Adding digital to your marketing funnel

A few weeks ago I was asked to give a training session to the staff of one of our marketing partners.

The goal of the session was to get that team up to speed on digital marketing and why it’s important to their clients.

But I knew that, in order for them to understand digital’s role, they’d first need to understand how it fits into the marketing funnel.

The digital marketing funnel has four levels: High Funnel, Mid-High Funnel, Mid-Low Funnel and Low Funnel. Each level requires a different advertising message and a different measurement of success.

High Funnel

This stage often represents your potential customers’ first exposure to your brand.

The messages you put out for this audience should generate top-of-mind awareness. They’re meant to get people familiar with your brand and what you provide.

Advertising at this stage doesn’t produce an immediately high conversion rate. It’s meant to make impressions and capture the attention of potential buyers. With commitment and time, though, high-funnel marketing will drive sales to the lower portions of the funnel and closer to a purchase or relationship.

Digital marketing at this stage is typically paid, and might consist of display ads and sponsorships on newspaper and local news websites, or a network of sites.

Internet radio also falls into this category. Traditional forms of high-funnel advertising include sponsorships, billboards, and bus and bus bench advertising.

Mid-High Funnel

At this level of the funnel, you’re still creating top-of-mind awareness, but your audience is already aware of your brand and what you do.

The message is typically value-based (your features, benefits, perspective, etc.) and designed to separate you from your competition.

This form of advertising still doesn’t have a great conversion rate, but because of the type of message it is, it’s more likely to push people down the funnel.

The digital forms for this type of advertising are also paid, such as display advertising on interest-specific websites, or sponsorships that are related more closely to your audience’s interests.

Because social media advertising can be targeted based on demographics and psychographics, it can be an effective channel for reaching people at this level of the funnel. Internet radio and online video also float between the high funnel and mid-high funnel.

Content marketing is the most popular form of digital marketing that falls in the mid-high funnel.

Television and terrestrial radio are the complementary channels in traditional advertising.

Mid-Low Funnel

At this level of the funnel, you’re starting to drive more sales. Advertising messages should be incentive-based and include coupons, promotions, and exclusive offers. They are typically monetary driven. The goal at this stage is to move people to action.

The digital forms of advertising in the mid-low funnel start to mix between paid and organic. Email marketing, re-marketing, text message marketing and, in some cases, social media. These channels deliver a targeted, incentive-based message to your audience.

Equivalents in traditional advertising include direct mail, newspaper ads, money-saver ads and coupon books.


This part of the marketing funnel provides the best immediate return-on-investment. The messaging here is 100% call-to-action, encouraging your audience to contact you.

Companies spend most of their digital marketing budget in this stage of the funnel. It includes search engine optimization, search engine advertising and local directory advertising, because search engines and directories are where people go when they’re ready to buy. In traditional advertising, that used to be the phone book or different forms of the Yellow Pages.

Applying Digital Strategy

After you’ve identified which audiences you want your advertising to reach, you can begin choosing the forms of digital marketing that best reach them. Then, use digital marketing to move your prospects through the buying cycle.

We use worksheets to identify which forms of digital marketing will best serve your marketing goals. By taking you through this exercise, we can guarantee that you won’t waste your digital marketing budget, and that you’ll increase sales.

Next time: Overlaying the buying cycle on the marketing funnel.

Brad Timofeev

Brad is an energetic thought leader on digital marketing.

Since joining the WebArt team in 2009, he's guided the agency's unique perspective on search engine optimization, content marketing, and other digital strategies. Book Brad for your next speaking arrangement.

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