Do you currently know where in the purchasing journey your buyers are? While the buyer’s journey isn’t as riddled with complex villains and obstacles like fairy tale adventures, it is still filled with new questions to be answered. For successful sales, it’s important to understand how your buyer goes from prospect to loyal customer.

That’s where a sales funnel becomes your best friend. Knowing exactly what to do at all three stages – top, middle, and bottom – will provide you with a stellar track record and exceptional leads. Here’s what you need to know about all three stages of the sales funnel and how you can provide the best solution to your customers at all three.

From Awareness to Action: The Stages of the Sales Funnel

There’s a reason why the old adage “start at the end” is so popular – it encourages you to know exactly what you’d like at the end result and to reverse engineer a plan to get you there. The same can be said for a sales funnel. In a recent blog article published on Weidert, the marketing agency stated that “50 percent of qualified leads are not ready to make a purchase when they first convert.” Knowing this, you can work from the end – the desired goal, or action you’d like your customer to take – and design a plan that helps them get there.

In 1898, the advertising trailblazer Elias St. Elmo, founded the AIDA model which would then, with the brains of William H. Townsend, become the first marketing funnel. The AIDA model is made of 4 stages in the buying journey: Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action.

At the awareness stage, a customer has just identified their challenge. This leads them into the interest stage, where they begin looking for solutions. As they learn and gather information, their desire and understanding of how to tackle their problem grows. Finally, when multiple solutions and results have been presented the customer decides on which action they’d like to take.

The AIDA model has since been simplified to create a 3-tier funnel: top, middle, and bottom.


Build brand awareness at the top of the funnel

The top of the funnel (TOFU for short) stays true to the AIDA model – this is where your customer is coming into their own awareness. This is when they’ll chat with friends about their situation and begin to Google what to do. At this stage in their journey, a customer is seeing what their options are. They’re seeing what can be done to remedy the situation and what the best way to deal with their challenge is.

Lead generation at this stage will be about introducing your client to your business, and how you can help them. Easily accessible resources, such as blogs, introductory guides, and workshops help come in at this stage. Your customer is looking for an understanding of the challenge, and how your products or services are designed to help them.

Content to offer: Blogs, email newsletters, social media

Provide clients with a solution at the middle of the funnel

As customers move down the funnel, they’ll become warm leads. These are prospects who have browsed your blogs, downloaded an eBook or two, and are interested in learning more about your business. This makes up the middle of the funnel (MOFU). In this stage, the interest and desire components of the AIDA model are combined to create the consideration stage.

In the consideration stage, customers are looking to delve deeper into what they’ve already learned. You begin to build trust and loyalty with your customer. Many businesses offer an introductory discount to encourage customers to sign up for their newsletter, or they may offer a downloadable white paper with more in-depth information. Use this stage to help your customer understand how you’re able to help them.

Content to offer: eBooks, webinars, exclusive or gated content

Creating a customer for life at the bottom of the funnel

Once your customer has moved past the consideration phase, they’re ready to take action at the bottom of the funnel (BOFU). They’ve had multiple interactions now with your brand, and believe you’re the best solution. This is where additional offers and upgrades work best.

“The function of the upper funnel is to attract new visitors. The middle funnel is responsible for turning new visitors into qualified leads and the lower funnel is where the macro conversions, or purchases, happen,” e-commerce specialists, Oberlo explains.

For conversions or purchases at this stage, begin to create a dialogue or conversation with your customer to help them choose the best solution. This can be done through consultations, or even offering personalized deals and content – for instance, if a customer signed up for a certain type of eBook then you can create an email flow to follow up with content they’d be interested in.

Content to offer: discount codes, product trials, demos

Converting your leads into a marketing machine

As you nurture leads from a prospect into a customer, you’ll begin to see where you can optimize your sales funnel to create a loyal fan base. Begin with the top of the funnel and build awareness of your products and services. Consider what your customer is seeking and the kinds of questions they’re likely to ask at this stage.

In the middle of your funnel, offer potential solutions and more information. This is where case studies will work well and help your customer get a deeper understanding of what exactly they’re dealing with.

Finally, at the bottom of the funnel, open up the dialogue. Offer the best solution and continue to build the relationship you’ve created. For your buyer, the journey still continues. Once they’ve purchased from you it’s time to turn them into a loyal advocate – continue to offer them solutions and nurture the lead. Want more on bottom of the funnel leads? Check out this piece on how to identify bottom of the funnel leads.