Lead Generation Funnel – How to Build & Optimize One

leads funnel

What is Lead Generation?

Every individual, irrespective of age group, gender, and other professional, social, economic, or individual characteristics—who reveals interest in your business, products, or services can be considered as a lead.

Mostly, your leads usually introduce their characteristics by:

  • Sharing their contact info
  • Engaging with your website or blog
  • Subscribing for your whitepapers, newsletter, blog updates, or product updates

Noticing these behavioral aspects and patterns is vital for the improvement of the lead generation sales funnel as any of their actions can be a potential indicator of their purchase intent.

Your website may be experiencing overwhelming traffic, or your social media posts may be bombarded with comments or questions. Keep in mind, not all leads you are getting are not equally qualified. Your prospects may be in different stages of the lead conversion funnel, and most of them are not ready to convert. According to the statistics, over 80% of prospects left your lead generation marketing funnel without converting it into sales. The reason is the absence of an effective lead nurturing strategy. You can read more on our detailed guide on how you can nurture your leads, and move them to the closer to conversions.

This is where lead generation joins the stage. In simple terms, lead generation refers to the process of engaging, nurturing, and persuading prospects to convert into buyers. When a prospect shows his/her purchase intent, lead generation experts use different tactics for sales conversion.

For instance, content marketing and email marketing are two widely known and effective lead generation strategies.

With the growing trend of eCommerce businesses and digital marketing, developing an effective and impactful lead gen funnel has become crucial for all businesses. Setting up a proactive lead generation sales funnel won’t only boost your conversion rate, but also allow you to strengthen your brand image and boost RoI.

The Lead Generation Funnel

lead generation funnel

Each prospect follows a unique roadmap before tuning into customers. But, apart from these differences, all prospects go through the specific lead funnel stages that lead down to the sales. To help lead generation experts visualize and create effective strategies to manipulate the prospect’s journey, the lead generation funnel was introduced.

The lead generation sales funnel or lead generation marketing funnel showcases the journey of a prospect from the moment they enter the funnel sharing their information and interests.

Let’s discuss each lead funnel stage in detail.

  1. Attract – Top of the Funnel (TOFU)
  2. Engage – Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)
  3. Convert – Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)

Attract – Top of the Funnel (TOFU)

As the name reveals, the awareness stage is all about building awareness. Since top of the funnel, serves as the first interaction with your prospect, your primary concern should be creating a sense of trust. Sharing informative and educational content with your prospect will help you maintain your authoritative & trustworthy figure.

Engage – Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)

In the middle of the funnel, your prospects have already acknowledged and evaluated the problems that needed to be addressed and started looking for viable solutions. Offering a sustainable solution and introducing your products or services is necessary to push further down to the conversion path.

Convert – Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)

Once your qualified leads with purchase intent have reached the bottom of the funnel, they consider purchasing, so your focus should be diverted to selling your products or services. Providing customer case studies, product demonstrations, and discount offers will reassure them that investing in your brand is the perfect decision.

Understanding the importance of these three stages will let you turn your leads into sales. Apart from increasing the likelihood of conversions, your lead generation marketing funnel is also helpful in improving the CX.

The Lead Generation Process

The lead generation process involves six vital steps, showcasing the roles of the sales and marketing teams from the instant a prospect falls into the funnel up to the point when you can call them satisfied customers.

  1. Acquire Leads
  2. Nurture Leads
  3. Qualify Leads for Marketing
  4. Qualify Leads for Sales
  5. Convert Leads
  6. Keep Your Customers Happy

1- Acquire Leads

Businesses generally use paid advertising (PPC) and SEO to attract leads. It works by directing your prospects to the landing page of your business website, CRM, promotion page, or the product page.

It is of utmost importance that you must produce and share valuable content across different marketing platforms to make this step more effective. Once your prospects started showing interest by providing their details, they are now officially a lead.

2- Nurture Leads

Engaging leads is the first step of the lead generation process, but their potential of becoming a sale is shadowed unless you nurture them. Lead nurturing process is a personalized approach and can best be fulfilled by incorporating effective email campaigns or phone calls. The content of your emails is about sharing information about your business and your products or services. Remember that it is the most determining phase to build strong ties with your potential customer.

3- Qualify Leads for Marketing

Qualifying prospects based on their intent is the process of ensuring that your leads are interested in buying your products or services. You may also score email subscribers based on how much of your content they’re consuming.

