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How to optimize your marketing funnel to drive profit 10 min read
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How are you getting sales?

What’s the path your traffic and leads take to submitting their credit card info?

Do you get more leads from Google Ads or blog traffic, and how much is each lead worth to your business?

If you don’t have an organized, measurable marketing funnel, you’re probably a bit in the dark.

Marketing without a funnel is like designing a home with no front door. You can invite all the people you want to a party, but unless you make it obvious how they can get in they’ll… bounce (love it when an analogy comes together!)

But what is a marketing funnel? How are they structured? And, most importantly, how can you optimize yours to drive profit.

In this resource, we’ll define marketing funnels and give you a basic understanding of how a typical funnel is laid out. Then we’ll dive into actionable advice on how you can use that funnel to better understand your customers, maximize your sales, and drive scalable growth.

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What is a marketing funnel, and why should you care?

A marketing funnel, sometimes called a conversion funnel, is a tool that provides a framework for how someone goes from learning that your business exists to making a purchase.

Understanding the marketing funnel is vital to strategic marketing and selling. It helps you learn how you should be presenting information to prospects, as well as what information you should present them in order to elicit your business’ desired conversion.

For example, let’s say you’re talking with someone who has absolutely no knowledge of your company. We’d refer to this person as a “top of the funnel” prospect.

This person doesn’t need an immediate, high-pressure sales pitch. They’re only just learning that your company exists.

It’d be like pouncing on a window-shopper as soon as they wander past your store: “Buy this jacket!”

It’s very rare to convert a top of the funnel prospect right away. In fact, 63% of consumers need to hear from a sales representative between 3 and 5 times before they will start to trust them.

Every interaction (from the top of the funnel to the bottom) should have the intention of moving the prospect to the next marketing funnel stage.

Converting traffic into leads and pulling them down the sales funnel should be top priority for your business, however only 69% of marketers believe they’re doing this well.

Why is it called a marketing funnel?”

Because it looks like this:

5 stages of a marketing funnel

(Image Source)

We visualize the customer journey in the shape of an upside down triangle, which looks like a funnel.

The reason for this is because it’s a pretty accurate representation of what happens as you move from stage to stage. Inevitably, people are going to drop off and you’ll lose prospects.

That’s just a reality of marketing.

That means the field narrows as you progress, much like a funnel does.

Makes sense, right?

The goal, therefore, is to make the bottom of that funnel as wide as possible — to convert as many of your visitors (people at the top of the funnel) into customers (people coming out the bottom).

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How do marketing funnels work?

OK, now it’s time to ask the real questions. Like how the heck does a marketing funnel actually work? What are the stages of the marketing funnel? How do I build one that drives more sales?

Marketing funnels, as we’ve already alluded to, are made up of various stages. The actual makeup of those stages can differ from company to company, with each putting their own spin on it.

At its most basic, most marketing funnels follow the AIDA model. It has 4 distinct stages.

Let’s break them down step by step.

  • A is for Awareness
  • I is for Interest
  • D is for Desire
  • A is for Action

#1. Awareness: the discovery stage

This is where prospects first learn that your brand exists. The main focus of the Awareness stage should be getting as many eyes on your business as possible.

Not all of the people who become aware of your company will actually make a purchase. And at this funnel stage, it is highly unlikely that they’re going to buy.

A whopping 96% of website visitors are not prepared to buy anything on their first visit, so your goal here isn’t to make a sale. It’s to generate interest.

Prospects are considering you, but they’re also considering a slew of your competitors. You haven’t done anything yet to make them want to do business with you over someone else.

Goals of the Awareness stage: 

  • Push your brand out in front of your intended audience using display advertising.
  • Create brand recognition in the minds of your audience with consistent branding
  • Plant the seed in a prospective buyer’s mind. Prove your authority and expertise by guest posting on another website.

#2. Interest: the wooing stage

In the Interest stage, prospects that just became aware of your business decide that they want to learn more.

They are considering you, but they’re also considering a slew of your competitors. That’s because you haven’t done anything yet to make them want to do business with you over someone else.

Desire and Interest are closely tied together, and often happen in quick succession. That’s why many businesses lump them together into one stage, but they are two very different points in the buying process.

If you want to succeed, it’s important that you don’t overlook interest or mistake it for desire.

Imagine someone passing by a sign on a store that says “Puppies For Sale.” Once that catches their eye and they decide to walk inside the store to learn more, they’re in the Interest stage.

Once they actually cross the threshold of the store and they fall in love with a puppy, they’ve entered the Desire stage.

