What is an Online Marketing Funnel?

| September 5, 2017

If you have ever used a funnel, you know what one looks like. The idea is that you can focus a large quantity of something down into a very narrow flow. That is why funnels are wide at the opening and extremely narrow, sometimes even pointed, at the bottom. This upside down pyramid shape also works extremely well online for building your business.

The attention span of people online is extremely short. There are so many marketing messages, social media sites, consumer electronics and other media vying for the attention of your prospect. This is exactly the reason why an online marketing funnel is so important. You focus, or funnel, the attention of your prospects in a very specific way, providing value, building a relationship and eventually presenting an offer.

Start with a Large Prospect Pool And Narrow the Focus

Before you ever create your online business, you have to narrow your focus. Much like a funnel directs a stream or flow into a very narrow channel, you want to focus on a niche inside a niche inside a niche. This makes the marketing funnels you develop much more effective. In other words, instead of getting into weight loss, or even weight loss for women, marketing funnels will be more successful if you offer weight loss products aimed at overweight grandmothers over 50.

Once you focus on a niche market, you need to build your online marketing funnel. This is going to hopefully take your prospect through the following stages.


The people in your market need to discover your website or blog. You accomplish this through paid advertising, word-of-mouth referrals, search engine optimization that sends you free traffic and a multitude of additional marketing methods both online and off. Here you’re filling your funnel at the top.


Now you have some traffic to your online piece of real estate. Offer them something for nothing. This is known as an opt-in bribe or opt-in freebie. Get your audience interested. In exchange for signing up to your newsletter or email list, you send your subscriber a high-value report, checklist, e-book or list of resources, or some other piece of content that solves a big problem or answers a big question in the minds of your target audience.


You have now funneled a large group of people into a smaller group that makes up your email list. Here is where you begin to build your relationship with them. Offer them a lot of value. Continue to answer questions and solve problems. Send out emails on a continual basis through an autoresponder program that handles the task automatically.

Make the Sale

Early in your autoresponder sequence, make an inexpensive offer that is to hard to pass up. Later on, after sending several additional emails that deliver a lot of free value, make a bigger offer. If your list purchases either your smaller or larger offer, immediately offer them an upsell, which is a pricier option.


You should now be building 2 lists. You will have buyers and non-buyers. Funnel your buyers to a particular autoresponder sequence so that you don’t needlessly make them the same offer they already responded to. Non-buyers should continue to receive valuable free content in your email sequence, as well as offers to purchase your products that they passed on the first time. Continue to build your relationships.

At the beginning, at the discovery stage, you may have 1,000 people visiting your website every day. You may only have 50 or 100 people each day sign up to your email list, accepting your free incentive. As you build a relationship with that small group of people and make an offer, you may see only 5 sales per day. The funnel is always a trickle down process, where you eventually end up dealing with a smaller number of very interested people rather than a huge group of people that are mildly concerned about what you have to say.

The key is to online business success constantly fill your funnel at the top.

It is great to have Google and the other search engines send you lots of free traffic, based on the quality content you put on your site, and your efforts at SEO. However, search engine algorithms can change and your free traffic can grind to a halt. You should constantly spend some of your online business proceeds filling your marketing funnel at the top with paid traffic, because the greater the numbers at the top of your funnel, the greater your sales and profits will be at the bottom.

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