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Marketing Strategy

Digital Marketing Guide: Creating a Marketing Funnel

| 10 Minutes to Read
Marketing Funnels
Summary: Creating an effective marketing funnel to generate leads and drive sales is an all-important step in any digital marketing strategy.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated with additional content in May 2024.

 Are you unsure about creating a marketing funnel and using it in your digital marketing strategy? A marketing funnel is comprised of different stages, and it breaks down the customer journey from the awareness stage to the purchasing stage. According to Sprout Social, a marketing funnel lets you know what your company must do to influence consumers at certain stages to drive sales and increase brand loyalty/awareness. 

What is a Marketing Funnel?

A marketing funnel traces a customer’s journey with a business. First, it provides a visual representation of conversions and turning leads into paying customers. Just as a funnel captures large volumes at the top and then guides them out from the bottom, the marketing funnel, too, attempts to catch the attention of as many leads as possible. Next, these leads slowly move through the various stages of the funnel, finally leading to conversions, increasing brand loyalty, brand awareness, and higher sales.

The Evolution of the Marketing Funnel

Elias St. Elmo Lewis, an American advertising advocate, introduced the marketing funnel model that represented a customer’s journey and relationship in relation to a business. He thought that every purchasing decision involves four steps:

  1. Awareness: A lead identifies a problem or need that must be solved or fulfilled.
  2. Interest: The lead has viewed a particular product or service that has piqued their interest.
  3. Desire: The lead is now looking to engage with the brand.
  4. Action: At this stage, the lead decides whether to make a purchase or not.

Over the years, however, there have been a few additional stages added to the marketing funnel, resulting in the following:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Consideration
  4. Intent
  5. Evaluation
  6. Purchase

Why is Creating an Effective Marketing Funnel Important for your Digital Marketing Strategy?

It is important to build your funnel effectively because, like any other funnel, a high volume of leads enters the top. However, as they move through each stage of the funnel, more and more leads get weeded out.

So the overarching question here is: How do I keep more leads moving through the marketing or sales funnel? Here are a few key considerations to take into account at each stage of the funnel.

Stages of the Marketing Funnel

Stage 1: Raise Awareness

The first step to building a marketing funnel effectively is raising awareness for your product or service. This is the stage right before prospective customers enter the sales funnel, and it’s your time to shine and devise creative and compelling ways to attract the right prospects.

Understand your ideal customer demographics

To create an effective marketing funnel, research always comes first. Research shows that start-ups often fail because they don’t understand the market and the problems of their customers.

Take the time to create ideal customer personas. Understanding your potential buyers will benefit you in the later steps.

Get the word out about your product or service

Once you understand your ideal customer demographics, it’s time to promote your product or service. Raise awareness by creating ways to tell prospects what your product or service is about.

At this stage of the funnel, the main focus is lead generation. Investing in paid advertising and SEO/SEM campaigns at this stage is a good head start. Get to know the SEO must-dos for every local business to drive traffic and growth. This stage is also the ideal time to start caring about On-SERP SEO. Your ultimate goal should be to reach as broad an audience as possible.

Take the necessary opportunities to get your brand out there. For example, you can create a product video to ignite your marketing campaigns. You can also use different types of videos to build your brand, business, and bottom line. You can also reach out to micro-influencers or brand ambassadors to promote your brand. You can even create a purpose-driven marketing strategy to attract new leads to the top of your marketing funnel.

Stage 2: Build A Relationship


Once you have solidified a strategy or plan to raise awareness for your product or service, the next step to creating an effective marketing funnel to drive sales is to nurture your leads by building meaningful relationships. At this stage, prospective customers have already entered the marketing funnel. It’s up to you to continue building that relationship and retain those prospects through your marketing efforts.

The exchange of information is key

One of the best ways to start building strong and effective relationships with prospective customers is to first engage in an information exchange. Many businesses do this by asking for their email addresses in exchange for valuable content or more information. Tying in your content marketing strategy is key to creating an effective marketing funnel to drive sales. Over time, you can send them valuable content to build a relationship so that you are the first brand that comes to mind when they are ready to buy.

Provide an exit intent pop-up

We’ve all seen these on the websites we’ve visited. They’re the pop-ups that are displayed when we often close the webpage window or tab. Typically, this pop-up window will have an opt-in option, and studies show that one pop-up can boost your conversion rates by 10% or more.

Build a stronger relationship with your audience through email marketing

Integrating email marketing provides an avenue for constant and consistent interaction with subscribers who have expressed interest in your company, product, or service. Understand how to deliver compelling email marketing to promote consistent engagement and drive sales. Marketing automation can help your leads trickle down the funnel and increase the chances of turning them into buyers. Both email marketing and marketing automation can also help you map out your marketing funnel at each stage and throughout the customer buying journey.

Stage 3: Conversion


The last stage of the marketing funnel is lead conversion. Yes, your prospects (which you have poured your hard work, dedication… and marketing budgets into) have finally decided to buy your product or service. However, it doesn’t end here. You want to ensure that these lead conversions become returning buyers.

With that, you should invest more and put more effort into building relationships with existing customers. A repeat customer is easier to sell to and has a 60-70% chance of converting, and repeat customers tend to spend 67% more than new ones. This shows the importance of customer retention for sales and profits. Maintain your commitment to creating a unique and engaging customer experience, ensuring sustained sales growth through your marketing efforts.  Using data-driven creativity can help enhance the customer experience. It’s also an easy way to build brand trust and loyalty.

