Forming an Online Marketing Sales Funnel [Beginner’s Guide]

collage of people in a funnel pattern

What if there were a tool to help you spend less time cultivating online sales leads and more time running your business? Better yet, what about finally achieving a healthy work-life balance and increasing online sales revenue? Forming an online marketing sales funnel is an effective way to smoothly and naturally convert leads into sales. Sales funnels boost awareness and cultivate a relationship that builds trust until the “lead” becomes the “client.”

Your marketing is inefficient. You work hard to draw attention to your product, but you lose customers. A plan to keep people engaged with your product or service would be invaluable. You don’t have time to sort out passers-by from potential customers, causing your marketing efforts to be inefficient.

Engaging the digital sales funnel could help you retain interested consumers and free up more time to spend on other things in your business that demand your attention. A sales funnel will develop potential buyers efficiently, guiding them towards the sale by developing a relationship and building trust. This post will describe how the funnel works, how to optimize your digital sales funnel, and the benefits of implementing this sales strategy. 

Are you ready to learn about building a proficient digital sales funnel?

Let’s dive in!

What Is an Online Marketing Sales Funnel?

An online marketing sales funnel is simply a tool that will convert casual visitors into paying customers. The funnel maps a consumer’s journey on their buying trek, from perusing your product to making a purchase.

Who Needs a Digital Sales Funnel?

The only businesses needing a digital sales funnel are those that want to make more money! In today’s e-commerce marketplace, every business needs a digital marketing sales funnel. In fact, that’s where the marketing plan should begin! 

man standing in his small business

Whether you run a small startup or work for a larger, well-established company, a proficient sales funnel is the proper marketing tool for any business that wants to make more online sales.

Small Businesses

Consumers have many choices in where to spend their money. To make your case that they should spend their money on your product, you must keep their attention and remind them why your company and your product are the best fit for them. Implementing this tactic allows small businesses to distinguish themselves from all competition, large or small.

Large Corporations

Cisco, Samsung, Microsoft, Oracle. These companies all saw the value in a digital marketing sales funnel and used the tool to their benefit. Customers of larger companies sometimes can get lost in the shuffle. A sales funnel can help a large corporation offer a more personal touch.

Affiliate Marketers

Selling another business’s products can be a tricky prospect. How can you effectively sell for another business if you aren’t fully knowledgeable about it and its products? A sales funnel will help to formulate the process and create a template to follow with many different products and services that the affiliate marketer can recycle again and again.

The Four Stages of an Online Marketing Sales Funnel

When designed and appropriately implemented, the sales funnel should flow seamlessly from one stage to the next, allowing your customer to drift down the funnel where the sale will naturally occur. The digital sales funnel stages are:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Decision
  • Action
Marketing Sales Funnel Infographic


Every sales funnel starts here with awareness. This first step aims to get as many eyes on your product as possible. The consumer is searching for a solution to a problem or desire they have. Awareness is the widest part of the funnel and captures the attention of as many people as possible.  


Once you’ve captured the attention of the potential customers, they become leads and begin the journey down the funnel into the interest zone. Fewer people will stay in the funnel past the awareness stage, but what remains are true, viable leads. The goal is to remind your leads of their problem and why your business is the solution they need. 

When done correctly, the interest stage will develop a trusting relationship between the consumer and your business. While every marketing campaign focuses on the top stage, gaining attention, perhaps the most crucial stage is the interest stage, where the interested party slides further down the funnel and becomes a loyal consumer.

This stage is about nuance. It is not about clinching the sale. When consumers are still in the funnel at this stage, they are serious about solving their problem or filling their need or want. They are perhaps comparison shopping and evaluating your product. Rather than force the consumer’s hand here, you should take the opportunity to educate the lead on your product’s strengths.


The lead has now found their way down the funnel to the decision stage. The crucial decision stage is: Will they bite or won’t they? Here is a perfect time to throw all your sales techniques at them. 

If the interest stage has functioned correctly, the consumer has had a soft sale experience with your business that has helped to cultivate a relationship that has built a bit of trust between you. Be mindful that competition might still be a factor at this point of the funnel. 


