How to Master the Marketing Funnel and Drive Conversions

10 June 2024

Posted in: Ecommerce Marketing SEO

It’s quite simple, really: the better you know your audience, the more successful you’ll be at converting them into paying customers. Far too often, marketers fail to utilise the information they have available about their target audience, ignoring the importance of understanding each stage of the conversion process and not recognising how this affects consumer thought processes. This is where the marketing funnel becomes invaluable.

Want to increase your conversions by optimising your user experience (UX) for each step in the buying process? Here’s how incorporating a marketing funnel into your digital marketing strategy will help you engage with your target audience more effectively — and crucially, nail those conversions.

What is a marketing funnel?

A marketing funnel is the purchase cycle consumers go through, from becoming aware of your business to deciding to make a purchase and becoming a loyal customer. Put simply, it’s the step-by-step journey that you take each buyer on — with the goal being to keep as many prospects in the funnel at each stage as possible, offering an optimised experience at every stage.

Diagram of marketing funnel showing each stage from awareness to loyalty.

The ‘funnel’ shape represents the narrowing that happens as the journey progresses toward purchase and your highest-quality leads make it to the end. Customer journeys can be complex and many prospects will exit the funnel before reaching the purchase phase, but considering your marketing funnel throughout your campaigns can provide a simplified framework enabling you to tailor your marketing activity accordingly at each stage.

What are the stages of a marketing funnel?

Generally, your marketing funnel should follow these five stages:

  • Awareness: The very top of the funnel is where potential customers first become aware of your brand or product. This might happen through various channels such as social media, your blog content, or advertising campaigns.
  • Interest: At this stage, your prospects begin to express interest in your products or services; for example, by engaging with your content, browsing your product range, or signing up for your mailing list to find out more about your brand.
  • Evaluation: The middle of the funnel is where your prospects evaluate your offering in more detail, determining whether your product or service (or an alternative) is right for them. They might download case studies, read detailed product reviews, or even book a discovery call to help them decide if your offering matches their needs.
  • Purchase: The final stage of the buying process is conversion, when the prospect becomes a paying customer by completing a purchase — whether it’s buying a physical product, purchasing a subscription, or paying for you to provide a service.
  • Loyalty: The marketing funnel doesn’t end with a transaction. Post-purchase, the focus is on retaining customers. Factors such as proactive customer service, continuous engagement, and even loyalty programs can help to create loyal brand advocates.

Seems simple, right? Well, it is, but to have the most effective marketing funnel we need to add some meat on the bones and delve into the mindset of your potential customers. 

Top of the funnel

The top funnel is all about lead generation. Your main focus here is on attracting awareness and optimising SEO. Using your personas will help to ensure the noise you’re making on each channel is relevant, and that you’re targeting the right keywords.

Stage 1: Awareness

Define your target audience

At the awareness stage, a buyer is trying to solve problems, get an answer, or meet a need. So, to position your business as the solution you first need to understand the type of problems your audience is facing, their behaviours, and purchasing decisions.

Creating a buyer persona is one of the best ways to do this. Essentially, this is a profile of your ideal customer including their demographic data, interests, likes, dislikes, pain points, buying habits, and goals to build a picture of who you’re speaking to.

B2C buyer persona example

This is a great persona example from Semrush. You can create your own person by using internal data such as the purchase history of your existing customers, analytic data from your website visitors, social media follower analytics and customer feedback.

Here are three steps to keep in mind:

  • Why have your current customers or client base chosen you? Look at common interests, locations, age groups, budgets, and purchase history.
  • Re-evaluate your service or product and hone in on who actually benefits from it. Get someone outside the business involved, and try to think outside the box. There may be a whole target audience that’s been overlooked.
  • Take a deep-dive into your competitors’ target audience and clients. Why has their audience chosen them, not you? Following your findings, you can then either choose to compete or strategically fill the gaps they’ve missed.

Increase brand awareness

Now it’s time to increase your brand awareness. This is the first introduction to your target audience so the better you can capture their attention, the more likely they are to move to the next stage in the marketing funnel. 

Here are some tactics for increasing your awareness in marketing:

Focus on search engine optimisation: During the awareness phase, people are searching for specific information on a topic, product, or service, so by targeting informational keywords you attract organic traffic from search engines. This will increase your brand’s visibility to people actively seeking information you can provide.

Example: A travel agency that wants to attract more customers looking for a UK staycation. They can do this by optimising their landing pages with informational keywords and writing town specific travel guides.

Write informative blog posts: By providing valuable and relevant content, you attract potential customers who are searching for information related to your products or services. A great blog post can encourage them to explore your website and brand further.

Example: A mattress company could write articles about the benefits of different mattress materials or tips for improving sleep quality, attracting readers who are looking for solutions to their sleep problems.

Create how-to videos: 52% of online brand discovery comes from social media channels and how-to videos are a highly engaging form of content that can quickly capture the attention of your target audience on social media.

Example: A skincare brand could create videos demonstrating a simple oily skin care routine including their products as part of the demo and showcasing their effectiveness.

Increase your brand visibility through digital PR: Digital PR is all about brand building through coverage, SEO, and links. Securing a feature in a relevant publication can help get your name out there and in front of a whole new audience. 

Example: A furniture brand wants to boost sales of their new outdoor garden chair just in time for the summer. They create and distribute a press release on the best outdoor furniture for summer to maximise visibility and reach their target audience.

Screenshots of online coverage for a furniture brand.

