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Customer Acquisition Funnel | The Complete Guide For 2024

Ninad Pathak
October 24, 2023
February 27, 2024
Table of Contents

The average website conversion rate across B2B is just about 2%. This means businesses miss out on most (~98%) brand-aware accounts already visiting their website. A deep understanding of your customer journeys and the ability to identify hidden opportunities becomes essential to make the most of this potential pipeline. 

This is where a customer acquisition funnel comes in.

The customer acquisition funnel helps track how prospective customers flow through defined stages of the buyer journey to become loyal buyers. The funnel starts broad, capturing initial awareness and interest before narrowing down to hot leads, evaluating solutions, and finally making the purchase.

This guide covers everything you need to know about building, analyzing, and optimizing the customer acquisition funnels, including:

  • Mapping the stages of the modern customer journey
  • Tracking key funnel performance metrics
  • Diagnosing and addressing bottlenecks stunting conversion
  • Leveraging tools to unlock data-driven funnel insights
  • Applying proven best practices to optimize acquisition

By the end, you’ll understand how a well-oiled customer acquisition funnel can drive sustainable business growth with minimal effort. Let's dive in!

What is a customer acquisition funnel?

The customer acquisition funnel is a structured path a potential customer follows from initial awareness of a product to ultimately becoming a paying customer. It consists of clearly defined stages that segment the customer journey into measurable phases.

Here is a simple example depicting the critical stages in a typical customer acquisition funnel:

What is a customer acquisition funnel

As you can see: 

  • The funnel is broad at the initial awareness stage, where many prospects learn about your offerings. 
  • It narrows as prospects display increased levels of engagement. This represents fewer prospects remaining actively engaged as the funnel progresses toward a purchase decision.
  • At the end of the funnel, the smallest number of highly qualified prospects convert into paying customers.

The overarching goal of mapping the customer acquisition funnel is to establish a data-driven view of how prospective customers move through defined stages on their path to conversion. 

It provides actionable insights to optimize marketing and sales processes across the entire customer lifecycle—maximize conversion rates, decrease acquisition costs, and improve retention over time.

Actively optimizing a customer acquisition funnel offers significant benefits, including:

  • Identifying roadblocks within the customer journey to conversion.
  • Determining the effectiveness of current acquisition strategies.
  • Enabling more efficient allocation of marketing and sales resources.
  • Supporting more accurate forecasting of future conversions and revenue.
  • Fostering customer-centric thinking across the organization.

All of which helps you fix funnel leaks and continually improve your conversion ratio. With that clear, let's explore why the customer acquisition funnel is a high-return investment for any growth-oriented business.

Why is the customer acquisition funnel Important?

There are several compelling reasons why taking the time to thoughtfully map out and optimize your customer acquisition funnel is worthwhile:

Why is the customer acquisition funnel Important

1. It Aligns Teams and Strategies to Common Business Goals

The mapped customer journey gives every department—marketing, sales, product, customer service, etc.—a shared understanding of customers' complete experience. And a unified perspective enables better coordination of strategies across teams to optimize the journey.

For example, marketing can pass warm leads to sales quickly. Product can identify and fix usability issues that could lead to drop-offs, and the service can follow up with customers post-purchase to improve retention. 

Without this alignment, teams can end up working in silos and creating a fragmented, inconsistent customer experience.

2. It Highlights Optimization Opportunities

Along with aligning teams, acquisition funnels help analyze conversion rates and drop-off points at each customer journey stage. 

It also highlights areas where customers are struggling or abandoning the process. These issues represent tangible opportunities to optimize specific steps in the journey to make it easier and more seamless for customers.

For instance, a drop in conversions from free trial signup to paid signup may indicate friction in the onboarding flow or payments. If you have a system that identifies the issues, you can address them by reducing the steps for onboarding or changing your payment gateways. 

3. It Informs More Impactful Resource Allocation

The mapped customer journey visually shows which parts of the process work well vs. underperforming. The data can make prioritizing budgets, staffing, technology solutions, and other resources easier. More funds can be allocated to the journey's branches needing improvement. Meanwhile, resources focused on high-performing portions may be redirected or minimized.

4. It Allows More Accurate Growth Projections

With historical data on customer volume and conversion rates mapped to each phase, you can better predict future acquisition and growth trends. Forecasting models can extrapolate forecasted customer volumes and associated revenue expansion over time.

This provides vital input for broader financial planning activities like budgeting, growth strategy, hiring plans, etc. Accurate projections set realistic goals versus arbitrary targets.

5. It Creates a Customer-First Mindset

Walking step-by-step through the customer experience encourages team members to view things from the customer's perspective. This naturally promotes greater empathy for and understanding of customer needs across the organization.

For example, seeing a high drop-off during an onboarding flow could prompt an engineer to simplify the process for faster time to value. This customer-centric mindset powered by the journey map establishes a critical foundation for customer-obsessed cultures.

