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The Digital Marketing Funnel: What is it and How Do You Create One?

Digital Marketing Funnel

Digital marketing is a challenging position with high stakes, but fortunately, plenty of tools are available to make the job easier to perform. This article covers the concept of the digital marketing funnel, a tool used to represent a customer’s buying journey.

We will explain what a digital marketing funnel is, the types of digital marketing funnels, funnel stages and the content found in each, why marketing funnels are so important to marketing strategies, and how to create your own digital marketing sales funnel for your organization.

Let’s start the journey by defining the online marketing funnel.

What is a Digital Marketing Funnel?

The digital marketing funnel, also called a digital marketing sales funnel, is a visual and strategic model representing all the steps a customer takes in the whole buying journey, starting from the moment they become aware of your brand until they become customers and start generating revenue.

In the world of digital marketing, demand generation attracts potential customers to your website organization’s website. Once they arrive, the sequence of pages they visit, whether in a single session or over multiple visits, determines the likelihood of converting visitors into customers. That is what digital marketing funnels are all about.

When diagramed, the full funnel of digital marketing illustrates your potential customer’s psychological state as they journey through your website. So, visitors traveling through the stages of a digital marketing funnel will visit different online “locations” on the road to conversion into customers, such as a marketing e-mail, an advertisement, Google search results pages, discovering your website, and even from your competitors’ websites.

The diagram is divided into distinct digital marketing funnel stages to give digital marketers a clearer understanding of the would-be customer’s changing experience and attitude towards your brand and product.

The funnels began as a sales tool but gained gradual acceptance for marketing. There are different versions of the concept, with some stages even being named differently. Some versions break the funnel down into four, five, or six steps. We will be exploring a six-stage version.

Types of Digital Marketing Funnels

Digital marketing sales funnels come in not only different numbers of stages but also different shapes or types. They are not limited to just a funnel shape, even though they’re still considered “funnels.” Here are the standard digital marketing funnel types.


Linear marketing funnels conform to the typical top, middle, and bottom funnel path. Think of it as an inverted pyramid. Here’s what a digital marketing funnel looks like, image courtesy of Marketermilk.com:


Hourglass funnels take customer engagement a step further. Once the customer reaches the point where they decide to buy into the product, their interaction must expand. This process includes adopting the product into their lives, using it consistently, cultivating brand loyalty, and referring it to others. Here’s what the hourglass marketing funnel looks like:


This configuration is less of a funnel and more of a series of customer-driven feelings that occur in no set order. These non-linear moments usually break down into:

1) I want to know

2) I want to do

3) I want to go.

4) I want to buy.

The loyalty loop

Again, this is less of a funnel-shaped configuration. The customer gets news that a brand is a possible option in this case. The feeling and the trigger give the consumer incentive to decide on the available options and start evaluating them. The consumer focuses on gathering information and comparing the options. Once the customer has the knowledge and has compared the options to their satisfaction, they move forward and buy the product. But here’s where the loop comes in; the consumers’ post-purchase experiences determine whether they will return and purchase more or look for alternatives. Here’s what a loyalty loop looks like, an image courtesy of Codedesign.org.

Now let’s get back to the standard digital marketing funnel (the funnel-shaped one!) and explore the six accepted digital marketing funnel stages.

Digital Marketing Funnel Stages and Content

The six digital marketing funnel stages are:

1) Exposure. Customers can only buy something they know exists. In this first stage, the company offering the goods or services advertises and promotes the brand via multiple platforms. This stage is where the marketing department’s content marketing strategy is brought to bear, using tactics such as advertising, SEO, informative videos, and whatever it takes to increase exposure. The goal of this stage is to generate content that attracts users.

2) Discovery. This stage’s primary goal is to turn the visiting user into a lead, which requires content that encourages the users you’ve initially attracted to become interested in your goods. So, while the exposure stage says, “Hey, you! Come over here and check this out!”, the discovery stage says, “Look at this awesome thing I’m selling. You have a need or an issue, and I have something to help you with it!”

3) Consideration. So you’ve alerted the user to your existence and shown them their need and what you have to address that need. In the consideration stage, you must give them the resources they need to realize that your solution is the best, most efficient answer. This stage explains the benefits of your goods and services using resources like testimonials, FAQs, and case studies.

