A digital marketing sales funnel can help your business run more efficiently, and simplify the process of turning new visitors into lifelong customers.
Digital marketing funnels can be as complex, or as simplistic as you’d like, and can be adapted to every niche online.
In this post, you’ll learn why a digital marketing funnel is important, and how you can create your own digital marketing sales funnel, step-by-step.
Towards the end of this post, you can also view examples of digital marketing funnels for real-life scenarios.
What is Digital Marketing Funnel?
A digital marketing funnel is a framework that is used to help generate website traffic and nurture that traffic until they become customers. A typical marketing sales funnel has four stages: Awareness, discovery, consideration, and conversion.
There are a variety of different strategies you can employ to nurture and attract these visitors at different stages of the funnel.
One important thing to note is that you’ll be attracting different visitors to different sales funnel stages, and everyone won’t always follow the same path throughout your funnel.
Digital Marketing Funnel Stages
There are four main digital marketing funnel stages:
Stage 1 – Awareness: This is when a person first becomes aware of your business or website. This can occur through a wide variety of means including organic search, social media, word of mouth, email, press release, links from another website, and more.
Stage 2 – Discovery: During this phase, a visitor will start reading a few pages on your website, consume content, and learn more about your company and what you offer.
Stage 3 – Consideration: This is when your visitors will spend more time reading your site, consuming your media, and even joining your email list.
Stage 4 – Conversion: The conversion process can take some time, or it can be quick. This usually depends on what you’re selling, the price point, and how pressing of a problem your products and services solve.
Retention and Relationship building
The moment a customer makes a purchase, you’ll want to do everything in your power to ensure they become a customer for the long-run. This includes the quality of your customer service, their satisfaction with the product, and communication post-sale.
If the customer continues to have positive experiences, they’ll stay with you over the long-run. This includes new products you release, ongoing communication, like email, and continue making their lives better through your products and services.
Another way to look at funnels is through the lens of providing a solution to your visitors:
Top of the Funnel (TOFU) – Customers are aware of the problem, but not sure what the solution is.
Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) – Educating customers on how to choose the best solution, and what the solutions are.
Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) – Show why your products or services are the best solutions to their problem.
Why is a Digital Funnel Important?
A digital funnel can be very beneficial to your business. It can benefit your business in the following ways:
Get more targeted leads – With a funnel in place, the users who make it to the end of the funnel will be highly qualified.
Nurture customers for an easier sales experience – When you speak to customers at multiple parts of the funnel, you’ll easily progress them from visitor to customer. A proper funnel is all about providing value, not a hard and direct sales process.
Increased revenue – Most aspects of the digital marketing sales funnel can be automated, which means your business can make more sales with less effort.
How to Create a Powerful Digital Marketing Funnel
- Build brand awareness
- Identify your target audience for each of the funnel stages
- Set your marketing goals
- Setup different conversion funnels for each goal
- Create targeted content for all stages of the funnel
- Use different marketing channels to reach your audience
- Measure the results and optimize your funnels
- Pay attention to customer retention
1. Build brand awareness
It’s no secret that Google loves brands. There is no strict definition of a brand, but instead a variety of factors that contribute to a strong brand, like the appearance of branded searches, brand mentions, and more.
Here are some brand signals:
- A real and verifiable business address listed on your website
- A local number on your website
- An about page that features detailed company and employee information
- Reviews and company information listed on sites like Yelp, Google My Business, Glassdoor, and more
- An active social media presence on popular networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
Another important factor are brand mentions, which include nofollow links. These can be things like mentions of your brand name online, even without links.
This shows to Google that you have a strong brand that’s featured on relevant authoritative sources online. If people are talking about a brand by name, then it’s probably high-quality.
Overall, having a strong brand means that you’re trusted. People are more likely to click on a search result and consume the information on a page if it’s from a brand they know and follow.
Finally, we have branded search terms. These are keywords that include a brand name, this includes terms like “company name + blog”, “what is company name”, and more. If keywords like these have a decent volume, then it suggests to Google that you have a strong brand.
This phase is often referred to as the top of the funnel (tofu) because your goal is to start getting as much traffic as possible.
Your goal is to cast a wide net, get these people to your website, and into your funnel to see what converts and what audience segments respond to you more.
Here are some tips for building your brand:
- Make sure your brand has relevant contact information and local citations if you have a physical business
- Conduct a PR campaign to improve brand mentions
- Use guest blogging to associate your brand with popular websites in your niche
- Make sure you’re active and engaged with your followers on social media
- Focus on onsite and offsite SEO to improve search engine rankings
2. Identify your target audience for each of the funnel stages
The different stages of your funnel will speak to different aspects of your target audience. The further your audience moves down your funnel, the more narrow your targeting will get.
For example, if you have a website in the pet space, your top of the funnel will attract pet owners, or maybe even animal lovers in general.
The further they move down the funnel, the more specific this will get. Maybe they start consuming information on your site about grooming for dogs, which narrows down to their specific dog breed, then finally grooming tools specifically created for their dog and the problem they’re experiencing.
