What is a digital marketing funnel?

This is a framework that helps you to define, understand and follow the different stages buyers pass through during the consumer lifecycle. It is the flow through which a potential customers lands on your site and then takes a desired action.



A marketing funnel can be categorized into three main parts:

Top of the funnel (TOFU)
Middle of the funnel (MOFU)
Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)

Awareness stage

This includes the research and discovery loop. Basically the see stage.

Here a prospective client becomes aware of a problem. Once they realize that they need a solution, this is where they do some research and in the process they connect with you. They first have to see you to know that you provide the solution that they are looking for.

In this stage, there is no sales pitch. Just information that the client is looking for.

For example a client realizes that their laptop is constantly hanging and is not performing at the optimal standard. The client realizes that he/she has a problem and will immediately start looking for solutions online(options) and is now looking for someone who can help them out.

How do you reach out to people in this stage?

You can use blogs, audio podcast, videos, social media updates, info graphics, PPC display ads, word of mouth,links, email. The aim here is to make people see you by either educating, entertaining or inspiring them. This way you’ll be able to push them to the next phase of the funnel.

Consideration and Interest stage.

71% of consumers begin their research phase with a search engine, 92% read online reviews, 4 out of 5 would rather watch a video about the product.

After the research is done, around 41% clicks go to the top 3 paid ads on the search results page.

This is the stage at which you filter out prospective clients who are most likely to buy. Still there are no sales pitch in this stage. You can offer free insightful resources in exchange for them to fill out contact information. Some of the resources you can offer include; educational resources, quiz, webinar, software download, access to video(human attention span is 8seconds so do not make it a long video), e-mail marketing which has the highest convertion rate and PPC search ads which can increase brand awareness by over 80%.

Conversion and customer-retention stage

This is the purchasing(action) and loyalty loop stage(post-purchase experience).

In this stage you advertise your testimonials, offer free trials, white papers to show effectiveness of your product. When making a presentation/sending e-mail be sure to customize it based on the needs of your clients.

Once the purchase has been made, always do a follow up as the process is not yet over. Doing a follow up helps in increasing customer loyalty, retention and spread word of mouth faster.

You can do this by offering inside-only discount, asking them for reviews, give out free information.


1. Choosing the wrong audience

It is easy to assume that the best strategy for the first step in the marketing funnel would be to capture as many leads as possible. This will lead to confusion and will take more time trying to sort out those who qualify for your products and those who don’t.

When choosing audience consider the language and the channel they are most likely to be found.

Once you have defined your audience, grab their attention, deliver value and leave prospects wanting for more.

While at it, segment your audience and give them content that speaks to the buyer persona!

2. Starting at the middle of the funnel.

Each and every stage of the funnel is important. In today’s marketing you first have to build a relationship with a prospective client before going for the sale. Research shows that a client can have between 6-8 touch points with your brand before making a decision and thus going for the sales directly is a turn off for most customers.

What to do instead?
Build a relationship with them first from the beginning. Be patient and listen to them. Maintain each and every stage. Do not rush for a quick buck!

3.  Incorrect attribution model
Using the last click model will distort the importance of each of your campaigns.

When making reports, it is easy to think that the last touch point was the most relevant to a customer. This may be true in some cases but in most it’s not.

What to do instead.
Do not rely on one attribution model only. I recommend using the Time-Decay model whereby the touch points closest to the sale are considered. Other models to consider are: Last-non direct click, last Adwords click, first interaction, linear attribution( this is a topic for another day). It all depends with the goals set for the campaign.

4. Using the wrong measuring metrics
The different stages require different measuring metric.

At the beginning of the funnel, TOFU, you should measure the effectiveness of the campaign with the traffic created by the particular channel. If it’s social media ads, look at the engagement levels, clicks and the number of visit to the website. If it’s PPC ads look at the number of visitors, blog look at the number of new subscribers.

In the middle of the funnel (MOFU), net the new qualified leads. Those who have filled out your forms. By filling out your forms, they show that they are interested in what you have to offer and will more likely become purchasers.

The last stage of the funnel (BOFU), pay attention to the conversion rate. How much time you convert a qualified lead to a paying client.

5. Transferring strategies across channels

It is human nature to want to duplicate a winning formula to save time but in marketing you cannot copy strategy from one channel to the other. For example if your Facebook ad was successful, you cannot copy the same strategy and use it in your Google Adwords campaign.

What to do instead

Keep trying out different tactics on each channel until. When you fail, try again. Coming up with the perfect campaign takes time.

Marketing funnels,as a whole, should help your company get closer to reaching its financial and marketing goals if done right. If you have any more suggestions to make on the common mistakes, feel free to contribute in the comment section down below.

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