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What is a Marketing Funnel and How Does it Work?

A marketing funnel depicts your customer’s interaction with you. Marketing funnels map routes to conversion and beyond from the first stages when someone learns about your organisation through the purchasing stage. A marketing funnel, when carefully analysed, reveals what your organisation must do to influence consumers at various phases. You can potentially increase sales, loyalty, and brand exposure by reviewing your funnels.

Excellent marketing funnels do not appear overnight. They are the result of a well-coordinated plan and open communication between your sales and marketing teams. Building a marketing funnel requires time and work, but it is essential for converting leads into paying customers.

What is a Marketing Funnel?

A marketing funnel depicts a customer’s path through multiple stages, from awareness to conversion. It gives a model for understanding the customer experience so you may better satisfy the needs of your target audience. Also known as a “sales” or “conversion” funnel. It also assists you in identifying and troubleshooting issue areas inside the funnel, allowing you to lose fewer leads along the way.

Some brands have chosen to discard the model entirely, which is usually a mistake. The funnel represents focus, beginning with a broad range of prospects and ending with a direct and intimate understanding of who your leads truly are, what they want to buy, and if they’d be interested in subsequent purchases. Instead of discarding the marketing funnel, investigate how its many stages interact with one another, and then apply distinct methods to get the most out of each.

Marketing funnels are a professional marketing strategy that comprises deploying various marketing tactics depending on where a consumer is in their buyer’s journey. Before making a purchase, each consumer goes through a series of processes. These stages can be viewed as a process that a consumer takes to become a customer.

A marketing funnel is used when marketers target customers at different phases with different approaches in order to move them along the path.

It is called a funnel because clients are lost as you progress through the stages. As a result, if you start with 100 clients at the top of the funnel, only a small percentage will progress to the final stage and make a purchase. As a result, the number of individuals decreases at each stage, which is why it is called a funnel.

Stages of the Marketing Funnel

While each customer’s path through the marketing funnel is unique, the primary focus is ultimately on the one journey from ambiguous awareness to definite sales. Comprehending the general categories into which the funnel falls is more important than understanding the precise stages of the funnel: top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel, and bottom-of-funnel.


The funnel’s top is large and brimming with prospective leads. At this point, the marketing team is primarily in charge of generating interest in and disseminating information about a company’s products or services. Email campaigns, search engine optimization (SEO), and content such as blog posts, videos, eBooks, and white papers are examples of marketing methods.

Here are some specific stages that fall within the top of the funnel:

Name | This is the point at which the individual’s name has entered your database.

Engaged | This is where the target is moved further down the funnel after taking a specific action, whether it’s clicking a link or opening an email.

Target | At this stage, you should employ lead scoring to determine if the target is a qualified potential buyer and whether future marketing efforts are necessary.


When a lead enters the middle of the funnel, it is assumed that they will become a paying customer, and marketing should begin planning for the handoff to sales. A sales representative should reach out individually, but they should also be prepared to transfer a lead back to marketing for further nurturing if necessary. Most leads aren’t ready for sales at this time, but talking with a sales professional is still an important aspect of fostering the ongoing relationship.

The middle of the funnel can be separated into two distinct stages |

Lead | This is the point at which a target genuinely becomes a lead with confirmed interest. It is possible to advance a sales rep to the next stage after direct engagement with them.

Sales Lead | A lead becomes a sales lead only if they are a qualified buyer who is ready to buy. If not, it’s preferable to return the lead to marketing for further nurturing.


The final section of the marketing funnel contains the most promising prospects – those who are ready to buy or are paying clients you want to keep for future purchases. The bottom of the funnel, in either scenario, entails a more direct connection with the leads. It occurs when you prolong a trial offer, issues a promotional code, or demonstrate a product demo. At this stage, the sales team should step up with the essential material to help leads become buyers – without acting aggressively, which will put them off.

You can divide the end of the customer journey into a couple of stages:

Opportunity | When a sales lead is ready for more interaction with the sales team and is actively looking to buy.

Customer | When you successfully convert a lead into a customer, that is merely the beginning of your relationship with them. To keep your clients’ business, you should continue to work with and nurture them.

You may plan lead generation activities for each stage of the funnel once you understand the stages and how clients should travel through them.

Marketing Funnel Strategies

You must determine the best combination of tools and strategy to make your specific funnel work for your business. When you’re ready to create a strategy, keep the following guidelines in mind to maximise your marketing funnel.

Use Marketing Automation

Marketing automation allows you to produce viable leads more efficiently, track user interaction, and nurture prospects. Marketing automation tools, in addition to automating recurring marketing operations, enable your marketing team to reliably make data-driven decisions while avoiding information overload. Look for a solution that interacts with your CRM to automatically supply your team with correct customer information in real-time, allows you to customise each step of the customer journey, and assists you in targeting leads with the material they are likely to love.

Practice Lead Scoring

To maximise ROI from your sales and marketing efforts, once you have leads in the funnel, you need a clear, consistent approach for evaluating which are most likely to convert. This is when lead scoring — a ranking system that rates the worth of each lead — comes in handy. A numerical score is assigned to potential consumers based on the estimated value they represent.

Lead scores should be calculated using a number of essential elements that work together to build an optimum lead profile.

