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Marketing Funnels Explained

by | Last updated: Jun 25, 2023

What is a Marketing Funnel?

A ‘Marketing Funnel’ is pretty much anything you do that promotes your product or service, to create awareness and get people to and through your sales process. If done properly, it should lead people to your door. If done well it should all be a profitable exercise. But it does need some planning and measuring, rather than just a spray and pray approach. When you have this funnel working well, you will have lots of incoming clients, ideally prequalified, which will give you the confidence to be choosier about who you deal with and remove any desperation from your approach. That confidence will make selling or closing the sale more relaxed and enjoyable. And no, the word Funnel does not sound great, but it is pretty easy to envisage.

Tip: Any “marketing funnel” should address one single pain point and deliver a solution to that one single thing.

This is a Lead Generation system that takes people or potential ‘prospects’ who are possibly unaware of their problem and you lead them through to becoming aware of the problem, thereby becoming your ‘audience’. Then displaying the solution to that problem, educating them on how the solution works, to have them become ‘leads’. And then encouraging these ‘leads’ to take action on your offer by making contact by telephone or email or making a purchase through a sales page or visiting your physical shop or event.

It is important to identify your potential or target market, what their pain points are and where do they hang out online. Why would they want to buy your product or service. And why from you? What difference will it make to them? You can create buyer ‘Personas’ to help you focus better on the ‘who’ and the ‘why’. Nowadays, it is easier to measure the results of any investment, especially in digital marketing activities.

The idea of marketing funnels or sales funnels is to try and create the perfect business generator, which relates to transaction density, increasing sales and margins and increasing the lifetime value of a client. A funnel might be used as a way to generate leads, a Lead Conversion Generator or to generate actual sales, a Sales Conversion Generator. Nowadays, funnels are also used to upsell products, during the transaction checkout – no doubt you have seen this when you have been shopping online.

Key Points:

1. Increase volume of customers
2. Raise the average spend of a customer and
3. Improve the lifetime value of a customer, who could buy again and again. And, even better, they may recommend you to others!

You want to create initial awareness of your existence, then encourage interest or ‘traffic’ and eventually a conversion or purchase plus repeat purchases from happy customers. Your ‘marketing funnels’ as such, can get lots of people interested, but many will drop off along the way through the process. This happens for a variety of reasons, price, availability of funds, a clunky website or user interface, information overload, poor customer service and so on. By the time a person gets to the bottom of the funnel the numbers are considerably lower. And here you need to be consistently optimising the conversion rates, as in helping people decide to contact you or buy something – a result.

Typically in your content marketing, to generate traffic, you will use a website, blogging, SEO, landing or squeeze pages, Google Ads or PPC, Social Media Marketing, perhaps influencer marketing (see more below) and the old fashioned mediums of television or radio and newspapers or magazines. It involves creating engaging and useful or interesting content to promote through the various mediums, videos, guest posts etc. Likewise you want to get the technical aspects right, any transaction pages need to be as simple as possible, contact forms, shopping carts and search filters. If you lose people during the process, you can re-market through Facebook and Google, to draw them back.

AIDA –  Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action

Marketing-funnels-explainedIt used to be simply explained in sales training as AIDA, the steps that people take, before they become a customer –  Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action. Nothing has really changed apart from the mediums we use.

Awareness – this is the top of funnel activity, the content marketing, the advertising and SEO, to help your potential market become aware of you and then make them aware of your product or service.

Interest – then create some interest in what you have to offer, so if someone does a relevant Google search they will get information that you produce. You are looking for people to sign up to your email list or any opt-in form or like your Facebook page etc

Desire – do something to make people want to buy, send a series of emails, make a special offer, give a guarantee, make a timely offer or limited time deal etc

Action – and ultimately conversion by generating a sale and ideally repeat sales so that you keep the customers you get on board.

You may end up with multiple definitions of a conversion for you, a sale, an enquiry, a sign up for a trial, a click through to a second page etc.

Standard Marketing Funnels

Marketing-Funnels-image-FlickrA standard marketing funnel would usually contain some simple tools, but you do have to create these for your toolkit. So there is content creation involved to get copy and images and landing pages or forms etc. Whilst we use websites as a big part of the marketing funnels we create, you may not necessarily use one. We create a lot of content around the planning for a business website and then the development or build of a business website and then the marketing involved in making it deliver leads.

