5 Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

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Be sure to check out the previous post in this series: Tools to Optimize Your Marketing Funnels and Generate Massive ROI

As your business scales, one of the most important factors to help it grow systematically is a marketing funnelWithout one, it becomes significantly more difficult to see the areas of your business where you could improve in order to generate more revenue.

Marketing funnels are essentially a structured path for a potential customer to go from hearing about your business all the way down to making a purchase.

In this post, we’ll talk about the different types of funnels, how to test them, and 5 case study examples of how companies set up their funnels to boost conversions and revenue.

Traditional Marketing Funnel

For a more in-depth description of marketing funnels, check out The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Marketing Funnel.

Generally the traditional funnel is made up of four stages: AIDA:

The “Awareness” stage usually consists of blog posts, e-books, paid advertising, and other content to make more people aware of your business.

The “Interest” stage is designed to keep people engaged and interested so that they return, and one of the best ways to do that is by collecting e-mail addresses.

The “Desire” (or “Evaluation”) phase consists of the prospect opting in to your e-mail list and then evaluating your products and services against your competitors. At this stage, content like whitepapers and case studies tend to be most effective.

And finally, the “Action” stage is the natural conclusion to the preceding three stages and is when the prospect makes the decision to purchase.

While this funnel outline covers the basics of what a marketing funnel should do, there are other funnel formats that marketers use.


Conversion Funnel

Neil Patel is a big proponent of what he calls the conversion funnel, which places more emphasis on customer behaviors, lead nurturing, and retention at every step of the process.

There are more questions asked at each step of the funnel, such as:

  • “How do we make the customer more aware of our brand?”
  • “How do we entice them with an irresistible offer?”
  • “Why would they not act and what can we do to fix it?”
  • “How can we recognize and anticipate their needs?”

This type of funnel is more open-ended than the traditional funnel because it doesn't conclude when the prospect buys your product, but rather works to retain them.

Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

Step 1: Attracting customers

This stage would likely involve driving customers to a landing page from articles, social media, etc.

One of the biggest mistakes that companies make at this step is not understanding what their customer really wants. For example, check out this landing page for a school that specializes in nutrition courses:

Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

From a customer’s point of view, there are a log of unanswered questions on this page that would prevent them from completing the sign-up form — questions like:

  • “How do I talk to someone if I have questions?”
  • “Where can I find the course catalog?”
  • “How much does it cost to take a course?”
  • “What do other students say about the course?”

Without getting these questions answered, there’s not much motivation for customers to enter their information which prevents you from moving them further down the funnel.

Step 2: Encouraging action

How do you compel action from your prospect? By creating an emotional investment in them through a series of “quick wins.”

Allowing your prospect to achieve a quick win will help guide them through each step of the funnel by encouraging them to take one small successful step at a time. For instance, a quick win for Instagram would be guiding your potential user to create their first picture. As Growth Hacking Pro says, “It’s their immediate reward for going through the trouble of learning about you, trusting you with their email, and going through the registration process. The quick win should be a small taste of your product’s core experience.”

For example, check out what Seamless (an on-demand food delivery company) did below. Their main customers are busy professionals who don’t have time to cook or constantly plan their next meals.

Knowing this, the company created short, mobile-friendly messages that offer a discount code.

Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

Source: Neil Patel

Then they sent this follow-up code:

Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

Source: Neil Patel

The message is brief and sharable.

Once you understand what your audience wants, you can encourage them to take action in “bite-sized” ways as they move through your funnel.

Step 3: Build a content plan

Neil Patel gives an example of a computer repair store. In the first step of the funnel, you’d use local media outlets, social media, and content on your blog to address some common computer repair problems that customers have. The top of the funnel is about getting more people familiar with the services you offer and convincing them of your expertise.

As they move down the funnel, the motivation for purchase would be urgency-based because most people who seek computer repair help need it right away.

Once customers have purchased, you could add on an outreach program, local contests and events, and loyalty programs to increase the likelihood of referrals and repeat business. Upgrades and new software could be a great way to craft up-sells and cross-sells to get customers to buy more than once.

A helpful piece of content for new prospects who arrive on your site is a “start here” page. This is a page that tells you exactly what you should do once you arrive on a site, along with the main categories of what it has to offer (i.e. “first, check out XYZ articles, then sign up to my e-mail list”).

Download your free marketing funnel guide right here: Free Marketing Funnel Maps: How to Map Out Each Stage Of Your Marketing Funnel.

Step 4: Get referrals

Not only are current customers more likely to buy from you again, but new customers are also 71% more likely to purchase based on social media referrals.  

Dropbox got amazing results with their referral program. They went from 100,000 to 4 million users in just 15 months. In one month, users sent out over 2.8 million referrals from the platform.

In Dropbox’s case, there were multiple factors that contributed to their huge success with referral marketing: 1) the person that gives the referral gets something (like free space up to 16 GB), and 2) the referral gets something as well (more space in their account if they sign up). 

Here are a few key points to keep in mind when building referral systems at the end of your funnel:

  • Identify the target market that could get the most benefit by sending you referrals.
  • Let the market know specifically what type of customer you’re looking to attract.
  • Offer tempting incentives for the referrals.
  • Make your system rewarding.

