Advanced Marketing Funnels Guide: How To Build One & Examples from High-Growth Companies

Vineet Karhail

Last Updated: March 12, 2021

If you don’t have a Marketing Funnel, you are turning away tons of customers who REALLY want to buy from you.

You’re saying NO to your fans! And setting up their cash on fire, rather than stuffing your pockets with it.

If you have a great product, you may be selling well without an optimized marketing funnel.

Good Job, you! Now, build an efficient marketing funnel and see your numbers go up through the roof.

Enough said, let’s jump right in. Today, I will show you why a high-converting B2B Marketing Funnel is so powerful. And how you can build one for your business. Build a marketing funnel to 10x your growth.

And send it to your teammates so that they have a proven system to build marketing funnels that convert.

What is a Marketing Funnel?

A marketing funnel is a path that your audience takes from first point of contact to becoming a customer.

It is the series of steps taken by a visitor to convert into a paying customer.

For an e-commerce business, it could look something like this:

Visitor sees an ad on Facebook > lands on the product page > adds the product to cart > exits the site > sees retargeted ad on Facebook > lands on the cart page > adds delivery address > adds credit card information > buys the product

For a SaaS CRM, it could be a visitor:

Searches for “best crm for doctors” > reads a comparison article in a popular blog > clicks on the link to your homepage > signs up for free trial > uses the product > after free-trial duration, reads email to become paid user > clicks the link > enters credit card information > buys the products

For B2B SaaS businesses, it is the steps taken by a visitor into a lead and eventually a paying customer.

Why Build a Marketing Funnel?

The goal of a marketing funnel is to convert as many visitors into paying customers.

If you are a SaaS business, and you have a website with a form which visitors can fill for you to call them back. This is a marketing funnel, in a simple way.

At this point, you must ask a few questions to begin with:

How many visitors see the form?

How many of the interested visitors are actually filling out the form?

Do my visitors need to talk to me before buying the product?

If you can’t answer any of these questions, you need to build a marketing funnel right now.

You need a marketing funnel to plan the steps that your visitors take to buy your products.

And it must be measurable i.e. you should be able to look at each step and know if there are any lost opportunities.

If you haven’t built a marketing funnel for your business, it is time that you build one – an efficient one.

How to plan a Marketing Funnel that’s right for your business?

Before you build your first marketing funnel, you need to PLAN it well.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

While you want your target customer to move through the marketing funnel, you need to answer a few questions at each step of the funnel mainly:

  1. Who is your target customer?
  2. What do they currently know?
  3. What information do they need to become a customer?
  4. How to deliver that information?
  5. What action should they take?
  6. What’s the alternative action?

1a. Customer Persona – Who are your customers?

A marketing funnel should always be designed to keep in mind the person or visitor who needs to take action.

It is important to specifically write down in detail who your customer is, who this funnel is designed for.

You need to build a detailed Customer Persona for your target customer as following:

  • Demographics – name, age, location, gender, are they married?
  • where do they work, their role, company size, professional goals, income, etc.
  • Where do they hang out, magazines or blogs they consume, influencers that they follow, conferences they visit, music that they listen to
  • Finally, what’s their hell and heaven. Their Hell is what keeps them from sleeping at night, their pain points and main problems. Their Heaven is what makes them feel good and solves their pain points.

This exercise will teach you a lot about your customers. It will also give you insights on how to reach your customers and how to guide them through the marketing funnel.

If you want to make your marketing funnel more efficient, and save yourselves hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted marketing efforts and ad spend, do not overlook customer persona.

1b. Anti-customer Persona

Anti-customer persona is exactly opposite to customer persona. This is the persona of people who are not your customers.

These are the people who will never buy your product(s) or when they buy your product, they create more problems for you.

While you may want to sell your products to everybody, there are certain leads or people for which your product is not right.

And you shouldn’t be selling it to them. 

Building an anti-customer persona will help you avoid wasting your efforts trying to convince people who are never going to buy your products.

1c. Empathy Map

Customers like when you can talk to them in their own language and the message that they understand.

And this is where the Empathy Map helps. It helps you define what messaging works best for your target customers, and what you should be using in your communication.