- This will be your largest audience and comprised of multiple groups. Here you’ll be casting as wide of a net as possible.
- Here you’ll start to segment your audience based on different groups, actions they take, or even how they visited your site.
- At this phase, you’ll have a variety of different audience segments, and people tagged as buyers. You’ll have segments based on how much the user spends, whether or not they bought something, and more.
Here are some additional ways to segment your audience for more targeted marketing:
- Segment based on the source. This will segment your list based on how they reach your site, i.e., paid ads, social media, organic search.
- Segment based on activity. You can segment users when they take a certain action, like clicking a link in an email.
- Segment based on value. You can segment based on users who spent the most money and are the most valuable to your business.
3. Set your marketing goals
You’ll want to set your marketing goals before you start setting up your marketing funnels. There are all kinds of different types of funnels you can create for different purposes.
A funnel for an eCommerce store whose goal is to boost product sales with paid ads will be different than a sales funnel for a course creator who is using long-form content to attract email subscribers and make a sale down the road.
The general process will remain the same, but the specifics will differ.
Here are some examples of common marketing goals:
- Increase email subscribers by 5,000 by running Facebook ads.
- Grow email list by 200% by adding strategic opt-ins to high-ranking blog posts.
- Increase store sales by 500% by running Google Ads to a landing page opt-in, with an automated email sequence.
- Increase direct store sales by running coupon-based Instagram ads directly to product landing pages.
4. Setup different conversion funnels for each goal
Unless you have a single product and a simple one-product sales page you’re probably going to have multiple conversion funnels in place.
If you have multiple goals you’re trying to achieve, then you’ll have different conversion funnels set up to help you reach these goals.
For example, you may have one funnel dedicated to getting more email subscribers, another funnel where the goal is more sales, an email funnel that sells a high-ticket product, and more.
Here are a few examples of different kinds of funnels you can have running together:
- YouTube video > Directly to a product page
- YouTube video > Landing page > Email sequence > Product page
- Facebook ad > Landing page > Email sequence > Product page
- Blog post > Pop-up opt-in > Email sequence > Product page
- Blog post > Email list > Value-add email sequence
- Email list > Segment based on interest > High-ticket item email sales sequence
As you can see, there are all kinds of different conversion funnels you can create. These are based on the type of content assets you have/want to create and your ultimate goal.
Generally, you’ll have multiple funnels running at the same time and will be testing different funnels to see what converts the best.
5. Create targeted content for all stages of the funnel
Now that you have a better understanding of how digital marketing sales funnels work, and the various audience types you’re targeting, let’s look at how different types of content will fit into your funnel.
Attraction stage (TOFU)
The attraction phase is at the top of your funnel (TOFU).
This is where you’ll be bringing people into your world. A lot of content during this stage is about generating awareness for your brand. For most people coming into your funnel at this stage, it’ll be one of the first times hearing about your brand.
In this stage, people are beginning to engage and interact with your brand.
Here are some content types associated with this stage:
Engagement stage (MOFU)
In this stage, people are starting to really engage with your brand. Usually, this involves consuming a lot of your content, emails, and other media content like video.
The engagement stage also has some overlap with the attraction stage. For example, by ranking high in the search engines with your blog posts you’ll be generating traffic to your website. But, blog posts will also be solving your visitor’s problems and providing a ton of value.
Here are some content types popular in the engagement stage:
- Long-form blog posts that solve a problem
- Product comparisons/Reviews
- Case studies
Decision-making stage (BOFU)
In this stage, your visitors will already be familiar with who you are and will be deciding whether or not to purchase your products or services.
Depending on your niche the initial sale might not happen right away. For example, a subscriber could join your email list, consume your daily or weekly emails, and finally turn into a customer six months later.
Ultimately, making a sale isn’t as important as forming a long-term relationship.
Content that’ll help you make a sale includes:
- Free trials
- Live demos
- Sales pages
If you sell a physical product or even have a SaaS product, you can offer a free trial, free sample, or a live demo of your product. This is going to be one of the last steps of the conversion process.
After the free trial, sample, or demo they’ll either buy or won’t.
Relationship building stage
The final stage is the relationship-building stage. Ideally, you’ll already have built a solid relationship before they decide to buy, but now it’s time to deepen that relationship.
There are a variety of ways to delight your customers:
- Sending special offers
- Running contests and giveaways
- Sending regular value-add no sales emails
6. Use different marketing channels to reach your audience
There’s a nearly endless amount of approaches you can take to reach your target audience. The methods you use will depend upon who your target audience is, where they spend time online, and what your budget is.
Here are some of the different marketing channels you can use to reach your audience:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Attract new visitors to your site by ranking high-quality content in the search engines.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Run ads that appear above the search results and send traffic to a landing page.
Paid Social Media Ads. Run ads across Facebook. Instagram, Pinterest, and more.
