Marketing Funnel 101: Everything You Need To Attract Quality Leads

Marketers who align their content to the specific stages of their customer’s journey enjoy a 73% higher average conversion rate.

Impressive as it is, this begs the question: How do you determine the best content for these specific stages?

Two things.

One, conduct customer research, so you know who your best customers are. And two, create a marketing funnel to tailor valuable content for their specific needs.

In this guide, we’ll focus on the latter.

I’ll break down what a marketing funnel is, the stages involved, and how you can build one on your own — even when you’re a complete newbie — to attract prospects and turn them into leads that convert like gangbusters.

What Is A Marketing Funnel? (PLUS The Importance And Benefits Of Having One)

A marketing funnel illustrates a customer’s journey with your brand.

It starts with a prospect hearing about you for the first time, and ends with becoming your customers and advocating for your products or services.

The marketing funnel is important, as it tells you how far a prospect or lead is along in the customer journey, and helps you identify the best types of content that convert them.

For example, a 14-day free trial may work well for a lead at the later stage of the journey, but will fail if it were a prospect who has never heard of your brand.

Here are the benefits of having a marketing funnel:

  • You increase sales thanks to the specific content tailored to their needs.
  • You gain valuable insights on leads’ behavior (e.g., a lead visiting a pricing page multiple times indicates a high purchase intent).
  • You’re able to identify areas of improvement (e.g., a high churn rate caused by poor customer-product fit will require a change in the first stage of the marketing funnel).

What Are The Stages Of The Marketing Funnel?

The marketing funnel is broken down into four stages:

  • Awareness (a.k.a lead generation): Generate awareness and show the value you offer.
  • Consideration (a.k.a lead nurturing): Show why leads should pick you by focusing on benefits and differentiators.
  • Conversion: Convert leads to customers. This stage typically involves the sales team.
  • After-purchase: Retain customers and drive advocacy.

How Do You Build A Marketing Funnel?

In this section, we’ll use Grammarly as an example.

I’m going to walk you through how I discovered this writing tool and became their customer. This way, you can see how a marketing funnel applies in real life to real businesses.

1. Awareness

This is the stage a prospect first hears about your brand.

They’re aware of their problem and looking for a solution to fix it.

As a marketer, your job is to attract their attention, gain their trust, and acquire them as leads. How do you do that? Here are a few ways:

  • Answer questions in relevant community groups and Q&A platforms (e.g., Quora), and include a link to your website or blog post to drive targeted traffic.
  • Run an Instagram giveaway to build your social media presence.
  • Guest post to share your expertise on a niche publication, and include a link to your lead magnet in the author bio to build your email list.

How Grammarly’s Awareness Stage Looks Like

Grammarly invests a lot on this stage. Based on what I’ve seen so far, here are the three channels that they frequently appear on:

(i) YouTube

Here’s Grammarly advertising their product using YouTube display and skippable video ads.

(ii) Affiliate Marketing

Grammarly is big on affiliate marketing.

On top of hosting an affiliate program on their website, they partner with affiliate networks to reach more global users.

From the looks of it, it’s paying off. I can’t tell you the number of times I spotted my favorite blogs promoting Grammarly.

(iii) Google Ads

I did a search on grammar tips, and right away, I saw Grammarly’s text ad at the top.

Tip: Note how Grammarly leverages a testimonial from Forbes to compel users to click the ad. If you have customer reviews, add them in your copy. They’re a great way to instill confidence in prospective customers.

By now, curiosity got the best of me. I decided to sign up for a free account to see just how good Grammarly is.

Verdict: Grammarly does a splendid job at showing the value of their writing tool.

2. Consideration

This is the stage where your prospects-turned-leads are comparing and evaluating their choices.

To draw them in deeper to your funnel, nurture them with valuable emails (e.g., free trial onboarding sequence) that spotlight your product’s unique selling proposition.

How Grammarly’s Consideration Stage Looks Like

No surprise, Grammarly is beloved by many. It was clear from the beginning that this writing tool has won many users’ votes.

(i) Email Marketing

Right after signing up, I received an email on how to make the most of Grammarly.

As I scrolled down the email, I spotted these three columns, and they left me confused.

