Basics of a Marketing Funnel

April 16, 2021
Kenneth Donnelly
Follow and Like us on Social Media

A marketing funnel describes the path that customers can travel from learning about your business or products to the end of the funnel where they are customers by purchasing from you. Sometimes you may hear this as the sales funnel as marketing and sales often get mixed up and merged. When looking for marketing funnels information you will often see many versions of the funnels and once again mixed with sales funnels. We will briefly go over these different funnels just to give you more understanding of the marketing funnel that we are focusing on in this article. The marketing funnel that we are focusing on is a system of taking traffic or web visitors and leading it down a path to convert visitors into customers either now or setting them up for later conversion by use of software tools and automation.

The Classic Marketing Funnel and the Top Middle Button Funnel

The classic marketing funnel has 4 to 6 stages depending on the source material you are reading. The stages are generally thought of:

AIDA Version Version 1 Version 2 Version 3
Awareness Awareness Awareness Awareness
Interest Opinion Consideration Interest
Desire Consideration Action Consideration
Action Preference Engagement Intent
Purchase Advocacy Evaluation

Advocacy is also sometimes referred to as loyalty in some charts. Advocacy would be a better goal as it's not just a customer that keeps coming back but referring others to you as well.

The Top Middle Bottom Funnel is a more simplification of the customer's journey along these stages. Top refers to a customer at the top of the sales process and someone who has just learned they need a product or service but doesn't know what they need. Middle refers to the more educated buyer who has identified their problem and what service or product will meet their needs and are doing some research on the various solutions. The bottom stage is the stage at which the sale or conversion happens as they have settled on a product or service and are ready to make a purchase.

If you take the classic funnel and group them into the top middle funnel we could group them as such:

Top Funnel:


This is the stage where the buyer is just learning of either you or your services.


This is the stage where the customer is learning more about their problem and what solution may be offered. They are still fluid in which solution they will go with and have taken an interest in one of your products or services.

Middle Funnel:


This stage they have settled on a few solutions or one and are researching the various pro's and con's. They are considered middle of the funnel as they aren't locked to your brand or company and if a competitor's product is considered a better fit they will choose that one.

Bottom Funnel:

Intent | Action | Preference | Evaluation | Purchase and Loyalty | Advocacy

This stage will start out by them evaluating products or services of you and your competition and having the customer settling on a preference which is the better solution. The potential customer then makes a purchase and becomes a customer who can further help your company by  becoming a returning customer or advocate for your company to others with the same problem.

A Marketing Funnel System

A marketing funnel system is a set of tools, content, or systems designed to utilize the funnels above to guide customers along the funnel with our own content or chosen pages so when the customer is ready to buy, they are on our content and will purchase from us. This system is designed so they develop trust in our brand and can more easily control what the customer sees to keep them focused on our products and services. Sending a customer to a website we don't control could lead them to see an ad of a competitor and losing the sale to them. We will break down an example of a funnel, however this can be done many ways and when designing a funnel system, you should always consider your targeted buyer persona. The older generation typically doesn't have as much computer experience so including a complex form in the funnel could render the funnel ineffective in capturing sales.

Top Funnel - Awareness

An effective way to a attract a new customer who isn't aware of your brand or which products you offer would be Ads. Ads present your brand to the potential customer, rather than having them find your brand.

An alternative would be creating content designed for top of the funnel customers such as "What are water stains on ceilings?" and besides an article on your website, posting the content to social media and making a video for youtube. Be sure to try to get your content in places where your targeted buyer is likely to be such as placing an ad for a new baby product on a new mother's community website.

Middle Funnel

Lead Magnets can be an effective middle funnel tool. Lead magnets are typically guides or freebies sent after the customer gives their contact details. This can be graphic templates, digital products, or informational guides that are sent to their email address after they have filled out a form with their email address. This works as a way to be able to remarket to the customer later via emails.

An alternative would be content such as blogs, videos, or infographics that can help further the research of your customer. An example might be an organizing company educating their potential buyers with different types of organization systems or particular ways to organizing rooms. These articles guide the buyer that a professional organizer would be their best solutions and give them your details in the event they are ready to buy.  

Bottom Funnel

Landing Pages can be an effective bottom funnel tool. Landing pages are pages that are designed to sell. They have Call To Actions (CTA) throughout that make the customer take action (buy now or call now, phone numbers, forms, etc). Landing pages are typically designed to be the next step of an ad or keywords that are targeted to middle or bottom funnel customers. For example, if a person has a mold issue, at first they may not be sure if it's a big problem and are at the top of the funnel doing research to determine if they have a problem. Once they determine removal is the best option and have moved on to the middle funnel group and are looking for options (do it yourself cleaners or professional mold removal companies), your ads could be for a particular mold killer chemical or an ad for professional safe mold removal service. The landing page would be a page to buy the chemical and details on why it's the best solution or the mold removal service and a contact form or phone numbers that trigger the customer to call now.

An Automated Marketing Funnel

The parts above give you an idea of how to move your customer from not only down the marketing funnel, but allow the customer to jump around if need be and learn of specific products before they are aware if it's the best solution. Now we will cover how the above parts work with automation built in to create a system that works on autopilot.

Starting out would be the Ad designed to attract customers who may not even be aware of your company or products. The ad would lead to a lead magnet landing page. This page will give them some information on why your solution is best for them, while offering an incentive of providing their contact information. After they sign up for the lead magnet, send them to potentially your final landing page with further sales type copy on why you are the best solution and maybe some more incentives such as a discount or referral bonuses to refer other customers to your company. Other parts that would work in the background would be tracking codes on the landing pages to present targeted ads to potentially lost customers who don't sign up. These ads can be the product or services on the landing page and are only shown to potentially lost customers which allows the cost to be lower and the ability to provide very targeted ads. We almost all have seen Amazon ads for products we visited for days after leaving the page. These ads work as studies have revealed that a customer is more willing to buy after seeing the product or service about 7-8 times. The other background actions you can have would be email drip campaigns, such as automated emails sent to the customer a day or two after giving you their email. This will increase the customer's exposure to you to further consider you if they didn't sign up for services or purchase a product from you yet.

Share this article on Social Media:

Kenneth Donnelly

Kenneth Donnelly has a background in IT and changed to Marketing full time when most of his small business clients were asking for help with their websites and digital marketing. He has been a full time digital marketing specialist for over 7 years. His IT background compliments his marketing background by combining web development, reporting, and marketing while finding solutions for limited budgets.