What The Heck Is a Digital Lead Generation Funnel?

What The Heck Is a Digital Lead Generation Funnel?

Lead Generation Funnel


Like the proverbial White Rabbit in Wonderland, we digital marketers are tasked with the job of taking customers on a (sometimes complex) journey to explore new ground. One such journey relies on the use of a lead funnels to take prospective customers through a process to determine if they are a qualified lead.

Qualified leads are the lifeblood of every business, without new customers no business can remain viable. Lead funnels, when created well, will generate a steady flow of qualified leads. 

What Is a Lead Generation Funnel?

Think of a garden variety funnel. You pour liquid content at the top of a funnel that narrows to a point at the bottom, straining the content until a purer form appears at bottom.  A lead generation funnel refers to a sustainable, multi-step process of qualifying leads and converting them into customers – the pipeline that feeds your business. The process may look something like this:

  1. Identify potential prospect
  2. Cast out your digital net
  3. Engage prospect over multiple touch points
  4. Measure engagement
  5. Capture engaged prospect’s information
  6. Nurture into a (sales qualified) lead
  7. Analyze and refine

How Does A Digital Lead Generation Funnel Work?

The first step is to identify potential buying personas that fit your customer profile – those people that are most likely to buy into your products or services. This topic is huge but suffice it to say that depending upon the vertical, you can access excellent potential audiences digitally through targeting options on LinkedIn, Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, Google, Bing, native advertising – and the list goes on.  Note: In the first phase of audience identification you will want to be targeted but still opt for casting a wider net.

What Is a Lead Magnet?

To get back to my Alice in Wonderland theme, think of that tempting “Eat Me” cake or “Drink Me” bottle. Alice just couldn’t resist testing them out – and they helped Alice to solve a problem ( like shrinking to fit through a door but now I digress).

In marketing terms those irresistible treats are called lead magnets.

Once you have identified your audiences, it’s time to grab their attention by offering value driven, free content or tools aka “lead magnets” that will satisfy at least one aspect of an urgent customer pain point. Common lead magnets include:

  • White papers
  • Infographics
  • Case studies
  • Reports
  • Videos
  • Checklists
  • eBooks
  • A crazy one-time offer or discount
  • Calculators
  • Chat tools
  • Competitor comparison charts

These lead magnets should be easy to access and create curiosity, more so they should touch on a need of the prospect and offer up a possible solution. Note: One touch point is often not enough to establish credibility.

At this phase the goal is not yet to book an appointment, generate a phone call or close a sale, because it’s still too early in the process. However it may not be too early to collect customer data including an email address, address or phone number by making your content “gated”. You have to test it. Prematurely trying to close a lead can waste a lot of time and resources too.

Measure Stickiness

Once you have had an initial touch point with your audience it’s important to look at the data you’ve collected thus far and evaluate how “sticky” it is (stickiness refers to the amount of time a user has engaged with your website or assets). This might include:

  • Length of video views
  • Length of chat
  • Post/ad engagement
  • Page views, time on site
  • Open/ click through rates on emails
  • etc.

Once you’ve determined which audiences have engaged with the most frequency and with which types of assets, you can now rate your potential leads via “lead scoring”, a system which identifies which users have the ability to continue through the funnel and are worth re-investing in and which audiences will probably drop off.

Getting Users to Take Action

At this point in the process, you have identified the users who have a need that you can meet and thus it’s time to get those users to take action. At this point you may want to invest in more “in your face” call to actions (CTAs):

  • Free trials
  • Demos
  • Click to call
  • Book a consultation, meeting, tour
  • Request appointment
  • Purchase

Lead Closing

Closing a lead often refers to that moment when the prospect has committed to buying a product or service.

When a customer makes an eCommerce purchase the entire entire lead funnel, from first engagement to lead closing can be done digitally.

However if you are promoting a service or a high ticket purchase often a lead cannot “self-close”, making it necessary to bring “sales accepted leads” to a trained sales team. If this is the case, then ensure that the sales team plays a significant role in your lead generation funnel strategy. Remember, sales reps are working on the front lines and are hearing the objections, recurring pain points and key questions of the potential customer directly. Sales and Marketing should be collaborating on:

  • Identifying buyer personas
  • Ad copy and messaging
  • Lead Magnet content
  • Lead Scoring
  • Problems in the pipeline

You Don’t Have To Be a Marketing Genius To Create a Funnel

There are a lot of inexpensive options out there which you can use to build funnels. In an article entitled 22 Top Marketers Share Their Favorite Funnel Tools marketing greats like Neil Pattel, Noah Kagan and Tony Robbins share theirs.

One of our favorite tools (and Neil Pattel’s too according to the aforementioned article) is ClickFunnels because it’s just so darn easy to use:

  • It requires no programming
  • Has hundreds of pre-built templates
  • Allows you to collect payments online
  • Allows you to easily a/b test
  • Has a very engaged and supportive community
  • Affordable


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