digital marketing funnel

Understanding the Digital Marketing Funnel

Every business knows that their customers go through several stages during the entire buying process. Thanks to technology, marketing of products and services by B2C businesses has grown to new levels. One common marketing strategy is the use of a digital marketing funnel. Companies are willing to invest more in sales and marketing, only if they can prove definitively that they are getting an ROI.

However, such businesses still do not believe that they have the funnel process or data insights maturity in place to prove the ROI. They also do not have the technical skill-set and process to fix the funnel processes and create full-funnel visibility reports and analytics. This is where businesses often employ an external agency that specializes in funnel design, optimization, and analytics to help.

Before we dive deeper into the solutions, it is essential to have an understanding of the digital marketing funnel.

What is a digital marketing funnel?

Even if you do not have a clear definition of a marketing funnel, you have probably seen or engaged with a marketing funnel many times. As an example, digital marketing funnels will begin with a small offering in the form of guides, free-courses, and webinars. Sounds familiar? Having a well thought out marketing funnel is quite essential when growing your business.

So what is a digital marketing funnel? It is a visualization or a collection of stages that allows businesses to understand the customer’s decision-making process. This is usually from a sales and marketing perspective. The primary objective is to develop a highly automated system, which allows businesses to measure the customer’s journey at any point and optimize desired conversions.

Let us say you are selling books, seminars, online courses, and other education services. It is quite unlikely for any customer to research all your services and immediately purchase the most expensive service. In truth, this rarely happens, even to big businesses. Before customers can buy any product, they need to know that it is a worthwhile investment and that requires many research touch points along the funnel.

They also have to trust your business and feel that there are no risks. Thus, getting to know you is essential, and this is best accomplished via a defined process. This is what well designed digital marketing funnels accomplish. They help your customers learn more about your business and gain a comfort level that leads to a buying decision. The more they trust you and understand the benefits of the product, the more likely they are to purchase or engage in repeat purchases.

It is essential to note that marketing funnels have many variations. Some funnels have more stages than others do depending on the business vertical or tactics deployed. These funnel stages will consist of different actions and names unique to the business. Others prefer to use common vernacular for the stages of the funnel. By understanding the common stages (despite business-specific language), marketing funnels become easier to navigate.

Common Phases of a Digital Marketing Funnel

A digital marketing funnel consists of four phases.


The first most essential phase of any brand or business is the awareness phase. This stage is simply about creating your brand’s awareness. It is not about sales, but the number of customers who know about your services, products, and the business. The primary objective of the awareness phase is to develop content that can be introduced to your prospective customer while they are performing specific digital behaviors (like search).

By matching your prospective customer’s search intent, they are more likely to review your content becoming aware of your offering. It also increases the buzz (awareness) around your products or services.

Research and consideration

The next phase of a digital marketing funnel is the research and consideration phase. This stage focuses on the customer’s need to find a solution to their problem. By creating awareness about your product or services, customers begin to see your product or service as a potential solution to a particular problem. This then causes them to dive deep into research to validate.

The more their research validates your brand as a solution, the easier it becomes for them to consider your products/services. Once again, sales are not a focus of this phase. Its primary objective is to offer differentiation, capabilities, and key benefits of your brand to the solution your customer is looking for. Once the solution becomes apparent, they will start considering your product.


The purchase phase is quite significant and often underestimated. As customers finally decide to purchase your product, new concerns, questions, blockers, and objections can begin to materialize. These pre-purchase anxieties can become a deal-breaker for most people. The objective of this phase is to ensure customers feel comfortable to purchase your products or services. This is where you may introduce digital content such as customer testimonies, product reviews, discounts to reduce those purchasing anxieties. Also, user experience factors like “ease of purchase” or “multiple payment options” should also be considered.

Businesses should concentrate on enormous time, resources, and energy to optimize this phase. The more confident customers feel, the easier it becomes for them to buy your products and be happy about their purchase.

Post-purchase experience

Most businesses incorrectly assume that after a customer purchases a product that the funnel is over. In truth, this is just the beginning of an incredible sales journey. Once a new client finally comes on board, it is crucial for you to deliver on all your promises. A rocky start can cause your new customers to doubt if they made the right choice.

It can even cause them to term their post-purchase experience as “too long” or “painful”. Thus, the objective of this phase is to ensure that your customers get up to speed and experience your value premise. You should also focus on ensuring your customers are achieving their goals with your service/product.

Every phase dictates the success of your products. Investing in and optimizing each step ensures that you get more traffic to your site, as well as more purchases.

How the digital market funnel works

A marketing funnel contains three parts. These parts include the top, middle, and the bottom. This makes it quite similar to an upside-down pyramid. And usually, potential customers tend to start with the broadest part of the funnel and work their way towards the smallest part of the funnel.