Once you understand what your customer thinks, feels, says, sees, listens around him/her, you can use the same message in your ads to get them to visit your website.

As an example, I worked with a SaaS tech startup which proudly pitched their product as a better solution to run Android on a virtual platform. 

However, after talking to most of the B2B paid customers, most customers wanted to know if the product could run and handle automated tests on Android for their mobile applications. 

They used specific terms to search for solutions to their problems like the tools and frameworks they were using to conduct automated testing.

Once we listened to our customers, we changed the way we marketed the product for this market, and the conversions went through the roof.

We signed up more than 7000 customers in one week, when we launched the new communication strategy.

If you don’t know much about your market, just pick up your phone and talk to your customers.

Interview them and find out more about the following questions:

  1. What do they THINK and FEEL?

What are the questions your customers might be asking themselves? 

Are there any biases that your market has? 

Do they find the current solution annoying or complicated to start? 

Do they think they are wasting their time on something? 

  1. What do they SAY and DO?

What are they talking about? 

What are they doing about their problems?

Are they posting on social media about their problem? What are they saying about it?

  1. What do they HEAR?

What are people in your market hearing about? 

Who do they listen to and what?

  1. What do they SEE?

What do people in your market see everyday related to their problem?

Going through this exercise can give you so many insights which will make the rest of the tasks much easier.

Go and read through your competitors’ websites or social media pages and forums to learn more about your target customers.

2. Customer Awareness – What do they currently know?

Your marketing funnel starts with understanding where the customer is at in terms of their awareness about your market and your product. 

Customer Awareness helps us understand where a potential customer is in their purchase decision.

Have they just started looking for a solution?

Or are they already using your competitor’s products?

Once you understand these 5 stages, you will be able to better guide them to the next stage.

Stage 1. Problem Unaware

Businesses or people who have a problem that your product solves. However, they are not even aware of their problems and hence, they are not looking for a product or solution that you sell.

Example: A startup with 5 team members may not realize that they need a HR solution to simplify their HR processes like hiring, leave management, payroll, performance review. 

The founder might be happily spending several hours each week paying salaries, reviewing expenses, and managing the hiring process.

They are not aware that they are losing several hours of efficient work which they could be using to build a better product or acquiring customers for their business. 

Stage 2. Problem Aware

Businesses or people who are aware that they have a problem. However, they aren’t aware of the right solution. 

Example: A C-level executive of a top tech company is aware she’s not as productive since she accepted a new role in another division.

She’s aware of the problem but doesn’t know how she can solve it – hire an assistant, use a productivity tool?

Stage 3. Solution Aware

Businesses or people who are aware of their problem, and they know that there are various solutions available in the market.

Example: In order to improve overall employee skills [Problem], a large company is looking for a training program [Solution] that can help them train their employees. 

However, they do not know about the variety of programs available. 

They are quite early in their journey to solve their problem.

Stage 4. Niche Aware

Businesses or people who are aware of their problem, and they have looked at different solutions. 

However, they haven’t found the right solution. 

They may or may not know about your product, but are certainly aware of a few players in the niche.

Example: A company has been looking for a payroll management solution [Niche] in order to reduce their administrative cost [Problem]

They are aware of the top 3 companies in the niche, but they might not be aware of your product, and how it’s different.

Stage 5. Offer Aware 

Businesses or people who are aware of their problem, various solutions in the market, and they are aware of your product, as well as your offer.

Example: A large business is looking for a marketing automation solution, and has quotes from 3-4 players in the niche, including yours.

They know exactly everything about your offer (Product + Pricing + TOC) but haven’t made a decision yet.

If you are a small team with limited budget, you can start with building the marketing funnel for the users who are Offer aware i.e. 

3. Buyer Journey – How will they make a buying decision?

Once you have your customer Personas and segmented them based on where your customer is in terms of their awareness – problem aware to offer aware.

At each stage of awareness, the customer has to go through your marketing funnel in a different way.

The customer who is at the first stage of awareness i.e. Problem Unaware will take longer to make a decision. Thus, the marketing funnel will be longer.

However, someone who is at the last stage of awareness i.e. Offer Aware already knows our product and pricing. It will be easier to get them to make a decision – buy or not.

