Funnel: How to Create a Sales Funnel in 4 Steps

funnel neil patel

You'd laugh too, snickers Neil Patel, if you had a sales funnel.
But what is a sales funnel? And why is it so important in web marketing? Let's see it in this comprehensive guide. As usual, let's start with a definition.

What is a sales funnel? Meaning, definition and translation

Funnel, also known as sales funnel, can be literally translated as sales funnel. In the world of (web) marketing and more generally in every business, a sales funnel represents your potential customer's journey from when they enter your sales funnelor, as we shall see, becomes a lead in a path of Lead Generation, until he becomes a client, and then fan, testimonial, "ambassador" of your product or service, to follow a traditional distinction in Inbound Marketing.

The 3 stages of the customer in the sales funnel

What, customers aren't born customers? As you well know, no. Before he became a customer, he was what is called a prospect, and before that a leadbut let's go step by step and try to understand the 3 stages of customer interaction with your product or service.

Here they are represented in this image:

lead prospect customers

In this first stage, there are the lead. What are leads? Literally contacts "led", guided (to lead precisely) to enter the sales funnelusually, in the traditional definition, when they enter the funnel and leave their contact details they are called prospects, but being a lesser used term than lead, here we will use in general lead to mean the contact that is acquired in an initiative that not by chance is called Lead Generation (which I also wrote a book about, Lead Generation indeed). 

Only once a visitor potentially interested in your product or service becomes a lead or prospect, through certain actions, often called of Lead Nurturing and using automated tools in the context of theemail marketing automationcan become customers.
Generalizing the process, a sales funnel is a path that is aimed at intercepting the contact data of a lead, turning it into a prospect, taking care of the relationship in order to turn it into a sales funnel. customeror customer.
A point of clarification is needed here.

The sales funnel is not a tube, but...

As the name implies, the funnel is a funnel. And as you know, A lot goes into the funnel, but not much comes out. If in a sales process it is absolutely physiological that it converts a smaller portion of those who enter the sales funnel (otherwise the funnel would be a tube) on the other hand it will be It's our job to make sure that as many of those who enter the sales funnel as possible leave as customers.
Before we figure out how to do that, let's preempt a possible objection: is a funnel really necessary? Here are 4 reasons to say yes, dammit!

But is a funnel really necessary? 4 reasons to say Yes, damn it!

You may ask: but is a funnel really necessary? And why?

Essentially for 4 reasons:

#1 Cold selling is difficult

Unless you're a famous brand like Amazon, which gets to record a 74% conversion rate from Prime customers, selling to a person who doesn't know who you difficult, especially in buying processes characterized by a long decision-making process, complex features to understand, and high prices (as is often the case in B2B).

#2 Most visitors will not convert right away

Statistics confirm that the vast majority of those who access a site leave it without converting, especially in the cases described a few lines above.
Did you know that according to one statistic, 97% of visitors to an ecommerce abandon it without converting?
Or that 67% of them will simply purchase at a later time?

Or rather, he will if he returns to the site to do so.
A study by Gleanster Research confirms that up to 50% of the qualified visitors (targets or prospects) to a site are not ready to buy. Of the remaining 50% the first half (25%) are not interested, the other half are ready to buy.

#3 If you don't connect, you lose the user

Precisely because the vast majority of visitors to your site will not become customers as soon as they enter, it is it's imperative that we make a connection, to avoid, for example, spending money driving people to your site who then leave and never return. There are various ways to make a connection with your user, as we will see later.
Here we focus on the 3 economic damages you must suffer if you don't connect to your site visitor. Let's look at them together.

  • Problem #1 (Direct Economic Damage): Failure to Convert: If half of the visitors to your site aren't ready to convert there is direct financial damage, derived from missed sales;
  • Problem #2 (Indirect Economic Damage): Lack of return on advertising investment: If that's not enough, to get that 50% of visitors to the website you may have invested in activities such as advertising campaigns Google Ads, Facebook Advertising or in the acquisition of organic traffic through activities SEO and therefore suffered an indirect economic damage, given by the frustration of the advertising investment;
  • Problem #3 (Indirect Economic Damage): Failure to return the user: Ok, you'll say, but if the user is not ready he will be sooner or later, and he'll be back. Are you sure about that? According to statistics reported by Tony Haile of Chartbeat on a well-known article in the Time, 55% of visitors will spend less than 15 seconds on the page and the vast majority will not return. Why is that? Now we find out.
The eternal (non) return of the visitor

Imagine you are walking in a new city: you notice a shop, you go in, you see something you like and then you go out because you "have to think about it" or you don't have time. The next day you decide to come back, but you don't remember exactly where it was: you can easily find it again by thinking of some physical references such as monuments, other shops...that help you find your way back.
On the web, however, it doesn't work like that, precisely because of the absence of precise references. Imagine entering a ecommerce via an advertising link found on Facebook or Google Ads. See something you like and then leave. Unlike the previous example, you won't be able to find the site easily., especially if you got there by linking to an advertisement that has currently disappeared.

The solution: connect to the visitor

Let's summarize the situation: it is physiological that a good part of the targeted traffic that enters your site leaves without converting. It's just as plausible that they won't remember the name of the site or how they got there, losing any chance of returning and converting..

It is therefore necessary to connect to the visitor as soon as they enter the site.
In general, there are several methods to connect with your visitor, let's see which ones.

