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Marketing Funnels Explained

Even if you're not familiar with the term, you’ve seen and engaged in marketing funnels many times.

Marketing funnels are everywhere, and they're an extremely important marketing tactic that help brands to grow. Here, we provide a basic outline of marketing funnels and may even debunk some myths you’d thought to be true about marketing. Before diving into the behind-the-scenes strategy, let’s first define marketing funnel.

What Is A Marketing Funnel?

A marketing funnel is a collection of stages that prospective customers move through, starting with an awareness stage. They're designed to push potential customers through a buyer’s journey to ultimately purchase a brand’s products or services.

Throughout this journey, a brand needs to nurture the audience and continue to move people through the phases. A marketing funnel is the process of trying to convert those audience members into a customer and then convince them to continue to purchase products – becoming a repeat purchaser and brand advocate.

Basically, the funnel incorporates your prospective customers from the first time they hear about your brand until they purchase. Here's the thing: remember that marketing funnels do not need to be complex. You should start out with a simple marketing funnel and then continue to optimize once you see what's working and what isn’t in terms of key performance metrics in order to increase conversions.

The Buyer’s Journey

One aspect of marketing funnels that people get wrong is how they nurture different types of leads. People often think they can treat every lead in the same way; but, this isn't recommended. How you treat your leads depends on which stage of the buyer’s journey they're in. For instance, a lead that's in the top of the funnel shouldn't be given the same content as a lead in the bottom of the funnel. These two leads are completely different and by giving the top of funnel lead the wrong content, you could scare them off your brand.

Check this out: if you give a top of funnel lead a discount right away they may be turned off because they don’t know enough about your brand and they're not ready to purchase. On the other hand, if you were to give someone in the bottom of the funnel a discount, the outcome is usually much different as they're already aware of your brand and are more likely to be ready to purchase.

It's important to understand that every lead is not ready to buy. On rare occasions, top of funnel leads will, in fact convert, but this is rare. Most leads need to be nurtured through the funnel until they're ready.

Now that it's been explained that each stage needs to be treated differently, we can explain the three funnel stages and how leads should be nurtured within each.

Awareness Stage

The top of the funnel is the awareness stage, which is comprised of people who are new to your business and need to be educated on a problem that affects them (for which your product or service is the solution.) In fact, they not even be aware of their problem.

A mistake in this stage is the assumption that these consumers are ready to buy. Instead, you shouldn't be directly pitching your products, but, instead, making them aware of the relevant problem they face. That way, down the line you can introduce your product as a solution.

In addition, instead of trying to capture as many customers as possible, try to capture the right customers instead. If you're selling beauty products, it's most likely that men won't be your main target audience. Understand who your ideal audience is and market to them as efficiently as possible. This will produce a higher rate of conversion and avoid wasting your time and resources.

Content that's good for this stage includes blog posts, ebooks and videos. Basically, here, your audience hasn't been to your site nor is familiar with your brand. As such, it's imperative to provide value to your audience at this stage so they'll start to view your business as a trusted expert and want to continue to learn more about what you have to offer.

Consideration Stage

The middle of the funnel is the consideration stage, which contains leads that are aware of the problem they're experiencing and are now looking for solutions. These people are interested in learning more about their problem and available solutions so they can decide how best to proceed. But, they aren’t 100% ready to commit to a solution. These prospects have visited your website and are familiar with your brand, but have not purchased any of your products.

This group is looking for ways to solve their problem, but are not ready to purchase. They may be looking at five or more possible solutions and comparing them to find the correct product. Since they're evaluating several solutions your brand needs to stand out and show them why you're superior.

Content that's successful for this stage includes webinars, case studies, competitive comparisons and FAQs. During this stage you have the opportunity to position your product as the best solution for prospective customers. Prove this fact to them and ensure they have all the rationale and emotional appeal they need to move to the (next) decision stage of the journey.

Decision Stage

At this stage leads are ready to purchase. They're prepared to choose the solution that's best for them, completed the research and understand the different benefits of each available solution. Customer reviews are extremely important during this stage to elevate consumer confidence.

In addition to reviews, other content pieces that can help convince your audience members to purchase include social proof, case studies, free trials and product demos. Although people in this have already been exposed to a number of claims, giving them additional reasons to purchase such as great customer reviews or a free trial will help them to pull the trigger.

Components of a Marketing Funnel

As you can plainly see, leads in each stage of the buyer’s journey should be treated differently. So now what? How do you actually build a funnel and bring it to life?

The good news is that every marketing funnel roughly has the same components. For your reference, here are the most important components every marketing funnel should have.

Lead Magnets

These devices act as an entry point to your digital marketing funnel. A lead magnet is an initial high-value offer that you promote to your audience in exchange for their email address and other contact information. The goal of the lead magnet is to attract audiences that fit your target market and encourage them to provide their contact information in exchange for an amazing piece of content.

