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How Your Consumer Journey and Sales Funnel Overlap

As a business owner, you've likely heard of the sales funnel and the consumer journey. These terms are much more than buzzwords and are used often for excellent reason. The sales funnel and consumer journey have specific functions to better engage your online audience and should not be overlooked. 

The consumer journey overlaps the sales funnel. However, each offers different insights. They serve distinct but complementary purposes that help develop your advertising strategy. Next, we'll look at the marketing elements that connect each stage of these two essential marketing models.  

What Is the Consumer Journey?  

The consumer journey illustrates the customers' buying process that provides critical and strategic marketing insight. It reveals how the customer interacts with your brand as they move through the different stages from consideration to purchasing and beyond as they return for subsequent purchases. Mapping the consumer journey is particularly helpful with digital marketing. It consists of five stages:

  1. Awareness - At this stage, the customer becomes aware of your brand but hasn't yet decided what they want.
  2. Research - In the research stage, the consumer has a specific product in mind but hasn't yet decided to purchase.
  3. Consideration - Consumers in this stage have completed their research and are deciding what to purchase.
  4. Conversion - At this stage, the shopper has decided to purchase, becoming a customer.
  5. Re-Purchase - Ensure your customer will return for more purchases by keeping them engaged with your brand, such as thanking them for their purchase, encouraging them to contact you if they have issues, and asking them to leave reviews.  

What Is the Sales Funnel?  

Where the consumer journey maps the path the consumer takes from awareness to sale, the sales funnel matches the proper techniques to each stage of the process so that you can turn visitors into customers. Like the consumer journey, building a digital sales funnel that converts a high number of customers starts with awareness at the top of the funnel, research and consideration mid-funnel, and conversion and re-purchase at the bottom of the funnel.

  • Awareness - The top of the funnel lines up perfectly with the first step in the consumer journey. Your opportunity in this stage is to provide helpful information without pushing for a sale.  
  • Interest - This part of the funnel lines up with the research stage of the consumer journey. Positioning your brand as an industry expert with blog posts, social media content, and emails reinforce your brand's strength and keep it top of mind as they consider purchasing.
  • Desire - The middle of the sales funnel aligns with the consideration stage of the consumer journey. At this point, it is critical to have an engaging site with content that keeps your potential customer on the site longer. Set yourself apart from the competition by keeping customer reviews highly visible on the product and home pages. 
  • Action - As you reach the bottom of the sales funnel, it aligns with the conversion stage of the consumer journey. At this stage, you should ensure that your site makes conversion quick, easy, and without technical issues. Make sure there are visible and easily accessible options for contacting, such as phone numbers, email, chat functions, or social media links.  

How Do They Work Together?  

Now that you know the consumer journey and sales funnel, you can see that your advertising method creates a bridge between the two. To illustrate with a practical example, imagine you are looking for new athletic shoes. You want quality, value, and performance, but you also want style. You don't want to have to sacrifice comfort for style or value for performance.  

To get the features you want, you must conduct research. You do an online search and come across a brand's content marketing. Now that your interest is piqued, you find a mid-funnel blog post and consult the online customer reviews. Finally, as you decide to purchase, you get an SEM ad on your search engine that cements your decision to buy from that brand's site.  

Leverage the Overlap in the Consumer Journey and Sales Funnel  

While many marketers and business owners tend to focus on the sales funnel, the real strength of your digital strategy recognizes how your customer makes a buying decision so that you can effectively guide them through the sales funnel. Together they give you everything you need to know about how they found you and what steps they took to convert from a visitor to a customer. That knowledge gives you the blueprint you need to design and implement an informed, responsive, and highly effective marketing strategy. To ensure the best results, work with an experienced digital partner.


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Emily Wideman

Written by Emily Wideman

Emily Wideman is a Regional Sales Manager for Federated Digital Solutions. Emily has over 20 years in media marketing as both a leader and a marketing consultant. She has experience in advertising sales, broadcast TV and radio as well as sales management. Her passion for helping local businesses solve their marketing challenges is what drives her. The marketing experience Emily brings to the digital world allows her to not only be a consultant on digital but also a consultant with all her clients marketing needs.

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