The lead has now reached the bottom of the funnel and is committed to buying your product. At this point, the lead is now fully converted into a customer. However, the process is never complete, as now is the time to consider customer retention and loyalty. 

Arriving at the action stage does not warrant the time to relax! The stage is called “Action” for a reason. This stage might offer one of the most crucial moments in the digital sales funnel process. The main goal in this stage is to turn your new customer into a loyal customer. 

Customer Retention in the Sales Funnel Process

Marketing campaigns spend a lot of dollars on the “Attention” stage when the money might be better spent ensuring brand loyalty. “It costs 5-7 more times to acquire a new customer than to drive an additional visit from an existing customer,” according to Marketing at Thanx

Thanx reports that increasing customer retention by just 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. So while loyal customers may make up only 20% of your audience, they might account for 80% of your revenue!

An excellent digital marketing sales funnel aims at converting leads not just to customers but to loyal customers. Don’t drop the ball here. You’ve convinced the customer to give your business a chance, and now’s the time to deliver what you promised.

Building an Online Marketing Sales Funnel

Now it’s time to apply the digital marketing sales funnel to your business. But where do you begin? 

Let’s break it all down.

Collect Data & Know Your Customers

Thinking through the sales funnel for digital marketing for your own business must start with understanding your customers and your target demographic. One mistake here is assuming you know your customers’ needs and preferences. You’ll also need to realize that something that worked last year might not work now. 

  • Talk to your customers: It seems too simple to be true, but just ask your customers for insights into their needs and what they’re looking for in a product or business. Give the people what they want, and they’ll return for more! What do they want? Well, ask them!
  • Publish surveys or polls: Why would businesses offer prizes for a completed survey? Information is valuable, and the return on investment is enormous. The survey feeds both ends of the funnel.
  • Take advantage of social media: Everyone and their grandma use social media these days. This pipeline from your business to consumers is very valuable. The comments on your leading social media platforms effectively help you get to know your customers better. 
  • Develop personas: One great way to get into your consumers’ heads is to develop personas. As you establish personas with background stories and family histories, you can begin to visualize the persona coming in contact with your business and moving down the funnel. What is likely to motivate your persona to buy your product? Answering these questions will aid in understanding your target audience.

Seize Your Audience’s Attention

Now that you understand your consumers, it’s time to consider the top portion of your sales funnel. The research you’ve done on your consumer should guide your decisions surrounding how to go about grabbing their attention. 

Generally speaking, you want to offer value while meeting the needs of your target audience. Consider a few tactics when trying to gain your audience’s attention:

  • Provoke an emotional response: A Nielsen study from 2015 revealed a 23% increase in sales due to provoking an emotional response from the consumer! The study also determined that consumers are 8.4 times more likely to trust brands they emotionally connect with
  • Use market research: There will be a time to talk about your business, but to grab attention, talk to and relate to your target audience. Use the market research and customer information you’ve gathered to create a message that will speak to and motivate your audience to engage further with your business.
  • Take action: Taking action is the ultimate goal in all these efforts. What does it take to move the casual consumer into a loyal customer? Help the consumer visualize the outcome of buying your product or service to solve their problem. Build out the visualization with expected timelines and reasonable outcomes.

Create a Landing Page

Another way to reach your audience is through your landing page. The landing page can be the first contact between your business and your customer or a tool for maintaining interest once you’ve gathered your audience’s attention. Since this might be the first impression with your prospective customers, it is vital to get the landing page right.

Here are a few elements to consider when crafting your landing pages:

  • Keep your message clear: Don’t lose your narrative in overly crowded and complicated landing pages. 
  • Keep your message quick: An average adult’s attention span is less than eight seconds. It is crucial to communicate why your product is worth their time and attention briefly and clearly.
  • Keep your message direct: Visualize the consumer standing in front of you and write your landing page as a direct message to that consumer.
  • Keep your message consistent: Make the digital marketing campaign align across the board. If you offer a coupon in an ad tied to your landing page, make sure the coupon is easy to find.
  • Keep your message bold: Communicate why the consumer needs your product or service clearly and concisely.
Landing Page Infographic

Develop an Email Drip Campaign

One method of maintaining contact with prospective customers is developing an email drip campaign. This entire purpose is to keep reminding consumers how your product or service will improve their lives. A drip campaign effectively achieves objectives such as building and maintaining interest and encouraging an ongoing relationship that will create loyal customers that generate recurring sales.