B2B vs B2C Marketing Funnels

Simply put, the stages in the B2B and B2C marketing funnels are no different from each other. One critical difference, however, lies in the way leads or customers travel through them. So read on to find out how leads in B2B and B2C navigate their way through the funnel:

  1. Targeting: B2C businesses have the freedom to target individual customers who can make quick decisions regarding purchases. However, B2B businesses have several ‘middlemen’, such as influencers, whom they deal with before reaching their customers. This results in B2B consumers taking longer to make purchasing decisions than B2C consumers.
  2. Motivation: As part of their abbreviations, the motivations of B2B and B2C businesses are very different. B2B focuses on business purchasing decisions, while B2C involves personal ones. As B2C consumers make decisions for themselves, they may be considered more impulsive, hasty, or emotionally driven. On the other hand, B2B consumers are more results-driven and practical when making these decisions.
  3. Customer relationships: Business-customer relationships are very different when it comes to B2B and B2C businesses. In a B2B scenario, customers are helped and navigated by dedicated sales representatives to make purchases. However, in a B2C scenario, customers usually make these purchasing decisions independently without the need for help. Think about online purchases and how quickly they can get done.

Marketing vs Sales Funnel

Marketing vs. Sales: Owning the Funnel

As closely related as the marketing and sales funnels are, they have one fundamental difference. While a marketing funnel motivates leads to buy products and services, a sales funnel deals with the leads from a marketing funnel to encourage them to make purchases.

Non-linear Funnels

A nonlinear marketing funnel focuses on integrating a brand into the customer’s life by centering on their needs and fulfilling them. Examples of brands that weave themselves into the lives of their customers and potential consumers include Red Bull, Starbucks, Lego, and more.

Real-Life Marketing Funnel Examples

ASOS, the fashion and cosmetic giant, understands that email marketing is one of its most popular customer acquisition channels and uses it effectively to create an impact.

ASOS sends out regular emails accompanied by a theme and catchy subject line (including the use of emojis) to their customers and prospects. Once customers open the email, they are attracted to the simple yet eye-catching design of the email body with short spurts of text separated by stunning imagery. This attracts customers to click through and land on their desired product pages on the ASOS website, leading to potential conversions.

What is the Best Type of Content for Each Stage of the Funnel?


The types of content that help in the Exposure stage include ads, social media posts, landing pages, infographics, or slide presentations.


Use social media posts, ads, blog posts, and videos to help the customer discover more about your brand.


Testimonials, emails with offers, ads with discounts, and other types of content can sway a customer toward your product or service.


At the Conversion stage, the content you should use includes informative and entertaining social media posts, how-to guides or blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, podcasts, and webinars.

Customer Relationships

At this stage, you have the customer’s attention as they have purchased your product or services. And now it’s time to give them more. The content you could use here includes ratings, reviews, self-assessments, questionnaires, and emails.


As a business, you realize the importance of retaining customers and the content that can help, including testimonials, how-tos, and product demonstrations, emails with special offers, and the like.

How to Create a Marketing Funnel in 9 Steps

1. Define your goals and target audience: Determine what you want to achieve. Understand your target audience and their needs, preferences, and pain points.

2. Break down the customer journey into stages, such as awareness, consideration, decision, and retention. Understand the actions and interactions customers may take at each stage. 

3. Create compelling content: Develop high-quality and relevant content. Use a mix of blog posts, videos, infographics, webinars, case studies, and other content formats.

4. Capture leads: Create landing pages or opt-in forms to capture leads on the website or through social media channels.

5. Nurture leads: Use email marketing for this. Set up automated email sequences to deliver targeted content based on the recipient's interests and behavior.

6. Drive engagement and conversion: Use social media, paid advertising, and retargeting to drive traffic to your content and landing pages. To encourage conversion at the decision stage, provide personalized product demos, free trials, or special offers.

7. Track and analyze performance: Monitor metrics such as website traffic, conversion rates, email open and click-through rates, and ROI. Use analytics tools to identify areas for improvement and optimize your funnel strategies.

8. Optimize and iterate: Continuously test different strategies, messaging, and offers to see what resonates best with your audience. Make data-driven decisions to refine your funnel and improve its effectiveness over time.

9. Provide ongoing support and engagement: Focus on delivering exceptional customer experience to retain and delight existing customers. Continue to engage with your audience through email newsletters, social media, and other channels to build long-term relationships.

AI Can Help Create a Marketing Funnel

In just a few hours, you can build your sales funnel using millions of data points with a straightforward structure and the power of AI. AI is your smartest and fastest consultant, providing you with knowledge and market insights that most human consultants lack.

Here are some examples of how AI can aid in creating a marketing funnel:

  1. Precise Targeting: AI analyzes data to identify potential customers at the top of the funnel, enhancing targeting precision.
  2. Data Analysis Scalability: AI integrates into the funnel, scaling data analysis from research to pattern identification.
  3. Lead Management: AI tools predict deal likelihood, aiding sales reps in prioritizing leads.
  4. Customized Onboarding: AI tailors onboarding flows based on user behavior, enhancing relevance.
  5. Efficient Testing: AI-powered funnel tools streamline lead generation, nurturing, and A/B testing.

AI empowers marketers to optimize campaigns, increase efficiency, and make data-driven decisions throughout the marketing funnel.

Are You Ready to Build Your Marketing Funnel?

At the end of the day, creating a high-quality marketing funnel can help skyrocket your business. Being able to effectively guide prospects through the journey of becoming buying customers will not happen overnight. It takes a lot of strategic thinking. Instead of exploring random tactics, develop a strong understanding of how you would like to engage with leads at each stage of the funnel. This will guarantee success in driving a higher volume of conversions and sales through your digital marketing strategy. Contact our expert team at WSI for assistance in creating a marketing funnel.

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