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

For brands to successfully understand how to onboard new prospects and eventually get them to convert, using the AIDA model can help to outline a customer’s purchase path. This article will cover the structure of the AIDA model and the requirements of each stage. It will also shed light on how the AIDA model is being used with real-world examples to inspire brands’ own marketing tactics.

When the AIDA model is used correctly, brands can develop and craft messaging that is relevant and highly engaging at each stage of a customers buyer journey. Below, brands will learn the best practices for implementing this model, and how it can streamline the pipeline.

What is the AIDA model?

Source: Practical Psychology

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

Breaking down the structure of AIDA

  • 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 

Ecommerce marketing experts sometimes add the additional “R” 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 for the product. Sometimes, it can come in a form of sponsored content.

A brand can gain the attention of consumers by:

  • Using Captivating ads
  • Personalized messaging
  • Intelligent targeting


The most crucial stage in every modern marketing funnel. If the lead feels the product or service does not benefit him, he will never reach the purchase stage. It is vital to deliver your product message in a tailored and unique way that suits the profile of the intended audience. Therefore, 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 communicate how it solves the customer’s pain points by getting a job done efficiently and cheaper than they currently are. This will encourage the consumer to go the extra mile and engage with the product. 


Generating interest is not enough. A liking for a brand does not translate to sales. As soon as the product piques interest, it is essential to show potential customers why they need the product. Therefore, the interest and desire stages go hand-in-hand.

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


At this stage, strategies like early bird discounts, one month free trials and referral systems are very effective in giving that final push to the consumer to purchase.

Examining Marketing Funnel Stages Through An AIDA Example

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

Having understood the marketing funnel stages, let us look at an example of the AIDA model for a hairdressing company. The AIDA marketing funnel was used to launch their new salon. 

  1. Awareness–The brand ran a PR campaign four months before launch. They promoted their awards, stylists, qualifications and more. So, they reinforced it with a drip-email campaign to existing targeted customers. 
  2. Interest–To generate interest, the brand executed a direct mail campaign offering free consultations or haircuts. They researched among their existing customers to validate the promotion to ensure it would work. 
  3. Desire–Nearing the opening of the new salon, the brand ran exclusive local events. They advertised the events in the local press and promoted on social media. It created a buzz for interested consumers who “wanted to get an invitation”. 
  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

Generating your consumers interest and desire

As mentioned above, interest and desire are crucial when building marketing funnel stages. When leads do not see the complete value in the product you are offering, they will probably 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 to CD players and other MP3 players. People had heard rumours about the iPod and were likely aware of the Apple brand, but Apple only gave a partial picture of the product’s capability to spark genuine interest. 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 were ready to buy, so they did not mention the price. They also omitted features like battery life and the 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 other brands had.

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. Leads will be hungry for more information and are interested in learning 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. 

What can trigger a consumer to buy within a marketing funnel?

During the final marketing funnel stages, you can apply psychological triggers to help convert 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 unique

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 make the brain feel excitement and anticipation.

This is the reason 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 purchase, offer them something new. 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.

Telling a story

Stories trigger emotional responses and that is why humans love to listen to stories. Stories stimulate various regions of the brain, particularly those associated with sound, sight, movement, and taste. This allows humans to experience something without having experienced it firsthand. 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

Providing 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. 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 probably pay for that solution. 

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

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About James

James is an award winning digital strategist with over 20 years experience helping challenger brands and market leaders (Unilever, Diageo, MasterCard, HSBC) launch and scale their data-driven sales and marketing. Connect on Linkedin

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