Lead magnet content needs to be actionable so the prospect can immediately get value and be prepared to be nurtured with other content via an inbound marketing email sequence and ad campaigns – until they see enough value to pay for your core offer.


A tripwire is a product or service priced at a very low cost to train prospects to pay you for your content. A tripwire needs to be of value to work. It can't be just be a low-priced offer that isn’t worth much, because that simply won't lead to a desirable conversion rate. The goal of a tripwire is to get your content-engaged audience to purchase a low-cost offer and provide their credit card.

At times a tripwire isn't needed and it will be enough to promote your lead magnet and nurture leads via email in an effort to purchase the core offer. However, at other times you will need to utilize a tripwire so that customers become conditioned to purchase with you and so that they begin to recognize additional value in your brand.

Landing Pages

Your lead magnets and tripwires will most likely be housed on a landing page. A landing page is where you will drive prospect traffic and audience members will opt-in by providing their email address, or their payment information (in the case of a tripwire. There are lots of cool platforms available to build your landing pages on, such as ClickFunnels. This app lets you easily build professional-looking landing pages and easily duplicate a funnel so you can do some nifty A/B testing.

In addition to creating landing pages for your audience to opt-in on, each page needs to have a thank-you page. Users get redirected this page once they opt-in. On the thank-you page you can direct your audience to other valuable content such as blogs, videos and your social channels.

You should also confirm that the lead magnet or tripwire has been confirmed and is "on its way" on the thank-you page. By not including the download or product on this page and only confirming that it's on its way, is an effective method to train your audience that they have to be on the lookout for email communication from you.

Core Offer

In addition to the lead magnet and tripwire, you also need a core offer. This is what you ultimately want your potential customers to purchase at the end of the buyer’s journey. You may have multiple core offers based on different target audiences, but whatever the product or service is, it is the primary thing you want to sell in your digital marketing funnel.

Ideally, by the time you're promoting this core offer to your audience you will have sold them on your brand. The goal is for prospects to be familiar with your content and the value that your brand brings, which will then convince them to purchase the core offer.

Email Automation

There's no funnel without inbound email. It's very important to have a robust email strategy that helps to nurture prospects through the buyer’s journey. For your digital marketing funnel to succeed you'll need specific emails built out that will be automatically sent to your audience at different stages of the journey.

For example, you should have a welcome email that goes out once a prospect opts into a lead magnet or tripwire. Then, further along in the process, you can send emails promoting your core offer, once your audience is ready to purchase.

Again, each stage of the journey should be treated differently and this includes customizing your e-mail content to fit the stage in question.

Also, you should continue to nurture leads that haven’t purchased, even if they've gone through the entire email sequence. Whether this is offering them a one-time deal to purchase or to continue giving them value via content – it's important to try and keep these potential customers in the funnel for as long as possible to maximize the chances that they'll eventually buy.

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are another essential piece of the marketing funnel puzzle. By utilizing Facebook ads you can push your content out to your target audiences and capture new customers. What's great about Facebook is its ability to precisely target. The sophisticated targeting that Facebook offers can help you reach the right people throughout the various stages of your marketing funnel.

In addition to an initial promotion, Facebook is great for retargeting. This strategy is important to support your email strategy and move prospects through the funnel from the lead magnet to the tripwire and then on to the core offer. Additionally, retargeting can play a big role in converting people who didn't convert the first time through the lead magnet.

Important: Before spending money on Facebook ads, you need to ensure your marketing funnel works. Yes, Facebook ads are a great way to get your brand out there and capture new customers, but if you don’t have a marketing funnel that's working properly then you're not ready to be driving traffic to it on Facebook.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, there are many moving parts that need to be aligned when launching a marketing funnel. Marketing funnels may seem complicated at first blush, but they're actually not too bad when start digging into them and setting them up. The fact is that they're extremely useful in improving your conversion rates. By utilizing a funnel strategy you can steadily guide your audience through the different stages of the buyer’s journey and ultimately push them to purchase.

As previously identified, it's important to start simple and then continue to test, refine and optimize. If you see that one of your lead magnets isn’t converting, it's generally a clear sign that you should switch to something else and see how that performs.

Another key takeaway is that each lead should be treated differently. People in the various stages of the funnel want to hear different things and content should be specifically tailored to best fit each stage.

Last, try your funnel first with your warm audience – people who already know your brand. This could be your current email list, people who have liked your Facebook page, or video subscribers. Then start testing your funnel on cold audiences to see how it performs. This is a good way to start out slowly and then ramp up once you see it's successful.

Want to discuss how to best craft a marketing funnel for your business? Contact us.

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