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Digital Marketing 9 min read

The Digital Marketing Funnel: Benefits, Examples, and Strategies

Sarah Edwards photo

Written by Sarah Edwards

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed

Carolyn Noel photo

Expert reviewed by Carolyn Noel

Communications Coordinator @ Galactic Fed

Published 29 Jun 2022

Sales professionals have long used the visual of a funnel to describe how prospective customers engage with companies throughout the sales process. 

Each stage of the funnel represents where a buyer might be, their needs at that point, and opportunities as well as pitfalls for the sales team. A digital marketing funnel applies the same concept to digital marketing teams.

In this article, we’ll go over the benefits of using a digital marketing funnel to help meet customers’ needs at every step. We’ve also included some examples and helpful strategies.

What Does a Digital Marketing Funnel Look Like?

Customer journey stages modelCredit: Source: Customer Journey Marketer

There is no official structure for a marketing funnel. However, the concept is that the top — the widest part of the funnel — is designed to attract as many people as possible. This breadth means focusing on awareness of the brand. 

Further down the funnel represents interest and consideration. The last stage is converting prospects into customers. Some marketing teams do add additional stages after the sale. These focus on concepts like retention and brand advocacy.

The Benefits of Using a Marketing Funnel

Digital marketing efforts often fail to reach their potential because there is a lack of direction and structure. A digital marketing funnel provides that structure. Here are some of the other benefits of adopting this simple but beneficial approach to the marketing process:

Producing the Right Marketing Content for Each Stage

You can adopt a marketing funnel that has already been created or create a proprietary one for your business. In either case, you can examine each stage of the funnel and match that with content that will best meet the customers’ needs and help move them through the funnel.

Establishing More Meaningful Goals and Metrics

Consumptions metrics chart

Source: Marketing Insider Group

By segmenting your approach to marketing into different stages, you can also create a separate set of objectives for each stage. Then, you can identify the best metrics for tracking them. Doing this will give you a clearer picture of your campaign and what is or isn’t successful.

Capitalizing on Opportunities to Better Engage with Customers

Each stage of the digital marketing funnel represents a different set of opportunities to connect with customers. For example, in the research and evaluation stages, customers want to be certain that your product will solve their problems. 

Your marketing team can turn that into an opportunity by providing them with timely marketing content such as product demonstration videos and customer testimonials. 

Better Identifying Where Problems Exist

It is much easier to identify and solve problems in your digital campaigns when you have your efforts divided into stages. 

At each stage, you can use analytics and data collection to gain a better understanding of marketing performance. This approach will give you more specific insights to explore when campaigns underperform.

Planning for Future Content Needs

A content calendar is only as helpful as your ability to understand which types of content you need and how much of it. Those things are much easier to predict when you organize your digital marketing efforts into stages and identify the content that will complement each one. 

Your content team can look at the pieces you have waiting to be published, then use that information to determine what still needs to be created.

Digital Marketing Funnel Examples

What do digital marketing funnels look like when they are used to structure campaigns? It may help to walk through an example.

Top of Funnel — Awareness and Trust

This stage is the widest part of the funnel. Here, you catch potential customers by increasing brand awareness, building trust, and offering helpful thought leadership content. Your goals are to let people know you exist and that you are a resource they can count on. 

For example, someone who searches, “What kind of insurance do I need for my business” might find a helpful article from a local insurance provider on the different types of insurance coverage small business owners should consider. 

Even if they aren’t ready to make a purchase, they will probably remember the name of the provider. They might even give up their email address to receive email newsletters.

Mid Funnel — Research and Evaluation

At this stage, a need has been clearly identified. In this stage, customers do further research to identify the products and companies that will meet their needs. To meet their needs, brands must provide more specific, product-focused content.

For example, someone might search “best wedding venues in Tampa, FL, summer 2022.” A wedding venue with a solid digital marketing funnel would be prepared to meet that customer’s needs with informative branded content to show they have what the customer wants.

In this case, that might be a YouTube video that highlights a wedding venue and the amenities available to guests, which is followed up with a call to action (CTA) that there are still spots available for wedding bookings.

Low Funnel — Justification and Purchase

Customers who are engaging at this stage are ready to make a purchase. Now, they are seeking reasons to justify their final decision. For example, they may be looking for the best deal or narrowing down products to one that meets their requirements. 

Imagine that a customer is ready to make a decision on a subscription to a graphic design software package. Marketing content at this stage of the funnel might include customer case studies, information about subscription tier pricing, and a CTA for a free trial.

Strategies for Making the Digital Sales Funnel Work for You

Here are some helpful strategies you can apply to get the best results at each stage along the funnel.

Identify Keywords for Each Stage

When you divide your marketing process into stages, it’s helpful to identify common search keywords that customers might use at each of these. 

Then, you can optimize your marketing content for these searches. Remember that there’s more to this than simply including phrases in your content. You must also create marketing content that serves the users’ search intent.

Understand the Customer Journey

Questions, Motivations, Activities graph

Source: Harvard Business Review

A marketing funnel is a great tool. However, it’s important to realize customers don’t always follow a linear path of engagement. One person might move from awareness to purchasing the same step. Another might “idle” at mid-funnel and require quite a bit of information. 

Consider using journey mapping tools. These will help you to locate patterns in the customer buying process and identify the best opportunities to truly engage your audience.

Always Offer a Conversion Option

Whether it’s for making a purchasing decision or making a micro-conversion to move to the next stage of the funnel, every piece of content you create should have a Call to Action (CTA).

This CTA provides the customer with clear instructions on what to do if they want to continue interacting with your brand. These interactions can also serve as opportunities for you to collect useful customer data.

Mix Paid and Organic 

Organic marketing is appealing because it helps your brand build more authentic connections with your audience. It’s also free. 

With that being said, if your content is not performing as you had hoped, you might consider paid ads as well. For example, you can promote a piece of high-funnel content on Facebook or Instagram using very specific targeting.

Offer a Variety of Content Types

There’s no specific content format that works better at one point in the funnel than another. People at different stages might prefer blog posts, videos, infographics, or long-form content like whitepapers. 

After some time and analysis, you may identify some preferences. Until you do, offer content in many different formats throughout the customer journey.

Final Thoughts: A Funnel Can Strengthen Your Marketing Efforts

If your online marketing efforts are falling flat, you can deploy tools and techniques to get better results. One of the most powerful of these is the digital marketing funnel. This tool will help you organize your marketing efforts, meet customers with the information they need at each stage, and better understand campaign outcomes.

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Sarah Edwards photo

Sarah Edwards

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed