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How Marketing Funnels Work in Sales Process

Marketing Funnels

Lead generation and lead conversion are two critical stages of sales success. Though they sound sequential, in reality, they are 180-degrees apart. The secret of maximizing the conversion rate of leads lies in the effectiveness of a marketing funnel.

Also called sales funnel marketing, customer funnel, product funnel, or marketing funnel, funnel usage depends on the careful study of various metrics.

Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.

Seth Godin

And the customer funnel you design must precisely live up to this – it must narrate the story well and lead the customer towards making the sale. 

Though it sounds simple, product funnels challenge marketers and entrepreneurs end-to-end. In this comprehensive post, let us understand in detail about:

What Is a Marketing Funnel?

A marketing funnel is a step-by-step path to convert your visitor to a potential customer. It involves taking your products and services closer to your customer via multiple stages.

The name funnel indicates the nature of the process involved in customer conversion. Wider in the top and narrows as one moves down, a funnel pictorially represents the customer mindset, marketplace competition, and the odds of lead conversion.

Marketing Funnel

The customer funnel approach guides marketers to cast a wider net to increase their success probability. In funnel marketing, marketers use various tactics ranging from basic to advanced levels and organic to paid. Irrespective of the stage and the tactic implemented, the ultimate goal of the sales funnel is to increase the number of lead conversions.

One important thing to remember about funnel marketing is – the customer path in the funnel may or may not be linear. By creating a funnel, marketers visualize how a customer might make the purchase but not how they must.

Why Do Companies Need a Marketing Funnel?

The sole purpose of sales funnel marketing is to maximize conversion. To make things challenging, customers today have a plethora of options and immense information just a click away. They are increasingly making purchase decisions after intensive research. And studies confirm this.  

  • 92% of customers trust the reviews they find about a product.
  • Product demos, Vendor websites, User reviews, Vendor reps, and free trials are the five crucial factors that customers consider before making a final purchase.
  • The marketing funnel plays a predominant role in the pandemic-infused virtual purchase trends.

On the other hand, in funnel marketing, the results do not come right at the first attempt. It is an iterative process that improves gradually and demands constant testing, monitoring, tweaking, retesting. 

Additionally, marketers need to consider the cost of setting up a sales and marketing funnel. Estimates indicate that the cost of setting up a marketing funnel can range anywhere from $30-$50,000 based on the tactics and the tools employed.

After all these efforts, what would be the success rate of a ‘good’ marketing funnel? Let’s take a look at what surveys say.

  • 30% of businesses agree that 3.1% – 5% is a good conversion rate.
  • 18% of participants opine that 5.1% to 8% conversion is a profitable one.
  • 11% to 20% is what a small group of businesses with their conversion to be.

It becomes clear that there is no fixed conversion rate to measure the success of the marketing funnel. It all varies with industry, marketers’ preferences and goals, competition, geography, and customer preferences, among various other factors.

It is why marketers need to invest time, effort, and budget to create a profitable sales funnel strategy that maximizes the returns. 

Different Types of Funnels

The approaches for the customer funnel may vary with business goals. User registration. Downloads. Demo requests. Responding to marketing emails. Clicks on blogs. Response to paid promotions. Webinar attendance. These are some of the multitudes of end goals businesses target through marketing funnels.

Different Types of Funnels
Types of Funnels

1. Email Funnels

These are also called list-building funnels. In this strategy, marketers approach potential customers by targeting them through emails. Broadly, the steps in the email marketing funnel are as below:

  • Collect emails of potential customers by adding a subscription form on blogs or through paid campaigns.
  • Educate, engage and build relationships with them through emails.
  • Inform them about promotions and offers related to products and services and make successful sales.

2. Video Funnels

In product funnels, videos offer the most captivating way to convey your story to the audience. In video funnel strategy:

  • Marketers create educational videos that answer the pain points of customers.
  • They leverage tactics such as SEO to rank them higher so that they appear in SERP results when users search for a query.
  • The audiences start watching the videos and understand your business’ capability to help them.
  • Based on the CTA in the video, they make a purchase, visit the landing page or get in touch with the customer support team. 

3. Webinar Funnels

Webinars offer an effective way to attract relevant customers with higher chances of conversion. In this sales and marketing funnel strategy:

  • Marketers inform potential customers about the webinars through emails, social media, or paid campaigns.
  • Users share their details and register for the webinar.
  • Webinar hosts educate and engage attendees trying to maximize the conversion rate.

4. Lead Magnet Funnels

As the name indicates, marketers attract potential customers with ebooks, downloads, and freebies. Accordingly:

Marketers attract customers with relevant landing pages or ads to register for free downloads.

Once the customer shares the details, they build a relationship to maximize the success of the sale.

As we can see from these types of funnels, the goal remains the same: getting a customer to make the sale. It’s only that the first step varies in the product funnels according to the business needs, budget, and resources. 

However, in any sales funnel marketing, the following components play a vital role in conversion rate:

  • Homepage
  • Landing page
  • Contact us page
  • Pricing page
  • FAQs
  • User reviews/Testimonials
  • Discounts/Freebies
  • Email marketing techniques
  • SEO
  • Paid ads design 
  • Content marketing

To understand this better, let us take a look at a real-life marketing funnel example.

