What Is a Web Marketing Funnel? - dummies

By John Arnold, Michael Becker, Marty Dickinson, Ian Lurie, Elizabeth Marsten

In web marketing, anytime you have multiple steps in a conversion process, you have a funnel. Some funnels occupy multiple pages but only a single endpoint and goal, such as the checkout process. A multiple-page, lead-generation form works the same way.

These point-to-point processes are linear. The visitor starts at one end of the funnel and concludes on the final goal-conversion page. They’re the easiest funnels to track.


Finding the right funnel and tracking it can get more complicated if you have a funnel with one starting point and multiple endpoints. For example, the process shown here has three valid goals to track: an e-mail sign-up form, a download, and a purchase.


The single entry point and multiple exit points comprise a funnel, but any endpoint is a conversion. Deeper conversions are better, but they all generate value to the business. Don’t rule out this type of funnel. It still matters! By tracking depth and results, you can find ways to improve conversion rates at all levels.

Other goal funnels on your site might include the following:

  • Forward to a Friend: This one has two steps. Click to start the process, and then enter a friend’s e-mail address and forward the page.

  • A dealer search: The visitor first enters a ZIP code, and then clicks a result and clicks Contact This Dealer. This funnel is another one that’s worth tracking.

  • AJAX-driven process: This funnel folds numerous pages into a single page. It’s still a funnel, however. Tracking it requires a little JavaScript expertise, but if you made the investment in the process, it’s worth the extra work.

    AJAX — Asynchronous JavaScript and XML — is a nifty technology that allows developers to change what’s displayed on a webpage without actually reloading the page. It’s a great way to create beautiful websites and interfaces (such as Flickr).

    However, it’s an analytics nightmare. Until recently, analytics was built around tracking page views. AJAX, however, reduces page views. So, a multiple-step process that’s handled by AJAX, instead of taking you from one page to the next, can be tricky to track.

Regardless of your final goal, look at any conversion process on your site that requires more than one button or link to complete, and you have a funnel.