Automated Marketing Funnel | Twilio Segment Growth Center

Learn everything you need to know about automated marketing funnels and how to apply them to your business.


What is marketing funnel automation?

Marketing funnel automation is the use of technology (rather than manual workflows) to generate leads, and eventually turn those leads into loyal customers. There are numerous benefits tied to this type of automation, including increased conversion rates, stronger customer retention, and of course, reduced labor costs and more efficiency. 

Marketing funnel automation can extend to email sequences, ad retargeting, and real-time personalization, as just a few examples. You can use a time constraint to trigger automation (e.g. send a follow-up email after one week), or base it on user behavior (e.g. send a discount code for a recently viewed product).

Four stages of an automated marketing funnel

A marketing funnel is typically divided into four overarching stages: 

  1. Awareness

  2. Consideration

  3. Decision

  4. Retention 

How fast someone travels through these stages will depend on your industry and business model. For a B2B enterprise company, a prospect may take months to travel through the funnel. For a B2C company, consumers could pass through the funnel in a matter of hours.

1. Awareness stage

  • 🤔 Customer mindset: What is this?

  • Also known as (AKA): Attention

  • Typical touchpoints: Blog articles or videos (through SEO and search), ads, social media, word-of-mouth, lead magnets (e.g., ebooks, templates, webinars)

This is when someone discovers your brand and starts to familiarize themselves with what you offer (perhaps by reading a blog post, or browsing your website). For many businesses, the goal of this stage is to open up a direct channel of communication with the prospective customer and nurture the relationship. This is usually done by capturing an email address (e.g. after downloading an ebook, signing up for a newsletter, etc.). 

2. Consideration stage

  • 🤔 Customer mindset: Is this the best solution for me?

  • AKA: Interest, Desire, Consideration & Comparison, Research

  • Typical touchpoints: Retargeting ads, case studies, how-to blog posts, whitepapers, email drip campaigns

In the consideration stage, your prospect starts to see your product as a possible solution to their problem. This is when they’ll do their research on how your business compares to your competitors. 

The goal during this stage is to communicate your value propositions: what do you do best, and how are you different from your competitors? Case studies and testimonials are helpful tools at this time, along with retargeting people with personalized ads.

3. Decision stage

  • 🤔 Customer mindset: To buy or not to buy?

  • AKA: Action, Sale, point of conversion

  • Typical touchpoints: Special offer emails, online shop, app store

At this stage, the customer is ready to buy, and you’ve convinced them to go with your business. It’s essential to eliminate any points of friction that stand between this new customer and their conversion. Make it simple for them to complete a purchase or sign up for an account, and guide them toward this goal with clear call-to-actions.

4. Retention

  • 🤔 Customer mindset: Am I happy with this product?

  • AKA: N/A

  • Typical touchpoints: Cross- and upsell offers, lifecycle email campaigns, customer community

After a customer converts, businesses need to focus on retention if they want to grow. The retention phase is when customers get a greater sense of your product, and continue to find value in it. 

The ongoing goal here is to increase customer satisfaction, lifetime value, and avoid churn.

How automation improves your marketing funnel

In a recent survey, 43% of marketers said that automation helped deliver better customer experiences, more strategic decision making, greater efficiency, and improved lead generation.



From better data to higher quality leads, we explore how automation improves your funnel performance.

Provides better data and insights

Bad data can cost your business millions of dollars each year (we’re talking up to $15 million in losses). But with automation, you can avoid the pitfalls for poor data quality. 

For example, a CDP like Twilio Segment will automatically ensure that all collected data adheres to your tracking plan and standardized naming conventions. This avoids duplicate data events that can skew analysis, and lead to poor decision making.


Increases marketing and sales performance

With automation, you can improve (and expedite) lead scoring and nurture streams to generate higher quality leads. 

We have personal experience with this. At Segment, we know outreach to warm leads yields 2x-3x better results than conventional outbound methods, but we also can’t afford to reach out to every person in this pool.

To increase efficiency, our Data Science team created a model to automatically assign engaged leads a “Signal Threshold Score” based on their behavior, firmographics, job title, and evidence of interest from colleagues at the same company. As marketing gets that lead to engage with us more, their score tends to go up.

When a lead’s score is high enough that we’re confident it will convert to qualified pipeline, they’re automatically updated to a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) – which the Sales team then focuses on.


This focus on MQLs with a higher Signal Threshold Score has not only made the Sales team more efficient, but helped them increase outbound pipeline by 10%

Improves return on staff costs

Automation makes teams more productive. By offloading redundant, time-consuming tasks, teams have more bandwidth to focus on the work that will give your company an edge (like product innovation or campaign strategies). 

But more than just saving time, automation also saves money. In a recent Salesforce report, 75% of IT leaders said that the time saved from automation amounted to 40 hours a week (the equivalent of a full-time role). And 46% of respondents reported 11-30% in cost savings.



How to automate your marketing funnel in four steps

Automation comes down to having the right data and the right tools. Let’s walk through the four important steps to take when starting out with automation.

1. Map and track your funnel

First and foremost, you need to understand how customers are traveling through your funnel, which means mapping out the customer journey. This has several benefits, like:

  • Understanding how each touchpoint influences behavior. 

  • Identifying critical conversion points that move someone from one funnel stage to the next.

Having a clear view of prospect’s interests and ultimate goal.

2. Set up audiences and campaigns for each stage

With an understanding of your different buyer personas (and how their unique customer journeys), you can create audience segments to help tailor each interaction. 

One approach is to create different audiences based on where they are in the funnel. For example, you can personalize ad retargeting to a group of prospects that haven’t yet made a purchase (who are still in the Consideration stage). This not only optimizes your ad spend, but avoids annoying customers that have already converted. 

Or, you can create audience segments with a much higher level of granularity, like whether or not a person opened an email or responded to an SMS.


For a more detailed overview of the processes you should consider automating, and how to do so, check out our Marketing Automation Processes Guide.

3. Measure conversion and drop-off points

Once you've set up and launched your campaigns, you then want to measure both your conversion and drop-off rates. Typical conversion metrics include email click-rates, email registrations, and, of course, purchases (among others). 

Drop-off points are where potential customers leave your funnel prematurely (e.g. abandon a cart before purchasing, sign up for a free trial but never use the product). This data is highly informative, as it can highlight unknown points of friction or bugs that are preventing customers from converting. 

4. Keep fixing and tweaking your funnel

This fourth step is by no means a one-and-done checkpoint. It’s a continuous process of refinement and experimentation.

Leveraging the data you collected above, you can continue to remove funnel bottlenecks that will inevitably pop up as you try out new strategies and customer channels.  Our advice is to prioritize these funnel fixes based on how much it will cost to complete, the revenue you expect to gain as a result, and how long this change will take. 

On top of that, you should incorporate A/B tests into your strategy to have data-backed insights into how certain changes will impact consumer behavior.

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Frequently asked questions

A marketing funnel considers how a potential customer first becomes aware of a brand and what happens after their first purchase (i.e. retention). A sales funnel is more narrow, typically focusing on how someone moves from being a lead to a customer.

To better understand and retain your customers, you have to understand how they interact with your brand. Your marketing funnel lays the groundwork for your customer relationships. By keeping tabs on each funnel stage, you gain insight into where you might be losing customers, and which levers are highly successful at encouraging people to convert.

Twilio Engage provides the data collection (and data-quality guarantee) to power automation workflows and predictive insights. The first-party data with Segment’s data infrastructure can be sent to any downstream tool in your tech stack to launch personalized customer engagement campaigns, which can be triggered by specific events or user behavior.