Is Your Small Business Marketing Funnel Leaky?


Despite some people proclaiming that the marketing (purchase/sales/conversion) funnel is dead as a concept, it is alive and well. It may have changed somewhat and become more complex with the advent of digital marketing, but it is still the perfect way to illustrate how retailers (big or small) put their name out, attract attention, and turn it into revenue. 

Small retail businesses often struggle to make their marketing funnel as efficient as possible. In other words, their marketing funnel is leaky. In this article, you’ll find out how to make sure your marketing funnel is directing your target audience where you want them to end up – making a purchase. 

Pinpoint the leaks

It goes without saying that the first thing you will need to do is identify and pinpoint the leaks that might be affecting the performance of your marketing funnel. 

You might already have your suspicions about the parts of your marketing funnel where you’re losing far too many leads, but you need to be methodical here. You need to look at the data before you make any repairs on your funnel, so to say.

CRM software can be of huge help when it comes to leveraging customer data, and no business is too small to use it. Your CRM software will provide you with an abundance of data that will clearly show you where your leads drop off and where you lose them. 

Google Analytics is another tool you can use to identify the leaks in your marketing funnel, and it is much more versatile than most people think. You can actually define your entire funnel in GA and see very clearly how it is performing. 

Besides identifying where the leaks are, the analysis of your marketing funnel will also help you understand important factors such as:

  • where your best leads are coming from
  • how the most revenue-generating leads go through your funnel
  • which portion of your market segment you should focus on


Top of the Funnel

In some cases, the worst-performing part of the marketing funnel is the very top – the awareness part, if you wish to use old-school nomenclature. Often, this is the result of a marketing strategy done hastily and sloppily. 

Without a thought-out, comprehensive marketing strategy, it is impossible to precisely define your target market segment(s). This, in turn, makes it impossible to determine the marketing channels that you will use to raise awareness of your brand.

If the very top of your marketing funnel is faulty, the rest of it will matter only slightly.

Sure, you may stumble upon a good source of leads that have a possibility of converting, but it is far more likely that you will waste money on people who will either ignore your brand and product or people whose experience in your funnel will come down to a few seconds. 

Do your market research, define your market segment, and then try out the best channels for attracting it. Give your market segment the chance to find your brand.

Your job here is to capture their attention in the shortest time possible. That’s why the choice of visuals can play a huge role, as your audience will be forming powerful first impressions within milliseconds of seeing the images you display. 

Using images that resonate with your target audience will help them form an initial connection with your brand. Elemental Labs does this well by displaying images of their team doing jiu-jitsu and other martial arts. Their product is an electrolyte drink, but through these images that tell the team’s story, they’re able to form a connection with an audience of like-minded, physically active consumers. Brand story and personality are a powerful way to stand out in the retail industry.




Middle of the Funnel

The middle of the funnel is all about nurturing your leads and providing them with more information about your brand and your products. The goal is to build their trust and let them know that you are the superior choice. 

While this may sound easy in theory, it’s a whole other beast in practice. You have to understand the psychology of the consumer in general, as well as your leads (your market segment). 

There’s a lot to learn from successful ecommerce websites about nurturing leads through building trust. Online mattress shop  Zoma, for example, shows off images of the professional athletes that use their product, blurbs from high-authority publications they’ve been featured in, and customer reviews. All great ways to warm up leads. As a smaller company, you probably can’t have famous names showcasing your products (yet) – but what you certainly do have are the testimonials of people with the same expectations, desires, and pain points as the leads you’re targeting. Use that to your advantage.




A quick tip: don’t be afraid to ask your existing customers what inspired them to reach the bottom of the marketing funnel.

Of course, you will need to walk the fine line between keeping your leads warm without spamming them away. A quiz or assessment embedded on your site can be a great way to guide prospects down the funnel in an engaging way. 

Bottom of the Funnel

The bottom of the funnel is where the real action happens – where the leads convert into customers or clients. Because of the innate dropping off of leads (some of it cannot be prevented, no matter how much you try), it will be the part of the funnel with the least people, which means you need to be super-vigilant not to lose more due to preventable reasons. 

By now, your leads have learned about your brand and your products, probably did some research on your competition, and they are considering buying. 

This is where you once again tell them why you are the right choice – reinforce your main selling points clearly and use convincing statements. Depending on what you’re selling, you might consider using comparisons with the competition, for example. Or share some data from your existing customers. Show them that you are the solution, and show it clearly.

Some of the most common mistakes that result in a leaky funnel bottom include: 

  • complicating things unnecessarily by including too many CTAs
  • diluting your ultimate message
  • making the purchasing process too complicated 
  • revealing additional costs that you hadn’t mentioned anywhere previously

Not responding to inquiries from leads or generally neglecting leads is another way in which companies lose business. This great article on Forbes addresses this issue in more detail and provides some advice on avoiding it: “Businesses are scraping for incremental increases in marketing yields, close ratios, and leverage through technology, yet overlooking a gaping black hole that exists somewhere between their marketing and sales teams.”

Instead of a Closing Word

There is another part of the marketing funnel that you should look at once you’ve patched up all the layers – the post-funnel. 

Namely, there is a lot to be learned and gained from analyzing, remarketing, and getting feedback from people who have decided not to choose your brand and product. 

You should also spend some time speaking to your customers and discovering what played the deciding role in their experience. 

The marketing funnel is never perfect, and working on it is always worth the effort.