Top of the Funnel – TOFU

Top of the funnel is the first stage when a prospect doesn’t know about your offer and you are presenting your offer to them.

At this stage, you are educating your prospect about your solution and helping them understand more about the solution that you can provide to their challenges. 

This is not the stage where you are trying to close the deal. 

Absolutely Not! 

At this stage, you are simply trying to convert to the next stage by offering them the information they need.

For a prospect who’s not aware of the problem, you might present the problem itself and show them how this problem is much bigger than what they had considered, and why they need to solve it.

For another prospect who is Niche aware, you might give them a comparison chart of your product to other solutions since the prospect is already aware of the problem and solutions.

The Offer Aware prospects are aware of your offer, but they might not have interacted with you in a while. 

In this case, you can just establish the touch point again by showing them ads of your offer or sending an email to engage with them.

Middle of the Funnel – MOFU

This is the stage where your prospects are considering your offer. They know about your solution, but they are not sure if it would solve their problem, and that it is the best offer for them.

They might be stacking you up against other offers before making up their mind. This is where the lead is qualified, and you need to engage with them the most. 

Your goal is to find out their concerns at this stage, and deliver the right material to help them with their decision.

Again, depending on the awareness stage of your customer, the MOFU phase can be longer for prospects who are Problem Unaware than those who are Niche Aware or Offer Aware.

Bottom of the Funnel – BOFU

At this stage, the customer might be dead set on your solution, but haven’t made the buying decision yet.

Or maybe they like your solution and your offer for now, but won’t hesitate to go with another solution as well.

Maybe they find your solution too expensive, or too complicated to start, maybe they need to first hire an expert who can configure your solution in their company. 

Maybe they need more trust in your solution by hearing it from other happy customers. 

Or maybe they haven’t understood everything about your offer.

Again, your goal is to find what’s stopping them to take the final call, and become a customer.

Since this is the final stage, you can also give more incentives like special pricing, shipping incentives, free returns, better after-sale services, etc to help them make their decision faster.

4. Marketing Funnel Design – What and How to deliver the information that they need? 

Once you have understood the needs of the customers at each step of their journey, it is time to design the marketing funnel.

There are five elements of a marketing funnel:

Content

What information should you provide based on the needs of the customer at each step?

Create educational content if your audience needs to learn more about the problem that you are solving.

If your customers are looking for a process to complete a task that your product helps with, you may create a checklist or a process to follow.

For example, ColdCRM compared 237 Linkedin email finder tools and created a post comparing the top 10 to help their market decide which tools are the right for them.

Helping users with the information they need is the right way to build content funnel.

If you’re targeting Problem Unaware prospects at the TOFU phase, you may create a quiz that would help them realize the problem. 

Content types you should look at:

  1. Educational / Guides / How-tos
  2. Case Studies
  3. Testimonials
  4. Checklists
  5. Quizzes
  6. News Stories
  7. Research-based / Investigative 
  8. Entertainment / Fun

Delivery Format

If content is your gift to your customers, format is how you package it.

Delivery format is just as important as the content itself.

Right content in the wrong format can fail to be effective. 

Or worse, your audience might not engage with your content at all due to the wrong format.

Examples of formats to package your content:

  1. Blog post article
  2. Video
  3. Landing Page
  4. PDF
  5. Audio
  6. Infographic
  7. Social Media post
  8. Custom Image
  9. Short text
  10. Script

Alternatively, you can also package your content in different formats and test which one works the best for the content type.

You can create customer testimonials in video or audio format, as well as social media posts, blog post articles, and custom Images.

Delivery Channel

What channel should you use to deliver the information? 

This is the distribution channel of your content and the decision to choose the channel will not just depend on the customer awareness stage and funnel phase, but also on the content and the delivery format.

Examples of channels:

  1. Social Media / Own or Influencer
  2. Paid Ads
  3. Webinar
  4. Squeeze Page / Lead Magnet / Landing Page
  5. Website
  6. Podcast
  7. Newsletter / Email
  8. Direct mail
  9. Phone call / Direct Meeting

5. What Action Should They Take?

This is the most important part at each step of the funnel, and something that decides the next funnel step.

Clearly define the action you want your customer to take at each step.

This is to ensure that your customers take a designed path to make their decisions, and aren’t left confused as to what they should be doing.

