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Stages of the Marketing Funnel

B2B

Brand Awareness

Digital Marketing Metrics

Marketing

Strategy

Ana Gotter

June 14, 2022

When you’re reading about digital marketing, you’re going to hear phrases like “stages of the marketing funnel,” “full-funnel approach,” and “stages of the buyer’s journey” over and over again.

These are all referring to the digital marketing funnel, also sometimes called the digital sales funnel. This term describes the different steps users go through on their customer journey before (and after!) making a purchase decision.

All successful marketing strategies account for the entire funnel so that you can appeal to users no matter where they are in the process. It helps you create stronger individual touchpoints that also work better together as a whole.

In this post, we’re going to go over the four stages of the marketing funnel and what types of campaigns can benefit you in each. 

Discovery 

The discovery stage of the marketing funnel is when users first become aware of your brand.

They hear about you from a friend, see a Facebook Ad, or come across a Shopping Ad while they’re researching online. 

Many customer acquisition campaigns start at the discovery stage, with the goal of connecting with cold audiences that they can capture (or at least capture their interest) and push to the next stage. 

Types of Campaigns To Consider 

To create strong touchpoints at the discovery stage of the digital marketing funnel, test the following types of campaigns:

  • Run ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest that use lookalike audiences created off of high-value custom audiences to reach new users who are demographically similar to existing customers 
  • Set up Google Search Ads to capture high-intent traffic that’s starting their buying process 
  • Have referral programs in place to leverage the momentum you already have, letting your existing customers help you find new customers 
  • Build SEO through content marketing to expand reach (and rank for a ton of keywords)
  • Start posting on social media, using reach-focused practices like including hashtags on TikTok and creating Reels on Instagram 

Research & Consideration 

The research and consideration stage is sometimes considered two separate stages of the marketing funnel, but they’re often heavily intertwined so we’re counting them as one.

This is the part of the customer journey where the user is considering purchasing, and potentially researching both the particular brand and product in-depth along with other competitors. 

It’s important to give users plenty of information about what makes your brand and product different while also building trust through information at this stage of the funnel. 

Types of Campaigns To Consider 

These are the best types of campaigns to create for the research and consideration stage of the sales funnel:

  • Run retargeting ads to show offers or Lead Ads to users who have viewed different pages of your site or clicked on past ads
  • Create lead magnets like checklists, ebooks, or webinars that are designed to offer information and capture the lead’s name and info while building trust
  • Have an email opt-in box on your site and focus on product information sharing through email 
  • Have free trials for B2B and SaaS products; this is crucial, and in some cases, even eCommerce brands are using this strategy with “free trial of products”
  • Share UGC—including reviews— on your site, in emails, and on social media to build trust 

Purchase 

This is the biggest stage that many businesses focus on.

During the purchase stage of the marketing funnel, users make the decision to buy and they do so.

This is obviously a crucial part of the funnel, where you can recap the value of all the campaigns you’ve created so far and land a new customer. 

Types of Campaigns To Consider 

Ready to drive purchases from engaged audiences? These are the types of campaigns you should consider implementing right away:

  • Retargeting campaigns focused on resolving the user’s pain point
  • Email campaigns that offer a discount, especially for abandoned-carts or first-time visitors 
  • Continually running great intro offers that are highly visible on your site, either through pop-ups or banners or both (think free audits, free consults, free tours, free first classes, 15% off, and more)

And as a quick tip: A seamless checkout process(which ideally offers some Instant Pay options) isn’t technically part of the marketing process, but it is crucial to getting sales; remember not to neglect this or you’ll risk losing sales.  

Loyalty & Retention 

The digital marketing funnel doesn’t end after the first purchase; it’s always in a business’s best interest to work to retain customers for as long as possible. 

Customer acquisition is expensive, after all, and it’s much more cost-effective to retain customers than it is to acquire them. This is particularly true since many repeat customers are willing to spend more and buy more often because the trust is there.

This stage of the funnel focuses on building continual ongoing relationships with the customers, shifting from their purchase being a test and to your brand being their preferred provider. 

Types of Campaigns To Consider 

Keep users engaged and purchasing with the following campaign options that are well-suited to the loyalty and retention stage of the marketing funnel:

  • Take things full circle and have referral programs marketed to these customers, incentivizing them to share more and then buy more when they get a discount, too
  • Create re-engagement campaigns through both email and social media ads reminding users to buy again, or trying to re-engage dropped-off customers with discounts after a set period of time
  • Take advantage of cross-selling and up-selling, showing customers recommendations for products based on past purchases 

Final Thoughts 

There you have it— the four stages of the marketing funnel, and a few types of campaigns that you should consider implementing in each one.

It’s always important to have multiple different touchpoints at each stage to make sure that you’re capturing as many users as possible. 

Some, for example, will start their process on Google Search Ads, while others may not even know they need a product or service like yours until someone tells them about it. Having expansive campaigns at each stage and throughout the funnel, as a result, is the only way to grow your client list and your revenue at scale.
Need help optimizing your campaigns for a full-funnel approach? Our top-rated agency specializes in helping our clients create a strong marketing funnel so that the ads we run are sure to get results. Get your free audit here.

Stages of the Marketing Funnel

Ana Gotter

Author

Ana Gotter is a freelance writer specializing in social media and content marketing, though she writes on a variety of other niches and subjects. She can be contacted at anagotter.com.

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