A lead funnel is a representation of the journey that leads make from becoming aware of your brand to becoming paying customers. It’s usually divided into several stages — awareness, interest, decision, and action. Companies use lead funnels to optimize their marketing efforts, speed up the lead-to-customer conversion intervals, and save their budget.

Lead funnel illustration

Why is a lead funnel important?

Creating a lead funnel will help you organize your marketing efforts so that lead generation, nurturing, and sales processes work in balance. To build an effective lead funnel, you need to deeply analyze your audience, define the best communication channels for each stage, and cut loose any methods that are not working for your brand.

With a well-thought lead funnel, you can gather leads and convert them into paying customers with ease. Now, let’s review all the lead funnel stages.

4 Basic Lead Funnel Stages

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Decision
  4. Action

Let's imagine a customer making their journey through the lead funnel, we'll call him John.

Awareness

In the awareness stage, the future customer faces the problem that your product can solve for the first time. John has a strong cough when he spends a long time at home. When he wakes up in the morning, he feels his throat is dry, and suspects the dust and dry air provoked these symptoms.

In this stage, people try to identify the problem, so they are searching for information, usually on Google. In this case, John’s query is probably something like “dry air at home.” Look at the search results for this query:

Google search in the awareness stage

The very first result gives a solution to the problem, now the user moves on to the next stage of the lead funnel.

Interest

Now, John knows he should rehydrate his home with a humidifier — the right product to improve his home climate. In the interest stage, people are searching for more specific information. John wants to know everything about humidifiers, and his query is “how to choose a humidifier.” Here’s the result:

Google search in the interest stage

Starting from this stage, you can convert leads into customers. A company in the example above tries to do just that using Google Ads. However, the ad is poorly targeted, offering an industrial humidifier, so it fails.

Imagine that John opens the page from Allergy Buyer Club and it looks relevant and has a lot of information about humidifiers. Here is the contents of this article, which is a great read in the Interest stage.

Contents of the article read in the interest stage

Usually, users only check the results from the first page of their Google search. Make sure your brand ranks highly, at least for long-tail keywords, like “how to choose a humidifier for home.”

Now, the future customer knows exactly what kind of product they need. So they move down the lead funnel to narrow their search.

Decision

At this stage, people choose a specific product based on its key characteristics. To compare humidifiers from various brands, John searches for “best home humidifiers” on Google. The example below, is a so-called “rich result” page — a comparison of 16 the best humidifiers with customer reviews, pricing, photos — everything to make the decision easier.

Search results showing top humidifiers

In this stage, you need to sell the idea that your company or product can solve problems better than your competitors. If your product is expensive, you can create a landing page that highlights all technical specifications, shows how it works, provides customer reviews, etc.

John doesn’t cut corners when it comes to his health, so he decides to buy an expensive Dyson’s humidifier after he examines their landing page. When users are ready to buy, you need to offer them a good deal, so they want to purchase from your brand.

Dyson's landing page

Action

Once people choose a product, they browse different online shops searching for the best price. At this stage, make an irresistible offer to convert a lead into a paying customer.

Note that people may start communicating with your brand at any stage of the funnel, so make sure your company provides relevant, quality content throughout their customer lifecycle.

Now that you know the stages of a lead funnel, let’s see how to create one.

How to create a lead funnel with SendPulse

  1. Generate leads
  2. Nurture leads
  3. Close sales
  4. Inspire customers to return

It seems Dyson has a huge marketing budget for their lead funnel that converted John into a customer. If your business is on a tight budget, you can create an effective lead funnel using free digital marketing tools from SendPulse, including subscription forms, email templates, automated emails, and chatbots.

Here are the basic things you need to do to create an effective lead funnel:

Generate leads

If you have a website or blog with some traffic, you can add SendPulse’s double opt-in subscription form to your site, like in the example below.

Double opt-in subscription form created with SendPulse

Use a lead magnet to motivate more visitors to subscribe. Promise a helpful free ebook, a PDF presentation, or a step-by-step guide in exchange for the user’s email address.

Nurture leads

Once users have subscribed to your mailing list, send an automated welcome email to greet them. After that, you need to stir up their interest in your brand by sharing relevant content in emails.

You can create email templates in three ways with SendPulse:

Here’s an example of an email template created with SendPulse in half an hour.

Email tempate created in SendPulse's drag and drop editor

Combine educational and entertaining content with promotional emails, work with objections, and bring your leads closer to purchasing your products.

Close sales

Make sure that it’s convenient to make an order from your shop. If something goes wrong and users leave their purchase halfway, you can send automated abandoned cart emails to encourage them to return and finish shopping.

Here’s how an abandoned cart email workflow looks in SendPulse’s Automation 360.

Let’s say some leads bought your products. What is the next step?

Inspire customers to return

You need to continue communication with existing clients since it’s easier to convert them again and again than it is to generate and nurture new leads.

Start by sending a feedback request email to make sure your customers are happy with your products. Send regular email campaigns to your clients and offer bonuses and discounts to reward their loyalty.

Some leads who bought from you may ignore all your messages after the purchase. Send reactivation emails to inactive leads, re-engage them, and remind of the value you share with your audience. Here’s an example of a reactivation email.

Reactivation email example

Now that you understand how to create a lead funnel using free digital marketing tools, let’s finish this guide with some best practices to help you optimize your efforts.

5 Best Practices to Optimize Your Lead Generation Funnel

  1. Use automation
  2. Build long-lasting relationships
  3. Target and personalize your messaging
  4. Monitor customer retention at each stage
  5. Upsell and cross-sell

We’ve collected five actionable tips to improve your lead funnel. Here they are:

  1. Use automation. You can use chatbots to automate communication at different stages. With SendPulse, you can create up to three chatbots for Facebook Messenger and Telegram at no cost. Chatbots can reduce the workload on your marketing and sales teams. Follow this guide to create your first chatbot.
  2. Build long-lasting relationships. Working with existing customers is cheaper than acquiring new leads and nurturing them. Focus your efforts on customer loyalty programs and create good conditions for your customers to return, buy more, and spread good word-of-mouth about your brand.
  3. Target and personalize your messaging. Use personalization throughout your messages at all lead funnel stages. It will provoke a better and more emotional response and speed up conversions. Learn how to personalize your emails with this guide.
  4. Monitor customer retention at each stage. This will help you identify the blind spots in your digital marketing strategy. Increase the retention rate at each stage to improve the overall efficiency of your lead funnel.
  5. Upsell and cross-sell. Upselling helps you sell more expensive analogs of the products your lead initially wanted to buy. While cross-selling is necessary to sell additional products to accompany the original purchase. These two marketing techniques help to earn more money without much sweat.

Congratulations, you’ve learned what a lead funnel is and how it works. We hope you will use SendPulse’s free tools for the benefit of your business.

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