Now that we've covered why mapping the customer journey is so valuable let's understand the critical stages of a typical acquisition funnel.

The Stages of the Customer Acquisition Funnel

Stages of the Customer Acquisition Funnel

The customer acquisition funnel is generally broken down into five core stages:

1. Awareness

This first stage is when potential customers become aware that a company and its products exist. 

For example, someone may see an ad for a SaaS company offering project management software. The goal here is to build broad awareness and "get on the radar" of prospects. 

Typical marketing activities within the awareness stage include:

  • Digital advertising campaigns - search, display, social media, etc.
  • Traditional advertising - television, radio, print, out-of-home
  • Public relations and earned media outreach
  • Content marketing - blogs, videos, guides, case studies
  • Search engine optimization and website enhancements

2. Interest

At this stage, aware prospects start developing a genuine interest in the company. For example, someone who saw the project management software ad may now go to the website and download an ebook on productivity tips for managers. Marketing now provides targeted information and materials to nurture leads, convey relevance, and prompt engagement. 

Common tactics used in the interest stage include:

  • Promotional content - ebooks, whitepapers, email nurturing campaigns
  • Targeted search and display advertisements
  • Social media engagement - likes, shares, follows, clicks
  • Customer testimonials and reviews

3. Consideration

In the consideration stage, interested prospects actively evaluate whether the solution fits their needs. For example, the lead may sign up for a free software trial to test it out. Marketing in this stage focuses on differentiation and incentives to drive trials and consultations.

Typical consideration stage activities include:

  • Free trials of your product
  • Live product demonstrations and consultations
  • Multi-touch email campaigns
  • Retargeting advertisements
  • Sales representative calls and meetings

4. Decision

Here, prospects have narrowed options and are nearing a purchase decision. For example, the lead may be at a stage where they’re now comparing the project management tool against 1-2 competitors. 

Marketing provides final convincing arguments to close the sale. 

Some of the common tactics used in the decision stage involve:

  • Special promotional pricing or discounts
  • Highly targeted and personalized advertisements
  • Aggressive sales follow-ups and closes
  • Frictionless point-of-sale or checkout experiences

5. Customer

This is the final stage, where prospects complete a purchase to become customers. Marketing aims to drive loyalty, retention, referrals, and repeat sales. For example, the new customer is onboarded to the software and offered additional training and resources to improve the experience with your product. 

Post-purchase activities include:

  • New customer onboarding and implementation
  • Satisfaction surveys and user feedback collection
  • Loyalty or VIP programs
  • Customer retention and win-back campaigns
  • Referral programs
  • Remarketing and cross-selling campaigns

Note this is only a framework to get you started. As companies implementing acquisition funnels mature, they develop custom funnels that work best for them. So, feel free to modify the stages as you see fit. 

How to Build Your Customer Acquisition Funnel

With the understanding of what a good customer acquisition funnel can do and the stages involved, how can you implement one for your business? Here are a few simple steps you can follow:

Step 1: Conduct Customer Research to Map Buying Journeys

Start by truly understanding your target customers through qualitative and quantitative research. Learn what motivates them, their pain points, and the detailed buying process. 

Analyze any existing sales and marketing funnels—conduct focus groups, surveys, interviews, and advisory boards to uncover the fundamental stages prospects go through to become buyers.

For example, after going through multiple transcripts, an enterprise software company may determine these high-level funnel stages:

  • Awareness - Learn about the product from YouTube or communities
  • Interest - Book a demo or register for a trial
  • Consideration - Book demos and trials with other vendors for a detailed comparison
  • Decision - Select finalist and negotiate contracts
  • Customer - Onboard and train employees

This process is primarily manual. However, running your meeting transcripts through ChatGPT can help you gain insights quickly without reading transcripts or rewatching the meetings.

Step 2: Catalog Omnichannel Touchpoints and Interactions

Next, catalog every existing and potential marketing, sales, support, and product touchpoint you have with prospects. Do this across all marketing channels, from the first touchpoint to the sale.

Spend time brainstorming different ways your existing buyers interacted with your brand. For instance, an enterprise CRM company may identify these example touchpoints:

  • Awareness - Tradeshow booth, 3rd party reviews
  • Interest - Targeted social media ads, analyst content offers
  • Consideration - Free trial signup, sales consultation
  • Decision - Contract negotiations, training previews
  • Customer - Onboarding calls, support portal, feedback surveys

List all possible touchpoints, including community mentions, YouTube videos, newsletters, and other channels, even if you don’t actively pursue them.

Step 3: Implement Analytics Tracking

Put in place tracking across your website, ads, email, and other digital channels. The list of touchpoints from Step 2 will guide where to add analytics tracking.

You also want a unified tracking platform that combines data for a holistic view. While most analytics are channel-specific, a platform like Factors compiles cross-channel data.

