The Marketing Funnel: Understanding the Basics for Performance Marketing

What is a Marketing Funnel? 

The marketing funnel reflects the customer journey: the path a person takes from their first exposure to your product through making a purchase and beyond.  

At the top of the funnel, people are unfamiliar with your brand or product. Each stage of the funnel shrinks – or funnels – as the audience becomes more defined and more likely to make a purchase. 

A standard marketing funnel follows these steps: 

  • Awareness
  • Consideration or Interest
  • Action or Conversion 

Successful digital marketers nurture users during each stage of the funnel based on their needs in order to drive e-commerce sales. 

Good marketers adjust their materials based on each phase of the funnel, referred to as “high funnel” or “low funnel” tactics. High funnel tactics may be more broad, such as a billboard or national TV spot, while lower funnel tactics are more targeted, such as emailing a user who abandoned their cart at your e-commerce site. 

Before you get started with the funnel, make sure you’re set up for success. Operam can guide you through conversion setup to customer segmentation, and everything else you need to develop your performance marketing funnel.

The Performance Marketing Funnel

The performance marketing funnel goes beyond a single action and reflects the lifetime value and experience of a customer. 


Awareness is the launching pad – your first touchpoint with the customer. The purpose of this stage is to introduce your brand, product, or service to the customer. Awareness can take many forms, such as: 

  • Billboard introducing your new product line
  • Local TV spots announcing a new store location 
  • Programmatic ads targeting lookalikes of existing customers

Be careful not to overload your customer with too much information or by offering a big discount. The goal is to breed familiarity with and interest in your product. Trying to convert them at the same time can lead to swirl.  

Validation and Consideration

During this stage, reinforce your message and highlight your value proposition. Show your customer why your product is a perfect fit for their needs. 

Frequency is a crucial component as you lead a customer through the user journey, so build ad recall by delivering your message the optimal number of times. Consider leveraging how-to videos or customer testimonials to validate your product. 

Conversion and Purchase

Once the potential customer is familiar with and has confidence in your product, it’s time to convert them into a purchaser. 

Nurture them to complete their purchase. For example, if a user looked at a product on your site, but didn’t complete their purchase, offer a timely discount on that item.  

Retention and Referral

Now it’s time to turn your customer into a repeat customer and brand advocate. 

Connect with your customer and make sure they’re satisfied. For example, once they receive their purchase, email an instructional video or setup guide. Continue strengthening the relationship by suggesting complementary products that will enhance their purchase. 

Empower your customers to advocate for your product. You can even incentivize sharing with discounts or exclusive offers. 

Make sure to reach out at appropriate times. You don’t want to ask for a review if the product was backordered. 

Defining your Performance Marketing Funnel

At Operam, we test and optimize conversions at each stage of the funnel to make sure the user journey is efficient and effective. 

Contact us to map your performance marketing funnel.