There aren’t many companies today that are thriving without a strong digital footprint. That includes a website, social media accounts, and email marketing, at the very least. A clear digital marketing strategy is crucial in today’s business world, and a digital marketing funnel should be its foundation.

Digital marketing funnels represent individual stages of the customer journey from the very beginning to beyond the completion of a sale. Content strategy is a critical component of digital marketing campaigns, so you should have targeted content marketing for every funnel stage.

When funnel marketing is correctly implemented, it can generate a steadily growing revenue stream. There are six digital marketing funnel stages, each with its own goal and specific actions for achieving that objective.

Here’s a list of these stages:

  • Awareness: At the very beginning of a buyer’s journey, potential customers know they have a problem and begin to research what might be causing it.
  • Interest: After deciding what is the most likely cause of their problem, prospective customers will begin looking for possible solutions.
  • Consideration: Once a potential customer has decided which solution is preferable, the next step is to determine which product will work best.
  • Purchase: At this stage, you have convinced the buyer your product is better than all other options, and a sale is completed.
  • Loyalty: Now, your objective is for existing customers to remain loyal to your brand because they will be your easiest sales.
  • Advocacy: Finally, you want a satisfied customer to be so enthusiastic about your brand that they will spread the word and bring new customers into the fold.

Awareness stage

The goal at the top of the funnel is generating awareness about your product or service. This could actually take a very indirect route. For example, if you sell shoes, potential buyers may come across your website because of a blog post entitled “What’s causing that pain in your lower back?”

They may have already spent hours reading about muscle pain and spinal issues. Only through content created specifically for the awareness stage did they realize a solution could be as simple as new shoes.

Defining the target audience and buyer personas

In a traditional marketing funnel, potential customers proceed to each step depending on their interactions during the previous step. 

However, in a digital marketing funnel, each funnel separates them into one of multiple other funnels, each created for a specific type of buyer. This is because your target audience consists of more than one type of customer.

Using the above example, you may sell shoes to both men and women. Plus, different seasons require everything from sandals to boots. Style is a priority for some, while workers who are on their feet all day require comfort.

You have to define a buyer persona for each type of customer. Then, you must create targeted content for those personas in a variety of situations. Otherwise, you will not sell shoes to people looking for medical advice.

Creating content to raise awareness of the brand, product or service

At this stage of the funnel, you are trying to raise brand awareness. So, you should focus on interacting with your target audience and providing them with useful information. This is not the time to be promoting products or trying to make sales.

Of course, it doesn’t do any good to create this type of content if potential buyers won’t see it. Content is a vital part of any marketing strategy, so yours needs to maintain high visibility on the first search engine results page (SERP). In order to accomplish that, your content needs to be frequent, fresh, and useful.

It also needs to be polished to a high standard of search engine optimization (SEO)

Of course, not everyone has the time or talent to create that much high-quality content. Yet, the need is not usually great enough to warrant hiring a dedicated full-time employee. Many people find that the ideal solution is to hire a good freelance writer.

Identifying key channels to reach the target audience

Spending time with your target audience gives you the opportunity to learn what they like. Then, you will know which digital marketing channels will be most effective. During the awareness stage, that could be blog posts, e-books, case studies, or other sources of information.

Interest stage

During the interest stage, buyers have decided on a solution. Sticking with the same example, they know they need new shoes. Now, they have to figure out what kind of shoe will best resolve their problem.

Creating content that educates and informs the target audience

This is where your content will become a bit more specific. For instance, you can provide information that will help shoe buyers determine whether they just need more arch support or if actual orthopedic shoes are necessary.

Remember that all content does not need to be long and complex. Something as simple as an infographic may be as effective as an entire blog post. In fact, people tend to respond to all types of visual content very positively. So, you should make frequent use of images, videos, graphics, and more.

Developing a lead magnet or opt-in offer to capture contact information

Few things generate more sales than an email list. If someone is interested enough in what you have to offer to give up their treasured email address, then they are more likely to buy something from you. These people are referred to as qualified leads, and you want as many of them as possible.

The best tool for lead generation is a landing page. Its single purpose is to offer something to the reader in return for providing contact information. It could be a free sample, digital product, or anything else they can’t get any other way. That is called a lead magnet.

Nurturing leads through email campaigns and retargeting ads

You need to create an effective email marketing strategy to get the most out of your email marketing campaigns. As soon as someone clicks on a landing page’s Submit button, they should receive an email. From then on, they should receive notifications of sales, special offers, and more.