4- Qualify Leads for Sales

Furthermore, your sales team runs its quality assurance tests on contemporary prospects. This screening phase usually involves phone calls, as the sales team asks questions and evaluates if they would turn into sales after necessary efforts. If the lead is not found to be qualified enough, the sales team may roll them back to the marketing team for further nurturing until the prospect becomes ready for conversion.

5- Convert Leads

In the end, the most important task of your sales team is to convert a qualified lead into sales. Conversion is driven by a lot of negotiation in terms of price, offers, and return or exchange policies. Once a sale is locked, the sales team must ensure good ties with customers, stay connected, and respond to their queries. It is necessary to ensure re-engagement and up-sell or cross-sell.

6- Keep Your Customers Happy

The lead generation process ends with your last expression that is intended to keep your customers satisfied and loyal. You can ensure a better customer experience, ask for their feedback, or offer loyalty benefits & offers to maintain trust and a long-term relationship. This long-term relationship further helps you in re-engaging your customers after the closure of the sale.

Differences Between MQLs and SQLs

Essentially, MQLs (Marketing qualified leads) and SQLs (Sales qualified leads) aren’t much different. Both MQLs and SQLs describe a prospect who’s shown interest in your business, but with varying intents.

The primary difference between MQLs and SQLs is how far along their buyer’s journey they are, and which of your teams (marketing or sales) has to play its role in pushing them further down the lead conversion funnel.

As the name suggests, the marketing team is responsible for dealing with MQLs. MQLs involves the prospects who exist at the top or middle of your lead generation funnel. MQLs aren’t very far along in their customer journey. They need a softer and more generalized approach compared to the prospects who are further down the lead generation sales funnel.

At this stage of the lead generation funnel, you need to educate and inform them about your organization and drive their interest in your product or service. You’re also fetching valuable data so that you can determine what they need and push your marketing strategy.

Once a prospect is found to be investing high interest in your offers can be classified as SQLs. They’re then forwarded to the sales team to convert them into sales.

Why do MQLs and SQLs Matter?

Without obvious signals and clear attributes revealing who’s an MQL or SQL, the entire sales process would become complex with different teams approaching the same prospects from different channels.

It’s not a sane idea to keep your marketers busy in closing sales. Their core responsibility is to raise awareness of your brand, identify the pain points of prospects, and keep them engaged throughout their journey.

Similarly, you don’t onboard sales personnel to raise awareness or drive engagements. Your sales team is intended to compile all the necessary information about prospects, make offers accordingly, and lock a sale.

By ensuring lead qualification practice you can align and synchronize your marketing and sales teams. Both teams must figure out which prospects to go after and at which stage of the lead generation funnel. By properly scoring and attributing leads, you can easily align your sales and marketing towards the main goal – conversion.

How to Generate Leads Using SEO

SEO is one of the best strategies to generate leads. By ranking at the top search results in Google, it will be much easier for prospects to find your company. We have compiled a set of tips about how you can leverage SEO as an effective lead generation strategy.

  • Mobile-Friendly web interface – As you design and develop your landing pages, it is mandatory to optimize UI for different devices to strengthen your bottom line. According to the research, over 70% of customers perform online searches using mobile devices. They hold a high potential to buy from a brand having a mobile-friendly website.
  • Optimize Meta Descriptions –Meta descriptions have nothing to do with your google rankings, but they can remarkably impact your click frequency. To write a relevant and engaging meta description, you need to summarize the overall content of your web page.
  • Do not clutter – Undoubtedly, link building is one of the most significant ways to increase your domain authority. But refrain from adding too many links to your blog.

Identify the Buyer Intent – understanding the pain points or expectations of prospects is more than just buyer personas. You need to identify the hurdles they face and the aspects they want to know about a particular product or problem. It can help you foresee their journey in your lead generation funnel. It will also help you determine the right keywords to integrate into your product and blog pages.

How to Generate Leads Using Content Marketing

Content marketing is the most effective lead generation strategy with long-term benefits and high RoI. Every business has started embracing content marketing for its remarkable benefits. According to the statistics, over 90% of B2B businesses use the content as a primary strategy to strengthen their B2B lead generation funnel. Consider the following tips to improve your content strategy:

