WTF Are Sales, Marketing and Conversions?

It never fails. When we ask new clients to name their marketing goals, they almost always say, “We want to increase sales.” And we always say, “That’s not a marketing goal; that’s a sales goal.” And we get it. The difference can be confusing. But there is a difference, and it’s super important.

What Is Marketing?

Marketing is about building relationships with as many people as possible. It’s a long-term strategy to build brand awareness, engage your audience and generate buzz. Since marketing is relationship, there’s a lot of give and take. You provide content, and customers provide data and insights. If you market yourself well, you’ll nurture your audience’s needs and make yourself top of mind. After all, only 1-2% of leads develop interest, 1-2% of those develop desire, and 1-2% of those actually take action, so marketing must cast a wide net.

What Is Sales?

Whereas marketing is relational, sales is transactional. In other words, marketing whets their appetite and sales satisfies their appetite. Sales tends to be more personal because it’s one-on-one. Your sales team should only be concerned with the 1-2% of the 1-2% of the 1-2% who are ready to take action because their job is to bring home the bacon.

What’s a Sales Funnel?

Infographic of a typical sales funnel from Awareness to ActionWouldn’t it be great if everyone who saw your ads bought your products? Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. You have to tell a whole lot of people a whole lot of times that they need your products before they believe you and make a purchase. So, how can we get your customers to the point of purchase or decision making faster? The answer is a smart sales funnel that pays attention to “micro moments.”

A sales funnel is a structured approach to convert a lead into a customer. Every “micro moment,” whether that’s a promo text or an email, is a touchpoint. These days, the magic number is 16, meaning on average a customer needs 16 positive interactions with your brand before they decide to pull the trigger. That number can be even higher for luxury brands. You may not need very many touchpoints before you buy a new pack of gum, but you’ll need a lot of touchpoints before you buy a Porsche.

A smart sales funnel has multiple levels, each of which develops diverse and various touchpoints that all work together. While sales funnels look different for different brands, the standard funnel has four levels: Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action.


The top of the funnel is Awareness. This is where leads first become aware of your brand. Awareness is the widest part of the funnel because we want as many people to know about you as possible. Why? Because as I mentioned earlier, only 1-2% of the people who enter that part of the funnel will move on to the next level.


The next level is Interest. In this stage, your customer not only knows about your brand but has engaged your business in some way. In other words, they’ve signed up for your newsletter or followed you on Facebook. In the Interest stage, you can start to remarket to the customer based on the data they’ve provided you.  


After Interest is Desire. It takes time to transition a customer from Interest to Desire. A customer in the Interest phase has probably opened your emails several times, but a customer in the Desire phase has actually walked into your store and looked around. Someone in the Desire phase only needs a little push, like a sale or a new product line, to take action.  


The last level is pretty self-explanatory. A customer who’s in the Action phase has made a purchase (or made a donation or whatever success looks like to you). But the work doesn’t end with getting a customer to this stage. From here, you have to continually remarket and build stronger brand evangelists (who will ideally tell others about you and fill the Awareness stage with new leads).

What Are Conversions?

A conversion is an interaction in which a customer takes action. If you’re a non-profit, a conversion may be a volunteer sign-up or a donation. If you’re for-profit, a conversion is probably a purchase. You decide what is a conversion based on your goals and needs. Make sure that whatever you’ve decided is a conversion is measurable. For instance, if getting new email subscribers is a conversion, set up a simple pop-up and track how many people sign up through it.

In order to pull people into the top of the sales funnel and then convert them to the subsequent levels, you need to meet people where they are. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. At EMB, we work with brands individually to conduct market research and think strategically about the best channels for each level of the funnel.

If you’re ready to think about your strategy, let’s schmooze.

Laurel Mintz, Founder & CEO
Elevate My Brand

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