13 min

What Is a Marketing Funnel

We break down the components of a marketing funnel and explain how to create content that leads customers through it to become conversions.

By Yext

Feb 8, 2022

13 min

Not all customers come to your website ready to make a purchase. One of the biggest goals of your website is to present content that educates visitors about the products or services you offer and convinces them to give you a chance. Experts coined the term 'marketing funnel' to help you visualize this buyer's journey and the strategies involved.

Let's explore a traditional marketing funnel, its various stages, and the strategies your company can use to appeal to customers regardless of which stage they're in.

What is a Marketing Funnel?

The term marketing funnel is a simple way to understand how people go from becoming aware of your brand to paying customers. In the beginning, the digital marketing funnel is very wide, seeking to entice and capture as many leads as possible. This encompasses marketing campaigns through social media, advertisements, and making people aware of your brand.

The funnel narrows as customers move closer to purchasing. As a consumer develops an interest, they may sign up for your weekly email newsletter or blog posts or spend some time on your website. This could lead to signing up for a free trial of your product or doing more research into your company and your offerings.

The end of the funnel is often making a purchase, but it could also be signing up for an account or participating in an event, depending on the format of your business. The potential journey customers take along the way is broken down into three stages which we will address in-depth.

However, there is some variance in the different stages involved.

Customizing Content Based on Placement in the Funnel

You'll need to design content to appeal to customers no matter where they are in the marketing funnel, which means understanding how the various placements differ and what types of strategies work for those customers. Creating content to guide potential customers through each stage of the funnel brings more reliable leads and maximizes conversions.

It's essential to track potential customers' movement through the funnel so that you always know where they are and how much time they've spent in each funnel stage before moving on. Plus, as they move from one stage to the next, you'll need to give them access to different types of content through drip campaigns or other forms of advertising.

Top of the Funnel (TOFU)

The top of the funnel, known as TOFU, encompasses general awareness of your brand and your offerings. At this stage, clients don't know about your company outside of the very basics. At this stage, you'll want content that is very broadly appealing and doesn't go too in-depth about things, or else you'll risk overwhelming or boring your audience.

TOFU content needs to appeal to as many people as possible and introduce your brand and your offerings. Always assume at this stage that the customer has no preexisting knowledge of who you are or how you can help. This section of your audience is the least ready to convert and may become discouraged or wary if you start pushing conversion before they're ready.

TOFU content should be eye-catching and designed to briefly bring your company name to the top of their minds. Social media is one of the best places to advertise TOFU content since you'll be able to reach a wide audience without spending a fortune on your advertisements. And you shouldn't since this audience has the lowest value.

You will need to identify the demographics who make up your target audience so that you can reduce the net you're casting, but don't reduce it too much, or you won't catch anyone new. Ideally, your TOFU content will be memorable, attention-grabbing, and demonstrate that your offerings are relevant to a potential customer's life.

TOFU Content Strategies

There are several strategies to employ when your goal is just to make a positive and lasting impression on potential customers. We dive into a few of the most productive ones, including:

  • Targeted advertising on social media – Find out which social media platforms are most commonly used by your target audience and focus on those. Include hashtags to make your posts more visible in the community, especially to people who are looking for something specific.

  • Video or tutorial – Choose a subject that quickly introduces your brand and gives a high-level overview of what you want to accomplish or show off. Keep this video to under 10 minutes to maximize the number of people willing to spend time watching.

  • Ensure your content is relevant, not just shareable – Boosting awareness of your brand needs to mean something if you expect people to take the next step and visit your website or search for your brand. Sharing something funny might garner you a lot of retweets, but it isn't likely to engage people more involved unless the content is directly related to your business.

  • Quick quiz – Customers love taking quizzes to learn more about their personality type or how they can relate to others in a specific community. This should address a community or topic that is relevant to your brand, but you don't have to go in-depth about the products you sell. It can be breezy and fun, something to help attract more visitors.

  • Use influencers – Millennials, more than any other demographic, are more likely to listen to what their favorite celebrities have to say. If you partner with an influencer, especially one with a large and loyal audience, you're much more likely to attract new customers who are fans.

