How to plan your marketing strategy with these 5 funnel stages

Marketing is not one-size-fits-all. From goals and strategies to channel selection and creative, there are choices that will be right for your company that just aren’t for others.

With the myriad of options available to marketers today, it can get overwhelming. So before you’re stuck staring at a blinking cursor on a blank Google Doc awaiting for you to populate it with your kickass marketing plan, consider using the marketing funnel to guide you.

It’s the approach I take whether I’m campaign planning for a client at The Quilted Squirrel ( or our own in-house plan), consulting on strategy, or developing a plan as an in-house Marketing Manager. I have long been a fan of creating well-rounded plans that support customers at all stages. It’s a great way to be mindful of what they need when, and in turn, helps meet business objectives.

Without further ado, here are the five key components of a highly effective marketing funnel to help you nail your next campaign.

1. Awareness

This is the very top of your funnel. You know, that wide opening that you’d pour water into when funneling it into a bottle filled with your favorite drink mix. Yum.

It’s the broadest part of your funnel for a reason. As you move your audience closer to conversion, the number of people in your funnel gets smaller and smaller. So you want to fill your cup with as many of the right people as possible.

Your goal? Identify who your audience is — those in need of your product or service (now or in the future), or for those who can connect with your brand story -and be on their radar.

Start by considering where your potential customers are engaging, what their habits are, what they care about, and be present there. But, it’s important to know you don’t have to be everywhere either, especially if you have a limited budget or resources.

Once you know the where, you can tackle the what. At this point, your creative will be more high-level.

  • Cover important topics on your blog
  • Share thought leadership content
  • Run a branded television or radio spot
  • Promote your content on social media

Whether they need your product or service now or later, they can’t be a customer if they don’t know you exist.

2. Consideration

Your funnel just got a little bit smaller. And that’s more than okay! It’s actually a good thing, because the people still around have potential.

You’ve piqued their interest, now you’re being evaluated.

Simply put, will someone buy the thing from you, or from someone else? So you have an opportunity to create a deeper connection. Lean into it and focus on providing value and building trust.

What resources would help someone better understand your offering or what it’s like to work with your company?

  • Dive into best practices and use cases with a webinar series
  • Marry your high-level thinking with product know-how in a white paper
  • Offer a custom demo or free trial
  • Provide social proof and customer testimonials
  • Stay connected with a strong email campaign

Your courtship is not over yet, so put your best foot forward by thinking about what your audience values.

3. Conversion

And the winner is? …drum roll please… You! Yeah, that’s right, you’ve got new customers!

You’ve put in the work. You’ve caught their interest. You’ve built rapport. You’ve passed the evaluation. Now back it up with a smooth buying process.

  • Create an email strategy to align with a sale
  • Say “thank you” for their business
  • Invite new customers to engage with your community

Before we move on, I’m going to throw you for a little loop. When I plan, I start by checking my objective with this stage. Why? Because this stage defines what I’m trying to accomplish.

While revenue is a common goal here, that may not always be the case. Maybe your aim is to build an email list or grow your social media following. That’s fine, too. I tend to consider these throughout my funnel in a broader marketing plan, but you don’t have to.

So before you decide on what your earlier stages look like, make sure your objective is clear.

Okay, moving along. Remember that closing the deal does not mean the work is over. Recurring business is a big piece of your funnel.

4. Retention

You know all that effort you put into gaining new customers? Don’t let it go to waste. Retaining your existing customers is vital. And if you’re looking for some easy wins with your marketing plan, take a good look at what you’re doing post sale to keep those customers coming back.

  • Create an engaging online community for your customers
  • Say thank you or reward them for their continued business
  • Provide valuable resources to deepen their relationship with you
  • Share product tutorials, promotions or helpful blogs in a newsletter
  • Collect testimonials and give them a shout out

However you do it, create space for them to continue to engage with you. Do it well, and you’re onto our final stage.

5. Advocacy

The promised land. It’s here where I want to say “screw the funnel, and look at this as a cycle.” This is where your customers do the validating for you.

Up to this point, you’ve stood out enough to catch their eye, connected enough to beat out the competition, provided a pleasant enough buying experience, and even kept up your rep over time. And now, your customers are referring you, even singing your praises.

They’re bringing new people into your funnel that are already starting with inherent trust in you. #GOALS

  • Build a community around your brand
  • Reward your advocates
  • Engage, engage, engage!

Marketing tactics are always evolving. If you can learn to apply your strategy and supporting tactics based on these 5 stages, you can be sure to have a well-rounded plan in place to lead you to success.

Originally published at




Chief Perception Officer @ Jib Sheet Partners | Marketer & Storyteller | Fitness Enthusiast | Dog Mom

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Stephanie Danielsson

Stephanie Danielsson

Chief Perception Officer @ Jib Sheet Partners | Marketer & Storyteller | Fitness Enthusiast | Dog Mom

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