Typical parts of a marketing funnel

1. An email campaign to launch the service or product offering – typically you could use Mailchimp or Active Campaign.
2. A sales page or sales funnel with all the relevant information about the offer – on your website or using something like Leadpages or even a Facebook page. This landing page should include as little as possible to avoid distraction. Do include a clear ‘Headline’ at the top and a good relevant graphic, plus some information in bullet points and a clear CTA or call to action. Ideally, add a testimonial at the bottom and possibly another ‘cta’ for the same one action.
3. Remarketing – perhaps using the Facebook remarketing pixel or Google Ads
4. An email campaign to move people forward through the process – again you could use Mailchimp or Active Campaign.
5. A sales letter – again you could use Mailchimp or Active Campaign.
6. Product sales page – on your website or using something like Leadpages or a Facebook page explaining the benefits and features of each product or service
7. Two or three videos sales letters VSLs – using Youtube or Vimeo, Dubb, Soapbox and Mailchimp or Active Campaign.
8. Checkout page with product upsell – on your website or using something like Leadpages or a Facebook page
9. An up-sell page – on your website or using something like Leadpages if you want simple, but expensive or even using a Facebook page
10. A down sell page – on your website ideally or again using something like Leadpages or a Facebook page
11. Delivery pages – Realistically you are trying to explain to the client that you can deliver a return way in excess of any investment made by them. On your own website ideally or using something like Leadpages and Click Funnels or even through a Facebook page.

More about Marketing Funnels

So your marketing funnel is everything you do to attract customers. It includes every bit of advertising, every touch point, your livery, signage etc. Ideally, you want to plan your funnel, put some structure in to it and also be able to measure results. Test it for yourself – be a potential customer for a change. You can read a lot more about marketing funnels and sales funnels from people like Neil Patel or Mike Killen , where you can learn to create your own bespoke funnels. Mikes big article on the topic is here and well worth a read. The same guys would also recommend that you always negotiate on deliverables, rather than the investment or the price. So make it clear what you are offering, break it down in to component parts of your offer.

When someone says they do not have that budget, ask them which of these parts they want to remove from your offering. If we get a potential website client, we offer to plan the website, to design it, to develop it, market it, train the client and provide support services. So then the client can see the offering in parts and decide what they can do themselves. They may do some of the work in-house themselves or outsource elsewhere. But our rates remain the same.

If we have a particular funnel worth €25k we need to work out what we offer in that funnel. Any reduction in the spend reduces some of the parts of that funnel. All we can do is determine what we can offer for that investment and let the client decide how much they want of it. If you could invest €25k and get back €50k, what would you do?

Conversion Rate Optimisation CRO from your Marketing Funnels

This is simply the process of trying to get people through your marketing funnels to a point where they buy something or engage with you. The aim may be to get to a sale or it may be to get an appointment or some other form of engagement, such as signing up for a trial or completing a survey. We might use Google Ads or Facebook Ads to attract visitors and then convert by getting them to submit their details to start a dialogue with us. Then we would ask them to complete a short questionnaire, then armed with some relevant information to prepare for a meeting, we can meet, then we send a quote, then they invest. So we have a number of stages and conversion points during the process.

Along the way we could lose people because they are not ready to invest or are overawed by the amount of work they will need to do or the amount of the investment required to do a good job, or the amount of time they personally need to commit to produce the required content. Much like having a filter, this helps us get the clients for whom we can definitely deliver value. They get to know us and evaluate us and see how little risk is involved. We would have goals or objectives along the way to help potential clients make small commitments as we go, that lead to a final decision. As you progress through the funnel or funnels you can add value or show how you would add value. We might use a number of different funnels to target different types of client to us.


The chances are that you are doing this already, but is there any structure to it? Do you have a content library or matrix to use in your promotions? Are your marketing emails formatted? Do you have landing pages, squeeze pages and thank you pages created? Is there a flow? Do your YouTube videos back up your mailshots or Facebook adverts? Is it all connected? If not, then it is time to look at creating a proper funnel for you to be generating the right leads for your business, rather than just hope that business will come in the door.