  • Sponsored content – This can apply either to search engines like Google or affiliate websites that already have a large audience. As long as their search terms or partner web pages have content that relates somewhat to your brand, this is a good way to get the word out about your business.

Pictures or infographics – simplified statistics or high-level breakdowns of a specific problem and how your offerings solve it are a good way to introduce people to your brand and what you do. Plus, pictures with bold colors and outlines are better at catching the eyes of potential customers than just text.

  • High-level blogs – these work best when the visitor is right on the cusp of transitioning to the middle of the funnel since it involves clicking through an ad to your blog or finding it through an organic search engine, but blogs are a great introduction to who you are and what you do. Make sure to use the right keywords and SEO to ensure plenty of people can find your best content.

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)

At this point, the potential customer has heard of your brand and knows off hand what you offer. Clients understand what types of problems your offerings solve and recognize that your solutions could improve their lives. This is the middle of funnel stage where they will want to do deeper research into your products or services to see exactly how they work and whether they will be a good fit for them.

Buyers have discovered that they have a problem and want to take steps to solve it. They aren't necessarily interested in your brand so much as they want to know about the products or services you offer, which features they include, and why those features are valuable. Hopefully, they have already interacted with your TOFU content and are aware of your company and that you offer potential solutions to their problem.

It's now time to deploy calls-to-action to incentivize your audience to dive deeper into what your brand can offer. You can also feature FAQs and other educational pages that teach your users about the features your products or services provide and how to leverage them to get the most out of them.

Remember, potential customers are still just potential at this stage. They're interested in what you have to say, but they're still window shopping, so don't scare them off by focusing too heavily on persuading them to make a purchase. Instead, you should present in-depth guides and educational tools to let them do their research and slowly come to a conclusion.

Mofu Content Strategies

There are a number of strategies to employ when your goal is to educate customers on your products or services and how they'll improve their lives. We dive into a few of the most productive ones, including:

  • Email drip campaign – At this point, customers have become leads and are ready to sign up for a newsletter for discount codes or advertisements about upcoming sales or events. This personal touch thanking them for joining your community is a nice way to stay at the top of their minds when they're considering making a purchase in the future.

  • Deep dive blogs – This is where you have the opportunity to get into the meat and potatoes of your products or services. You should address potential issues and how to solve them. Also present neat and unexpected ways to utilize specific facets of your products or other tips to keep in mind. Blogs like this can include: Templates to outline how customers could implement a possible solution to a common problem.

Guides to multiple companies and comparing products or services across the industry.

Slideshows to demonstrate otherwise complicated topics with easy-to-comprehend graphics or step-by-step instructions for a process.

  • Keep customers up to date – if conventions or other important events are coming up, keep everyone in the know by featuring a calendar page. You can show off a new product's release date, explain when a new feature will drop, or otherwise get your audience exciting for something coming just around the corner.

  • In-depth video – unlike TOFU content, MOFU content should be more informational and can be somewhat longer. Plenty of visitors would prefer to watch a fun video with educational content than just read an article since the visual aspects can help learners comprehend and remember the information presented.

  • ebooks are a great way to give people the opportunity to comprehensively research a product or topic. Instead of creating blogs with thousands of words to address every feature, releasing a downloadable eBook can simplify the topic. Consider adding infographics to get your point across in a concise way.

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)

The narrowest part of the funnel, the bottom, is where customers are ready to convert and make a purchase. They've done their research and have come to a decision about the product or service they want to buy and are ready to choose the provider. Hopefully, that's you. Content at this stage should assume that customers are already informed and need information reinforcing your offering or distinguishing your company from the competition.

While you should never neglect your content at any level of the marketing funnel, giving a little extra focus to BOFU content is a good idea. This is because you have narrowed the audience to people specifically interested in your product.

Hopefully, they have proceeded through the sales funnel and have formed a relationship with your company at this point, so they won't require too much more convincing to convert.

BOFU Content Strategies

There are a number of strategies to employ when your goal is to give potential customers the final nudge they need to go through with converting. We dive into a few of the most productive ones, including:

  • Avoid making a sales pitch – Customers may be ready to purchase, but they don't want to be lectured or have inauthentic sales pitches at any stage of the marketing funnel. People prefer to come to their own conclusions organically and are naturally suspicious of overt sales pitches.