A Real-Life Marketing Funnel Example

Below let us discuss the sales and marketing funnel that Canva, a well-known graphic design tool employs:

Step #1: A user searches for “easy design techniques” in the Search Engine. 
Step #2: Canva produces a best-performing content piece to answer this pain point of the user. The content is rich in quality and SEO, and hence it comes up in the search results.

SEO and content quality are your first bet for a successful sales funnel
SEO and content quality are your first bet for a successful sales funnel
Step #3: The article educates the user and provides a clear CTA encouraging the user to start designing instantly.
Step #4: The CTA button leads the user to the landing page, where they are supposed to register using the email address.

CTA button at the end of the blog to push user to go to their website
CTA button at the end of the blog to push user to go to their website
Clean and simple home page design to put user at ease
Clean and simple home page design to put user at ease
UX plays an important role in the conversion
UX plays an important role in the conversion

Step #5: Once the user enters, the next steps are planned and arranged clearly so that the user finds the content they are looking for. For instance: Pricing page, FAQs, Plans, Features, Demos, Free Trials, Help, etc.

Highlights your recommended plan
Highlights your recommended plan
Step #6: Interested users can easily purchase the premium version and thus the sale becomes successful.
Step #7: To encourage free users to make a purchase, Canva starts sending educational emails, promotional offers, webinars, and podcasts trying to retarget the customer and increase the conversion rate. 

Canva Promotion
Canva Promotion

Let’s take another example of a sales and marketing funnel for eCommerce.

Say you search for “best winter wear” in the search engine. A list of organic and paid results appears on the search engine results page. 

You click one or two links and enter the sites. You shop for some time and then exit by making a sale or by just browsing and not making a sale.

In either case, you will soon see the ads based on your recent browsing. If you have added products to your cart after logging in through your email, you might even receive a reminder email about the products in your cart.

Businesses hire a Google ad-words PPC specialist  or PPC experts to design and show your business ads to users based on their Google searches.

All such stages are the parts of the marketing funnel. In this example, you have experienced the results of SEO, Landing Page, UX of the website, retargeting ads, email marketing, etc. that push you towards completion of the sale.

How Does a Marketing Funnel Work? (Its Steps)

Ever wondered how a marketing funnel works? Every sales funnel marketing strategy has multiple steps. Each step relies on customer psychology and is strategically designed to encourage them to close the sale successfully. Here I explained the steps involved in a marketing funnel in detail.

Step 1: Awareness

Here is where your customer gets to know about your products or services. Maybe they were having a problem, and at the same moment, your ad or another form of content has struck their eye. 

In product funnels, customers become aware of your product through various means such as:

  • Long-form blog posts
  • Paid ads 
  • Social media promotions
  • Marketing emails
  • Podcasts
  • Ads on conventional media such as TV, Billboards, flyers, etc.
  • Face-to-face introductions such as in events, seminars, etc.

If your content is strong at this stage and the channel you pick is effective, chances are high that you can close the deal here. However, in practice, it is highly difficult to convert a customer at this stage, as the purchase intent is less here. 

Step 2: Information

Now that the customer knows about your services or products, they start researching similar ones through various mediums. They start researching search engines and videos to understand you and your competitors to compare. 

At this point of funnel usage, your chance of winning is high if you can create content that exactly answers the pain point of the customer. It must also showcase you as a trustworthy brand over your competitors. 

The content types that help in this stage are YouTube videos, Social Media Content, and long-form blogs written to answer the pain points precisely.

Step 3: Desire

If you could bring your customer to this stage, congratulations, your efforts are about to pay off. At this stage, the purchase intent is high. And all that you need to do is to push it a little further. 

By leveraging varied content types such as retargeting ads, optimized landing pages, case studies, and emails, you can draw the customer’s attention. 

Step 4: Action

Customers would love to try it before they buy. This stage focuses on delivering free trials, demos, money backs, extra discounts, etc. to ensure the customer takes action at any cost. 

At this stage, marketers must play strategically to increase the purchase intent by using heat maps and effective marketing strategies. 

In reality, your customer might not always traverse this path in the same steps. The path may be zig-zag and up and down, which is why your focus must always be on all steps to make sure you are not losing customers at any stage.


Building a marketing funnel is a challenge. There is no single way to do it, and it demands multiple skills and brains. A team with a blend of analytical minds, creative thinkers, and a marketing mindset can build a marketing funnel iteratively. 

I can help you with funnel usage and in all stages of building a sales and marketing funnel. Ask me how to:

  • Build landing pages that convert visitors to customers
  • Craft emails to attract the attention of recipients
  • Design effective paid ads that bring you the return on investment
  • Rank on search engines with effective keyword and SEO strategy

Please reach me at (me@saalimtahir.com) to make the maximum of funnel usage and clarify your doubts about building a sales and marketing funnel. 


Saalim Tahir

Saalim Tahir, SEO Expert, drives brand growth and profitability using exclusive technology. Let's elevate your online presence together for success!

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