Creating and Initializing a Marketing Funnel

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Once your marketing-to-sales processes are reasonably well-articulated, you’re ready to start modeling your funnel(s).

Follow the steps below to create a marketing funnel:

  • Click Reports > Marketing Funnels.
  • Click the New Funnel drop-down menu.


You will be given 3 options to create your funnel. The first two options are very easy to set up and get running. The third option for Start with a Blank Funnel will require a few additional steps to get running but will allow for greater control during the initial creation process.

Starting with a Basic CRM Funnel gives you the perfect introduction to working with funnels. To set up a Basic CRM Funnel:

  • Enter a Funnel Name and Description.
  • Complete the Configuration criteria.
  • Click Create Draft Funnel.
  • Once created, follow the steps below for Initializing your funnel.


Start with a Basic Lead Score Funnel

Starting with a Basic Lead Score Funnel gives you another great introduction to working with funnels. To set up a Basic Lead Score funnel:

  • Enter a Funnel Name and Description.
  • Complete the Configuration criteria.
  • Click Create Draft Funnel.
  • Once created, follow the steps below for Initializing your funnel.


Start with a Blank Funnel

Starting with a blank funnel provides you the most control over creating your funnel. When selecting this option, you will create your funnel using the General, Stages, and Fields tabs.

  • General tab – Set basic information for the funnel (the funnel name and description)


  • Stages tab – Used to define each stage of the funnel, as well as the lists and CRM data tracked by your funnel. The following section describes how.


  • Fields tab – Used to select the reporting fields that will be available when downloading and filtering the funnel report. Drag and drop the fields from the available fields list on the left to the selected fields list on the right. Reordering the fields determines the column order of the CSV file when the funnel stage data is downloaded from the report view. You can select up to 25 reporting fields from among your available profile and/or CRM fields.


  • Once created, follow the steps below for Initializing your funnel.

The stage definitions are starting points for typical kinds of stages. Complete the criteria that represent converting someone into this stage.  Edit the stage name by selecting the stage on the left and clicking the Pencil icon. By clicking Add a new stage you are able to add up to seven stages in the funnel.


  • Copy an existing funnel stage by clicking the '+' (plus) icon on the upper left of the stage. You can then rename and modify the stage attributes.
  • Delete an existing funnel stage by clicking the '-' (minus) icon on the upper right of the stage.
  • Reorder the funnel stages by dragging and dropping the stage to the desired order in the stages. A red line will display when you drag the stage over a droppable location between funnel stages or at the top or bottom of the funnel.


  • Anonymous website visitors – This type of population counts browser cookies. A funnel can have only one anonymous stage and it has to be at the top of the funnel.
  • Contacts – This type of population counts unique email addresses which can be fed into the funnel from selected Act-On lists, the CRM database, or both sources.


Note:  The “Contacts” stage population is not to be confused with CRM “Contacts".  A contacts funnel stage can be fed by combinations of Act-On lists, CRM leads, and CRM contacts depending on the stage population checkboxes and criteria.

How To: Set the population checkboxes for Contacts (i.e., Act-On lists and/or CRM database)

  • Contacts from Act-On lists
    • If contacts for this stage are fed from Act-On lists, select Yes under "Would you like to include Act-On lists in your funnel?". You will need to click Select to pick and prioritize up to 10 Act-On lists that will populate contacts into the funnel. In the Select Lists dialog:
      • You will be prompted to select your lists to include. Act-On lists that will be tracked by the funnel, in order of importance. Click the desired lists to add them to your funnel. Use the search box at the top to quickly locate your desired lists.
      • If you have a CRM-connected Act-On account (Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics), you won't see your 'All-Leads,' 'All Contacts' CRM-synced marketing lists here. Your CRM data is available directly from the CRM Database (see next section 'Contacts from CRM Database')
      • Prioritize the Act-On lists in order of importance by manually sorting in descending order of list authority. List prioritization makes higher lists more authoritative in cases of field-level data conflict. For example, a funnel might have two different lists selected, with List 1 prioritized above List 2. Both lists contain a record for Fred’s phone number in list 1 is “650-626-4500,” but his phone number in list 2 is “123-123-1234.” The funnel will use the value from List 1, if Phone Number is selected as a reporting field.
Note:: When the CRM database is selected in the 'Applies to' section, CRM data is always prioritized above data found in Act-On lists.