Middle of the funnel

The next step of your journey is starting a relationship — the most important part of your funnel. At this stage, they are interested in your brand but need more information on the value you’re providing.  They are still evaluating their options so your efforts need to be stellar!

Stage 2: Interest

Nurture your leads through customer service: Excellent customer service helps build trust and demonstrates that your brand values its customers. Providing live chat support, for example, allows potential customers to ask specific questions about products or services promptly to determine whether you can still provide the solutions they need.

Utilise email marketing: Place sign-up forms prominently on your website, especially on pages where new visitors are likely to land. Clearly communicate the benefits of subscribing to your emails such as exclusive offers, product updates, and helpful tips. Or, draw people in with downloadable assets so users can choose exactly which information they want from you which provides the most value, on an ongoing basis.

Create interactive content: Interactive content will make the evaluation process more engaging and personalised, like quizzes that help leads determine which product or service is best suited for their needs. This keeps them actively involved in the decision-making process.

The Inkey List offers a personalised skincare quiz. Users are provided with a unique routine based on their skincare needs including which products to use, how to use them, their price and a one-click option to add the products to their basket or download the routine. 

This captures the attention of potential customers, encouraging them to spend more time on your website and interact with the brand. Plus sign up for your email list to receive their results, special offers, or additional skincare tips, converting engaged prospects into leads.

Improve your product descriptions: Detailed and compelling product descriptions help leads understand the benefits, features, and unique selling points of your products. When someone is interested in a product they are likely to return to that page several times, re-reading the description to assess whether it’s the right choice so the information you offer should reduce uncertainty and build confidence in the decision to purchase.

Stage 3: Evaluation

At the evaluation stage of the marketing funnel, prospects are actively comparing different options and considering which product or service best fits their needs. This stage is critical as it involves thorough assessment and consideration. Providing detailed, transparent, and helpful information can significantly influence their decision-making process.

Write detailed comparison pages: Detailed comparison pages help potential customers evaluate your product against competitors by providing side-by-side comparisons of features, benefits, and pricing. Visual aids like comparison tables, infographics, and charts can make the information easier to digest. You can even make comparison pages about your own products to help them make a final decision.

Offer discounts: Offering discounts can provide the extra nudge potential customers need to make a purchase. It’s a direct incentive that can make your product more attractive compared to competitors, overcome price objections, encourage quicker decision-making, and attract cost-sensitive customers.

Image credit: ConvertFlow

Share case studies: Case studies provide real-world examples of how your product or service has successfully solved problems for other customers.  A good case study typically includes the customer’s background, the challenge they faced, how your product helped solve it, and the results achieved. Use metrics and quotes to add authenticity. They can be shared on social media, your website or even on product pages.

Bottom of the funnel

The bottom of the funnel is the final stage of the marketing funnel. This is where prospects make their purchase decision, and their buying intent is finalised so all you need is for them to take action. After that, it’s about retaining their custom for repeat business and brand advocacy.

Stage 4: Purchase

Implement remarketing campaigns: Use retargeting ads to re-engage users who have shown interest in your products but haven’t completed a purchase. Remind them of items left in their cart or present personalised offers to encourage conversion — this can prompt people to take action.

Streamlined checkout process: Ensure the checkout process is simple by eliminating unnecessary fields and optimised for mobile devices to allow customers to easily purchase from any device. You should also offer multiple payment options and minimise the number of steps required, such as offering a guest checkout option that reduces barriers for first-time buyers to complete a purchase to reduce cart abandonment. Having a streamlined checkout is one of the most important ways of reducing friction during the purchase stage.

Stage 5: Loyalty

Now you’ve got that valuable email address, it’s time to nurture the relationship through targeted campaigns, with the aim of building up to conversion. Here are some simple steps to follow during the nurturing faze:

Be consistent: Messaging, tone of voice, branding, and every aspect of your business should be instantly recognisable to your audience. Consistency is key.

Send follow-up emails: Once you’ve converted someone to a customer your job doesn’t end there. Even at the bottom of the funnel, this stage is important for maintaining your leads and follow-up emails can be a great touch point. Leave it a little while after their first purchase before reaching out on email with a personalised email such as a helpful product guide, suggestions of products that would complement their first order, or a quick check in.

How long do conversions take?

Conversions are unlikely to happen overnight. It may take several weeks from someone being introduced to your brand to making a purchase, especially if you’re offering high-ticket items or services that require long-term financial investment. Building meaningful relationships takes time but understanding the marketing funnel is an invaluable tool that can speed things up a little when you have insight from every stage.

Why is the marketing funnel so important?

The marketing funnel helps businesses understand and optimise the customer journey, improving the effectiveness of marketing strategies to align with every stage and increase conversions.

How do I measure the effectiveness of my marketing funnel?

To measure the effectiveness of your marketing funnel, track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as conversion rates at each stage, customer acquisition cost (CAC), and customer lifetime value (CLV). Additionally, monitor metrics like social media growth and engagement for the awareness and interest stages, and SEO metrics like keyword rankings and clicks on comparison landing pages for the evaluation stage.

How does a marketing funnel differ for B2B vs B2C?

B2B funnels often involve longer sales cycles, more decision-makers, and a greater emphasis on relationship-building, while B2C funnels typically focus on faster, more emotional purchasing decisions.


Need further help nailing your marketing strategy for better conversions? Our team would love to help take your strategy from zero to hero! If you’d like to find out more, get in touch.

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