Not defining a desirable action is like letting your customers in through the front door and showing them the back door.

They can see your products, but they can’t buy them or get more information.

The action at each step can be to buy the product itself, but if your customer is not ready, they won’t take the desired action.

If your customers need to jump on a call with you to have a demo of the product, clearly ask them to book a call with your team.

If you want the customers to leave their email address to receive your content, have an enticing squeeze page with an email capture tool.

6. Alternate Marketing Funnel

Even if you have the most engaging content in the right format, delivered through the best converting channel where the Call-To-Action has been clearly stated, you will have a ton of people who won’t take the desired action.

It doesn’t mean that they are not the right customers or that they are not interested in your offer.

It just means that they are not in the right funnel or the right phase, or they need more information before they move down the funnel.

In this case, you need to define what alternate route the customer should take in order to get the information that they’re looking for.

You may send them information through a series of emails to guide them to the next step.

If you don’t have their contacts, you may run a retargeting ad campaign to engage with them with the right message.

Or you may simply reschedule more phone calls with the customer (or their team) to answer their queries.

The goal of the alternate funnel is to bring back the prospect to the funnel at the step where they can become a customer.

Examples of Alternate Funnel:

  1. Retargeting on social media (FB, Google Ads Network, etc.)
  2. Nurture email sequence
  3. Abandoned Cart (for e-com brands)

Teardown of Marketing Funnels of High-Growth Companies 

Monday.com Marketing Funnel Example (SaaS)

Monday.com is an Israel-based unicorn startup who developed a team management tool to boost team productivity.

Apart from organic traffic, they invest heavily in paid Search traffic, as well as Facebook and Youtube ads.

With a Facebook and Instagram Ads budget of over $750K (in July 2019), it’s no wonder that they have been able to grow in a highly competitive space very rapidly.

1: Inbound / Outbound Traffic (Organic, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Youtube Ads)

If you were looking for productivity tools or team management tools in 2019, it was hard to miss the ads from monday.com on Facebook, Youtube or Google Search.

Paid traffic remains their main source of user acquisition with thousands of ad campaigns across different platforms. 

Examples of Facebook ads

They are literally bidding on thousands of keywords on Google Search. 

Examples of Google Search Ads

2. Landing Pages

For each of their ad campaigns and targeted keywords, they have built custom landing pages. 

If you are directing all of your paid traffic to a single landing page, here is a lesson for you.

Matching the message and the copy of your ad to your landing page is a great way of reducing your CPC, and increasing the landing page conversions.

For all of their landing pages, they have a single CTA i.e. “Get Started”.

Here are the examples of landing pages by monday.com:

marketing funnels example monday.com landing page

3. Free trial Sign up

After clicking on Get Started, the user is directed to a sign up page where they can sign up with Google or their work email.

On the sign up page, they already give you a glimpse of the product in the background.

It’s interesting to note that even if there is a 14-day free trial, the company doesn’t really promote it.

Not even on their pricing page.

4. Upgrade

Once you have signed up for free, you can start using the product immediately.

Thanks to their great onboarding process, it’s easy to understand the product.

During the 14-day free trial period, you only see an upgrade tab on the left if you want to upgrade to the paid subscription.

marketing funnels example monday.com dashboard

After the free trial period is over, you can no longer use the product. 

You have to mandatorily upgrade to a plan based on the number of users.

And they do a great job at showing you the pricing based on the user size.

Why This Funnel Works

If you have a SaaS product, you should learn from monday.com’s funnel.

From the first touch point with the users to the sign up, they have a very consistent messaging. 

At each step, they answer users’ questions related to a topic.

They use trust badges and customer logos to build trust. 

Note how they don’t ask for any credit card information during their onboarding process.

By eliminating this major step, they have increased the number of sign ups. 

But it also allows them to nurture those users who drop out during free trial and convert them into paid users.

Instacart Marketing Funnel Example (On-Demand Marketplace) 

Instacart is an on-demand service that delivers groceries directly from the local stores within 1 hour. 

Being a grocery marketplace, their goal is to attract both customers and personal shoppers to deliver groceries.

At this point, they are not running paid ads to attract customers to their platform, but they are running ads to get more personal shoppers to sign up to their platform.