  • The field names of the selected Act-On lists must match the Standard Field Names in order for the data to be accurately reported across lists. (To define Standard Field Names, see the References section below)


  • Contacts from CRM Database (i.e., CRM leads and/or CRM contacts lists)
    • If contacts for this stage are fed from your CRM database, check the box CRM Database.
    • To be able to feed CRM database records into a contact funnel stage, you must first configure your Data Management page. Go to Settings > Data Management to set the CRM sync schedule, and select which data fields are pulled in for Leads, Contacts, Opportunities, Accounts, Campaigns, Owners. Then click Synchronize Now to pull the data from your CRM.
  • Contacts from BOTH Act-On lists and the CRM database
    • If contacts for this stage are fed from both your selected Act-On lists AND from the CRM database, then check both boxes Act-On Lists and CRM Database.
      • If there is a contact trickling into a funnel stage simultaneously from a selected Act-On list and the CRM Database, the data from the CRM database is considered more authoritative in case there is a data conflict in one of the fields used for stage criteria and/or reporting fields. CRM contacts are prioritized above CRM leads as the more authoritative data.

How To: Set the stage criteria

  • The choice of 'Population' determines the basic kinds of records that feed into the stage. If there are no additional criteria for the stage, it will simply count the creation of records in the chosen population (anonymous, contacts from Act-On lists, and/or the CRM). You can add additional criteria that listen for the changes in the data set signaling the desired stage conversion. The query criteria are similar in concept to creating list segment queries in Act-On.
    • Click Add Criteria, and select the criteria type (i.e., behavior criteria)
    • Select the criteria details
      • For example – Behavior: Visited Web Pages: At Least This Many Times: 10


  • You can combine any combination of criteria types.
    • You can combine criteria rows by using AND (all criteria rows must be true to meet the criteria), using OR (any criteria row must be true to meet the criteria), or Custom.
      • Combine criteria expressions with Custom to use Boolean logic exactly how you want to. You may have three rows of criteria numbered 1, 2, 3. Then you combine them logically as a custom criteria expression, for example: (1 AND 2) OR 3.  You can utilize these custom criteria to define, for example, a funnel stage that counts: the number of contacts that submitted the 'call me' form and have more than 1000 employees or have a lead score greater than 50.

 Data sets leveraged in the stage definition query criteria

  • Behavioral data – Any and all behaviors that are available in Act-On’s list segmentation queries can also be queried in a funnel stage’s definition. If any stage in the funnel has a behavioral query, then the option Behavior Time Period will appear. This lets you set the amount of time after which to ‘expire’ the behaviors that the funnel is querying for. (To learn more about related functionality in Act-On list segmentation, see the References section below.)
  • Lead score – Overall Act-On behavior score and campaign lead score can be queried. (To learn more about behavioral scoring, see the References section below)
  • Profile data – Data fields in the contact lists that feed the funnel can be queried. Only fields that match a standard field name defined in your Act-On account can be used.
  • CRM data – Any standard or custom fields from the following CRM objects can both be used as query criteria and selected as reporting fields: CRM Leads, Contacts, Deals (otherwise referred to as Opportunities), and Accounts. Additionally, fields from the CRM Deal Campaigns and Deal Owners objects can be selected as reporting fields which will be included in the download and report filtering options. CRM fields are made available for use in funnels via the CRM setup page -- see 'Technical Requirements' below.

Saving your funnel

  • Click Save.
  • The new funnel will appear in the Funnels listing with the status 'Draft.'


  • Click Reports > Marketing Funnels.
  • Hover over the funnel, click the drop-down arrow.
  • Click Initialize.7.png
  • Click Ok


Once your Funnel is Initialized:

  • Funnel initialization is a background process that can take from several minutes to an hour or more, depending on the size of your source data and funnel complexity. Progress percentage is shown for the initializing funnel as previous time periods are computed and made available in the funnel report dashboard.
  • After the funnel is activated, you can edit some of its elements but not others. Any modifications to existing stage definitions are not retroactive (i.e., they will only reflect in the report from the change date onward).
    • Editable in running funnels: Funnel and stage names and descriptions, stage criteria, and stage data fields can be changed in running funnels.
    • Not editable in running funnels: Contact lists and list prioritization, stage population, and stage “applies to” values can not be changed in running or archived funnels. Funnel stages cannot be added, deleted, or re-ordered in running funnels.

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