The Five Categories in the Sales Funnel

Business Marketing Tyler Rice

by Tyler Rice
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Last updated Feb. 22, 2023

Brand Awareness. It seems like such a difficult goal to dump money into but is such a crucial part of gaining new sales and keeping customers informed.

The sections below explain each part of the sales funnel process to better understand the form and steps involved in bringing in new customers.


1. Exposure

Exposure is the first part of the sales funnel and can be understood simply as the number of people who see your branding.

While brand reach is a broad subject, when more people enter the top of the funnel, more opportunities trickle down to leads. When it comes to social media, this exposure can easily be measured by fans, followers, and subscribers to each update.

While there is no way to tell if each person who clicked on a post or link is listening to what you say, there is potential there for the consumer to listen and see more about your brand.

It is equally important to realize that spending money on exposure to social media costs a fraction of what it would cost for traditional media outlets such as newspaper or television.

The more you reach out with brand awareness, the more sales opportunities present themselves to your business.

Examples of social media measurement tools from this brand reach would be:

Twitter: Content Impressions

Facebook: Total Reach

YouTube: Channel Views

Instagram: Photo


2. Influence

Influence is in a separate category than exposure.

While exposure is the number of people who can see your brand, influence is essentially when a person is reached through a referral by a specific person (an influencer.)

For example, take Inferno (2016), the new movie starring Tom Hanks. The actor may go on talk show hosts, advertisements, and other media to promote the new movie.

While this could be an effective way to advertise the film, a credible article from Thelma Adams, a critic from the movie critic website,, could prove to have far more reach and effectiveness than the actor promoting the movie.

Influencers have the ability to make people listen. They have the loyal fans and followers who trust their opinions. 

To quantify and add value to the category of influence, you can begin with a measurement of how many influencers mention the brand.

After that, estimate the reach that was obtained with those efforts. This can be acquired through any social media outlet.


3. Engagement

This is where the value of social media comes into play as you can easily quantify those who are engaging with your brand.

Engagement is when anyone takes a physical activity during the time that is being measured to interact with your company and brand.

This is the HUGE difference between quantifying results from traditional media and social media since you can have two-way conversations with any social media outlet.

While one may be able to measure how many people had viewed a specific advertisement or ad campaign on television or newspaper, there is no way to understand how the customer can share or engage with the brand like with social media.

Consumers are more likely to buy from your brand if they have taken the time to actively engage in it.


4. Action & Conversation

There are two types of leads that can be generated through social media and that is leads who are ready to buy on the spot (hard-leads) or consumers who have provided contact information in exchange to continue a conversation with the brand to buy later (soft leads).

It is in the action and conversation stage that qualified leads go on to buy your brand’s products and services.

This stage differs in sales than traditional media since people who are engaged with the social media of your brand may take time to act rather than having an immediate need. If you are doing the job correctly, you will see sales and action form from the engagement of your brand.

You may use marketing data analytics to continually refine and test your sales funnel to ensure that your company is paying the least money to generate brand engagement.


5. Customer Retention

This is the most overlooked and final stage of the sales funnel. This is where it is important for focus on customers who have already purchased from your company and to guide them back through the sales funnel to continue gaining business from them.

It is extremely important to measure the trends in these customers to keep them coming back for more.

To make more money from these customers you can either encourage them to spend more during each transaction or encourage them to purchase more often.

This will allow you to gather important quantifiable data on your existing customers and will provide valuable insight on revenues.

This social media analysis, along with other analysis, can prove to show which way of engagement is best for your customers.


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