But what you do after getting your conversion is even more important than everything you did to get that customer to convert. After a customer transacts with you, think about what they would want in the next step:

  • They want to be reassured that they made the right decision.
  • They want to quickly get started using your product (with clear instructions).
  • They want to see support options in case they have any questions.
  • They want to know how to request a refund or make a return.

The main difference between the traditional and conversion funnels is that the conversion funnel doesn’t make the assumption that conversion ends once the customer buys. Instead, it continues until the customers become advocates for your business.

Learn More: 

Testing Your Funnel

Once you have all the parts of your funnel set up, you'll have to test them in a budget-conscious way. Here’s what to look at when figuring out which pages to test first:

  • Prioritization. Focus on your best performing pages rather than try to improve your worst performers.
  • Ease of implementation. If you expect any part of your implementation to be highly technical or time consuming, move on to the next one.
  • Conversion value. The parts of the funnel that bring in highly targeted customers who are aware of your brand are the ones that should be prioritized the most. These are the customers who will be more likely to convert with a lower up-front investment.

There are a couple of tools you can use to test out your funnel in a cost effective way.

Google Analytics

The easiest way to start testing your funnel is by setting conversion goals in Google Analytics. This tool allows you to track customers from the moment they land on a page, see what their actions are, and discover where they drop off. Funnels have “holes” at each step, and the best way to patch those up is by looking at the data on drop off patterns.

Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

Source: Coast Digital

Once you add your website to your Google Analytics page, you’ll find the relevant tracking code on the “Admin” link. From there, you can copy and paste the code on all the pages you want to track.

There are a few different types of conversion goals that you can track:

  • Destination – Use destination goals to set a page view as a conversion.
  • Duration – Set duration goals to measure time on page, and tie that to a conversion goal.
  • Pages/screens per session – Setting pages/screens per session as a goal allows you to measure user engagement by observing the number of pages/screens a user views in a single session.
  • Event – Set an event goal if you want to set a user interaction on your site as a conversion (like signing up for an e-mail list).

See how to create conversion goals within Google Analytics in our previous post: Tools to Optimize Your Marketing Funnels and Generate Massive ROI.

Now you'll be able to measure conversion rates at each stage of your funnel so that you know the patterns behind customer drop off. This will better equip you to patch those “holes” and ultimately boost your bottom line.


Another way to track your conversions is through Optimizely.

Once you log in to Optimizely, you can go to the Editor where you can click on the flag icon to add new conversion goals or experiments.

Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

From there, you can create a new goal:

Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

By sharing goals between experiments, you can save time that you might normally spend recreating them each time. To add a goal that you previously created, you can click “Add a Saved Goal.”

Optimizely also has a variety of goal types that you can choose from:

  • Click event goals: If you want to track clicks as conversions, then this goal will do the job.
  • Custom goals: If you want to track how many times a certain item (i.e. input boxes on forms) was clicked, then you can create a custom goal. If you have your revenue numbers broken down at each step of the funnel, you can also assign monetary value numbers to conversion goals. For example, maybe you know that 1% of e-mail subscribers end up buying your product. Based on your product’s price, you should have a good idea of what each subscriber is worth to you.
  • Page view goals: Just like Google Analytics, this goal measures how many times a specific page was viewed.

Finally, you’ll want to make sure all these individual goals fit within the grand scheme of your funnel. In Optimizely, this is called “multi page experiments.”

To do this, first choose a multi-page experiment. You can easily do this from the Editor by going to Options > Experiment type.

Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

Then, just like you added individual steps to your goals, add individual pages to your funnel by clicking the “Add page” link.

Next, create variations of the different pages that you want to test.

For example, Crate & Barrel varied their holiday messages on a couple of different pages to see which would encourage more sales.

Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

The second option was this:

Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

After the test pages are set, you have to makes sure that users continue to see the same pages as they move through the funnel.

You can do this by going to Options > URL Targeting and specifying the targeting conditions for each page:

Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

Once you have your data, you can start tweaking the pages of your funnel to reduce customer drop-off at each step based on which copy, design, and messaging resonates with them.

Now we’ll take a look at a few companies that used funnel optimization strategies to boost their conversion rates and revenues.

Read More: 

Case Study #1: CrazyEgg

CrazyEgg is a SaaS company that provides a heat map tool to help businesses better understand how users are interacting with their site.

Their sales funnel breaks down in the following five stages:

1) Awareness

Building awareness is the first step of any funnel. Before readers can be guided down the process to make a purchase, they first have to find out about your business in some way and become interested in what you have to offer. Marketing at this stage involves paid traffic, blog content, and optimizing for SEO to get more exposure for their brand.

Here’s one of CrazyEgg’s Facebook ads that was used to build awareness:

Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

Source: Click Funnels

Here’s another example of content that was used to build awareness:

Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

For readers who want to know how to boost e-commerce revenue, they'll find one of CrazyEgg’s blog posts on the first page of Google's search results.

Readers will have different experiences going through CrazyEgg’s funnel depending on what content they see first. In this example, we’ll stick with what follows after clicking on the Facebook ad.

Download your free marketing funnel guide right here: Free Marketing Funnel Maps: How to Map Out Each Stage Of Your Marketing Funnel.