Top of the funnel

The top of a digital marketing funnel is the part that is closely linked to the awareness phase of the funnel. This stage allows you to make use of online marketing efforts to help make potential customers aware of your brand or product. In today’s marketing world, this acts as an introduction platform, where you get to explain your services/products.

Some of the ways companies used to create awareness included local event sponsorship, television commercials, radio advertisements, and speaking engagements. All these methods have one common objective. This is to introduce your brand to prospective customers. With the progress technology has made over the years, more and more tools are emerging to help create awareness of your brand digitally.

These are a few common tools used by businesses to create top of funnel awareness about their brand:

  • Paid Search: When people have questions about products or services, they often to go to search engines like Google. Platforms like Google and Bing allow you to introduce your product or service to searchers in the form of a paid ad. Those that click your ad are often delivered to a landing page that introduces your company and offering as a solution.
  • Email lists: As the name suggests, this is a collection of potential customer email addresses that may be interested in purchasing. By having these email addresses, you can easily help people learn more about your brand. You can achieve this by various forms of nurturing emails.
  • Free Digital Offerings: This is the information or services you offer to potential customers with no charges. However, they have to provide their contact information to gain access to the information/service and would be qualified for up-sell opportunities.
  • Display Banners: This allows you to put a visual-based advertisement (almost like a digital billboard) in front of people as they surf the internet or participate on social media. This allows you to put a short compelling message in front of them to introduce your brand and product.

Once you create awareness, and more people are starting to recognize your brand, you can then move to the next part of the funnel.

Middle of the funnel

The middle part is where you start creating interest (research and consideration) in your potential customers. The main goal of this part of the funnel is to transition them from awareness to ready to buy. When potential customers are in this phase their internet behaviors change. For example, in the awareness phase, they may have been searching “nursing programs” to learn more about education and becoming a nurse. Now that they are aware of the offerings and are considering enrolling (the middle funnel), they may be searching for “schools enrolling for nursing”. By being relevant in this stage of the funnel you are more likely to generate an “Inquiry” or “Lead” about your services.

Some of the tools you can use in this part of the funnel include:

  • Digital Advertising: This is one of the most common tools in business today. By using social media platforms or sites people frequent, you can easily capture interest in your brand or a product your brand offers.
  • Digital Remarketing: It is likely that a user visited a landing page or web property during the “awareness” phase. Using digital advertising technologies you can now re-market your product or service so that they re-consider you as they navigate around the internet.
  • Behavioral tracking tools: These are tools that enable brands to see if a prospective customer has opened their email or acquired a freebie, to name a couple. Ultimately, you use everything you know about this individual and their interactions to tailor custom messaging that furthers their consideration.

After you create product consideration, the next step is showing the value of your service/product. The more interest a customer has, the easier it becomes for them to choose your brand.

Bottom of the funnel

This is the last part of the marketing funnel that focuses on sales conversions. It is also the part most businesses use to gauge the success of their digital marketing funnel. Here are a few tools used in this stage of the digital marketing funnel:

  • Heatmapping tool: This tool allows businesses to create a virtual map of where customers spend the most time on their web properties. This information can be used to improve user experience, provide missing information, and various other tactics that improve conversion.
  • Marketing Automation: These tools help you record and track all the user’s interactions as they progress down the funnel and can use advanced tactics such as machine learning to optimize conversions.
  • A/B testing tools: These tools enable businesses to test different user experiences and adopt statistically validated changes that yield improvements in conversion. If the changes on experience “B” outperform experience “A”, adopt “B” and prepare for the next test.

If you note an increase in your sales conversion due to any optimization tactic, then your funnel has improved and will ultimately lead to more sales.

Importance of a digital marketing funnel to your business

More and more people are turning to the internet for products/ services. This has forced businesses to understand the importance of using a digital marketing funnel. Some of its significant benefits to your business include:

  • It increases your audience: The internet has mainly contributed to making the world a global village. This means that businesses have a wider pool of consumers, unlike previous years. And with the help of social media platforms, a company can successfully increase its audience.
  • It helps you understand your customers: Giving your customer what they require starts with understanding their requirements. A digital marketing funnel enables you to monitor what your customers do at each step to include a vast array of analytics. You also get to engage them differently based on this collected data. The more you interest them by tailoring the approach, the easier it becomes to move them down the funnel.
  • It helps you motivate them: Every CEO or business owner can confidently say that the growth of their business lies in their sales. And one sure way to encourage people to buy a product/service is through motivation. A digital marketing funnel offers you stages in which you can easily motivate your customers as unique individuals.

Overall, the insights, automation, and analytics made possible by a digital marketing funnel is too valuable to ignore.

How can we help?

We focus on solving your business funnel analytics and reporting needs. The reason why we focus on offering solutions, rather than products, is that we want to grow your business. And the best way to do that is by investing confidently in sales and marketing based on a proven ROI. We are a multi-lingual company that speaks sales, marketing, business, technology, and data. Contact us to discuss how we can help you grow your business with data.


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