In Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategy

Why doesn’t my digital marketing drive results? How do I attract new customers? What if customers on my email list aren’t buying from me?

These excellent questions all deserve answers. And the bigger question we’re hearing from these specific questions adds up to: what digital marketing funnel stages should I focus on? This article answers all these questions. (Related: Why Does My Small Business Need a Digital Marketing Funnel?)

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Video: What is a digital marketing funnel?



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Now that we’re on the same page, let’s answer the question:

Why doesn’t my digital marketing drive results?

Got fuzzy ROI? Not sure how to interpret your data? Have you neglected your email list? We hear this often from small business owners, so take a deep breath and know that you are not alone. Many entrepreneurs are overwhelmed by how fast digital marketing shifts, and how many social media platforms there are to keep up with. Marketing is a job in itself! And oftentimes, the CEO is leading the marketing program as well as sales, vision, public speaking, and much more.

Get my drift? Your digital marketing isn’t driving results because:

  • it’s not a company priority
  • it’s being managed by someone who is too busy to put the time needed into it
  • it’s being managed by someone who is fantastic–but doesn’t have the skills and expertise to drive results
  • it’s incomplete (not all stages of the marketing funnel are being tended to)
  • your offer or your audience (maybe both) are off

Do any of these situations sound familiar? You’re not alone. And it’s why my company exists. We handle the digital marketing strategy and execution so you and your team can focus on what they are really, really good at (and enjoy), while we create a lead generation and sales strategy to drive ROI.

The five digital marketing funnel stages






digital marketing funnel graphic with stages of the funnel broken out and explained with simple examples

Awareness: Stage one

What: This is when a prospective client or customer encounters your brand for the first time. It may be in a social media post that went viral, a YouTube ad, at a festival or conference, or perhaps in conversation with a friend. The prospect may learn a lot, or your business may not even register in their brain as they go about their day. Repeat exposure is key to build a reliable and professional impression.

Why: The purpose of the awareness stage is to build a trustworthy impression as prospective customers begin to notice your business. Through consistent application of your logo, brand color palette, and messaging, your brand will begin to “stick” in the brains of your prospects.

Impact: Your potential to acquire new customers is highest. Is your offer strong enough to capture their attention–or are you playing small? Does your message appeal to your target audience–or have you misunderstood their pain points? Did you strike the right tone–or do you need to test new audiences and recalibrate? If you’ve tested your audience and your offers, your outreach (often in the form of digital ads) will win over the hearts and minds of your prospective customers and they’ll be pleased that they “discovered” your solution.

Opportunity: Google ads, Meta ads, YouTube ads, sponsorships, billboards, influencer campaigns

Engagement: Stage two

What: So you’ve acquired a customer name, email, and perhaps their phone number. Now what? Time to engage with your prospective customers to answer the questions they have about your solution and provide expertise and position your brand as a resource to them. Through text messages, a landing page, video, or an automated email sequence, your prospect will get the info they need to understand your solution, your brand’s values, and be able to compare it to others (which happens in stage three, consideration.)

Why: The purpose of this stage is to educate in an engaging way that resonates with your ideal customers and showcases the customer service (or another asset) of your brand. A prospect should understand why your solution is better, different, or more valuable than your competitors.

Impact: Those with a casual interest in your solution get invested and perhaps even excited about your solution. They understand why they would buy from you and what they will receive.

Opportunity: landing page, automated email sequence, text messaging

Consideration: Stage three

What: Your newly educated prospect compares your solution to others–including buying nothing at all. Which is the best solution for their needs, budget, and timeline? Is a purchase necessary at all?

Why: With rare exceptions, we all have a limited budget and others to report to. As professionals, we want to make the best decision possible, and may need to explain our choice to company leadership, a board, or stockholders. Plus, we have a real problem to solve and don’t want to pick a poor solution and have to go through research again. And with the overwhelming amount of information available to us thanks for the Internet, there is often pressure to find the “best” solution, requiring hours of research, interviews, and comparison.

Impact: With professional messaging and design, your solution will stand out as the clear winner to your ideal customers. It’ll be easy for them to buy from you, and they’ll feel good about their purchase.

Opportunity: comparison articles and infographics, video testimonials, reviews

Conversion: Stage four

What: Your thoughtful prospect is ready to pull the trigger–and just needs an easy opportunity and check out process to do so. This may require months of retargeting ads shown to users who have engaged with your ad or clicked on your website. Patience and enough budget to show ads multiple times to your engaged prospects is required.

Why: Because even when we’ve decided on a solution, we want it to be easy to purchase and start using.

Impact: At stake is your conversion rate. We can’t underscore the importance of having an easy check out process. Your conversion rate will tank if checkout is annoying, confusing, or drawn out. Make it super easy for people to buy from you. Not sure how to do that? Compare the number of clicks it takes to make a purchase on your own site, then compare your shopping process to Amazon. Eye opening?

Opportunity: Google and Meta retargeting ads, email or text offers

Loyalty: Stage five

What: Re-engaging your existing customer base is one of the most cost-effective ways to grow your business. If you aren’t able to retain a significant portion of your clients, your budget to acquire new customers will wallop your organization. Through excellent customer service, a reliable product or service, and active feedback loops, you’ll be able to keep a healthy portion of your customer base coming back for more. And if you excel in this area, you may even convert happy customers into an extension of your sales team (aka advocates).

Why: The key to growth is retention and repeat sales.

Impact: Happy customers keep buying from you and spread the word about the amazing new solution they’ve discovered. Pretty soon, they are referring their friends, family, and customers to you.

Opportunity: Referral and/or loyalty programs, surveys, special offers and discounts

How do I attract new customers?

Pop quiz! Any guesses as to which digital marketing funnel stages attracts new customers? It’s the awareness stage. Your digital advertising, sponsorships, billboards, and influencer campaigns are how you “meet” prospective customers and get them to like you. Through targeting, you can attract the people who are most likely to buy from you. And with a irresistible offer (Free shipping on their first order? A $100 credit? The possibilities are many!) you’ll overcome their skepticism and capture their email, name, and/or phone number.

What if customers on my email list aren’t buying from me?

If customers on your email list aren’t buying from you, it’s likely that one of the following is true:

  • you purchased your email list so it’s low quality
  • your email list is more than two years old
  • buying from you is clunky
  • your email campaigns are off putting (pink on gray text, buttons that don’t work, displays that are meant for desktop, not mobile devices)

The antidote is to up-level your email marketing with a professional digital marketing agency. Build up a powerful email with subscribers who eagerly sign up. Nurture your subscribers by emailing them with news, offers, and helpful resources. If people join your email list, it’s because they want to receive email from you. Don’t abuse their trust by neglecting them.

What digital marketing funnel stages should I focus on?

The answer depends on your goal. In my experience, the vast majority of small business owners want to increase their sales. They want to make more money. If this is your goal, then you’ll need to plan for investing in every stage of the marketing funnel. With 25+ years of marketing experience on my team and having worked with more than a hundred clients over 9+ years, we have seen the piecemeal strategy disappoint many business owners who made a minimal investment and expected maximum return. Without a full funnel strategy, you won’t be able to generate leads and build a sales system.

Still reading? Let’s talk.