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Sales Funnel Stages

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I have some clients who come to me and said: “I have a website and running ads online but I don't have any results”. This is a very common case that could be involved multiple reasons behind it. But it always comes down to one thing: building a digital sales funnel. Advertising alone will not bring your customers on a silver plate. Digital customers are savvier than brick and mortar ones and need. Therefore you should create a buying journey to ensure you convert as many visitors as possible. On this article, I will show you how to build an effective digital sales funnel.

Considerations to take into account before planning a digital sales funnels are A/B testing and the digital marketing channels such as email list, pay per click, social media, SEO… No every industry, channel, culture, location is the same. So ab testing is essential in building a sales funnel.

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Digital sales channels

Let's start by analyzing briefly the digital marketing channels and understand what they are best at. So we can leverage each one of them to improve ROÍ and generate more sales.


Search engine optimization refers to all the tactics employed to increase your web rankings on major search engines. This is optimal for the first stages in the digital sales funnel. SEO is very powerful at driving visitors to your site making it the first stage of the funnel.

Pay Per Click

Pay per click is quite a self-explanatory term. Similarly to SEO, it is ideal for time buyers and new clients. Unlike SEO, this could be a bit more expensive and you need to figure out your ROI to identify whether it is profitable or not. There are several options when it comes to PPC: social paid (running paid ads on social media and display those to potential buyers), sear

Email Marketing

Email marketing plays an important role mainly to build customer loyalty and for remarketing which would be fifth and second on the digital sales funnel chain depending on your strategy this could vary. Although it could be used as a first stage channel to raise brand awareness, it is not optimal.

Social media

Social media works great on every stage of the sales funnel although they are best at creating desire and prompting to action. Social media takes time and resources and it can be costly in the long term.


I have made a special section for remarketing although it is not a channel itself and kind of play in between and it is so crucial in any digital sales strategy that could be

Video Marketing

Video marketing is very powerful and one of the most successful marketing channels at the moment as it has the capability of building more engaged than any other content format.

For example, to create remembrance, a video takes only 10 seconds as opposed to 5-7 impressions which will take for digital prints.


Giving away stuff is very powerful at driving brand awareness and build a positive impression on consumers. However, you must consider different aspects when doing so, giving away free ebooks, for‌ ‌example, worked very well in the past but it has been so over-exploited and is seen now as a spammy practice.

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Sales funnel stages

In the old times, digital sales funnels were much simpler and straight forward than modern ones, in the early days of the internet, sales were much simpler, the competition was smaller and consumers were more receptive. As marketing gets smarter, consumers expectations get higher too. And sales funnels become more sophisticated. The modern digital sales funnel might comprise some of the following steps which I have described below:

1. Brand awareness

Brand awareness is the first step to achieve brand recognition. Traditionally it used to start with mail, radio, TV or other forms of traditional marketing. Although nowadays most companies start brand awareness online as it is usually more cost-effective and easier to measure. Channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google are the main sources where consumers discover companies and products. There are multiple approaches on how to build brand awareness such as social media posts, free educational resources, organic web traffic.

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2. Education - Creating trust among consumers

Usually, once customers recognize your brand in the market, it is time to feed them with a value proposition, company principles. It is all about educating them about your brand ́s values, your product ́s unique features. At this stage, your content marketing strategy should aim to provide information into customer ́s problems and needs (shed light on your customer's potential problems), targeting possible problems and providing solutions.

3. Research

This stage is defined by the customer ́s research intent. They are looking for alternative solutions and competitor ́s proposals. This is probably the most important step in the decision-making process and it should be handled strategically and perfectly timed. At this stage, overwhelming customers with promotions, attractive selling opportunities and as much information as possible to help them make a decision is the most effective approach to increase conversion rate.

4. Justification

It refers to a valuable or quantifiable proposition. This stage is when your product or sales team need to succeed in convincing buyers that your products are the best option for them. Storytelling and strong value should overcome customers objections. Find what aspects of your products would pull consumer ́s triggers and overcome issues. After a decision is made, a new customer is acquired. Most companies often miss this step but it is very critical in building a client base as it is the first step to customer loyalty.