Demographic Factors

Demographic aspects pertain to the individual, providing your company with a better understanding of the type of person to whom they are selling. Relevant characteristics include:

  • Title
  • Role
  • Purchasing authority
  • Years of experience
  • Type of email address used
  • Social network participation and influence
  • Affiliations
  • Career interests

Company-Specific Factors

These elements are related to the organisation you’re aiming for. When considering how to market to relevant decision-makers, B2B marketers will undoubtedly want to pay special attention to these characteristics. Some attributes you may consider are:

  • Number of employees
  • Company revenue
  • Industry
  • Financial viability
  • Location

Behaviour-Based Factors

These variables are based on the lead’s activities, which might have a good or negative impact on the score. Positive actions include returning to a website, clicking on an email link, and subscribing to your company blog. Unsubscribing from emails, not accessing the website for more than 30 days, and making negative remarks on social media are all examples of negative conduct.

Produce a Healthy Mix of Content

Different types of leads will respond to various types of content. If you solely provide blog articles, you will miss out on prospects who want longer-form content like eBooks and white papers. Leads that prefer visual offers such as videos and live streaming will overlook you if you solely generate written content. A strong content mix allows you to reach a wider spectrum of potential clients.

When creating content, keep in mind that your primary purpose should be to engage and inform, not to sell. Few people will engage with content that is nothing more than a long sales pitch. Instead, put relevant calls-to-action (CTAs) in strategic spots throughout your material. If a lead is interested, they will profit from educational blog entries that briefly highlight related products or services. When a prospect grows acquainted with you and trusts your point of view, they will be more open to your CTAs.

Align to Avoid Handoff Mistakes

When strong leads are transferred from marketing to sales, the handoff is important. To avoid misalignment, team leaders should hold strategy discussions. For example, the marketing team may have an image of what a qualified lead looks like that differs from what sales has in mind.

Maintain regular contact between marketing and sales to avoid handoff misalignments. Each party should agree on a mutual definition of a “qualified sales lead.” They should also watch data together, looking for patterns that signal the lead is ready to buy. Encourage regular interaction between marketing and sales to avoid misconceptions and to boost each department’s efforts.

Understand How Customers Move Through Your Funnel

Marketing and sales may interact more effectively than ever before when the customer journey is mapped. Both teams speak the same language and may use the same data and tactics to determine when a lead should be sent down the funnel or returned up the funnel for trust-building and nurturing purposes. When the marketing and sales teams collaborate, each stage of the funnel becomes tenfold more impactful.

Mapping the client journey involves striking a balance between your ideal lead and real-world results. Take note of how leads connect with your material and how they react during exchanges. Don’t be hesitant to ask questions, because previous customers or leads who depart the funnel are typically open about what they’re searching for and how their experiences within your funnel influenced their decision-making.

Marketing Funnel Examples: B2B vs. B2C

The aim of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing funnels are similar, but the way leads are pushed through the funnel is vastly different. B2C leads are frequently marketed as if they don’t know what they want, whereas B2B leads know exactly what they want at every stage of the marketing funnel. B2C marketers, for example, rarely provide thorough information to customers. They are more likely to employ testimonials, eye-catching marketing, and emotional stories, and the sales cycle is likely to be shorter. Meanwhile, B2B marketers’ leads are typically professionals conducting extensive research to locate products and services that will help their organisation in some way, and the sales cycle is typically lengthier.

B2C Marketing Funnel

A B2C lead may start their trip by clicking a banner ad at the top of a website they visit, then providing an email address via a pop-up on the store page and saving products to their “favourites” for future viewing and consideration. They return the next day after receiving a follow-up email to add things to their basket before checking out, using a promo coupon they received in that email.

This straightforward B2C funnel encourages the lead to browse your store while also providing a low-pressure setting in which the lead mentally prepares to buy something they want. They can save an item for later if they change their mind.

A prospect in a B2B marketing funnel might Google software, find your landing page, and download a complimentary eBook. They return later to download a report with further information on your product. The lead contacts you to seek a demo after conducting additional research on your programme, company, and any competitors (or your sales rep may reach out proactively). Based on the thorough profile that has already been built with the help of CRM and marketing automation systems, sales may then deliver a product package that is tailored to the customer’s demands.

B2B Marketing Funnel

This B2B funnel did not involve an emotional appeal or rash decisions. When B2B sales occur, it is because B2B prospects identified a business need, thoroughly explored their options, and decided on the greatest fit for their needs. It’s largely an issue of getting in front of these leads via digital exposure and building the trust necessary for direct communication.

When a lead quits the funnel, they leave significant information for both B2B and B2C marketers. What matters is that you make the best use of the data so that fewer leads exit the funnel in the future.


Marketing automation is essential for consistent, scalable marketing initiatives. It not only saves time, energy, and resources for your marketers, but it also allows them to prevent human errors that might reduce lead retention. For these reasons, you should carefully consider including automation in the design of your marketing funnel.

Shergroup provides lead management tools to assist you in making the most of each stage of the marketing funnel. The platform enables you to evaluate lead and customer data, customise marketing content across channels, and manage marketing budgets, all while offering visibility into the whole marketing and sales process. Our experts enable you to target specific customers and personalise your marketing efforts to their needs – all at scale.

Get in touch with Shergroup’s business solutions advisors to understand our process.

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Last updated | 19 July 2023

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