The Marketing Funnel: How it works and how to create one

24th February 2022

With a marketing funnel, you can dramatically increase your sales. If you have a product or service that you’re proud of, it’s time to give it wings.

By creating a funnel focused on converting free trials to paying customers, ActiveCampaign was able to acquire 50,000 new customers.

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C business, there’s always room for improving your marketing campaigns. It’s time to stop throwing content at the wall and get strategic.

All you need is a system to drive traffic to your funnel, an irresistible lead magnet, and using persuasive copywriting to convert people into customers — and make them fall in love with your brand.

This post will show you how to create your own marketing funnel to get business results without taking shortcuts or using pushy sales hacks.

What is a marketing funnel?

A marketing funnel is a defined path and stages that a prospect goes through — from their first contact with your content (or brand) to making up their minds to purchase from you.

It’s an essential piece of any marketing strategy. 

It’s a ‘FUNNEL’, which means the top is wider (with many customers discovering you), while the base is narrower, as fewer people will decide to purchase from you.

While a marketing funnel can be complex, it can be simple and effective if you’re just starting out. 

Just be sure to test each step, as it could make or break your business. Optimizing your funnel can help you increase your conversion rates.

You can even test different versions of your marketing funnel, such as those on landing pages, email sequences, and ad campaigns.

3 marketing funnel examples to inspire you

Let’s analyze a person who discovers your content and navigates through a path via:

  • Blog post > Signs up to your email list > Buys your online course
  • YouTube video > Registers for your webinar > Buys your product
  • Facebook ad > Visits your landing page > Converts to a subscriber
  • Press release > Downloads your white paper > Calls your office for business
  • Guest post > Lands on your services page > Books your consulting gig

Note: A marketing funnel should be straightforward for beginners. In reality, every business has a funnel, whether they like it or not. 

These are just some examples to inspire you to get more deliberate with your marketing efforts.

How the 3 stages of the marketing funnel work

Stage 1. Top of the funnel: Creating awareness and interest

The top of the funnel, or ‘ToFu’, is the stage of the marketing funnel where the majority of potential customers will not buy anything from you. Sorry, but it’s true!

At this stage, you’re creating awareness about your products and services.

With marketing campaigns, you can draw prospective customers and build trust. 

Through events, trade shows, blog posts, infographics, social media posts, and more, you can establish your company as a thought leader.

ClickUp, a productivity platform, creates beginner-friendly posts to educate the target audience about goal setting (which they’re quite familiar with). But this time, the company introduces ClickUp as a tool to make goal setting easier.

The customers are doing research and may not be prepared yet to purchase anything.

So the goal is to educate them about the benefits of your product or service. While you want to move as quickly as possible with leads at this stage, it’s important not to push too hard. 

In the ToFu stage, the focus is on education and evaluation. Your content should help educate prospects so that they can make an informed decision.

This will allow them to reach the middle of the funnel, which will lead to a conversion. 

This stage of the funnel can be as long as creating awareness for six months or as short as three weeks. To succeed at this stage, you must offer information that will interest your audience and be useful to them.

Stage 2. Middle of the funnel: Driving purchase decisions

Once you’ve created initial awareness and built trust with prospects, you can nurture them further through the funnel. 

The middle of the funnel, or ‘MoFu’, is where you position yourself as the best solution provider, converting leads into sales.

Gating your content at this stage might be helpful. After all, you have established some rapport with potential customers already. They have enjoyed the free valuable information you shared. So why not ask for their email address this time?

Tech Photo Guy uses exit intent pop-ups to capture email leads by offering content-specific information. This increased its conversion rate by 3806%.

Content in the MoFu stage must solve the problems and concerns of potential buyers. The audience wants to learn more about your product and the benefits it brings to them. 

A solution is their next step and they are on the lookout for it. 

In this stage, you should focus on providing solutions and showing your product’s advantages over the competition.

Stage 3. Bottom of the funnel: Getting the conversion

The bottom of the funnel stage, or ‘BoFu’, is the time to close a deal or make a prospective buyer feel good about their purchase. 

If the buyer is not confident enough to buy, they could leave for a competitor. 

At this stage, the prospect has expressed an interest in your product or service. 

This is the same strategy email marketing software companies use. After visitors land on their blogs and binge-watch their email marketing guides, the companies tease them with a free trial. 

GetResponse offers a 14-day free trial to get a prospect to use the platform for a limited time.

A prospect may have discovered your company on social media, through an ad, or by following you on a review site. 

In addition, a prospect might be referred to you by a friend or colleague.

Post-Purchase Behavior of Customers: Enhancing customer satisfaction

Understanding post-purchase behavior is important for a business. Unfortunately, many organizations overlook this important factor, leading to high levels of dissatisfaction among customers. 

Research shows that 20-70% of customers leave a brand within the first 100 days. On the other hand, 78% of customers will gladly do business with a brand that annoyed them, if they offer great customer service.

To avoid post-purchase dissatisfaction, businesses must understand their customers’ behavior. The likelihood that a customer will return to a brand is greatly reduced when they are not satisfied. 

