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Marketing funnel stages and journey - a full funnel breakdown and strategy

Marketing funnel stages and journey – a full funnel breakdown and strategy

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Among all marketing models, AIDA is perhaps the best known even among non-marketers. The AIDA model features 4 marketing funnel stages that are very relatable and can be used in almost any business.  

In this article, we break down the AIDA marketing funnel stages and run through the best practices in each of those stages.

What is the AIDA model?

Source: Practical Psychology

The AIDA model is a blueprint used in marketing, sales and advertising that incorporates all the touchpoints during a customer’s purchase journey. 

What does AIDA stand for?

  • Awareness: creating brand awareness with the product or service.
  • Interest: generate interest in the benefits of your product or service
  • Desire: for the product or service, moves the consumer from ‘liking’ it to actually ‘wanting it’.
  • Action: the call to action (CTA) – moves the buyer to make the purchase
  • Retention: We all know that this is key to upsell, cross-sell, referrals, advocacy 

The additional “R” is sometimes added by ecommerce marketing experts to show the importance of an ongoing relationship. 


In the first stage, a prospect comes across the products or services of a brand. This can be through word-of-mouth, social media, PR, an advertisement or an event that showcases the products. Sometimes, it can come in a form of sponsored content.

A brand can gain the attention of consumers by:


The most crucial of the stages in every modern marketing funnel. If the lead feels the product or service does not serve him any purpose, he will never reach the purchase stage. It is vital to deliver your product message in a really tailored and fresh way that suits the profile of the intended audience. We need them keenly interested!

Simplified explanation of the marketing funnel stages of the AIDA model
Simplified explanation of the AIDA model
Source: Optimonk

The product should really communicate how it solves the customers pain by getting a job done better, faster or cheaper than they can currently get it done. This will encourage the consumer to go the extra mile and engage with the product. 


It is never enough to generate interest. A liking for a brand does not translate to sales. Interest and Desire should be done simultaneously. Therefore, right after interest is created, it is important to show the leads why they should get it. 

Remember, if a lead might not NEED that service or product, the brand can try to make them understand why they WANT it.


At this stage, strategies like early-bird discounts and one month free trials, referral systems and many others are very effective in giving that final push to the consumer to go ahead and buy it.

Marketing funnel stages in action – AIDA example

Understanding your buyer's journey helps improve your marketing funnel stages
Source: AutopilotHQ

Having understood the marketing funnel stages, let us understand it better through an AIDA model for a hairdressing company. The AIDA marketing funnel was used to launch their new salon. 

  1. Awareness – For this stage, the brand ran a PR campaign four months before the launch. They promoted their awards, stylists, qualifications and more. It was reinforced with a drip-email campaign to existing targeted customers. 
  2. Interest – To generated interest, the brand executed a direct mail campaign offering free consultation or haircut. They researched among their existing customers to validate the promotion to ensure it would work. 
  3. Desire – To generate desire, nearing the opening of the new salon, the brand ran exclusive local events. The events were advertised in the local press and promoted in social media. It created a buzz for interested consumers who “wanted to get an invite”. 
  4. Action – The brand used clear CTAs which were positioned on their website, Facebook page and local advertising. 
How a PR campaign has a huge impact on your marketing funnel stages
Source: FuhSharon

How to generate interest and desire

As mentioned above, interest and desire are the most crucial when building marketing funnel stages. Because when leads do not see the complete value in the product that you are offering they will likely leak out of the funnel. This is the best time to highlight the important features and benefits that will encourage them to buy. 

Apple’s iPod success

One of the best examples is how Apple introduced the iPod in 2003. Ipod’s features were miles ahead of the competition – the product was great, far superior from CD players and other MP3 players. People had heard rumours describing the iPod and were likely aware of the Apple brand but to spark real interest, Apple only gave a partial pitcure of the product’s capability. Apple’s only statement was: iPod, a thousand songs in your pocket.”

IPod Apple used a unique message for their top of the marketing funnel stages to generate interest
Source: cnet

Apple did not assume that customers are ready to buy, so they did not mention the price. They also did not mention other features like battery life or sleek design. Apple used a smart strategy to pique the interest of the consumers just enough to stir their desires. 

Dollar Shave Club’s viral video

What made DSC’s video an instant hit is its straight-up quirkiness. Dollar shave club used humour to make the video appealing to consumers. Starring the founder of Dollar Club, Michael Dublin, the brand created an impression that they are humans and that they are experts in the field. More than anything, the video broke the mould of any other razor brand on the market by discarding the pretence that many others were known for.

Encouraging desire

Once the customer is open to the idea of learning more about your business, it is time to shift their interest into desire. At this point, leads will be hungry for more information and are interested to learn more about you. 

Think about how personality traits can affect the purchasing behaviour of customers. Just because someone is ready to splurge, it does not automatically mean that they will buy everything. For example, when buying a car, some customers may be interested in safety standards and gas mileage, while others may focus on colour and speed. The first type of leads will love information on the specifications of the car, while the second will respond better with influencer marketing. 

Marketing funnel stages steps of buyer decision
Stages of Buyer Decision
Source: Edunote

The key to encouraging desire is to know the customer’s wants and needs. This will allow you to tailor your additional offers such as specifying the features and benefits. 

Triggers that push consumers to buy within a marketing funnel

During the final marketing funnel stages, you can apply psychological triggers to help convert those browsers into buyers.

The key to success in any type of business is an understanding of psychology. Everyone has mental triggers that drive their actions. Brands that understand these triggers can easily influence their customers to make a final decision. 

New or original 

Apple releases a brand new version of the iPhone every few months is part of the triggers that encourage customers to buy in a marketing funnel stage

Humans love the new – innovations and novelty makes the brain feel excitement and anticipation.

This is the reason why Apple releases a brand new version of the iPhone every few months. Consumers know that there is little difference between the old and new model, yet many are still willing to toss their old phones to get the newer version. 

If you want your leads to buy your products or service, make sure to offer them something new or original. For brands who already have an existing product, a few tweaks, updates or rebranding can easily get you noticed and seen as fresh in the market.

Tell a story

Stories trigger emotional responses and that is why humans love to listen to stories. Stories activate various parts of the brain, especially those associated with sound, sight, movement and taste. It allows humans to experience something even without directly having experienced it themselves. When a good story is told, it can transport consumers to a completely different world and help encourage the decision to buy. 

The perfect example is how Red Bull captivates its audiences with stories of extreme adventures. The brand sells energy drinks but they use stories of adventure and fun to push customers to want to try. 

Source: Redbull

Provide simple solutions 

People will always choose an easy way out. According to Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner and author of Thinking Fast and Slow:

“A general “law of least effort” applies to cognitive as well as physical exertion. The law asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action.”

This means that humans will always look for the easiest option to get the desired result. Make sure to use this psychological trigger when creating a marketing framework. When you show your audience a fool-proof way to achieve a result at the quickest time possible, they will likely pay for that solution. 

Marketing funnel stages should provide simple solutions because humans will find the easiest solutions.
Source: Storemypic