You should have custom emails created for a variety of situations. In fact, some of them should be a series of emails prepared to be sent at predetermined intervals, such as when someone has abandoned a shopping cart.

Don’t worry, there are automated programs that can do this for you. So you don’t need to spend a great deal of time and effort that could be put to better use elsewhere.

Consideration stage

You’ll want to step up your marketing campaign efforts during the consideration stage. This is when you need to engage customers more thoroughly.

Creating content that highlights the benefits of the brand, product, or service

Up until now, your content has been more general and informative. Marketing campaigns should now pivot to promoting the benefits of specific products or services and your brand in general.

This point in the middle of the funnel is a good time to increase your social media marketing activities. Keep in mind that your social media campaigns are every bit as important as your other marketing efforts. They deserve the same time and budget allocation.

Offering a free trial or demo to encourage prospects to try the product or service

Sometimes, everything potential buyers need to become fans of your product or service is to try it. Offer sample-sized products or limited-time demos and free trials.

Developing case studies or testimonials that demonstrate the value of the product or service

Ordering case studies of how your products or services can add value can be an effective use of your marketing funds. Ratings or reviews on trusted third-party websites can have a significant impact as well. Influencer marketing efforts that provide testimonials by popular social media personalities can also provide a nice return on investment.

Purchase stage

During the purchase stage, you move from a marketing funnel to a sales funnel. Your digital advertising efforts will now include paid advertising, such as Google ads. This stage is also sometimes referred to as a conversion funnel.

The purpose of sales or conversion funnels is to turn your website visitors into buyers. It’s not enough to just lure a great many visitors to your website using search engine optimization to rank higher on search engine results pages. Your conversion rate is an indication of your success in achieving that goal.

To determine the conversion rate of a particular product page, for instance, divide the number of sales by the number of visitors to that page. 

If you sold 50 units of that product in one month and the page had 1,000 unique visitors during that time, then you divide 50 by 1,000. Your conversion rate would be 5.0% for that month.

You could also calculate conversion rates for something like paid ads. Simply divide the number of sales by the number of clicks on the ads. 

You can actually use conversion rates to determine the success of any outcome. Measure your landing page’s success by dividing the number of contact forms submitted by the number of visitors to that page.

Creating a seamless purchasing experience for customers

One of the most important aspects of your website is providing customers with a completely frictionless experience when trying to make a purchase.

Here are some tips:

  • It should be easy for buyers to find exactly what they are looking for and add it to a shopping cart.
  • Multiple options for filtering and sorting search results should be available.
  • Product descriptions should clearly and accurately state all of the most important information.
  • Customers should not have to register for an account in order to make a purchase.
  • Payment information should be processed without a hitch.
  • Order confirmation should be immediately displayed on the website and emailed as well.

The last thing you want is to lose sales unnecessarily because your website makes it even the least bit difficult to complete a purchase.

Offering incentives to encourage customers to complete the purchase (e.g., free shipping, discounts)

Smooth purchase experiences should be the norm. However, sometimes, customers may need a little more before making the final decision to purchase. There are a number of ways of doing this. 

There are various options when it comes to attractive offers:

  • Holiday sales
  • Free samples
  • Free upgrades with a purchase
  • One free bonus item with a purchase
  • Buy one, get one free or 50% off
  • Coupons
  • Discounts
  • Sweepstakes entries

Following up with customers after purchase to encourage repeat business and referrals

A customer’s purchase experience doesn’t have to end with the purchase. Satisfied customers are your most likely source of repeat buyers. Following up after they’ve made a purchase is an excellent opportunity to extend their positive experience.

For those customers who did not need any encouragement to complete a purchase, your follow-up email could contain one of the incentives listed above as motivation to return. A thank you message that includes a coupon for a discount on their next purchase is a popular tactic.

Loyalty stage

Your quickest and easiest sales will very likely be to loyal customers. Keep them informed of sales and specials during the loyalty stage, and they will probably be among the first to buy. One of the most common ways to turn one-time customers into repeat buyers is to create a loyalty or rewards program


The most common type of loyalty program is the points-based one. Customers earn points from their purchases, but they may do so in other ways as well. Points are distributed for leaving reviews on the company’s website, sharing their experiences on social media, from games, or even just on their birthdays.

Customers can then use their accumulated points in a variety of ways. They can get cashback on purchases, redeemed for perks and freebies, and more.

Developing a customer retention strategy to encourage loyalty and repeat business

Existing customers are one of the most valuable assets of your business. They are well worth the time, effort, and funds it will take to develop and implement a serious customer retention strategy. And that strategy should begin with a customer’s very first purchase from your business.

