Though there are many different methods used to attract and retain a customer base, many companies choose to utilize one that is commonly referred to as a marketing funnel. This method is useful because it follows a logical progression of narrowing down the number of people from many to those that become customers without compromising any beliefs or using practices that contradict with company beliefs. To best understand this method, it is important to understand that goals for marketing funnels include things like utilizing worthwhile marketing methods, attracting customers and retaining them.
The top of the funnel
At this stage, things can be somewhat vague. Advertising, marketing, connection - these are all activities that occur at this stage of the game, where the inbound marketing funnel is at its widest. Branded promotions are meant to attract new site visitors, as well as appeal to existing customers, so this is quite useful for companies at all stages of their game. The idea is to take this large amount of site traffic and appeal to many (but not all) visitors. This step is the beginning of the next portion of the funnel.
Center of the funnel
At this stage, it is about converting visitors to customers, as well as extending the interaction and appeal of the brand to interested parties. The appeal of brands is dependent on what they show to visitors - the people need to feel involved and included, and they need to be guided toward making decisions which will be considered favorable for the organization or brand. This portion of the funnel is much more centralized than the very top - the pool of participants is smaller and more focused, and the marketing strategies used are more geared toward specific people or needs.
The funnel's bottom
Including both the finality of sales and the retention of customers, the funnel's bottom is arguably the most important aspect of the online marketing funnel model. People will often try something out, but they need to be convinced to stay around for the long run. A sales and marketing funnel is only as successful as the satisfaction rate allows it to be, so the model is dependent on marketing campaigns and objectives, not simply on following the flow of people. Satisfied customers will often promote the product or service to those who are unfamiliar, which helps to begin the process over again - and adds to the "pool" of potential clients at the top of the funnel.