  • Decide the promotion platforms – If you want your content to be more impactful, you should figure out where to promote it and your target audience. By leveraging social media and email for a general and personalized approach respectively, you can distribute your content to a greater audience.
  • Diversity in content – Blog posts or articles may be an effective lead generation strategy, but it doesn’t mean you should only depend on blogging. If you want to extract the most out of your content marketing, it is recommended to explore different types of content.
  • Case studies – After a comprehensive evaluation of a problem and presenting fruitful solutions, you can show your prospects that you’re a reliable entity in your niche.
  • eBooks – eBooks are the most comprehensive form of content that addresses key topics and conflicts in detail. There’s no other opinion that eBooks are very difficult to produce, but serve as an effective lead magnet when written and promoted properly.
  • Charts or graphs – Graphs and visuals can simplify complex pieces of information or stats in an easy-to-understand and engaging format. If your blog posts involve different statistics and data figures, incorporating graphs will make it interactive for your audience to understand complex information.
  • Videos – According to research, over 70% of consumers would rather prefer content in video format like tutorials, podcasts, or product use cases. It makes video content extremely vital for an effective content strategy. If you want to implement this idea, it is recommended to consider different types of video-based content types to offer diversity.
  • CTAs – Instead of deserting your audience to determine what should be the next step, you can link them to a different blog, product, or category page of your site. For instance, your newsletter subscription page or any relevant blog page using “Read More” or “Know More” CTAs. It will keep your prospects intact throughout their purchase journey, up to conversion.

How to Generate Leads Using Social Media

Social media has gone through various evolutionary phases over the last decade. Originally debuted as networking platforms, platforms like Facebook & LinkedIn have become remarkable lead generation utilities. In today’s time, social media pages or channels on different platforms are crucial for generating leads and ultimately improve ROI. This is why using LinkedIn for B2B lead generation has become a new norm. The following tips can enable you to leverage social media to generate and nurture leads.

  • Use trending or relevant hashtags – Relevant hashtags can help your social media audience find or recall your products, offers, or campaigns. Apart from improving your reachability, hashtags are essential to improve brand identity.
  • Live streaming – Replying to customers’ comments or queries can help your brand appear more active, but it’s a mundane task to keep up with. If you’re finding effective ways to interact with your followers or subscribers, you can start hosting live stream sessions. Many reputable brands schedule webinars and Q/A sessions to capture prospects’ attention. You also need to make it mandatory to follow this practice as well.

How to Generate Leads Using PPC

PPC is another robust and cost-effective lead generation strategy.

Pay per click or PPC is the type of paid advertising that enables you to target your niche’s most essential keywords, primarily the ones with commercial intent (high intent). Targeting a keyword sounds like performing SEO strategies, but PPC works differently as it falls inside a paid advertising segment.

PPC is more of a deal or action that enables you to tender on the keywords that you want to rank. For instance, if you’re going to place an advertisement that pops up when someone types “best gaming keyboard,” you have to bid on it, depending on how much you’re inclined to spend on this particular keyword. Some other significant benefits of PPC leads campaigns include:

  • Becoming the highest bidder on the particular keyword allows your ad to win a top position on Google (above the organic search results). Another essential factor to consider is that up to 50% of page clicks go to the top three ads. It means all high-value prospects will be diverted to your website if your bid is high.
  • Another benefit of utilizing the PPC strategy is you only have to pay if someone clicks on your ad. It makes PPC one of the most cost-effective paid marketing strategies for attracting quality leads to your landing page & skyrocketing your RoI.

How to Generate Leads Using Email

Email marketing is one of the most powerful lead generation approaches to interacting with your prospects and customers personally. With over 4 billion individuals having email accounts, you can engage new and highly-qualified leads by incorporating them into your lead generation strategy. To help you understand how email marketing works, we have compiled some tips to ensure success:

  • Leverage the potential of automation – Using email marketing doesn’t mean that you have to write and send thousands of emails manually. Automation tools offer you a hassle-free experience and programmable bots to send promotional or seasonal emails.
  • Categorize your email subscribers – When it comes to email marketing, personalization is the key, sending an email with a personalized subject line can make your emails earn maximum click rate. There are different ways to categorize your subscribers based on demographics, navigation patterns, search intent, and interests.
  • Use triggered emails – If your subscriber is navigating through your product or category pages or has recently registered as an email subscriber, it is recommended to send a triggered email instantly. Sending out personalized emails whenever your subscriber performs a particular action will significantly improve your conversion rate.

Around 85% of businesses leverage email marketing as an effective lead generation strategy. This ratio is a clear indicator of why email marketing is one of the most powerful lead generation strategies.


Attracting and engaging new customers is the biggest challenge for every business. Luckily, we are living in the digital era, and innovations in digital marketing have made customer acquisition a lot easier. The aforementioned practices have a high potential to boost your conversion rate, but in the end, using these practices in the right way still depends on you.

If you want your business to touch new summits, acknowledging how to engage and nurture your lead is mandatory. With an effective and smart lead generation strategy, you can easily achieve this goal.

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