Goals of the Interest stage: 

  • Prove your worth to prospects with customer testimonials and reviews
  • Show the customer why they should buy, not just what they should buy.
  • Showcase the value in both your products and in doing business with you over a competitor.

#3. Desire: the incentivizing stage

In the Desire stage, the prospect goes from learning about your company to actually wanting to do business with you:

“Oh my gosh, a puppy! I’m going to name him Jasper.”

However, this is far from a done deal. Just because they have a desire to buy from you doesn’t mean they’re actually going to.

Your goal at this stage is to incentivize the sale and move the customer toward a purchase decision. They want to buy from you and just need a final push to get them to the point where they’re ready to make that purchase.

Goals of the Desire stage:

  • Sweeten the pot with a special promotion
  • Further incentivize conversion by throwing in extras
  • Provide flawless and attentive customer service to solidify a purchase decision

#4. Action: the conversion stage

Action is the actual purchase, where your prospect becomes a customer.

Marketing materials at this stage should convey urgency (such as a promotion that is ending soon).

You need to give a reason why the person should act now. Not tomorrow, not once they’ve thought about it for a month or so. Now.

Goals in the Action Stage:

  • Create a sense or urgency with limited time offers
  • Counter any last minute objections
  • Follow up after the sale in order to create future retention

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How to optimize your marketing funnel

You’ve seen how the funnel can add structure to your marketing, but it only does that if it’s well thought out, researched, and optimized.

An effective way to do that is to tap into software (like’s digital marketing template, for instance), to delineate the various stages of your funnel, the marketing strategy relevant to that stage, and ensure that everyone responsible for executing those strategies is on the same page:

A screenshot of’s digital marketing template

How do you target prospects at the top of the funnel?

The Awareness stage requires a lot of brand awareness marketing.

This is where you have to focus on broad sections of your target audience.

Some good strategies for the top of the marketing funnel include: 

  • Influencer marketing on social media platforms like Facebook
  • Social media marketing
  • Pay-per-click and Google Ads
  • Organic SEO through top-of-funnel blogging (basic content and keywords with high search volume, rather than content focused on your business’ specific value proposition)

You can keep track of all these tasks using’s platform. Assign out marketing related tasks and hold your team accountable for completing them.

You can also mark when a task is in progress or complete, so that you know precisely where you stand at all times.

How do you target prospects in the middle of the funnel?

The interest and desire stages require a lot of high quality content marketing, which should be your focus when trying to woo new potential customers.

As people explore your website or social media pages, they want to see quality content that will push them from interest to desire, and then ultimately from desire to action.

Some effective forms of content marketing include:

  • Middle and bottom-of-funnel blog content, which focuses on education and how your business solves the reader’s pain points
  • Podcasts, which mention your business’ strengths
  • E-books, which elicit contact information from downloaders
  • Videos, which show your business’ personality as well as educate

The sales pipeline template on will allow you to keep track of every potential customer in the interest and desire stages.

A screenshot of a sales pipeline template on

You’ll be able to review previous tasks associated with every prospective customer and plan out your next conversation before you ever pick up the phone.

How do you target prospects at the bottom of the funnel?

Finally, you have the Action stage.

You could offer limited time promotions to create additional value and a sense or urgency around this phase. Or maybe offer limited free trials to show off the awesomeness of your product or service.

Some good strategies for the bottom of the marketing funnel include: 

  • Automated email marketing campaigns, designed to turn top-of-funnel leads into marketing-qualified leads ready for a call
  • Lead scoring, to identify which leads are most likely to buy (and be valuable), as well as when to reach out to a high-intent prospect
  • Case study delivery, to showcase real-world growth of your customers or success you’ve attained for clients
  • Highly-optimized landing pages, with video testimonials elicited from previous customers, designed to push existing leads toward a sales call or demo

Make sure, as well, that you’ve focused on conversion rate optimization throughout your marketing funnel. If the path you’ve planned isn’t delivering the conversions you’re looking for, iterate on it with A/B testing (using’s a/b testing template, perhaps):

A sample a/b testing template from


For both B2C sales and B2B marketers, the marketing funnel is one of the most important weapons in the sales and marketing arsenal. With a well-organized funnel, you can outshine your competitors and rack up profitable conversions.

But note the optimal word there.


You have to keep track of your funnel content and marketing efforts using a digital workspace platform so that nothing falls through the cracks. Use the customizable templates on’s platform and you’ll be able to keep track of your prospects as they progress through the funnel.

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