| Read time 11 min read

What are Marketing, Sales and Advertising Funnels?

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What are Marketing, Sales and Advertising Funnels?

Read time 11 min read
Marketing and Advertising Funnels

We can set-up and optimize your Google Ads for you but let’s also test your website’s SEO potential! While Diib helps 1000s of businesses grow with Google Ads management, Diib is also one of the best SEO tools in the world and uses the power of big data to help you quickly and easily increase your free organic traffic and rankings. Diib will even let you know if you already deserve to rank higher for certain keywords.


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Marketing and Advertising Funnels

What Are Marketing, Sales and Advertising Funnels?

These days you’ll find the terms advertising funnel, marketing funnel and sales funnel used interchangeably. “Marketing funnel” is the term that gave birth to both these terms. So, before we get into developing an advertising funnel marketing strategy, we need to understand what exactly we mean by the marketing funnel.

A marketing funnel represents your customer’s journey with your company, from the point of awareness to the point where a decision is made to buy your product/service. The modern marketing funnel even maps the journey to beyond conversion. With marketing becoming more customer-centric, the focus is on establishing customer relationships, hence the funnel goes beyond conversion.


The original idea behind the marketing funnel is actually quite old, and begins with the AIDA model. The model was developed by Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. This is what the AIDA model looks like:

Marketing and Advertising Funnels

(Image Credit: Feedough)

  • Awareness: The customer is aware of a problem/need they have and is aware that solutions are offered by a number of business entities.
  • Interest: The customer is interested in a certain number of companies that appear to have the solution to their identified need.
  • Desire: The customer narrows their interest to a certain company.
  • Action: The customer decides to purchase from the company.

Modern Marketing Funnel

The modern marketing funnel doesn’t differ that significantly from the original AIDA model. The customer journey is split into three stages, as illustrated in the diagram below. You’ll notice that the stages almost exactly map onto the AIDA model.

Marketing and Advertising Funnels

(Image Credit: Web Ascender)

The modern marketing funnel expands upon this concept. Technology has exponentially increased the number of marketing touch-points between a company and its customers. Customers interact with companies via websites, social media platforms, emails, smartphone apps and various other media.

Let’s take the visitors to your company’s website as an example. You’d like for your customers to do something, depending on the objectives that you have. This could be getting them to register on your website, explore the products page or buy something. When a customer does what you want them to do, it’s called a conversion. The customer changes from a neutral visitor to taking the action that you want them to.

So, the funnel is now essentially the series of steps that a visitor needs to take before they convert. The concept can be expanded to define the stages of an overarching marketing strategy, or contracted to defining the steps of an action that you’d want your customers to take on a given marketing channel.

Throughout the funnel, it is particularly important to understand your buyer personas and the idea of market segmentation.

A buyer persona is a detailed representation of what kind of a customer would be looking for your product. For example, if your company offers tax consultancy services, your customers are most likely people who are employed, who earn enough to be considered eligible for paying taxes. That tells you that their age bracket would be approximately 20-30 years. Further things to explore and identify would be the media they use to search for solutions to their problems. Is it Google? Is it Facebook or Instagram? Where do they live? Data analytics are particularly helpful in this regard as they help track customer behavior online.

Answering all these questions helps in constructing a profile of the average person who is visiting your website and is looking for a solution that your company can offer.

The concept of buyer persona ties in with market segmentation. Once you have created a buyer persona, you have identified a segment of the market that has a need for which your company has a solution. This is the broadest idea of segmentation. There are a wide variety of ways in which you can segment your target audience. Online advertising platforms offer a plethora of ways in which you can segment your target audience.

Let’s explore the different stages of the marketing funnel and the different overarching strategies you can pursue at each stage.

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TOFU – Top of The Funnel

Top of the Funnel represents the outermost part of the funnel. This is the stage where your customer is at a neutral point, i.e. they don’t know whether they want your product or not. Your company at this stage has the same attention that other companies do. What customers do know is that they have a need and have to find potential solutions.

