The Ultimate Sales Funnel Guide For Your Business

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Neil Patel is one of the greatest marketers on the planet.

But even the greats miss a shot every once in a while.

Case in point: this article. In it, Patel offers 12 excellent tips to generate more leads on your e-commerce website.

The first of Patel’s tips suggests giving your audience valuable content to improve your results on organic search. He uses the golf accessories brand Cutter & Buck to illustrate his point.

Here’s a screenshot from the article:


Neil Patel blog post screenshot - Google search

As always, Patel’s suggestion for improving SEO with content is spot on.

So, what did he miss?

When a shopper searches for a specific product, they are already aware that they have a problem. They’re also aware that there’s a specific solution for it.


Audience awareness funnel

That Googling shopper is somewhere around the middle of the audience awareness funnel.

Patel, however, claims his fictitious shopper enters the top of the funnel during a Google search. If that’s the case, then the funnel he’s referring to excludes consumers that are “unaware” and “problem aware.” It only captures shoppers who already have intent to make a purchase.

This mindset leaves a lot of your potential customers unattended by the marketing team. And it will cost your brand some serious sales.

Let’s lean into Patel’s scenario to see where his approach to the e-commerce sales funnel falls short.

Ted and Terry have a problem

See, the two friends love to play golf. But their Northern European lineage makes them particularly susceptible to sunburn.

This is great news for you and me.

See, we’re the marketers for a brand of golf accessories, including a line of lightweight, sunblocking golf shirts.

We’re really good at SEO. We know that when someone searches for things we sell, our brand will be on the first page of the search results.

But guess what? Neither Ted nor Terry buys our shirts.


Ted doesn’t even know that such clothing exists, so it’s good ol’ sunscreen for him.

Terry has heard of sun-protective shirts, and she searches for them on Google. But our brand is one of many she has never heard of on the results page. So she clicks another link.

What could we have done to improve our chances with Ted and Terry?

First, consider the entire awareness funnel

Neil Patel’s scenario does account for Terry, but it leaves her choice of where to click somewhat up to chance. And it doesn’t account for Ted at all.

Ted knows he has a problem with sunburns, but he doesn’t know that sun-protective shirts exist. He’s problem aware but not solution aware.

Terry has also felt the pain of sunburn. She already knew that sun-protective shirts existed, but she didn’t know that we make them. Prior to her Google search, she’s problem and solution aware, but not product aware.


Audience awareness funnel - Terry and Ted

Terry’s Google search will get her to the product aware stage. But the product she becomes aware of might not be ours.

Poor Ted is stuck in the problem aware stage until someone nudges him with education. Ideally, we want to be that someone.

So let’s do some things that make our brand the only choice for both Ted and Terry.

Second, meet your audience on social media

We know that the Teds and Terrys of the world hang out on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. And we know they love golf.

So, long before either one of them starts looking for a solution to their problem, we can gently introduce our brand by serving them interesting golf content on their social feeds.

We don’t want a hard sell here. More like a friend telling other friends something mutually interesting.

So let’s run some paid Facebook ads that feature content with headlines like:

  • The 10 Toughest Holes in Golf
  • How to Avoid Common Golf Injuries
  • The Most Beautiful Golf Courses in Scotland

Since it’s just you and me running this marketing department, we don’t have time to produce all this content on our own. So we license some existing articles from professional golf magazines.

Licensed content is a great solution because at this stage, Ted and Terry don’t care who wrote the articles. They’ll appreciate the information and recognize us as the brand that gave it to them.

Ted and Terry see one of our articles on Facebook, click through, and engage with our blog. They have become aware of our brand.

Now, it’s time to re-market them.

Third, continue the conversation with re-marketing

Suddenly, Ted and Terry start seeing your brand all over their online experience. This bit of marketing magic is called re-marketing, or re-targeting.

Re-marketing campaigns are one of the best ways to increase traffic to your e-commerce site. Patel includes it as number 9 in his list of tips.

You can re-market with product ads. But you can also use content, like blog posts. In general, we’ve found that content-based ads outperform product ads 2:1—not to mention, they’re 89% cheaper.

So, we’re going to run a re-marketing campaign that places more of our content in front of Ted and Terry. Only this time, it will be original content we’ve either written or commissioned to move them further through the funnel.

Specifically, we’ll run a re-marketing campaign featuring an article titled ‘5 Ways Golfers Can Stay Healthy in the Heat of Summer.’

Among the other tips in this piece will be our fabulous sun blocking shirt.

When Ted and Terry read this article, two things happen:

  • We move Terry from solution aware to product aware.
  • We move Ted from problem aware all the way to solution aware. (No more sunblock-slicked hands for you, Ted!)

Maybe they’re ready to buy right now. Great—they’re already on our site.

But maybe they’re not. We don’t want to let this momentum slip.

Fourth, make them part of your community with email

The twelfth and final tip in Patel’s post is to use email marketing strategically. This makes a lot of sense because the return is huge. Every dollar spent on email marketing brings $38 in return.

We want to make sure Ted and Terry subscribe to our newsletter, so we’ll place some well-designed pop-ups on our blog. Patel suggests offering a discount as a motivation to subscribe. Alternately, you can induce FOMO by offering exclusive content that’s only available to subscribers.

I’ve seen email performance improve dramatically when helpful content is included alongside deals and product information. So we’ll make sure to have a good mix of all three in our newsletter. That’ll keep Ted and Terry engaged and moving through our sales funnel.

Now, the results of our work

It’s early spring, and golf season is heating up. Both figuratively and literally.

Both Ted and Terry remember painful sunburns from last year and don’t want to repeat their mistakes.

Ted remembers us as the brand that taught him a better way to avoid the burn. He rewards us by heading right to our site and placing his order. Thanks, Ted!

Terry is a savvy shopper. She still Googles “golf shirts with sunblock.” But this time, our brand stands out like a good friend at a crowded party of people you don’t know. She may still check out other options, but we’ve greatly increased our chances of earning her purchase.

Neil Patel’s post is fantastic because it offers actionable lead generation tips specifically for e-commerce. But it misses the top of the funnel. By ignoring the unaware stage, we would have neglected a huge population of potential customers and, ultimately, lose out on a lot of sales.

Whether you sell golf shirts, fishing tackle, or gluten-free energy bars, connecting your audience with helpful content before they need you is a necessity these days.

When internal resources make that difficult, Matcha is your friend at the crowded party. Our software can help you source, distribute, and measure content that moves your audience through the funnel, from being totally unaware to being a loyal customer.



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