What is a conversion funnel? Definition and examples

A conversion funnel, also called a conversion funnel (funnel corresponds to the English term “funnel”), or sales funnel / tunnel, is a digital marketing term that describes the different stages of the purchase journey leading to an act of purchase. The use of the word “funnel / funnel” illustrates the gradual decrease in the number of prospects or potential customers as they are guided to the bottom of the conversion funnel, as it narrows.

The conversion funnel is often divided into three main parts, which are the upper funnel, the middle funnel and the lower funnel, which helps marketing teams determine and come up with the right marketing strategies and tactics to increase rates. conversions. It’s also common to hear terms like “top of the funnel” and “bottom of the funnel”. All of these terms refer to the level of knowledge that a potential customer – or prospect – has of a product and where it is in the buying journey .

What is a conversion funnel?

Let’s see more precisely what it is:

Top of the Funnel »

It is at the top of the funnel or tunnel that the user begins to research a given product, but they are not yet sure what they really need or what technical characteristics of the product they are looking for. he would need. This is when he will spend time researching information about different brands in order to try to understand which brand can best meet his needs and issues.

Middle Funnel

At this later stage, potential customers are familiar with the most popular brands and may have signed up for email campaigns to receive information about the products of interest to them. They now have more precise expectations of what they want and will theoretically no longer go back to brands that they consider inferior and incapable of offering them good value for money.

Bottom of the Funnel

Prospects have now decided what their favorite brands are and they are starting to seek reviews and information from customers to find out precisely what they can expect from the products or services marketed by those brands. Tactics like remarketing and long tail keyword optimization will help you stay in the minds of prospects at this point in the conversion process.

Here is now a precise model of conversion funnel in 4 steps.

4-step conversion tunnel model:

The ideal model for your conversion funnel is going to depend in large part on the type of business you run. But it is often divided into 4 levels: “Awareness”, “interest”, “Desire” and “Action”. The goal of building a conversion tunnel is to transform as many prospects as possible into customers or to make them take the desired action (subscribing to your newsletter, downloading a PDF file, etc.) in the last step. While each stage of the funnel has its own purpose, such as attracting new visitors or igniting their interest in your products, the overarching goal is to drive them to the final conversion step.


The first step in your conversion funnel is to attract traffic and visitors to your website. As the name of the stage suggests, at this stage you need to promote your company and your products. Determining the sources that generate the most of your qualified traffic will help you make more informed decisions about the most effective tactics to implement. For example, most digital commerce companies rely a lot on attracting targeted traffic through advertising, content marketing and social media campaigns, not to mention organic search.


Once you start driving traffic to your website, the next task is to generate visitors’ interest in your products and services. Attractive content, compelling offers, and a pleasing design can come in very handy at this point in your downturn. It is also important to see if your “baiting” methods are working well. To do this, for example, ask your prospects to subscribe to your newsletter in exchange for a discount or free delivery. This will definitely help you gauge their interest in your brand.


The next step is to build feelings of trust and desire in your future customers, and help them learn more about your brand and products. Visitors who reach this stage of the funnel are considered highly qualified prospects and should be encouraged to descend further down the funnel. Emailing campaigns designed to deliver targeted and personalized content are a reliable technique to retain prospects and keep them coming back to your website.


The last phase is also the most important. So far, your prospects have walked through your conversion funnel by performing minor actions, such as signing up for your newsletter or downloading a white paper or e-book, which are referred to as “microconversions”.

However, your ultimate goal is more ambitious: to persuade your prospects to convert and make a purchase. If a lot of prospects have unsubscribed at this point, it indicates that your lead development strategy needs to be reviewed or improved.

When you go to design your conversion funnel and start analyzing the results, you’ll see that only a small percentage of visitors who land on your website actually make it to the last step. That’s why even the smallest improvements at each level of your funnel can have a significant impact on your sales.

To optimize your funnel, you need to understand your customers’ behavior and identify the causes of your funnel “leaks” every step of the way.

How to optimize your conversion funnel

The easiest and most logical way when you start to think about optimizing your sales funnel is to break it down into major parts – upper, middle, and lower. The function of the top funnel is to attract new contacts. The middle funnel is responsible for turning those contacts into qualified leads, and the bottom funnel is where macroconversions happen. Each part of the funnel needs to be approached differently, and therefore different marketing techniques will be used.

Here are some examples of what you can do to improve each part of your funnel:

Optimization of the upper funnel

The traffic you send to your online store will largely determine the effectiveness of your funnel. If you drive unwanted traffic, i.e. visitors who are not interested in your products, the quality of your funnel won’t matter because your leads won’t come back. Focusing on generating quality traffic is therefore the first step in optimizing your top funnel.

There are different methods to do this, which you can test, such as optimizing your keywords for paid search and display ads, recalibrating the targeting of your social media ads (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn Ads) and creating unique content optimized with your keywords (blog posts, eBooks, guides, infographics, videos, etc.)

Optimization of the intermediate funnel

So you have successfully attracted qualified leads to your site. This is where the real work begins. The purpose of the middle funnel is to establish a relationship of trust between your brand and your prospects, and has demonstrated the benefits of your product. Depending on the length of your conversion funnel, you will need a number of different interactions with your future customers to gain their trust and take them to the next level. You have at your disposal a range of different tools and techniques: customer reviews / testimonials, product reviews, case studies, community forum, price comparisons, engaging content, etc.

Understanding your customer’s mindset and expectations plays a major role in the success of your tactics. It is therefore essential to perform continuous A / B testing and collect feedback, as well as tracking your Key Performance Indicators (KIPs).

Lower funnel optimization

As your prospects come to the end of the funnel, the hardest part is yet to be done. You’ve put a tremendous amount of effort into guiding them from the awareness phase to the buying act, so letting them go now would be a big loss. Businesses that are able to turn one-time buyers into repeat customers are armed for success.

How do you get there? The more customer data you have, the more you can create personalized and targeted experiences and keep your customers interested in your brand and coming back for more. Once a prospect has converted, bring them back into the nurturing phase and continue to maintain relationships through targeted offers and email campaigns.

There remains the worrying case of cart abandonment.

There are several reasons why a potential customer abandons their cart and slips through your fingers at the last second. These visitors may simply browse, compare prices, or even forgot to complete their purchase. An abandoned cart doesn’t always mean a sale is missed, as it is possible to continue communicating with these “near” customers, using email marketing, recycling ads, or even push notifications.

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