Turns out, these were sneak peeks at Grammarly’s premium plan!

I couldn’t put my finger on why there was no mention of the word “premium” or “upgrade” in the email copy. There were no links, except icons and text.

Perhaps it’s Grammarly’s way of teasing? Only they would know. 🙂

(ii) Google

At this point, I’ve used Grammarly about three times.

I liked it and wanted more.

But like all careful customers, I wanted to be sure I’m making the right decision.

So I did a search on Google to find reviews.

Whoa.

That’s a lot of great reviews!

But I’m still paranoid, so I headed to G2 and Capterra to see if their reviews share the same tune.

(iii) Review Platforms

Capterra: 4.7 out of 5 stars based on 2535 reviews.

G2: 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 872 reviews.

So far, so good. I’m hyped now, but I’m still not making my move.

Verdict: Grammarly hasn’t won my heart, but they do a stunning job at keeping me engaged at every step of the way.

3. Conversion

Your lead has taken the first few steps — now it’s time to get them to say yes.

To convert them to customers, you might create case studies and spotlight clients of similar background, or target them with remarketing ads with exclusive offers.

How Grammarly’s Conversion Stage Looks Like

Sleek. Persuasive. These are the words that come to mind when you look at Grammarly’s conversion stage. Let’s dig in deeper.

(i) Blog

Oddly enough, I didn’t see Grammarly ranking organically for multiple keywords, at least not on page 1 of Google.

I decided to check out the blog myself, and was pleased to stumble on this blog post.

This almost sealed the deal, as it spotlighted what Grammarly can do for me.

It would be even more powerful if Grammarly showed how these vocabulary enhancements look like instead of explaining them in text.

Tip: If you sell software, this is when you want to use GIFs to show your product in action.

(ii) Pricing Page

I visited Grammarly’s pricing page and… meh. The copy just didn’t compel me.

But as I scrolled down, my interest piqued back up.

Kudos to Grammarly for showcasing testimonials that feature their target users.

The copy is on point and captures my deepest desire (i.e. to do great work).

I scrolled down again and came across a helpful comparison table, but what I saw next was the real kicker.

Grammarly highlighted the incredible value users get when they sign up for the premium plan.

It’s sleek, and dare I say, pretty damn persuasive.

*clicks Upgrade Plan

Verdict: Grammarly has me hooked.

4. After-Purchase

You’ve acquired customers! That’s great, but your job isn’t done.

According to Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new customer is 5-25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. You now need to do whatever it takes to retain them.

How Grammarly’s After-Purchase Stage Looks Like

How does Grammarly fare at this stage? After buying their annual plan, I kept a close eye on their emails.

(i) Email Marketing

Each week, Grammarly would send me an email update on my writing habits and skills.

Comparing me to Tolstoy? Clearly, Grammarly knows flattery will get them everywhere. 😏

Further down the email, we see Grammarly stroking my ego showing what I’ve achieved with their tool.

The social media sharing buttons add a promotional element. Whenever a paid user shares on Twitter and Facebook, it further spreads the word about Grammarly.

This is free marketing at its best.

(ii) Affiliate Marketing

That’s right, we’ve come full circle.

Grammarly ends off their marketing funnel by rewarding happy customers who spread the word about their writing tool.

I submitted my affiliate application, and within seven hours, I got activated.

What’s interesting about Grammarly’s affiliate program is that they offer a free one-month premium plan upgrade for all affiliate publishers (paid customers or not).

This is genius on Grammarly’s part, as they’re enticing them to upgrade to a paid plan down the road.

The Marketing Funnel Is The Backbone Of All Marketing Efforts

Let this be your mantra:

Before you start creating content — whether it’s a B2C event, a Facebook ad for an ecommerce store, or an email sequence for a B2B company — start with the marketing funnel.

On their own, none of these stages will bring you massive growth.

A strong awareness stage alone will result in thousands of free users but zero paid ones. A great conversion stage, but a “leaking” after-purchase stage will reduce your customer base.

But together, slowly but surely, these four stages in the marketing funnel will help you attract a steady stream of prospects and turn them to leads and customers for good.

What type of content will you create in your marketing funnel? Let us know in the comments below.

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