Google Analytics Marketing Funnel

Google analytics offers funnels that provide a precise outline of how to achieve your marketing goals as a business. In order to start working with the funnels, you must enter a set of marketing goals and from there you will be permitted to set up a funnel and begin monitoring your conversion rate. Google is a good place to start if you are new to marketing funnels as it is quite basic and easy to use. Through the funnel reports provided by Google Analytics you will be able to successfully identify your main website issues, optimise your website’s conversion performance, and generate an improved experience for potential customers.

If you are looking to learn more, Neil Patel provides an extensive guide on how to effectively utilise Google’s Marketing Funnels.

Lead Magnets

The use of Lead Magnets is a very common way of showing authority and offering something for FREE to generate trust. Personally, unless the content is really valuable then i am against ‘gated’ content. If you have some specific knowledge, show it openly.
Typical “Lead Magnets” include:

Provide Tools

1. A Checklist or Cheatsheet to give a brief overview of how to do something.
2. Guides or a resource list that gives useful links or information that relates to the topic.
3. Layouts or templates showing how to lay out a page or document.
4. Quiz or Survey – people love doing these and there are loads of apps you can use to create them.

Generate Trust

5. Special Offers, Discounts or Coupons – a special price to entice a reaction.
6. FREE Trial period or Sample which is common with many SAAS products Software as a Service. The CRM ‘Drip’ offers FREE use up to 100 contacts.
7. FREE Consultation – if the idea is to get more prospective customers in the door, then why not offer a short FREE consultation.
8. A self assessment which is a dynamic form that asks questions and delivers a resulting answer or piece of advice. An example would be asking for symptoms and diagnosing with a qualified response.
9. Mini Courses – deliver good value in the form of drip fed short lessons. This creates trust and anyone who does the course is likely to want more and having gotten to know, like and trust you, will pay for the next level of the course.

Enhance Experience through Visuals/Audios

10. Audio – You can deliver useful advice in audio format if video does not suit.
11. Webinars – these are wonderful to create authority and can be live or recorded. And they can be scheduled to run at certain times.
12. eBooks – a popular option, which takes quite a bit of work.
13. Live Demo – offer to show people your product live on a call or demo.
14. Video – why not offer a short video explainer in just a few minutes.


Case Study –

We, as a Web Design Agency, use our well optimised website to attract the right clients. However, we also use Lead Magnets such as a FREE Website Planning Guide advertised through Linkedin, Facebook and Google Ads, to bring people to our website. We also offer a low cost website audit as a way of engaging with us initially at a very low financial investment. We send out a non salesy newsletter once a week, ‘every week’ with useful web or digital marketing related tips to our ever increasing database of contacts. And lastly we upsell to existing clients and ask them for referrals. Oh and we speak at or simply attend at least one or two ‘Networking’ opportunity events a week. Quite a few marketing funnels and tactics right there, to stay in touch with our target market, so that we are front of mind when they need the services we offer. Building awareness, trust and authority takes time.

This good graphic from CI Group shows the Eugene Schwartz five levels of customer awareness

Influencer Marketing – another way to connect with your potential market

Influencer marketing focuses on people with influence on or over a target market instead of focusing on the target market directly. By identifying the people who influence your potential mass market of customers, you can work at getting these people as showcase customers. They in turn will influence the mass market or at least the segment where they hold sway. This can be done on a professional basis, where you pay an endorsement to the influential person with a fee or a commission per sale, if you you can quantify that influence. In theory you should be able to enter in to an agreement where you pay the commission based on sales only. This is different to paying a celeb to wear your product, in the ‘hope’ that their followers would buy your product, much like Nike and Tiger Woods.

Beginning your journey with marketing funnels can be challenging, but we are confident, with this guide, you will be quite successful in your journey.

About The Author

Do you want more traffic?

Hi, at MEANit we help 34 ‘Professional Services Firms‘ to be effective online annually. Will your business be one of the 34 in 2024?


Written by Michael MacGinty

Michael is a well known speaker, author and coach on SEO and how to use the web to grow a business. He is also WP Elevation certified as a Digital Business Consultant.
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