5 methods to get a visitor into the funnel

  • ask him for his email addressI refer you to the 8 Tools & 4 Strategies to Increase Your Newsletter Subscribers. This type of connection, however effective, has limitations: it requires an exchange commodity (Lead Magnet) to give in exchange for the email and suffers from typical KPI problems of theemail marketing such as missed opens and clicks to emails, emails that end up in spam or in the infamous "Promotions" tab of Gmail, a percentage of inactive users;
  • make them click "like" on the Facebook page. A simpler connection than the previous one but which has a problem: the Reach organic reach of your Facebook Page status updates, now at 10% will drop even further. Simply put: it's going to be harder and harder to reach your Facebook Page fans in the future.
  • intercept them with the retargeting of Facebook Advertising or Google Ads: it is not a real connection, but it can be a preliminary step to the real contact, such as the subscription to the newsletter;
  • browser notifications: In a previous post, I talked about this amazing connection tool, browser notifications, which can be implemented for example with a tool like PushCrew. Judging by the click-through rates, they can be a good way to build a connection.
  • a final way can be to create a Telegram channel: together with the previous one, they can be 2 effective ways to do lead generation on Mobile;

#4 Sometimes people need time to convert

Without bothering with American statistics, FriendStrategy's beautiful analysis confirms how the time that depending on the person it takes a variable amount of time to convertI mean, some people buy 2 days after entering the funnel, some people after... months:

ConnectionFunnel® reworks the sales funnel from an operational perspective. FriendStrategy

Actually you can know this information too if you have set a goal on Google Analytics, in the Multichannel Channels section, by going to "Time to Conversion:

 Google Analytics multichannel channels.

The 4 classic steps of a funnel: the AIDA model

Traditionally there are 4 steps in a funnel or sales funnel, summarized in the acronym AIDA, namely:

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

A sales funnel aims to take the visitor from the first step, attention, to the last step, action, where the conversion takes place.

Let's look at these 4 steps in detail.

AIDA web marketing


The first step is to stimulate the attention of your potential customer or target: in my book Lead Generation, talking about the 7 C's of web marketing, I called this step "Appear".

In fact, to capture the attention of our target the preliminary action is to appear to him, perhaps through the traditional tools of web marketing, such as:


The second step is to generate interest in the user who entered the funnel: this can be done, for example, by nurturing the lead with lead nurturing strategies.


Once our lead has entered the sales funnel and has acquired interest, the next step is to stimulate the desire to buy, perhaps with some persuasive techniques and the use of a landing page.


The user who arrives at the end of the funnel should take the action that conversion is intended.
Let's see how to concretely apply these 4 steps of the traditional sales funnel in online marketing by analyzing some successful sales funnel strategies.

An example of a successful sales funnel

How can we apply a sales funnel to our online products?
We see this with CrazyEgg's funnel analysis.
CrazyEgg is a software for the analysis of heatmaps, the heat maps that highlight the behavior of users on the website, such as where they click. One of the most used tools in CROwith software such as Yandex Metrica.

  • The first step of the Crazy Egg funnel is to intercept traffic, through traffic from referrals (links from other sites), organic traffic from the blog, advertisements.
  • Once you enter the site, CrazyEgg allows you to enter the url of your site to show you the heatmap;
  • Then, it asks you to connect to your Google Analytics;
  • Finally, it offers you a trial version of the product for 30 days.
Crazy Egg funnel 1
crazy egg funnel 2
Crazy Egg funnel 3
Crazy Egg funnel 4.

Let's break down the benefits of this funnel:

  • As soon as it has attracted attention by driving the user to the site, CrazyEgg tries to stimulate interest by proposing a heatmap of its site: in this way it connects to the user who leaves his email;
  • if the user continues in the funnel, a trial is proposed, i.e. a 30-day trial period, which begins by leaving their credit card details.

What are the benefits of this funnel?

  • Crazyegg doesn't try to sell right away: it stimulates the interest of the visitor by making him enter his site, then the email;
  • if the user continues, he has the opportunity to try the product for free for 30 days (desire) with a subscription that renews automatically at the end of 30 days (action).

Even if it does not continue the purchase phase, CrazyEgg can detect who has abandoned this page without converting to a trial user (e.g. by setting a custom combination with the Facebook Ads Audience) and intercept them with a retargeting campaign.
Why does CrazyEgg require me to leave my card details?
According to some statistics, the insertion of the card data only, as well as the trial with an insignificant amount of money (1 dollar), allows to skim between the curious and those who have a real interest in the product.

You can see more 12 examples of successful funnels in this article by Petovera.

The 4 steps to create a successful sales funnel

How can you take a cue from this funnel? Here are 4 steps to do so.

Step 1: Create Attention about your product or service

The first step is obviously to get yourself noticed in order to get potential customers into your funnel.
How? You can use one of the many web marketing toolsfor example:

Obviously, for each of these tools, you'll need to target in such a way that visitors who are truly on target with your product or service enter your funnel.

Step 2: Create interest in your product or service

At this stage you may be landing your visitors at a landing pagewhere you can persuade them of the quality of what you propose.

You can find some ideas on creating a landing page in this article: 7 Ingredients and 5 Tools to Create an Effective Landing Page: Complete Guide.

Step 3: Create Desire about your product or service

If you have software, you could offer a trial version, or let people try a demo, so that they stimulate desire about your product.
If you have a service instead, you could give a "taste" of it with a free consultation, or a free analysis.

Step 4: Stimulate Conversion Action

The "hot" lead just needs to be brought to the customer: you could make an offer based on some persuasion principles such as Cialdini's 6 Weapons of Persuasion..., e.g. by giving a discount on the product within a certain deadline (here we apply the scarcity rule).


If you don't have a funnel, you've had some insights into creating one: if you already have one, you can analyze it through Google Analytics and figure out how to optimize the various parts of it.
And how does your funnel work? Let's talk about it in the comments!

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