Best Marketing Funnel Exploring Different Approaches for 2023


As we enter 2023, it’s clear that digital marketing has become synonymous with marketing as a whole. The lines between funnel objectives and channel selection have blurred, demanding a diverse range of digital content and a constant focus on measuring the art and science of marketing. In this article, we will explore three widely used approaches to marketing funnels and discuss which one might be the best fit for your brand in 2023.

Approach No. 1: The Performance Model

Many digitally native brands have adopted a performance-first approach to their marketing efforts, aiming to maintain a growth mindset and optimize both upper and lower-funnel activations.

How do they activate?

Brands following this model accomplish the following:

  • Create a marketing ecosystem across the funnel, using specific platforms for each part of the marketing funnel.
  • Attribute return on ad spend (ROAS) to each platform for each objective, based on historical data and attribution models.
  • Implement an ongoing measurement model and testing framework to measure and attribute every dollar spent to sales.
  • Allocate budget across the funnel on a monthly and quarterly basis, based on performance.

How do they resource?

Brands following the performance model tend to have in-house subject matter experts who develop the strategy and closely manage agency partner execution. This approach requires significant internal resourcing due to the hands-on optimization involved.

Approach No. 2: The Awareness Model

Traditional, long-standing brands often prioritize brand awareness as their primary goal, influencing their approach to digital touchpoints and investments.

How do they activate?

Brands following this model accomplish the following:

  • Create a marketing ecosystem that prioritizes reaching the largest percentage of their target audience at the lowest cost.
  • Utilize digital platforms to reinforce messages primarily distributed through TV and other traditional media tactics.
  • Focus on a single message creative and explore new advertising offerings in over-the-top and connected TV.

How do they resource?

Brands following the awareness model typically keep their in-house marketing teams small and rely on agency partners and project management. The bulk of the work lies in creating the single message creative and annual media buy. With fixed variables and less budget fluidity, the in-house marketing team’s responsibilities are reduced.

Approach 3: The Content- and Retention-Led Model

Brands that adopt a content- and retention-led model prioritize customer retention and deep relationships by going beyond traditional product-centric marketing.

How do they activate?

Brands following this model accomplish the following:

  • Prioritize owned and earned marketing channels/platforms over paid platforms.
  • Create multiple content streams and storylines to connect with consumers in different ways.
  • Incorporate consumer feedback and cultural trends into annual communication planning and product innovation.
  • Understand that immediate return on marketing efforts may not always be visible compared to a paid media-first approach.

How do they resource?

Brands following the content- and retention-led approach often have a mixed resourcing strategy. Some aspects of brand content and retention specialists are in-house, while others work with content agency partners and freelancers to quickly create and optimize content.

Deciding What’s Best For Your Brand

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing funnels, and it’s impossible to do it all. To determine the best approach for your brand in 2023, evaluate your brand’s goals and digital maturity.

Consider the following questions:

  • What is your brand’s digital maturity?
  • What is your key marketing objective?

For example, if your brand is still building its digital foundation and aims to connect with a passionate customer base, the content- and retention-led model may be the best fit. On the other hand, if your brand has a solid digital foundation and wants to increase purchase occasions or reach a new customer segment, the awareness-led model might be more suitable. If your brand is digitally sophisticated and aims to drive sales growth through base products and new launches, the performance model could be a good option.

In conclusion, modern marketing is no longer limited to a fixed set of tools and creative messages. It encompasses a wide range of tools and messages, making the art and science of marketing more interesting than ever before.

This article is an adaptation of an original article by Molly Baker, CEO & Founder of Indie Consulting, published on

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