Organic Social Media. Post creative content to your social media accounts with a link back to your website in your bio.
7. Measure the results and optimize your funnels
Your sales funnel will be constantly evolving. To measure the success of your sales funnels you’ll wan
For example, how many people join your email list after clicking on an Instagram ad? Or, how long are people on your email list before they purchase a product? The only way to answer these questions, and more, is to analyze your data.
As you look over your data you can optimize your funnels to convert better.
- A/B test your landing pages
- A/B test your email campaigns
- Analyze Google Analytics to uncover popular content
The best way to optimize your sales funnel is to start at the top and work your way to the bottom.
For example, if you’re creating content like paid ads, videos, or blog posts you can experiment to see what works until you start getting traffic.
Then, you can move onto your landing pages or opt-in pages and test different elements of these pages including:
- Body copy
Finally, you can move onto your offer. Does a discount work better than a free trial? Does free shipping improve your conversion rate?
Making little adjustments can mean huge improvements in your revenue. You’ll eventually reach a point where your funnel is as good as it can be, but in the beginning, you’ll be going through a lot of testing and experimentation.
You’ll want to analyze each stage and see which stages convert the best and the worst, so you can plug any holes in your funnel.
8. Pay attention to customer retention
One very important metric to track is your customer retention rate. This is the percentage of people that stay with you over the long-term and continue to buy your products and services. Making a single sale doesn’t mean the funnel is over.
With a low retention rate, you’ll constantly have to generate new leads just to keep your business afloat. However, with a high retention rate, you can focus less on traffic and lead generation and more on serving your existing customers.
Here are a few ways you can improve customer retention:
- Create an automated email sequence that helps buyers get the most out of the product
- Always respond to customer service requests as fast as possible
- Invite your customers to offer feedback on your products or services via a survey
- Up-sell a customer with more products and services that’ll further solve their problems
The happier you keep your customers the more likely they’ll buy from you a second, third, fourth, time. You can also turn customers into advocates who recommend your business to others.
Examples of Digital Marketing Sales Funnel
There are all kinds of digital marketing sales funnels you can run.
No matter your end goal, here are a few metrics you’ll want to keep track of:
- Your overall website traffic (and which sources are the most valuable)
- The percentage of traffic that becomes email subscribers, or buyers (your conversion rate)
- The percentage of email subscribers that buy a product
- The cost per lead (you spent $1000 on Facebook ads to acquire 200 leads, that’s $5 per lead)
- The lifetime value of a customer (how much an average customer spends multiplied by how long as the customer stays with your business)
Digital Marketing Funnel Example for an eCommerce Website
Here’s an example of a digital marketing funnel for an eCommerce store that sells custom photography prints:
- You know your target audience uses Facebook and your ideal customers are males and females between the ages of 25 and 35.
- You run a Facebook ad that sends traffic to a landing page.
- This landing page includes an email opt-in and free incentive for visitors to sign-up.
- You have an automated email sequence that educates your audience about photography prints, choosing the right size and build, decoration tips, and more.
- Towards the end of your email funnel, you offer a 10% coupon off the order.
- Your subscriber uses the coupon and buys a print from your store.
- They’re tagged as a customer and put into a follow-up sequence to ensure they’re satisfied with their purchase.
Digital Marketing Funnel Example for an Online Course Provider
Here’s an example of a funnel for a photographer selling an online photography course:
- You’ve done keyword research and have identified a handful of keywords in your niche (i.e. how to shoot landscape photography, the best lens for outdoor photography, landscape editing tips).
- You create incredible content that ranks for these keywords and provides value to your readers.
- You have well-placed opt-ins throughout your content with an opt-in bribe that’s related to your course.
- When a reader subscribes you have an automated email sequence that delivers your opt-in bribe, plus a regular email series.
- At the end of this series, you have a subscriber-only discount for your online course.
- After a user purchases the course you have another automated sequence that helps guide your customers through using the course and answers common questions.
As you can see, no matter what you’re selling or the platforms you want to use to market yourself, there are several different digital marketing funnels you can build.
For most business owners, you’ll have multiple funnels running at the same time, which you can continuously tweak and optimize for the best results.
By now you have an in-depth understanding of how you can build a digital marketing sales funnel from scratch.
Visitors will first come into your funnel in the awareness stage, usually via social media, blog posts, or paid advertising.
As they consume your content or join your email list, they’ll learn more about your offerings.
Once they’re done researching and you’ve built up trust these prospects will convert into customers.
Then, it’s up to you to deepen this relationship and delight your customers enough to retain them for the long-run.
There’s a lot that goes into each stage of the process, but here’s a quick recap on the steps you’ll take to build your funnel:
- Start building brand awareness
- Identify who your target market is overall and for each stage of the funnel
- Set your marketing goals for your funnels
- Determine what marketing channels you’re going to use
- Create a conversion funnel for each goal you set
- Measure your campaign results and test and optimize your funnels
Creating a digital marketing funnel is an ongoing process, but one that can transform your business in the long-term.