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Marketing funnel

In 1898, American advertising advocate E. St. Elmo Lewis developed a model to represent the theoretical customer journey. This is what we today know as the AIDA model, which traces the customer’s journey through awareness, interest, desire, and action. The marketing funnel sprung from this model and gained acceptance among businesses as a way to plan their marketing strategy.

What is a marketing funnel?

A marketing funnel is a visualization of the path to purchase. It is shaped like a funnel to show your target audience narrowing as they progress along the purchase path. Ultimately, a small share of potential customers will end up making purchases.

Importance of a marketing funnel

Marketing funnels bring visibility to every stage of the buying process. They can be applied to generate website traffic and online sales, boost retention, and improve loyalty programs.  

You determine the channels and content that work best at each stage and keep leads interested in their product or service. A marketing funnel is both a lead generation tool and lead nurturing tool. Efforts in early stages bring in leads. In the later stages, qualified leads move on to become customers and brand advocates.

A marketing funnel tells you where you’re losing customers. Finding the drop-offs and fixing issues can help improve your conversion rate.

Stages of a marketing funnel

No single model is the standard, and the funnel design can include three, four, or more stages. A simple model has top, middle, and bottom parts or what’s called the TOFU-MOFU-BOFU strategy, corresponding to awareness, consideration, and conversion. Other models may add components like loyalty and advocacy.

Let’s look at the simple version:


At the top of the funnel, efforts are made to create brand awareness. Content marketing, PPC ads, SEO, social media posts, and TV, newspaper or radio ads are top of funnel strategies. The awareness stage aims to make audiences receptive to future brand interactions.


At the middle of the funnel, marketing teams help potential customers understand how the product meets their needs. Webinars, customer testimonials, whitepapers, podcasts, and case studies are consideration stage strategies to highlight capabilities and benefits.


This is the make or break moment. Free trials, customized quotes, live demos, incentive offers, dedicated BOF landing pages with product-focused content, email marketing, pricing sheets and competitor comparisons, are examples of bottom of the funnel strategies to win deals/make sales.

What is the difference between marketing and sales funnel?

The marketing funnel captures prospective customers and gives them a motivation to buy. A sales or conversion funnel takes the qualified leads generated from SaaS marketing efforts to drive initial and repeat sales.

Key metrics of a marketing funnel

Mapping the different stages of the marketing funnel wouldn’t be useful if you couldn’t measure the results they generate. The metrics to track at every stage are:


  • Click through rate (CTR)
  • Cost per click (CPC)
  • Impressions on landing pages
  • Completion rate


  • Newsletter/email open rates
  • Lead volumes
  • Lead scores
  • Offer conversion rate


  • Free trials
  • Demo requests
  • Value of opportunities
  • Win rate


  • A marketing funnel is a visual representation of the purchase stage. A sales funnel focuses on increasing repeat customers and lifetime value.
  • Top, middle, and bottom of funnel strategies work together to drive conversions. Determine marketing channels, messaging, and metrics at each of these stages of the buyer’s journey.
  • More stages can be added to create plans to grow the number of loyal customers and boost referrals from existing customers.
  • Knowing how a marketing funnel works is helpful in designing winning marketing campaigns.