5. Purchase or customer acquisition

At some of these stages, some potential buyers or prospects will eventually become a customer. The purchase step should be as smooth as possible, minimizing billing friction and simplifying customer data capture. Many times marketers work along with the sales or sales processing team to both make customers feel confident about the value of the transaction and answering questions and doubts.

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6. Expansion - cross-selling and upselling

Development (otherwise known as, upsell and strategically pitch) - Ideally, clients will be more than happy with the product and you should be working your way around upselling clients and cross-selling similar products. Your marketing strategy should aim to position your company as an authority, so they feel more dependable and comfortable.

7. Adoption

Adoption mainly refers to the post-purchase process at this stage it is important to deliver on what your product or company stands for and ensuring all the communications process is continuous and is supported well by customer service.

8. Advocacy

This step is probably the most overlooked of all the funnel stages and the one which has more potential. Because it is much exploited by companies, consumers are more receptive. The advocacy process refers to the action of turning customers into fans - just like Apple does. And you do this by delighting satisfied customers by ensuring after-sale support is efficient and adding a personal and human connection with them via social media, email or customer service support.

9. Retention

Retention means to keep recurring customers happy. How can marketers help maintain retention? Personalized offers and high-value communications are among the most used and effective tactics to increase retention.

Old/traditional sales funnel

Traditional digital customer journeys were slightly simpler consisting of only 4 steps which are as follows:

  • Awareness. The customer discovers your brand.
  • Interest. Consumers start to think about your product.
  • Desire. Consumers aspire to a particular brand similar to yours after discovering your brand or product.
  • Action. The final step on the funnel where customers make a conversion or a purchase.

Old traditional sales funnels are simpler than the modern approach just because modern consumers are exposed to more advertising - according to, we are exposed to around 5000 ads a day - which makes customers today savvier and more skeptical about marketing. The problem with this approach is that it is far less effective than the modern sales funnel which generates more leads, conversions and doubles customer retention.

Tips to enhance each sale funnel step

A/B Test everything

Every single step must be tested and if possible, reduce. Sometimes it is not necessary to take every single customer through each sales stage in order to convert them and turn them into fans and if a simplified digital sales funnel is effective, it should not be modified till and alternative funnel has been built and tested.

Consider brand experience

Most luxury brands are adopting this strategy as a way to stand out and consolidate their market position. Millennials are more interested in experiences than materialistic things, this alone should give you an idea of what future and current consumers expectation would be like.

Create content for each step

For every step, you must ensure you use the right word and great compelling and convincing copy that reaches your customer's objections, stimulates its imagination and it is memorable.

Examples of killer sales funnels

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A) customer has purchasing intention

  • 1. Awareness
    SEO, the customer finds you on Google. Leaves your site to find more about other brands or providers. Goes back to Google and browse your competitors´sites.
  • 2. Remarketing on social media Users is still in the discovery process, you pitch him on social media and Google Display Network with a limited time offer.
  • 3. The consumer goes back to your site and makes a conversion. Call. Then you track
  • 4. Email followup
  • 5. Closure

B) Customer lacks purchase intent - comes across your product and consider it

  • 1. You approach customer while searching on Google with PPC
  • 2. Customers look to your website and go to find out more about the product on other sites and competitors.
  • 3. While a search online, you approach your customer with more information about your product. Now the customer is well aware of what the market is like and you are in a better position
  • 4. The customer leaves your site and keeps thinking. You send a customer a good offer. This promotion could go on email, social paid or display advertising.
  • 5. Hopefully, the customer will make a conversion
  • 6. After the conversion happens, it is time to display similar products to your customer
  • 7. Chase up to ensure purchase and customer satisfaction goes well. It is important as a brand to stand out now with a personalized email and good customer service.
  • 8. Your product and customer services should be satisfactory enough. The shipping process and quality must be great to create a good impact on the customer’s mind. At this stage, it is important to send special offers to customers and friends invite… either via email or social media.