4) Conversion. You’ve laid out your case at the consideration stage, and now it’s time to help the customer decide. The goal is to acquire loyal customers or convert that lead into a sale. Now it’s the time to focus on more personalized content tailored to your goals, challenges, and preferences. This is the stage where you bring in customized campaigns.

You can use sponsored links to draw the user’s attention to a specific landing page or content that points to a free trial, letting the potential customer “take it out for a spin” and learn more about the product’s advantages and benefits.

Ultimately, the customer has to understand how your offer is better than your competition’s.

1) Customer relationship. Now that you’ve made the conversion, it’s time to get closer to the customer. Here is where you move away from brand advertising and instead educate the customer on the best ways to use your goods or services. You want to show the customer that their sale isn’t the only thing you’re interested in, but rather, you want them to understand that you want them to get the maximum enjoyment and use of their purchase. Employ tutorials, instructional videos, and even a follow-up e-mail marketing approach.

2) Retention. Finally, we get to retention. This stage’s goal is to ensure that the customer returns to make future purchases. The marketing department should continually monitor and analyze communications with the lead.

Why Digital Marketing Funnels Are Important for Your Marketing Strategy

Marketers should go all in on a full funnel digital marketing strategy. Funnels help marketers better organize their marketing activities, ensuring that directing content, ads, and other techniques have helpful messages for the audience at every stage of the buyer’s journey. This effort makes generating leads easier, ensuring they get to the right people and making conversion more likely.

Funnels help the company get closer to consumers and be there for them at every part of the process. This strategy generates increased engagement and retention. In addition, the team’s productivity increases as their efforts are now more organized and directed where they need to be.

Also, funnels help marketers visualize these steps and keep everything in its place. The digital marketing funnel acts as a guide for serving the customer and the marketer: no waste, less risk, more success.

Digital marketing funnels also help your team create more compelling content. Customers at different stages of the funnel process need other content. You don’t offer a free introductory offer to a long-established customer, for example, or send someone who has yet to hear of your services to an upsell landing page. Funnels help your creative people choose the correct content generation strategy.

Online marketing funnels also improve lead generation thanks to better segmentation and more suitable content. Relevant content at the right moment makes the customer feel you’re speaking directly to them. This belief creates positive feelings and a greater sense of acceptance, meaning they’re more apt to continue moving through every stage of the marketing funnel.

Thanks to better metrics, customization, compelling content, and more leads, you will likely get a greater return on investment (ROI) for your marketing campaigns, making digital marketing funnels a vital part of your online digital marketing strategy.

The ultimate point of digital advertising is to use your digital resources to organize and segment your communication methods so they can be targeted at the right audience, say the most relevant things, and therefore drive sales. There are always variables in the marketing process, and segmenting your customers into various stages lets you create perfect timing and helps you deal with the unexpected.

In summary, digital marketing funnels are vital for better use of the company’s resources, ensuring that the proper types of content are used at the right time and improving lead conversion, which improves the company’s bottom line.

How to Create an Online Marketing Funnel for Your Business

If this article is your first serious exposure to the digital marketing sales funnel concept, then you probably have little to no experience creating one. Let’s change that.

Follow these easy steps and you’ll be working with funnels in no time.

1) Create the goal. What do you want to accomplish? What’s the purpose? Are you trying to sell more of a particular product or measurably expand your customer base? Create your goal, and spell it out.

2) Structure the funnel. Time to create the funnel’s structure, determining the steps to make up the sales cycle. This step is also the point where you decide what kind of funnel type is best.

3) Define each step. With the funnel type and digital marketing funnel stages set up, you must now spell out what you need to do to generate the required audience traffic for each step.

And there you have it; your first digital marketing sales funnel!

Would You Like to Improve Your Digital Marketing Skill Set?

Now that you’ve been looped into the digital marketing funnel concept, do you have other topics of digital marketing that need brushing up? In collaboration with the University of Massachusetts, Simplilearn offers a fantastic online digital marketing bootcamp experience that will make you a digital marketing specialist in just six months.

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And when you’re done, you are awarded your certificate and offered membership in the prestigious UMass Amherst Alumni Association.

Salary.com reports that the median digital marketing salary in the United States is $112,118, subject to variables such as location, experience level, and the hiring company. Don’t delay. Sign up for this comprehensive digital marketing bootcamp and master crucial 21st-century marketing skills. Register for the bootcamp today!

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