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What is a Marketing Funnel and Why Do You Need One?


Funnels are really helpful things. People use them every day to pour things into containers. They’re also used to make funnel cakes, which are delicious. They’re also used in marketing.

A marketing funnel is a tried-and-true method for building a marketing strategy. It’s a way to break down your customer’s journey into different stages. There are plenty of different ways to build a marketing funnel, but the basic principle remains the same.

Rather watch a video of someone explaining this concept?

The stages of a marketing funnel

Different marketers segment their funnel differently—using different names and numbers of stages. There is no right or wrong way to build a marketing funnel. At GreenMellen, here’s the way we break down our marketing funnels.


The first stage is basic awareness of your brand. Before people can engage with you, they have to know you exist. Think about this like meeting a new person.


Once a potential customer has encountered your brand, they’re hopefully considering doing business with you. But it takes multiple marketing touchpoints to get them there. Think about this like you’re asking someone out on a date.


After a few marketing touchpoints, a potential customer may be ready to pull the trigger. Encourage them by providing value and showing how you can help them. Think about this like asking someone to marry you—it’s a big deal.


No longer a potential customer, now this person is your current customer. And to keep them that way, you need to give them reasons to stick around. And maybe even tell their friends about you. Think about this like keeping your spouse happy and committed.

Why is it called a funnel?

It’s probably obvious from the visual, but a marketing funnel resembles a funnel shape. Unfortunately, every marketing funnel is naturally going to have some leakage. Not everyone who is dumped into the awareness section is going to eventually convert into a customer.

That’s to be expected. Your business isn’t for everyone. There will always be more people who are aware of or considering your business than actually pay you money. But a good marketing funnel is about optimizing each step.

It’s important to track and measure each different stage of the funnel. Track how many people are visiting your website or reading your blog. Of that number, how many are signing up for your email? Of the people on your email list, how many actually sign up for your service?

Tracking the numbers on each stage of the funnel reveals where more people are leaking out and can help you identify what bottlenecks could be fixed to let more people flow through.

Why does every business need a marketing funnel

If you’re new to marketing, the concept of a funnel might be foreign or confusing. Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to understand and quite powerful once you start implementing. This concept can take your marketing efforts from random and unpredictable to consistent and effective.

Creating and sticking to a well-constructed marketing funnel means all of your marketing efforts are working in unison. The goal of a solid funnel is to guide potential customers from one stage to the next. This makes it more compelling for them to actually do business with you.

Here’s a hypothetical scenario showing how a marketing funnel could work:

  • Someone searches for ‘how to change my oil’ on Google. 
  • Because SEO is a priority for your business, a blog post on that very subject shows up near the top of the search results. So they click to read more.
  • They like the blog post and start to trust you as an expert on this subject. 
  • Luckily, you’ve created a free download so they can learn even more on more DIY car projects. All they have to do is input their email address. 
  • With their email, you can now start reaching out to nurture them as a potential customer.
  • You’ve set up some automated emails that talk even more about car care. These are written to provide value to the user and build brand loyalty.
  • Once you’ve sent them a few helpful emails, it’s time to ask them to become a customer. Your last email explains how your mechanic shop helps keep their car running.
  • They’ve been so impressed with your blog and emails that they decide that they’d rather pay you to change the oil in their car. And just like that, you have a new customer.

As you can see, this is a lengthy process—full of multiple steps and touchpoints. However, you’re never actually having to do any work beyond setting up some automations and writing good content. Build a system that sends customers to you.

How to start using marketing funnels at your business

Now that you have a better understanding of how marketing funnels work, you can begin actually using one at your business. Where do you begin? Here are a few ideas:

  • List out all of your current marketing efforts. Label which stage they fit within a funnel.
  • Map out the connections between each platform. What leads a potential customer from one stage to the next?
  • If there aren’t any connectors, think about what you could do to bridge those gaps.
  • Review these findings with your team to get their perspective. They may have ideas you might have missed.
  • Sketch out a hypothetical marketing funnel. This could be on a whiteboard or piece of paper. Or you could search for a pre-built template online.
  • Begin adjusting your current marketing efforts to match the funnel. That includes stopping anything that isn’t (directly or indirectly) driving people toward a sale.
  • Schedule time to check back in every quarter to check your progress. Tracking metrics along the way will make a big difference on whether or not this is effective.

Once you’ve built this overarching marketing strategy, keep in mind that you can build smaller funnels within each different platform. You could get even more granular on how your website or social media is building trust.

Are you ready to start using a marketing funnel?

Understanding a marketing funnel is just the beginning. You’ve actually got to make it a consistent and actionable part of your marketing efforts to have it mean anything. It’s not enough to create a strategy document and continue with sporadic emails and social media posts.

That’s easier said than done. Marketing funnels are powerful, but they take time and dedication to work. So what do you do if you don’t have the time or know-how to start using a funnel? Well, we’d recommend reaching out to GreenMellen.

Creating marketing funnels is at the core of what we do for our clients. We’re only going to spend our time working on something that will actually work for you. There’s no use wasting your budget and our time on a project that’s not going to have any traction.So if you’re ready to build and execute an effective marketing funnel, we want to hear from you.

About the Author

Robert Carnes

Marketing Manager

Robert Carnes is a freelance writer, published author, and professional marketer. His book, The Story Cycle, is your business's guide to becoming a better marketer. Robert lives in Atlanta and you can follow him on social media @jamrobcar.

View Robert's Profile

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Maybe you’ve heard of marketing funnels, but what does one actually look like? Here’s an example to help you leverage this tried-and-truth method within your business.