The Sales Funnel In PPC Advertising

How to use a 112-year old sales model in PPC and online marketing

AIDA Sales Funnel and PPC
How AIDA can help your PPC.

Like Buying Low and Selling High, the sales funnel is a foundational business principle. Read a few marketing books and take a few business classes and you’ll come across the sales funnel.

It’s not rocket science, but neither is it for first graders. It’s an old, essential concept and is still applicable today – especially in pay per click advertising (PPC).

The Classic Sales Funnel

For starters, let’s review the sales funnel. The concept is simple. Business development can be viewed as a funnel with a wide opening at top. The marketer’s job is to put as many leads into the funnel as possible. Leads go into the top of the funnel.  Through a magical process of nurture and time you get sales from your efforts.

Every lead doesn’t turn into a sale. That’s why you have a much smaller opening at the bottom of the funnel than at the top. But a good sales funnel will yield enough sales to grow a business. If you don’t continuously feed the sales funnel with qualified leads, then your business will shrivel and die.

It’s that important!

Lewis’s AIDA Model

There are several sales funnel models and a few different applications of the model.  The oldest model is still the best – and it’s still relevant to PPC advertising. This model was formulated by Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. Lewis proposed that every consummated sale goes through a 4-step process.

His time-tested approach is known as the AIDA model:

A   Awareness
I    Interest
D   Desire
A   Action


Lewis’ AIDA sales funnel model still works with PPC. Here’s how:

Awareness is when your prospect becomes aware of your product or service. Your prospect may not be shopping right now, but at least they know about something that would fulfill a possible need. Without awareness, the prospect cannot take the next step through the sales funnel.

Awareness is also necessary in PPC advertising. A great way to increase awareness is through non-search advertising. For instance, the Google Display Network (aka Content Network) can help introduce your product or service to your market. It works as a ‘demand generation’ platform much like catalogs help to introduce products to their prospects. The Display Network can do the same for your products and services.

Interest refers to when your prospect becomes aware of your product or service benefits – and they’re interested in what you’re offering. They knew about their need and how you might fulfill that need. Now they’re interested in how those benefits would fulfill their need. They’re shopping and narrowing down options to the 2-3 best choices.

In PPC, the interest-phase is the most important phase on the search networks. One way to target prospects during this phase is by adding longer tail keywords. Prospects are getting more educated in the buying process and typing more words. These 3-4+ word search queries are typically interest-based queries. Your goal during this phase is to differentiate your product or service so that it makes the final cut. This happens by matching prospect keywords to your ads and then your landing pages.

Desire is when your prospect is ready to purchase. They’ve become aware of a product or service (Awareness) and narrowed down their choices by weighing the benefits of the item and its competitors (Interest). Finally, they’re ready to take the next step.

In Austin, PPC and other geographic locations, PPC advertising targets the desire-stage with your converting keywords (last-click conversions), landing page and website. Various trust elements on the website help convince the prospect it will be a safe and satisfying decision. A clear, readable website or a simple online sales process will both help usher the prospect to the final stage: action.

Action is the final result. In Lewis’ day, ‘action’ referred to a sale. This is when the customer pulled out his $20 gold piece and bought a suit. Today, action is not limited to just sales.

PPC and web analytics can be used to track a variety of actions. If you’re a local business and you want people to visit your store, your funnel may be successful if you get a pageview on your Contact Page. If you want leads, then the funnel could be complete when you have a completed lead form. On the other hand, if you have an ecommerce site, then your PPC goal is still a sale.

Whatever you want for your online business, you must remember the sales funnel. The great part is that it still works with PPC. There’s no need to re-take your business class.