How to create a marketing funnel that leads to sales 

In this introductory guide, we'll look at how you can start building and working with your marketing funnel in practice, to create better conditions for your marketing to succeed in the long run. We'll give you tips on which activities are appropriate at which stage, so that your communications lead customers all the way to sales. 

"What is a marketing funnel?" 

A marketing funnel is a visualisation of the customer journey, the purpose of which is to map how potential customers are converted into leads and customers through the different stages of the buying journey. From the initial stages, whose goal is to increase brand awareness and interest among the target audience, to the buying stage where the sales process comes to an end. Marketing funnels help marketers to define activities for each part of the buying journey in order to strategically process and convert leads into paying customers.  

There are several versions of marketing funnels, today we will start from the most common model AIDA. Each stage will be presented step by step, with hints on which activities can be applied during which phase. We will give you the tools you need to apply the model in your business marketing strategy.  

AIDA step by step 

Awareness 

Awareness is the first stage of a marketing funnel. It is at this stage that your potential customers are exposed to your brand and content, for example through ads, social media posts, blogs, Google searches or advertising. Here, your task is to build both interest and trust with the recipients at an early stage, through tailored communication. Above all, your goal is to increase brand awareness and to provide a clear picture of who you are, what you stand for and what you offer. But, to do this in an attractive way, you first need to know who you want to attract and reach.  

So step one is to define your target audience and develop personas. Visualise who or what your typical customers are to create an understanding of how you should communicate with them. It helps to concretise character traits by answering questions such as:  

  • Demographics: age, education, position, capital, location, income and relationship status? 
  • Personal factors: lifestyle, values, interests, ambitions and motivations? 
  • Background factors: work experience, responsibilities, digital use and behaviour?  

Define what is important to your target audience, linked to career and lifestyle. Describe the challenges they face and what motivates them. Include examples of what makes them frustrated. This will give you a clear picture of what to communicate, how to craft your message and what to avoid. This is also where you'll have a basis for where you should communicate and what channels you should invest in to generate traffic to your website.  

Generating traffic to your website can be both organic and paid. Through SEO, social media, articles, etc. you have the opportunity to increase your visibility digitally at no cost. If you want to reach out more broadly to a specific target audience, you have the option to sponsor your posts on social media and create digital ads through Google to increase the visibility of your communication. If your target audience is active on social media, this is an obvious channel. If they prefer to consume media while doing other things, podcasts are an optimal medium.

If they prefer to read longer texts, blogs and newsletters are preferable. If they appreciate longer videos, start a YouTube account. A mix of media is an effective strategy for many of today's brands, as you have the opportunity to capture all of your personas' preferences. The key is to communicate through the channels your target audience spends time on.  

Once you have a clear picture of your personas, where they are and which channels to drive traffic from, it's time for step two - creating content.  

Interest 

Once recipients have become aware of your brand, the next step in your marketing funnel is to generate interest. The target audience now has an idea of who you are and what you do, the goal is now to take them one step further. 

When you're cultivating your prospects, it's important to always have a clear purpose. What do you want your recipients to think, feel and do when they engage with your communication? For example, sign up for a newsletter, click through to your website or contact someone in your business? Without a clear goal, it becomes a challenge to monitor the activity of the customer journey and analyse the results. 

Your communication will now revolve around one to several CTAs (call to actions). You want to lead your recipients further through the buying journey with your communications, whether it's ads, organic posts on social media or with commercials on YouTube. Encourage recipients to learn more about your services on your website, to click through to a product, or to call you at the touch of a button. The content of your communication should lead them through the buying journey as simply and clearly as possible, and of course must be interesting enough to make them feel attracted to go to the next step. That's why you need to plant a seed early on in your text, image or video.  

For example, if you want to promote a particular product, it is important that it is presented in an attractive way in the ad. It should be clearly visible, and preferably demonstrated by a user. A top or a piece of jewellery looks better on a person than on a hanger. If you work as a lawyer and offer advice, your service can be demonstrated through a video. Create a scenario and a classic example of common questions and problems that you solve for your clients. This is where storytelling and evoking emotions is effective. Demonstrate both an expression of how the client feels when they need help and how they feel afterwards, to clarify the relief after the advice. Reflect on what you are offering, what buttons you can press and how your recipients would prefer to move on to the next step.  

