Marketing funnel, sales funnel, purchase funnel, AIDA model or customer journey. What these conceptual models all have in common is that they are attempts to map out the cognitive and behavioral process that customers go through when searching for a certain product or service that would fulfill their needs. The theory behind it states that customers go through several stages or phases before making the final call to purchase a company’s product. By mapping out these stages and by stepping into your customer’s shoes, you can see your company from the customer’s point of view and improve where needed. This article will explain a more widely applicable version of the marketing funnel and how to use it yourself.
While the overall stages of the sales funnel stay the same, the big difference between B2B brands and B2C brands is how many people are involved in each step of the process. In B2C sales funnels, the purchaser is often the sole decision maker. They will sometimes talk to family or friends, but in general, they are making all the choices. Basically, you have one person to market to. On the contrary, in B2B brands, there is usually an entire team that you have to sell during every stage of the sales funnel. But the good news is, many B2B brands end with a contractual commitment instead of a one-time purchase.
You want to create initial awareness of your existence, then encourage interest or ‘traffic’ and eventually a conversion or purchase plus repeat purchases from happy customers. Your ‘funnel’ as such, can get lots of people interested, but many will drop off along the way through the process. This happens for a variety of reasons, price, availability of funds, a clunky website or interface, information overload, poor customer service and so on. By the time a person gets to the bottom of the funnel the numbers are considerably lower. And here you need to be consistently optimising the conversion rates, as in helping people decide to contact you or buy something – a result.
If we were comparing this point in the customer journey to a real-life human relationship, it’d be the honeymoon stage and beyond. Your new customer is excited to have a tool to solve the problem they’ve been struggling with, but after that excitement dies down, they want to know they can rely on you to help them get the most out of their purchase. If you don’t provide the support they need, they’ll abandon you for a business that can.

Mary Wroblewski came of age as a reporter and editor in some of Chicago's scrappiest newsrooms but softened up long enough to write nine children's books as well as one nonfiction tome. She has a master's degree in communications and teaches college-level courses at a Chicago area college. You'll see her work in a wide variety of publications, especially those in the business, education, health care and nutrition genres.
Facebook is particularly good at capturing these leads, thanks to its targeting options. You can narrow down on users based on their demographic info, interests, online behaviour and previous purchases. AdWords also has a role to play here, letting you target lower-intent searches like “how often should I audit my website?” and getting these users involved with your brand.
The sales funnel we looked at from AWeber before may be a simplified version of what most brands are looking at these days, but the same principles apply. The only thing that’s really changed over the years is that we now need to pick up leads at every stage of the funnel in order to maximise conversions. We now put more focus on lead nurturing and optimising each stage of the consumer experience to prevent leads slipping away and buying elsewhere.
It’s important to note that there is not a single agreed upon version of the funnel; some have many “stages” while others have few, with different names and actions taken by the business and consumer for each. In the diagram below, we’ve done our best to pull out the most common and relevant funnel stages, terms, and actions so this information is useful to as many marketers as possible.
×