Marketing Funnel Stages: How to Tailor Your Strategy for Each Phase of the Customer Journey

Join Ellie Jordan, Performance Marketing Lead in Swanky’s Growth Accelerator team, as she explores how ecommerce marketers can adapt their strategies for each of the different marketing funnel stages.

A full-funnel marketing approach considers the entire 360-degree customer journey. It targets customers at different stages of the funnel, guiding them from awareness through to conversion, with tailored messaging in each phase.

From leveraging social media for brand visibility, nurturing leads with personalised content, to converting engaged users through targeted incentives, the full-funnel approach promises not just immediate sales boosts but long-term brand loyalty and revenue growth.

This article outlines the different stages of the marketing funnel – awareness, consideration, and conversion – and explores how to tailor your strategy for each stage to engage and persuade customers effectively.

What is a full-funnel marketing strategy?

It’s not uncommon for brands to adopt a disjointed approach to their marketing, with different teams focusing on different stages of the funnel. This might involve a PPC agency being engaged to deliver paid acquisition, whilst a separate CRO agency works to improve onsite conversion, for example. Whilst each may be specialists in their field, this siloed approach could easily leave you with areas of weakness or blind spots when it comes to understanding your data.

In contrast, full-funnel marketing takes the customer on a journey from first point of contact, through to first purchase and beyond. This global vision of your customer journey allows you to coordinate your approach.

Your aim across all marketing channels is to create a sense of ‘one-to-one’ conversation, ensuring consistency across the board to deliver a strong customer experience. You want to craft marketing messages for each particular stage of the funnel. This approach not only focuses on sales, but also gauges the interest of new audiences, nurtures relationships and builds better brand experiences.

A Google-commissioned Nielsen meta-analysis of consumer packaged goods campaigns recently revealed that full-funnel strategies generate up to 45% higher ROI compared to marketing campaigns that run across a single purchase stage.1

Targeting the different marketing funnel stages

So, how do you go about building a full-funnel marketing strategy? Let’s look at the main stages within the funnel, and the approach you will want to take for each stage with regards to your messaging.

Top of the funnel: Awareness

The first stage is widely known as top-of-funnel and is all about awareness. At this point, your marketing efforts should be focused on increasing visibility of your brand.

The channels you use at this stage will ultimately depend on your customer base / industry. Whichever channels you choose to leverage, it’s important to tailor your content accordingly. A video ad on TikTok may look very different from one on Instagram, for example.

How to target the top of the funnel

At the top of the funnel, your aim should be to gain interest, not necessarily pushing a hard sale from the start. Storytelling, presenting your brand and introducing your products are the best approaches at this stage.

One strategy is to emphasise any of your brand’s unique selling points (USPs) that resonate with your target audience, helping to connect with them and show why your brand or products are appealing.

Another approach could be to run a lead generation campaign, offering an incentive for people to sign up for your emails. Once the campaign has attracted new email subscribers, a personalised email flow can be used to nurture users further down the funnel and encourage them to make a purchase.

Paid social media is often an effective way to reach new audiences or target specific brand personas using engaging and informative content, such as videos. On average, video ads receive 612% more likes and comments than image ads.2 For this reason, using video at this awareness-building stage of the funnel is highly recommended.

Which metrics should you measure at the top of the funnel?

Measuring metrics and setting key performance indicators (KPIs) across the funnel is essential for proving your return on investment (ROI). Throughout the funnel, different objectives are required to help evaluate a strategy’s efficiency and success.

Metrics to measure for the top of the funnel should consist of the following:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Click through rate (CTR)
  • Reach
  • Website traffic
  • Landing page views
  • Brand lift
  • Average time on page
  • Bounce rate

Middle of the funnel: Consideration

In the customer journey, the middle of the funnel is crucial. This is where you have the opportunity to educate, nurture, and build a relationship with potential customers.

This stage will look to retarget website visitors and those who have previously engaged with ads. The ultimate goal is to guide prospects towards the bottom of the funnel so that they can make a decision to purchase your product or service.

Who should you target at the middle of the funnel?

The middle of the funnel focuses on users who are already aware of your products or services. You may have already captured this audience at the top of the funnel during the initial awareness stage, or this audience may already be in-market actively searching for your product or services.

Leveraging user data from the top of the funnel via audiences will help inform who to target with your middle-of-funnel advertising. Below are some examples of audiences to target.

Brand personas: A helpful tip is to create brand personas before starting any new marketing activity. This will help you to understand your audience from the beginning and enable you to segment personalised messages that feel like one-to-one conversations.

Social engagers: Social audiences that have already shown an interest in your brand and need to be re-engaged with or nurtured to the consideration stage of the funnel.

Purchaser lookalikes: This is a Meta audience whereby the platform’s pixel will analyse your current customers’ behaviours, demographics and interests to target lookalike customers who reflect similar characteristics.

Website visitors: This audience can be used across platforms for the middle of the funnel stage to keep nurturing website visitors who visited the website but did not purchase.

How to target the middle of the funnel

This marketing funnel stage will require unique strategies and tactics because your audience is closely examining your offering – and that of your competitors – in order to make an informed decision.

Marketing should be personalised in every way possible to keep your audience engaged. You should be aiming to share more information with targeted segments about your brand and products to drive traffic and conversion.

Here are some tactics to consider:

Highlight product USPs: Dive deeper into the key USPs of the products, giving your audience concrete reasons to buy your products. Be sure to include all the reasons to purchase directly from your store. This could include free delivery, money back guarantees, and highly rated customer service.