A company must also remember that a customer’s post-purchase behavior can impact their brand image and overall sales in a market.

After the purchase, customers are expected to continue interacting with a business. 

They expect consistency, and they hate being asked the same question repeatedly. Moreover, the majority of attrition is attributed to switching channels, and robotic customer service can lead to dissent or frustration.

How to build a content marketing funnel

How fast can you create a converting marketing funnel? If you think it’s difficult, think again. Let’s simplify it. 

Step 1. Get to know your audience’s behavior

Effective marketing begins with knowing who your audience is and their behavior. 

You’re not marketing to everyone, so keep your marketing funnel laser-targeted at your core audience.

If you have a product or service, you should ONLY market to people who are a good fit for the solution you provide.

Use Metigy to gain clarity on the performance of your content, confirm your ROI, and only work with real-time marketing insights you can trust.

Next, start with your website. Do you know how your target audience uses your site? You can use tools like Hotjar to determine which sections of your site get the most clicks.

Google Analytics can show you how much time people are spending on your pages. 

Armed with this data, it’s quite easy to refine your marketing funnel to reach people who will eventually buy your product or service.

Step 2. Capture your audience’s attention

The ultimate goal of your marketing funnel is to get people into it. If people don’t sign up to see what’s inside, no marketing technique will work.

To capture your ideal customer’s attention, you need to engage them with the right content – a variety of content — such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, product demos, etc.

If you’re going to leverage social media, then cut through the noise by sticking to one platform at a time. If you want to reach the most engaged people via videos, YouTube should be at the core of your content strategy.

Sean Cannell, founder of Think Media uses videos to grow an audience of over 1.9 million people. The reported annual revenue has been in the mid 8 figures.

But don’t get me wrong. Every type of content can be effective if it appeals to your audience. Some companies have failed woefully with videos but succeeded with blog posts. So find what works for your audience.

Essentially, if you have some marketing budget, it might be ‘perfect’ to run a few ads to test the waters. 

You never can tell the impact of ads. Just get as much useful and interesting content out there — your target audience will appreciate it — and slide into your marketing funnel.

Step 3. Design a landing page

Where do you take your prospects to? After all the engaging, informative, and persuasive content you share on the web, how do you bring people home into your marketing funnel?

Ideally, you want to send people to a high-converting landing page with an irresistible lead magnet (e.g., an eBook, a video course, a white paper, a cheatsheet, templates). Unbounce has some amazing templates.

The goal should be to get as many people into your marketing funnel. You don’t have to push them at this stage to buy any product, just offer them free information. 

The Rule: Capture leads instead of pushing for the sale.

With your landing page, the visitor will gradually move down the funnel — from the middle (consideration stage) to the bottom (the conversion stage).

Use a clear and bold call-to-action button (CTA) or prompt that nudges the visitors to sign up quickly to watch the tutorial video or download the free report. 

Whatever it is you’re giving away, make sure it’s valuable and short.

Step 4. Create and send an email campaign

This is arguably the most important step when launching a marketing funnel. 

Dell used email marketing to boost the sale of a new Laptop by 109% — by including a GIF of the new laptop transforming into a tablet.

Once people have subscribed to your email list, it’s time to start building relationships with them. Investing in email marketing is never a waste of time. 

According to Marketing Insider Group, you get $40 ROI for every $1 you invest in this channel.

Send emails that draw them closer to knowing you more — beyond the virtual web. 

Email marketing can be complex. But basically, make sure you’re sending emails regularly (1-2 times per week).

If you send too many, subscribers will get angry. If you don’t send at all, they’ll forget who you are or what products you offer. Find a balance.

Drive sales by educating your prospects via emails first. Find out what they want to learn, identify the objections they have about your products, and send emails to address these questions.

Step 5. Create a memorable experience

“Repeat customers come for your product but stay for the experience,” says Sarah Olson, Senior Associate at Zendesk

When you win the customers’ hearts, it’s over, right?

No, you’re just getting started. A paying customer has transitioned from being a prospect to a stakeholder. 

Keep in mind that it’s a lot cheaper to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones. 

You’ll see up to a 25% profit increase if you’re able to convince existing customers to stay, according to Barn & Company.

You have to continue caring for them. Reach out to them and create memorable experiences. Give them more options.

Thank them for their purchases, encourage repeat purchases by offering coupon codes. 

If you have a Facebook group, for example, this might be the perfect time to invite them to join the conversation. 

The Marketing Funnel: In summary 

A marketing funnel is truly the lifeblood of your online marketing business. You simply can’t do without it.

You’re fired up to finally take your marketing and sales to the next level. 

Smart businesses leverage templates to get started. There’s no need to start a marketing funnel from scratch. 

Leverage your marketing efforts with Metigy

While creating your marketing funnel, receive high-quality insights with Metigy. Metigy’s software delivers insights into your social media and digital marketing efforts by tracking metrics like engagement, reach, growth, competitor activity, and more.

Find out more about how Metigy can help you get the most from content and social and drive results.

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