This gives a complete picture of how customers interact from initial contact to sale. You can see touch points across devices, channels, and time to understand the full path to conversion.

Step 4: Set Clear Conversion Rate and Revenue Benchmarks

With unified tracking implemented, closely analyze the performance of each marketing channel and touchpoint. Assess critical metrics like:

  • Cost per lead for ads and campaigns
  • Lead to customer conversion rates by channel
  • Average sales cycle length after first contact
  • Average deal size by lead source
Factors Attribution

This analysis identifies your highest and lowest-performing acquisition sources. See which parts of your funnel have the most friction or gaps.

For example, you may find newsletter leads convert at 2X the rate of cold calls. Or that leads coming from an event have larger deal sizes than web leads. This insight shows where optimization can make the most significant impact.

Step 5: Continuously Test and Optimize

While you can theoretically call an acquisition funnel “complete,” it never really is. You need to optimize it through A/B and multivariate testing continuously. This allows you to experiment with multiple versions to find the messaging systematically, offers, and flows that maximize conversion rates and prospect velocity.

For example, if your cold email outreach has a high volume but needs to improve on conversions, start testing. 

Email Perfomance Benchmarks

Similarly, create a priority list for other channels based on opportunity areas revealed in the channel analysis. 

You can run these tests to optimize content, calls-to-action, page layouts, forms, and more at each funnel stage. The goal is to move prospects seamlessly toward conversion. 

Step 6: Keep Testing New Marketing Channels

You’ll often hear, “Stick to what works.” The advice is spot on. You must commit to your proven marketing strategies long enough to see accurate results. But clinging onto a dying marketing channel is a disaster waiting to happen.

Tik Tok

For instance, when TikTok emerged, short videos became “the thing” that made many brands like NoGood exceptionally popular for their niche. But if you choose not to experiment with new channels when they’re still nascent, you will miss the benefits of being an early adopter. Stay ahead of the curve through ongoing assessments.

How Factors Helps Track & Improve the Customer Acquisition Funnel

For most businesses, tracking your acquisition funnel takes a lot of work. Customer data lives across many systems—your website, ads, email, CRM, etc. 

And connecting all this data to analyze the customer journey manually is tedious and error-prone. It takes a lot of work to get a complete picture.

This is where Factors comes in. 


Factors automatically brings together customer data from all your systems in one place. This provides a unified view of each customer's entire journey in your acquisition funnel.

With Factors, you quickly see how customers flow through your funnel by visualizing engagement across your ads, website, email campaigns, sales reps interactions, and more.

Factors Funnel

For example, you can see that a prospect first clicked on a Google ad, visited specific landing pages on your site, downloaded an ebook from your blog, was contacted by a sales rep, and ultimately converted by purchasing your product.

Factors stitches these events together into an interactive visual timeline for each customer account. You can instantly analyze the key steps and paths that drive conversions.

Factors Path Analysis

You can also break down funnel performance by critical segments like geography, product line, or customer type. If your funnel is working better for small businesses versus enterprises, Factors makes this clear.

Beyond just reporting, Factors provides powerful analytics to optimize your funnel:

  • Identify which marketing channels drive awareness and interest most effectively.
  • See where prospects fall out of your funnel and diagnose why.
  • Calculate conversion rates and sales velocity at each funnel stage.
  • Uncover friction points in the customer journey on your website.
  • Determine which sales reps convert leads most efficiently.
  • Predict which prospects will likely convert next using machine learning.

With Factors, you get the complete picture of your acquisition funnel in one place. This enables you to continuously optimize marketing, product, sales, and other processes to acquire more valuable customers cost-effectively.

Give Your Conversion Rates a Boost with Customer Acquisition Funnels

Constructing, tracking, and optimizing a customer acquisition funnel provides tremendous benefits for businesses striving for sustainable scalability and revenue growth. It offers an adjustable data-driven framework for:

  • Holistically visualizing the customer journey within your company.
  • Pinpointing problems impacting conversions and sales velocity.
  • Continuously improving marketing and sales processes.
  • Cost-effectively acquiring more high-value customers.

The bottom line—taking the time to build and leverage the customer acquisition funnel outlined in this guide is a vital, high-ROI activity for any growth-oriented business.

To recap, with a well-designed and optimized customer acquisition funnel, you can:

  • Map the unique stages customers move through on their journey to purchase.
  • Identify your most effective acquisition strategies and channels.
  • Uncover conversion bottlenecks stunting growth.
  • Optimize resource allocation and activities.
  • Predict future customer acquisition and revenue performance.


The customer acquisition funnel is indispensable for sustainably scaling up conversions and sales in highly competitive markets. So, use the available tools to make the most of your traffic effortlessly!

Want to know how Factors can help you on this journey? Book a demo with Factors and let our analytics and attribution experts guide you.

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