Personalised user journey: This is a great opportunity to unlock growth – after all, the ROI of personalisation can be significant. An example of a personalised user journey includes displaying a personalised landing page once a user clicks through a middle-of-funnel ad. To take this a step further you could add a unique email sign-up form so you can create a personalised welcome series flow with content crafted for the audience in mind.

Create content based on brand personas: Make sure to address your audience’s interests, needs, challenges and pain points in your marketing content. Create blog and video content specifically with your brand personas in mind.

Which metrics should you measure at the middle of the funnel?

At this stage of the funnel, you’ll want to see higher engagement and conversion rate from your audience. Metrics to measure include:

  • List building
  • Open rates
  • CTR
  • Time spent on page
  • Adds to cart
  • Product page views
  • Conversions
  • Conversion rate

Bottom of the funnel: Conversion

This is the final stage at the funnel and therefore you want the customer to purchase or take an action (this might include ‘book a demo’ for service-based businesses).

You have already captured an engaged audience that is aware of your brand; now you need to continue to ensure they understand that your product or service is the best choice to meet their needs.

Who to target at the bottom of the funnel

At the bottom of the funnel, ads are focused on retargeting those who have shown engagement, as well as pre-existing customers.

Abandoned cart: This is a highly engaged audience who have highlighted key products they are interested in purchasing.

Abandoned checkout: Again, a very highly engaged audience who have taken additional steps to the abandoned cart audience to start the checkout process.

Previous purchasers: These are your current customers who you may want to target again at the bottom of the funnel to come back and make repeat purchases. This can be an effective tactic for improving customer loyalty and retention.

VIP customers: Consider your VIPs as the top 10% of customers based on either revenue or average order value.

How to target the bottom of the funnel

When marketing to users in this part of the funnel, you’ll want to add urgency to their purchase decision, as well as giving them a reason to convert. You may also want to consider upsell and cross-sell campaigns to boost revenue and improve customer lifetime value.

Popular strategies to move users from the consideration stage to the conversion stage may involve offering incentives, such as discounts which can be deployed via retargeting ads or email campaigns.

Which metrics should you measure at this stage?

Metrics to measure at the bottom of the funnel should be linked to conversions and tracking your ROI:

  • Revenue
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA)
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS)
  • Average order value (AOV)
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV)
  • Media efficiency ratio (MER) 

More tips for a successful full-funnel marketing strategy

1. Establish trust & credibility

Establishing trust and credibility is essential for your brand to appear genuine, especially in today’s crowded digital landscape. This will help you attract loyal customers who come back and purchase again, which will benefit your business in the long run.

One effective way to demonstrate the trustworthiness and value of your offering is to incorporate social proof throughout the funnel, such as:

  • testimonials and case studies;
  • social proof advertisements;
  • shopping feed focused advertisements; and
  • customer review videos.

2. Evaluate & iterate

With any marketing campaign, and particularly a full-funnel approach, continued success relies on constantly reviewing and updating new marketing content to keep the sales funnel active. Allowing marketing campaigns to remain stagnant will eventually limit your efforts.

By continuously analysing key engagement and conversion metrics to understand the customer journey, you can identify what’s working, pinpoint areas for improvement, and optimise your efforts.

What results can I expect from a full-funnel marketing strategy?

A full-funnel marketing strategy can produce robust, long-term results for your business, as well as generating an immediate impact.

Swanky’s ecommerce digital marketing team has delivered impressive results for several of our clients by carefully tailoring our strategy to the different marketing funnel stages.

For example, in 2023, we helped to boost the DTC sales of one of our US clients from $550k to $1million in just five months.

This brand was seeing 93% of their website visitors at the final purchase stage leaving the item behind and abandoning the cart. Our aim was to shift the brand’s marketing strategy away from focusing solely on sales, instead considering the entire 360-degree customer journey to nurture relationships and build better brand experiences.

We implemented a full-funnel campaign structure across paid ad channels that included tailoring marketing messages to each touchpoint.

This involved a key focus on gauging new audiences on Meta, implementing automation on Klaviyo, and creating fully optimised Performance Max campaigns that convert on Google Ads. We also worked on improving their SEO strategy and performance.

Revenue growth was not the only goal, however. As an ambitious brand, the company is focused on ensuring that customer acquisition is as profitable as possible. Therefore, the metric TACoS (total advertising cost of sale) is being used as a KPI for optimising digital channels, measuring results and informing budgets.

Here are the results of implementing a full-funnel marketing strategy over five months:

  • +25% revenue from organic traffic
  • +19% on site conversion rate YoY
  • +40% orders
  • +39% net sales
  • +24.9% TACoS
  • +412% ROAS

A unified approach to the marketing funnel stages

At Swanky, our 60+ strong team consists of experts across fields, allowing us to successfully target every stage of the funnel. We have dedicated data and analytics, email marketing, paid advertising and SEO teams, each with a proven track record for delivering exceptional results.

Our teams work together on each client project to reduce silos and ensure we are delivering consistent messaging across the entire customer journey. Crucially, our data experts are on hand to provide accurate reporting that gives you a global view of your attributions and ROAS.

Here are just some of services we can offer to brands:

  • Full-funnel strategy and campaign management
  • Daily budget tracking and optimisations
  • Quarterly account review, refined strategy and activity roadmaps
  • Performance tracking: budget recommendations and objective setting
  • Tech support and tracking implementation for all channels
  • Weekly, bi-weekly or monthly reporting

If you’d like to discuss our full-funnel marketing services, get in touch with us by filling out a contact form.

For reference:

[1] Google-commissioned Nielsen meta-analysis of annual MMM results, U.S., 21 unique CPG brands, offline sales data, 2018–2020.


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