Marketing funnel vs. sales funnel – what’s the difference

October 4, 2019 6 min read Written by: Karolina Niegłos Karolina Niegłos
Marketing Funnel Sales Funnel
Table of contents
Table of contents

You have probably heard a lot of talking about funnels. Marketing funnels, sales funnels or conversion funnels. They have become extremely popular over the past few years due to all the success stories of online entrepreneurs who have decided to go with them.

Every single day, a lot of prominent businessmen try to become the main heroes of a new success story. However, they do not always succeed as they misinterpret the concept or do not know when to use which funnel. And that is a huge faux pas.

Learn everything about funnels and landing pages

What types of funnels exist?

Many entrepreneurs do not realise that there are more than one type of funnel or they prefer just to put everything in one big bag and do not really differentiate them. And each funnel has its proper functions and works differently. It makes the distinction crucial when it comes to the goals you want to achieve and the direction towards your online business goes.

Basically there are three main types of funnels:

  • conversion funnels,
  • marketing funnels,
  • sales funnels.

Conversion funnels are just modern purchase funnels which are used for ecommerce businesses. They work pretty much the same as sales and marketing funnels, which we will get to in a moment.

Conversion funnels are also so-called lean funnels meaning they are extremely focused on personalization and perfectioning customer purchasing journey basing on customer feedback. It makes them a little bit more complex than marketing and sales ones. However, all of them are all about the experience you create for the visitors and that is an inseparable element of every funnel.

What is a marketing funnel?

As mentioned, funnels are all about the journey the visitors take from finding out about your product or service up until deciding to purchase it or subscribe. In other words – it is just a set of steps leading visitors right from discovering your solution up until deciding to do something with it.”

Usually marketing funnels consist of three elements:

  • building awareness,
  • maintaining interest,
  • evaluation by customers.

First of all new potential customers have to realise that the solution you offer exists. They can do this by reading your blog posts, watching your videos, running into your Facebook Ads or Google Ads, seeing you on some event or by entering a landing page you created with a landing page builder.

Once they know about your product or service and they seem pretty much into it you should maintain this interest, build trust and engage them more. At this level to the actions mentioned above you can add some free ebooks or valuable newsletter delivered to subscribers on regular basis.

If you have prepared well for the two previous steps you can be sure that in the evaluation phase they will choose you over the competition. And this is also the phase where a marketing funnel slightly turns to a sales funnel.

What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel is a prolongation of a marketing funnel but it impacts on whether you make profit or not. Since you have already built awareness, trust and make the visitors believe you outperform the competition you need to slightly push the visitors to purchase from you – for example, by joining your blog's WordPress landing pages with order confirmation pages in your ecommerce store.

After they evaluate the pros and cons, the new potential customers have two more sales funnel stages to go through. They enter the commitment phase where they decide to commit to your solution and finally, in the last phase, they decide to purchase. If they are still reserved, you can try to speed up the decision process by offering them free trials or demonstrations.

However, once they buy, the 21st-century sales funnel does not end! Nowadays, the next phase is a follow-up and customer retention. And you should never forget about them.

Notice that – although businesses are usually about selling it is quite common that a marketing funnel turns to a sales one. However, you can also use funnels for other business goals such as subscribing to your newsletter or trying out your demo. Funnels are just a concept and you decide what should they be used for. In this article, I emphasize sales funnels but just keep in mind that they can be used for other purposes as well. Of course, different goals benefit from using different landing page templates.

Landing page examples
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Where is the border between a marketing and a sales funnel?

I have just told you that the border between a marketing and sales funnel is somewhere between evaluation and commitment phase. However, this issue is usually a source of conflicts between know-it-all digital marketing experts. The reason for that is the fact that the concept has evolved and beforehand the border was up higher before the evaluation phase.

However, nowadays there are so numerous options available which are born instantly. Therefore, only once the visitors have evaluated them all and are ready for commitment we can be talking about the prospects of purchase. In today’s fast-moving and constantly changing world only those committed visitors will become customers. And gaining their attention is definitely not the last step. Basically marketing funnels are focused on getting customers’ attention and engagement while sales ones on pushing them to take an action.

What are the benefits of sales funnels?

There are numerous advantages sales funnels can provide you with. However, always remember that in order to give you benefits your sales funnel has to be properly prepared. And it means it is consistent and works as a whole. Before creating your first one you should check out a sales funnel template and some effective sales funnel examples and basing on this creating your own. And why is it worth it?

  • boosting sales – an obvious but crucial point. Sales funnels are created to increase sales and inspire trust. And they actually do that,
  • identifying problem areas – funnels can help you identify and track the problem areas. The place where the visitors exit your sales funnel is the suspicious area you should work on,
  • automation of sales process – since sales funnels are easily automated you can benefit from that by saving time and efforts. Pretty nice, right?
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