A successful drip campaign will reiterate your offer and slowly convince the lead to buy your product or service. Carefully consider your market and consumer research when crafting the campaign and determining such factors as content, frequency, and desired consumer reactions.

Across South Dakota, a traveler will find tons of billboards advertising Wall Drug Store. The billboards are evenly placed and stretch across the long state of South Dakota, traveling west. One estimate is that there are over 200 of these billboards. Even the most uninterested traveler eventually falls for the billboards and visits the store. How could you pass up the store after reading about it for so many miles? Constant communication is effective.

Maintaining constant contact will make your brand familiar to the customer. This tactic offers triggers that allow the consumer to make smaller decisions that eventually lead to the sale. Essentially, you slowly educate the consumer without bombarding them with all the relevant information at once. You’re slowly forming a relationship that fosters trust in your business.

Optimizing Your Online Marketing Sales Funnel

Optimize your online marketing sales funnel by aligning your consumer and market research with your message and offer

  • Always offer valuable content through social media, emails, newsletters, or landing pages. 
  • Collect information on interested leads through contact forms or newsletter signup forms. 
  • Constantly measure and analyze the results of your digital sales funnel efforts.

Benefits of Creating an Online Marketing Sales Funnel

More revenue is the biggest benefit of putting the effort into a sales funnel. A solid online marketing sales funnel will generate more online sales with a better lead conversion rate. The plan should help keep interested consumers in contact with your business until they commit.

A sales funnel allows more efficiency in the marketing effort. Rather than chasing down leads blindly, you can focus more on developing strong leads. The funnel should allow for easy monitoring to help develop the plan to reach leads and retain their interest.

Once a funnel is in place, it will repeatedly cycle, producing more consistent sales. The marketing process will become more predictable and easier to implement. Over time, with adjustments and improvements, it becomes a critical time and effort-saving tool.

Key Takeaways

Digital sales funnels will:

  • Generate more revenue
  • Gain more marketing efficiency
  • Keep leads and consumers interested and engaged
  • Repeat and automate to consistently produce sales

Sales Funnel Platforms

There are several platforms available to aid in building the online marketing sales funnel. Here are a few significant services that offer different functionalities.

Click Funnels

Click Funnels home screenshot

For entrepreneurs looking to expand their customer base, Click Funnels has many excellent features, including the ability to: 

  • Add contacts to email lists
  • Collect payments
  • Deliver products
  • Create drip campaigns
  • Craft landing pages and forms 
  • Increase cart value through upselling. 

Click Funnels offers a free trial for their service, with the basic plan starting at $80 per month.


Leadpages home screenshot

Leadpages is a landing page builder that offers premium services to its users. A few of the platform’s capabilities include: 

  • Pre-built templates
  • A form builder to create custom forms
  • Drag and drop capabilities to build content efficiently
  • Online booking tools
  • Ability to export and import data to and from the platform. 

Leadpages is great for building a landing page that will generate leads and sales. LeadPages offers a free trial, with plans beginning at $74 per month.


ActiveCampaign home screenshot

ActiveCampaign is a comprehensive marketing automation platform designed for developing email marketing campaigns. The service will allow 

  • Site tracking
  • Onsite messaging
  • Popups
  • Triggers

This platform is suitable for a full spectrum of businesses, from bloggers to advanced marketers. The Lite version begins at $29 per month.

Final Thoughts

Winston Churchill said it best: “Failing to plan is planning to fail!” An online marketing sales funnel is simply a plan to convert leads to maximum sales. It arranges the marketing campaign into a streamlined path that feels natural to the discerning consumer. It allows for client retention and automation, cycling over and over for continuous lead development. 

Did you find this article useful to your marketing efforts? What experience have you had with sales funnels? Share your experience with us in the comments below! 

Do you need premium content to help keep consumers flowing through your funnel? Word Allies offers premium content and a reasonable price. Chat with us today, and get your content plan started!

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