, social media, and others. Basically, in this stage, your audience has not been to your site or is not familiar with your brand. It is imperative to provide value to your audience at this stage so they will want to continue to learn more about your brand. Brand awareness is an essential part of this stage.

Consideration Stage

Middle of the funnel or the consideration stage contains leads that are aware of the problem they are experiencing and are now looking for solutions. These people are interested in learning more about the problem so they can decide how to best proceed. But, they aren’t 100% ready to commit to a solution. These people have visited your website and are familiar with your brand, but have not purchased any of your products.

This group of people are looking for ways to solve their problems but are not ready to purchase. They are in the consideration phase and may be looking at 5+ solutions and comparing them to find the correct product for them. Since they are considering many different solutions your brand needs to stand out and show them why you are superior.

Content that is successful for this stage includes webinars, e-books, case studies, and FAQs. During this stage you have the opportunity to be the solution that these people are looking for. Prove to your potential customers that you are the best option and that they have all of the information that they need to move to the decision stage of the journey. This is where the FAQs come into play. Your audience will want to know how your products work, the benefits, and most importantly the price.

Decision Stage

During this marketing funnel stage of the customer journey, a potential buyer is actually ready to purchase. They are prepared to choose the solution that is best for them. This audience has done the research and understands the different benefits of each product. Customer reviews are extremely important during this stage as in this day and age reviews are one of the main driving factors for purchasing a product.

In addition to reviews, other content pieces that can help convince your audience members to purchase include social proof, case studies, free trials, and product demos. Although people in the decision stage have already done a ton of research on the various solutions they are considering, by giving them additional reasons they should purchase like great customer reviews or a free trial will only further convince them your brand is the right choice.

Components Of A Marketing Funnel

As you can see, the leads in each stage of the buyer’s journey need to be treated differently. Someone in the awareness stage should not be pushed the core offer, but instead should be given content that introduces them to the brand and educates them.

So now that you are aware of what a marketing funnel is and the three stages of the buyer’s journey, how do you actually build a funnel and bring it to life? Every marketing funnel roughly has the same components. Here are the most important components every marketing funnel should have.

Lead Magnets

Lead magnets will act as an entry point to your digital marketing funnel. A lead magnet is an initial high-value offer that you promote to your audience in exchange for their email address and other contact information. The goal of the lead magnet is to take audiences that fit the target market and convince them to give your brand their contact information in exchange for an amazing piece of content.

Content of lead magnets need to be actionable so that the audience value can immediately get value. They must be prepared to be nurtured with other content via the inbound marketing email sequence and ad campaigns until they see enough value to pay for your core offer.


Depending on your particular funnel, you may or may not utilize a tripwire. A tripwire is a product or service priced at a very low-cost to train prospects to pay you for your content. A tripwire needs to be an amazing value. It cannot just be a low-priced offer that isn’t worth anything, that will not lead to the conversion rate you want to see. The goal of a tripwire is to get your audience that is engaged with your content to purchase this low-cost offer and provide their credit card.

It is important that they see value in the tripwire so that they want to take the next step in the buyer’s journey and purchase your products. Sometimes it will be enough to just promote your lead magnet and then nurture them via email to purchase the core offer, but other times you will need to utilize a tripwire so they can see additional value in your brand.

Landing Pages

Your lead magnets and tripwires will most likely be housed on a landing page. The landing page is where your audience will opt-in and you’ll acquire their email address, or their payment information if it is a tripwire. There are many great platforms available to build your landing pages on. One platform in particular that makes it easy to create, optimize, and test is called clickfunnels. You can build your landing pages on clickfunnels and easily duplicate the funnel if you need to change a few things or A/B test.

In addition to creating landing pages for your audience to opt-in on, each page needs to have a thank you page. A thank you page is the page they will get redirected to once they opt-in. On the thank you page you can direct your audience to other valuable content such as blogs, videos, and your social channels.

You should also confirm that the lead magnet or tripwire is on its way on the thank you page. By not including the download or product on the thank you page and only confirming that it is on its way is a great way to train your audience that they have to be on the lookout for email communication from you.

Core Offer

In addition to the lead magnet and tripwire, you also have to have a core offer. This is what you ultimately want your potential customers to purchase at the end of the buyer’s journey. You may have multiple core offers based on different target audiences, but whatever the product or service is, it is the primary thing you want to sell in your digital marketing funnel.

Ideally, by the time you are promoting this core offer to your audience, you will have sold them on your brand. The goal is for them to be familiar with your content and that value that your brand brings which will then convince them to purchase the offer.

Email Automation

There are no digital marketing funnels without inbound email. It is very important to have a robust email strategy that helps to nurture these people through the buyer’s journey. For your digital marketing funnel to succeed you will need specific emails built out that will automatically send to your audience at the different stages of the journey.

For example, you’ll have a welcome email that sends them whatever they opted into whether it was a lead magnet or tripwire. Then, further down the journey you can send them emails promoting your core offer once your audience is ready to purchase.

As revealed above, each stage of the journey should be treated differently and this is no exception with email. Based on where they are at in their journey they should be emailed different content.

You should continue to nurture the leads that haven’t purchased, even if they have gone through the entire email sequence. Whether this is offering them a one time offer to purchase or continue giving them value via content it is important to try and keep these potential customers in the funnel and convince them to buy.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, there are many moving parts that need to be aligned when launching a marketing funnel. Marketing funnels may seem complicated but they are extremely useful in improving your conversion rates for your overall digital marketing strategy. By utilizing a funnel strategy you can steadily guide your audience through the different stages of the buyer’s journey and ultimately push them to purchase.

As mentioned above, it is important to start simple and then continue to test and optimize with your digital marketing strategy. If you see that one of your lead magnets isn’t converting it is a sign you should switch to something else to see how it performs. Another key takeaway is that each lead should be treated differently. People in the various stages of the funnel want to hear different things and the content should be tailored specifically to the stage.

Lastly, try your funnel first with your warm audience – people who already know your brand. This could be your current email list, people who have liked your Facebook page, or video subscribers. Then start testing your funnel on cold audiences to see how it performs. This is a good way to start out slowly and then ramp up once you see it is successful.

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