Best foot forward

That initial purchase is your opportunity to make a great first impression — one that’s good enough to tempt them into giving you their well-protected email address. The loyalty program discussed above is a good incentive for that. Then, you can further impress them with celebratory emails containing special offers.

Personalized experiences

A one-size-fits-all approach to customer retention is not very effective. Once you’ve got a customer’s email address and history of their purchasers, you can offer everyone more personalized experiences. For example, the coupons on the back of register receipts should vary according to each buyer’s purchase history.

Excellent customer service

Few things keep customers happier than friendly, efficient customer service. As long as you are selling good quality products at reasonable prices, the effectiveness of your customer service may be the main factor buyers are sticking with you instead of flocking to your competitors.


Listen to your customers. Make it easy for them to give you feedback, and give them what they ask for whenever feasible. 

How can you make them happy if you don’t know what they prefer? Give their suggestions serious consideration. Even if you can’t implement them, the suggestions may give you ideas about other ways to achieve the desired results.

Pay particular attention to complaints. Customer feedback is one of the best ways to catch minor problems before they become major ones. If you are regularly getting multiple complaints about the same issue, then it needs to be addressed.

Creating content that reinforces the brand’s values and mission

Believe it or not, many customers do want to know more about the companies they do business with. One of the first places they’ll look is your website to see if there is a mission statement. So, if you don’t have one yet, create one and publish it.

Also, partnerships with non-profits can provide excellent publicity while contributing to good causes. Adding a little blurb to your shopping cart page keeps that information at the forefront of a buying experience. You could even add a way to collect donations at the time of purchase, even if it’s just rounding up the total in the cart.

Offering exclusive content, promotions, or events for loyal customers

Buyers love feeling part of an elite group. Offering exclusive or early access to special deals, content, or events is a very effective method to keep customers loyal.

Advocacy stage

At the very bottom of the funnel is the Advocacy or post-purchase stage. This last stage of the marketing funnel stages is all about transforming your most enthusiastic customers into brand advocates. They love your products and trust your brand, so why not make it easy for them to tell others?

In actual fact, brand advocacy is one of the most powerful tools in your marketing strategy arsenal, and you should make the best use of it that you can.

Developing a referral program to encourage customers to refer their friends and family

Many people will recommend their favorite brands and products when asked, or often just because they are genuinely enthusiastic. That doesn’t mean you can’t offer them incentives to make recommendations upon request.

One of the most common types of referral methods is the dual referral program. That is where both the person making the referral and the person they refer are offered some type of reward, such as a discount on their next purchase.

You will have the most success if you request referrals from the right people at the right time. Fortunately, you can identify both of those criteria simultaneously.

The people most likely to agree to your referral requests are those who have just purchased a renewal or upgrade, interacted positively with your brand on social media, or had a positive experience with your customer support staff. And the best time to make your referral request is right after they do those things.

Creating content that encourages customers to share their positive experiences on social media

Use social media to establish a relationship with your customers without trying to promote sales. Create content on social media platforms that they can easily share. Those are places you can respond to your customers and even use for customer support.

Reward your brand advocates when they mention you positively in public. Send them free brand merchandise, discount coupons, free samples, and more.

Providing exceptional customer service to build brand advocates

Brand advocacy begins with positive customer experiences. Those experiences lead to customers associating positive emotions with your brand. That helps to build a great reputation for your company, which can make it easier for you to gain new business.

Keep in mind that exceptional customer service can’t just be reactive. It’s important to take proactive measures to show your customers how much you value them.

Here are some practical tips:

  • Train your staff to always be helpful and courteous.
  • Make it a policy to respond quickly to any inquiries or requests.
  • Do everything in your power to resolve customer issues to their full satisfaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a digital marketing funnel?

A digital marketing funnel represents each step a buyer takes toward completing a sale and beyond. Content is created specifically for each stage to optimize its effectiveness.

What are the stages of a digital marketing funnel?

The six stages of a digital marketing funnel are:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Consideration
  • Purchase
  • Loyalty
  • Advocacy

What is the difference between a traditional marketing funnel and a digital marketing funnel?

In a traditional marketing funnel, customers move to each step based on how they interacted in the previous stage. In a digital marketing funnel, customers are separated at each step into multiple other funnels designated for specific types of buyers.

What is a buyer persona?

Buyer personas represent each type of customer in the target audience. They are created so that content can be developed specifically for each one, leading to more effective marketing.