According to MineWhat, over 80% of customers conduct online research before they make a purchase decision. So at this stage it’s best to be nothing more than a source of information for your potential customers. Identify relevant keywords that your customers use and create content accordingly. You have to make sure that you appear in front of your customer. Ideally TOFU content should aim to educate and not sell. There’s no point in trying to sell your product to a customer who hasn’t even expressed the inclination to buy from you. They just aren’t ready. Aim to be helpful and provide answers to what they’re searching for.

Here are some of the content strategies that you can pursue for customers at the TOFU stage.

Social media posting

Use platforms that your potential customers are most likely to use, and use communities and hashtags for grouping your posts. Keep in mind that your social media posts will be different across different platforms as each platform has different sharing rules.

Social media advertising is a great way to target your buyer persona as the platforms offer extensive targeting options. Here is an example of a social media advertisement:

Marketing and Advertising Funnels

(Image Credit: Sellbrite)

Social media advertising

Social media advertising allows you to profile your customers extensively, where you can select characteristics such as hobbies, demographics, age etc. For example, use a picture of a cyclist looking ecstatic for people who have cycling in their interests.

Partnership with influencers

Partnering with an influencer is a great way of getting noticed by your buyer personas. Influencers already have the attention of your audience, so it’s a great way to get your foot in the door of your target audience. For example, Jordan Rudess is a well-known keyboard player. The music company Korg always gets their keyboards endorsed by him.

FAQs Section

As we mentioned earlier, educating your TOFU customers is an effective strategy. One of the easiest ways in which you can do this is by giving them an overview about a topic or by answering frequently asked questions. For example:

Marketing and Advertising Funnels

Overview blog 

Identify keywords pertinent to your industry that have high volume and create blog posts using those. Use these posts to educate your customers about the need that they want a solution for. For example, 10 advantages of buying a leather bag.

MOFU – Middle of The Funnel

This is when customers are beginning the search for different options and are evaluating the pros and cons of each option. The search and evaluation often run alongside each other, depending on the kind of product/service that is being sought.

Once your customers have moved from the top of the funnel to the middle of the funnel. They have identified and confirmed their need. At the MOFU stage, your customers still aren’t looking at your company as a potential solution to their problem but they are thoroughly evaluating the options that they have. You’re at a point where you want to build trust so your approach should be primarily nurturing. So help them in their search for answers, rather than focus on promoting your company as the answer.

Some of the strategies that you can pursue are as follows.

Email drip 

If your content is on point, emails remain an effective tool for engaging customers. Drip campaigns are still a popular strategy that companies use. Most professionals (almost 85%) use emails to communicate. Tailor your headings, create engaging and relevant content to engage with your target audience.

In-depth blog 

The principle behind in-depth blogging is essentially the same as educating your customers, except you go deeper with this. Create in-depth content about a specific problem and offer solutions. For example, make a blog about the entire process of how to use raised garden beds for planting.

Relevant news 

As the topic suggests, create content about news that is pertinent to the industry in which you operate. If the news is particularly about how a customer’s problem can be solved, it can be a great way to show that your company genuinely cares about the customer.


Help out your customers by presenting them with a list of tasks. As an example, 8 simple steps on how to use household items to clean the rust of squeaky hinges. Here is another example:

Marketing and Advertising Funnels


If the solution involved a greater amount of detail, then an e-booklet is a great idea. This is very common on marketing related websites. For example, how to create an advertising strategy using Google Analytics.


Establish yourself as an industry expert and create content about the best ways to solve a problem. For example, a complete guide on how to dehumidify a home based growing garden.

BOFU – Bottom of The Funnel

The Bottom of the Funnel represents the stage where a decision has been arrived at. The customer has made a decision about what they’re going to choose and are ready to make the purchase.

When your customers are at the BOFU part of the funnel, it’s time to take center stage! Your customers are now about to make the decision to purchase your product/service. They have evaluated all their options and now regard your product/service as a viable solution. All they need is a nudge in the right direction.

With BOFU customers you can focus on your product now. You can showcase how the product works, highlighting features and the benefits that customers will get by using it. Show your customers how your offering solves their problem and what it makes it better than your competition.