I analyzed several marketing funnels and found this one to be working well for them.

1. Inbound Traffic (Search)

They seem to be targeting several high volume keywords to rank on the first page. This generates heavy amounts of traffic for them.

marketing funnels example instacart google ads

2. Landing Page

They direct most of the organic traffic to their homepage or a landing page dedicated to online grocery, where they ask users to fill in their area zip code.

Instacart doesn’t serve all the locations, so asking for users’ zip code helps them understand where they should expand next.

3. Sign up

Next, they ask you to sign up if they are located in your area. 

4. Free-trial for service

Right after you sign up, Instacart asks you to try Instacart Express – their delivery subscription service immediately for an annual price of $99.

I believe they have tested this funnel and found out that a lot more customers actually just buy their Instacart Express subscription at the beginning, rather than asking them to buy it after they have added their products to the cart.

By showing you their regular delivery price of $3.99, they show the benefit of choosing Express service which pays for itself after 25 orders in a year.

5. Local stores page

It is only after you make a decision of whether or not to buy Instacart, they show you a list of grocery stores around you to choose from. 

6. Products page

Once you’ve picked your store, only then you can choose the groceries from the products sold by your favourite grocery store, and add them to the cart.

7. Abandoned Cart Email

This is a classic example of how they bring back the users to finish their order, if they have added products in their cart but didn’t make the purchase.

Why This Funnel Works

First, by asking users for their location/ zip code, they avoid making users frustrated if they go through the sign up and find out that their area has no grocery stores. 

You can still sign up and instacart will let you know when they deliver to your area, and that’s how they gain trust of the users.

Next, showing free-service trial right after the signup is probably to increase their sales and get long term commitment from the users. This helps them retain a customer longer.

While Instacart gets some commission from each order sent to the store, the delivery charges is a big part of their revenue.

Since they sell products that are very standard (groceries), it is okay to not show the products first and let the customers decide whether to buy or not. But again, they provide an easy way to skip this step if the customer is not sure. 

This is why testing your conversions is very important while optimizing your funnels.

Bombas Marketing Funnel Example (E-Commerce)

Bombas is a US-based apparel manufacturer and online retailer with a focus on socks. 

They have made a name for themselves in a saturated market with their business model. 

They donate one pair of socks to homeless communities for every pair of socks sold online.

Apart from running massive campaigns around their story, they acquire users with a mix of inbound and outbound campaigns.

1. Inbound Traffic (Organic, Google Shopping, Facebook Ads)

Organic search result for “most comfortable socks” which has an estimated monthly search volume of 1300 per month. 

Examples of Google Search Ad and Google Shopping Ad for the keyword “most comfortable socks”.

Examples of Facebook Ads

marketing funnels example bombas facebook ads

2. Product Page

Bombas’ sleek product pages are converting machines. 

The page provides all the important information in the first-fold itself – multiple images, product name, pack-size, variants, sizes, size guide, quantity and add to cart button.

This is all the information you need to buy the right product.

But if you want to know more about the socks, you can scroll down and find that information in an easy-to-read design.

marketing funnels explained bombas product page

3. Add to Cart from collections

Bombas make it easier for you to add products (and choose the right size) from their collection pages.

This converts so well, and the users don’t need to click each product to add them to their carts.

After adding the product to the cart, you see a slider with your cart detail immediately. 

You can adjust product quantities here before checking out.

Bombas’ Add to Cart

4. Checkout

Their checkout page gives you many options to pay – credit card, Paypal or Amazon Pay.

You want your customers to use the payment option that they feel comfortable with. 

Almost 68% abandon their purchases at the last step – checkout. 

You have to optimize the checkout page well to ensure your users are not frustrated with the payment options.

Why This Funnel Works

Since it’s a simple product, the funnel is very simple. 

People buy socks on impulse and your goal is to keep the funnel short and optimized. Make it easier for them to buy your products.

And that’s what Bombas have done here, rather successfully.

Key Lesson

Marketing funnels are critical to any business success and growth strategy. Use our guide to build the right marketing funnel for you. Take inspiration from 3 of the marketing funnels that we’ve shared here but optimize your funnels for your growth.

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