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The small business guide to building a marketing funnel

Understanding a customer’s journey from first contact to sale is an important part of the marketing process. You can take control of the narrative using the marketing funnel concept. So, what is a marketing funnel? Here’s a closer look at how this concept works, as well as tips for strengthening the marketing funnel used by your business.

What is a marketing funnel?

The marketing funnel is a visual tool used to illustrate a customer’s journey from awareness to action. At the top end of the funnel is a wide net used to capture the attention of potential leads. This usually relates to driving traffic to your website through methods like backlinks, content, and white papers. As the customer moves through each step of the funnel, outreach grows increasingly personal until they finally take action.

The specifics of the action will depend on the nature of your marketing outreach. It could mean signing up for a subscription, filling out details on a form, or making a purchase.

Reasons to use a digital marketing funnel

Here are a few reasons why you might wish to create a digital marketing funnel for your business:

  1. It provides more opportunities to increase your brand visibility.

  2. It allows you to target specific audiences.

  3. You can highlight specific products or services more effectively.

  4. Marketing funnels save time on generating and converting leads.

  5. It gives you the change to inform your customers more accurately.

What are the marketing funnel stages?

There are several ways to approach the marketing funnel. You can build in as many stages of the journey as you think apply to your business. However, one of the most widely accepted structures is the ‘AIDA’ funnel. This includes four marketing funnel stages:

A is for Awareness.

At the uppermost, or widest stage of the marketing funnel, potential leads first become aware of your business. This is achieved through wide-reaching marketing campaigns using tools such as the following:

  • Webinars and live events

  • Traditional advertising

  • SEO-friendly content

  • Direct mail

  • Viral campaigns

  • Social media

Once you’ve grabbed a lead’s interest through awareness, they begin to enter the funnel and progress to the next stage.

I is for Interest.

At the interest stage, leads have been generated. Potential customers have their interest sparked and wish to learn more about your company. This field is narrower, giving the first opportunity for your brand to create a more personalised relationship with each lead. Marketing tools might include:

  • Newsletters

  • Targeted digital content

  • Case studies

  • Free trials

  • Personalised emails

At this stage, the customer’s still just gathering information about your brand.

D is for Desire.

With more specific information in hand, your prospects will move even further down the marketing funnel to the desire stage. At this point, they’re showing viable interest in your products and a desire to make a purchase. It’s the marketer’s job now to make a case for why your product is better than the rest.

A is for Action.

The narrowest marketing funnel stages relate to action or purchase. This is the endpoint of the funnel, where the lead has made a final decision to convert into a customer. Sales will take over from marketing at this point, ensuring a positive buying experience that could lead to repeat purchases and referrals. A strong call to action and user-friendly buying process is essential for success at this stage of the funnel.

How to build a content marketing funnel

A content marketing funnel can be broken down into three stages, ToFu (Top of the Funnel), MoFu (Middle of the Funnel), and BoFu (Bottom of the Funnel). Here’s how you can use digital content to build a stronger funnel:

  • ToFu content consists of guest blog posts, on-site content, and SEO-friendly blog posts. It also includes social media posts, Google Ads, white papers, and downloadable templates. The idea is to attract as wide an audience as possible.

  • MoFu content works with warmer leads that have already been drawn in. This tier of the content marketing tunnel includes lead generation forms, competitor comparison charts, targeted landing pages and case studies.

  • BoFu content should be designed for leads that are ready to take action and make a purchase. It includes content for new customers to checkout securely, as well as email sign-ups after they’ve made their purchase.

The best marketing funnel strategy will depend on your company’s goals. You can finetune these stages to attract more leads, ultimately converting them to loyal repeat customers.

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