Here are some BOFU content strategies that you can pursue.

Case Studies

Nothing convinces customers like proof that your product is effective in solving their problem. If the point of your conversion is get customers to start using the product on a free trial basis, show them case studies. They are proof that your product has been able to solve the problem. This also will enable customers to actually visualize the success of their decision in purchasing from your company.

Strategic Offers

Customers at the BOFU stage usually need very little to push them into buying your product. Strategic offers are one way in which you can give them that push. Based on what you know of them through their journey along the funnel, you can offer them bonuses or discounts. For example:

Marketing and Advertising Funnels

(Image Credit: Shopify)

BOFU Retargeting

BOFU retargeting is about identifying the actions that identify what the customer is contemplating in the buying process, and delivering the necessary message. For example, if your customer is contemplating the price of the product, it’s a good indication that they would be persuaded by in-depth product information along with a suggestion for a demonstration.

Industry/Segment Specific Content

BOFU customers want to be assured that you are an expert of your industry. This kind of content is applicable to both BOFU and TOFU customers. However, the difference lies in the fact that you are allowed to mention your product in these articles. The objective of this content is to not attract, but supplement your position as a company that is not only offering a viable solution, but is also an expert in the field.

Help Desk Style Articles And Targeted Blogs

Articles and blogs take on a very different role when you’re creating them for BOFU customers. At this stage you’re not educating customers anymore. You’re interacting with customers who are already interested in buying your product and have very specific queries about it. An effective way to do this is create articles that come straight from the “help desk”, or blogs that are about specific issues. Over here, you can show how your product solves the problem.

These kinds of articles are also great for SEO optimization. This is because of their specificity. They would stand out because there wouldn’t be other articles like that serving as competition. For example, an article about “how to use the photograph filters in Huawei phones” would be high up the search results for, let’s say “cameras in Huawei phones”. If someone is searching for this, chances are very high that they’ve narrowed down their choices for the smartphone that they’re about to buy.

Diib®: We Make Advertising Funnel Metrics Easy to Understand!

Now that we have thoroughly explored the marketing funnel and strategies for each stage, we can apply our understanding to ad funnels.

As the term suggests, an ad funnel is taking the concept of the funnel and developing your ads accordingly. Which means that you develop ads according to which stage of the funnel your customer is at. Partnering with Diib Digital will give you a better understanding of your ad funnel and how effective it is. Here are some of the features that set us apart from the crowd:

  • Keyword, backlink, and indexing monitoring and tracking tools
  • User experience and mobile speed optimization
  • Bounce rate monitoring and repair
  • Social media integration and performance
  • Broken pages where you have backlinks (404 checker)
  • Technical SEO monitoring; including Alexa site traffic analysis

Click here for your free scan or simply call 800-303-3510 to speak to one of our growth experts.


9 Step Guide to Creating a Facebook Ads Funnel

  • Identify Your Audience. Identifying your target audience is easier said than done.
  • Create Content.
  • Promote Content to Warm Audiences.
  • Don’t Neglect Lookalike Audiences.
  • Promote Your Best Content to Your Lookalike Audiences.
  • Offer Freebies.
  • Build Trust.
  • Remarket Everything.

A content marketing funnel is a system that takes as many leads as possible through a step-by-step content flow and converts them into actual customers who pay for your products or services. Picture the wide top of a funnel. This is where a large number of people might become aware of your products or services.

Yes, funnel marketing does work. Advertising can be difficult, but if you can isolate the different pieces of the funnel and focus on what your customers want, you’ll master it in no time.

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Daniel Urmann

Author Bio:

Daniel Urmann is the co-founder of Diib.com. Over the past 17 years Daniel has helped thousands of business grow online through SEO, social media, and paid advertising. Today, Diib helps over 150,000 business globally grow online with their SaaS offerings. Daniel’s interest include SMB analytics, big data, predictive analytics, enterprise and SMB search engine optimization (SEO), CRO optimization, social media advertising, A/B testing, programatic and geo-targeting, PPC, and e-commerce. He holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) focused in Finance and E-commerce from Cornell University – S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management.


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