  • Case studies – At this point, customers want to find out how the product worked for people who bought it in the past and how they can utilize it in their lives to solve their existing problems. Seeing positive reviews or testimonials about how effective your company is or your products are can be the final push they need to commit to the purchase. Depending on who you show off, either industry professionals or other normal people, you add credibility to your brand and demonstrate past successes.

  • Demo – Showing off how your product works can fall into either this category or MOFU content depending on how in-depth you get into your products' features. This is also a good place to make comparisons between your company and competitors to show why customers should choose you. Don't be afraid to give credit where credit is due if your competitors perform better than you in certain areas; that kind of honesty will increase trust with your audience.

  • User-generated content – If you already have a small but loyal or demonstrative audience, you might have seen blogs, social media posts, images, or other types of content made by your followers. Putting all of these posts or images together in a slideshow or video is a great way to give a shoutout to your existing fans and show new potential customers what kind of great community you have around your brand. This can be the final nudge towards choosing your brand if they know that they'll have real people backing them up in their decision. Always get permission before using anything made by others.

  • Discounts, sales, giveaways – Just because customers have made the decision to buy doesn't mean they're ready to make the purchase now, especially if it is an expensive or important product. Giving them some incentive to make the purchase soon, like an expiring coupon or discount, is a good motivator to help them speed up the decision-making.

Converted Customers

Once a visitor has taken the final leap and converted, they may not be in the funnel any longer, but you don't forget about them. In fact, appealing to previous customers is more cost-efficient and ultimately increases your bottom line.

You might need new customers to grow, but the real profit comes from repeat clients so you'll need content that appeals to them and reminds them of what a great experience they had with your brand too.

At this point, your best bet is to form a lasting relationship with customers so that they will continue to purchase from your company. This might mean keeping them apprised of new releases or updates to your offerings, offering discount codes for future purchases, or giving them the opportunity to review your products.

Converted Customers Content Strategies

There are a number of strategies to employ when your goal is to retain existing customers and ensure that their experiences are good enough to motivate them to continue buying from your brand. We dive into a few of the most productive ones, including:

  • Stay relevant – As you continue sending out newsletters and updates about your brand and your products, keep a finger on the pulse of what your existing customers enjoyed about their experiences so that you can continue to deliver that and enhance the aspects they want to see more of.

  • Listen to customer feedback – When customers provide feedback, positive or negative, use it as a way to retune your brand to better address client needs. You can even create content that directly addresses frequently asked questions, searches, or requested features.

  • Highlight special features – If your company participates in charitable works or donates to a certain cause, writing blogs to highlight these good works is a key way to retain existing customers. Clients are usually willing to spend more or buy additional products from you when they know some of their money is going to support a cause near and dear to their hearts.

  • Send surveys or questionnaires – Not every customer will choose to participate. You should keep it short and sweet so people don't get frustrated. This is a great way to learn more about what is working for clients and what they'd like to see improved in the future.

  • Contests or giveaways – Giving people some motivation to share their experiences with your brand in return for an entry into a contest is a good way to promote your products and make new customers have more trust in your products. These can be posting social media things or making videos about their experiences with your company.

  • Submit user-generated content – Similar to the above idea; this can be the content you use for customers near the bottom of the funnel.

Tracking Clicks and Conversions

Tools like Yext Analytics allow you to track your website's visitors and conversions to extract insights about your customers and how they interact with your site. Taking meaningful action through data-driven decisions is the best way to appeal to a wider audience and retain existing customers.

In Summary

The marketing funnel is an easy way to understand how your potential customers convert. When you know what types of content and web pages appeal to your customers and how to market yourself based on what is relevant to your audience, you're more likely to make a sale and garner a new client.

Contact us to learn more about boosting your on-site conversions.


How the Marketing Funnel Works From Top to Bottom | The Content Standard by Skyword

37 TOFU, MoFu, and BoFu Content Types for Your Sales Funnel Stages | Web Ascender

The Value of Keeping the Right Customers | HBR.org

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