Consideration 

At this stage, your target audience has been converted into potential leads and is considered highly receptive to your marketing activities. For example, your users have clicked through to your website, downloaded a brochure, signed up for a newsletter or contacted you through the chat on your website. Now you have the opportunity to create a deeper relationship with the users in your lead database and to further customise the communication for each individual lead.  

Through retargeting campaigns, you have the opportunity to follow up on an interest in a product, by re-disposing the product in an ad targeted specifically at that recipient. The aim of retargeting is to remind the customer of the product and to reinforce both the interest and the need. Read more about how retargeting ads work here and here.  

You also have the option to create automated email campaigns whose content recommends similar products that your recipient has previously shown an interest in. It is at this stage that you create exclusive offers, in the form of discounts, trial periods or free consultations. Read more about automated emails here.  

If your services are extensive and require a lot of information and guidance for a decision, we recommend organising webinars to convince potential leads of your expertise and approach. This also gives you the opportunity to show who you are, what it's like to work with you and build a more personal relationship with the recipients. We recommend that you communicate the date and time at least a week before the webinar takes place so that participants can set aside time in their calendars. Evenings or weekends usually yield a larger audience. Read more about how you can work with webinars here.  

At the consideration stage, it's all about being as personal and persuasive in your communication as possible, to motivate potential customers to take another step in the buying journey stage.  

Intention 

To fit into the intent stage, you need potential customers to have demonstrated that they are interested in buying your company's products or services. If your potential lead has added a product to their shopping cart, started an order for a service, signed up for a free trial, or attended a webinar - they're a hot lead! As a marketer, you now have a great opportunity to nurture leads with additional arguments as to why your products or services are the ultimate choice for the recipient. 

Even at the intent stage, automated email marketing can be a strong player in your communications. For example, if your customers have added products to your shopping cart but left the website, you have the opportunity to remind them that the products are still there through an email. This is also where you have the opportunity for additional sales. Recommend similar or complementary products based on what is in the recipient's shopping basket. Then motivate them to see more of your offer with a simple click.  

If your potential lead has started a trial of your service, we recommend following up on their experience with an email inviting feedback. In many cases, feeling involved is highly valued by consumers, so show that you care about their opinion and that they have the opportunity to influence it. The same goes for webinars, follow up on participants' experience by asking for feedback. Here you can also be more personal and thank them for taking the time and encourage follow-up questions. This will help your business both to develop and to build a deeper relationship with customers.  

Evaluation 

In the evaluation stage, potential leads make their final decision: are they convinced enough to complete the buying journey? In some cases, depending on the industry and business, the salesperson takes over at this stage. For example, if you work as a lawyer or architect, which involves a larger investment for the client, a more personal contact is likely to be required than for a purchase of, say, a book. Potential customers need to interact on a more personal level to be 100% convinced. 

Purchase 

We are now at the final stage of your marketing funnel, where the customer has made the decision to pursue a purchase and is converted into an active customer. The sales process ends the moment the transaction takes place, but one purchase should motivate more.  

Marketing activities therefore take off again. You should pay as much attention to your existing customers as you do to creating new ones. If the customer is satisfied with their purchase, your customer service and delivery, they are more likely to return to your company than to seek out a competitor. So don't forget about your current customers, keep sending out automated and personalised emails with offers and recommendations. Recognize them on their birthdays and give them a gift. Organise club days where they get priority for new product releases. The list goes on and on about how you can leverage your existing customers and build loyalty over time. 


We've now gone through the most common model of marketing funnels and examples of which activities are appropriate at which stage. That said, there is no one right answer to what the structure should look like or in what order the activities should take place. Depending on the sector, target group and conditions, there are several variants and approaches to work with. The most important thing is to get started, to dare to try things out and to monitor the results afterwards and optimise your activities from there.

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