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What is a Full-Funnel Marketing Strategy?

Shae Henrie

Content Strategist @ AdRoll

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Even if they can seem impulsive, purchases aren’t last-minute decisions. The candy bar you grab at the store’s checkout aisle is a choice built on multiple touchpoints with a brand. Chances are, these touchpoints occurred over months or years.

This is why a full-funnel marketing strategy is critical. By addressing all stages of the funnel, you can reach your customers wherever they are and be available for them when they finally make a purchasing decision.

What is a full-funnel approach in marketing?

In marketing, a full-funnel approach addresses all stages of the marketing funnel with targeted content. This means you’re carefully crafting touchpoints for the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel, paying attention to each stage and considering how to retain customers once they convert.

Each stage requires its own unique marketing approaches and messaging. 

Why does full-funnel marketing matter?

If you ignore a funnel stage, you lose out on customers. 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales due to a lack of lead nurturing. 

Neglecting any funnel stage means leaving a gap in audience touchpoints: 

  • If you ignore the top of the funnel, you won’t have meaningful contact with users before they consider a purchase. 

  • If you miss the middle of the funnel, users will look at other solutions for their problems without considering you. 

  • If you miss the bottom of the funnel, your customers won’t take that last step to reach out to you and buy what you’re selling.

With that in mind, let’s go over each funnel stage and the marketing strategies that support them with some examples.

The stages of the marketing funnel 

When you think of a funnel, you think of it tapering to a point. This is why we use this shape for full-funnel marketing: Customers focus on your product through the number of touchpoints you provide, until the right prospects choose your product. 

The content you create follows the shape of this funnel: broad to start, then more focused at the bottom. Here’s what that looks like for each stage.

Top of the funnel (ToFu)

The top of the funnel is the awareness stage. This stage gives your audience an awareness of the problems a product like yours might solve. This is the broadest audience in the funnel. Because of this, content for the top of the funnel is more generalized knowledge and highly accessible.

ToFu content isn’t the place to pitch product solutions or use a hard sell tactic — people in this stage are simply becoming aware of a problem.

ToFu example: “What is…” content for SEO

Think of the “People also ask” section you see when running a Google search. These are the rudimentary questions that top-of-funnel content strives to answer. 

People searching these queries don’t have their credit cards out. Instead, they’re trying to answer a question. That’s why top-of-funnel content is largely educational.

Middle of the funnel (MoFu)

The middle of the funnel is the consideration stage. Customers are aware of the problem, and now they consider solutions. 

The funnel narrows here because you’re reaching an audience subset that has decided the problem you answer is a problem they actually need to address. 

MoFu example: Webinar on your problem niche

When you hit the middle of the funnel, it’s a good time to personalize messaging, segment your audience, and capture information about your customer. 

Providing a webinar is one example of MoFu content where you can gather info on your customer because they sign up to attend. You can use this information to put  customers in an email drip campaign and narrow the funnel by keeping contact about the problem they’re trying to solve.

Bottom of the funnel (BoFu)

The bottom of the funnel is the decision stage. Customers have concluded their problem needs a solution, so they’re deciding from among their options.

This is when users are more likely to hop directly to your product pages or brand keywords. If you haven’t gotten your foot in the door with a customer by this point, it’s difficult to win them over.

BoFu example: Case studies

By this point, your audience might be weighing options. The marketing materials you create at this stage should enable sales and differentiate your product.

Fewer users will make it down to this stage in the funnel, and they’ll be thinking, “How does this product help me?” Case studies demonstrating success from similar companies help your audience picture your product as their solution.

The secret 4th stage: Retention

So, you closed the sale. Brilliant! But full-funnel marketing doesn’t consider your job done.

You want customers to buy again or stay subscribed, and therefore you need marketing strategies to retain them. This means making the relationship personal. Recommend similar products, check in and ask for feedback, and continue to educate them on how to use their purchase.

Retention example: Email newsletter

You’ve probably been invited into a newsletter after you purchased a product. These newsletters can let customers know about discounts, holiday sales, new releases, and more. Keeping in touch builds loyalty.

The challenges of full-funnel marketing

Beware of scope creep with full-funnel marketing. Obviously, a full-scale strategy like this doesn’t pay off immediately, but requires investment into every stage of the funnel for return.

Full-funnel marketing strategies need clear goals and attribution. Without these, you may neglect critical touchpoints or underinvest in channels with high potential.

Most important, you need to keep a close eye on the customer journey and note any changes. This means tracking KPIs against your expectations and keeping a pulse on active customers. Listening to customer calls is a great way to get a feel for customer sentiment.

How to create your own full-funnel approach 

Now that you know what a full-funnel approach is, let’s go over the fundamentals of implementing one for a better marketing strategy. It may be a long road to success, but the results are worth it.

1. Know your customer and their journey

In the UX world, researchers chart their customer’s journeys through journey mapping. These maps track user behavior throughout the full funnel and after a purchase. 

You can do something similar in marketing: Aapply a customer-first approach where you understand and map user journeys to inform your strategy. To start, work through the stages of the funnel. Talking directly to customers is one way to do this, and poring through customer analytics can support your effort.

For instance, your company sells robot vacuums. Through user interviews and analytics, you find that a customer first discovered you through ToFu content surfaced by a Google search for “what features do robot vacuums have.” The customer determines they want a vacuum with a mopping function, so their MoFu move is “robot vacuums with mopping feature.” Then, for the BoFu content, they’re determining how your company compares to others through branded keywords. 

2. Identify channels that are key touchpoints, one by one

In addition to mapping the customer journey, you need to identify where your users interact with content. The examples above were all SEO-related, but reality doesn’t usually match this expectation. 

You’ve probably attempted strategies on channels across the funnel. To execute on full-funnel strategies more effectively, audit their performance. 

For instance, AdRoll has a feature that lets you track how your paid campaigns perform across the three funnel stages. This helps you determine where your users interact with different stages of the funnel — perhaps your audience interacts with ToFu TikTok ads but purchases after seeing BoFu Facebook retargeting ads.

From your audits, pick one channel at a time to focus your efforts on. If you try redoing everything at once, you won’t be able to measure the impact of your changes as effectively.

3. Find your KPIs for each channel

Having the right success metrics helps you gauge channel performance. Once you know the customer journey, you’re likely tuned in to metrics that matter. These are different for every channel, but regardless of medium, you want to be sure these KPIs are closely tied to success.

For instance, social media impressions are a general indication of success. If more people see your ad, it means more brand reach. However, impressions don’t closely link to revenue or brand awareness.

If you were aiming for brand awareness, you might choose the engagement rate as a KPI. Or, if you were aiming to tie social media campaigns to revenue, you might go with conversion rate. You can gauge conversion rate with robust UTM tracking.

Knowing your company’s goals is also essential for good KPIs. If your service is niche, aiming for a million TikTok followers is unrealistic. Marketing goals should be proportional to business goals. 

As another example, in the paid media space, you probably work with a dashboard that serves you metrics tied to your campaigns. ROAS is one good indicator of the cost efficiency of your campaigns. 

4. Create the right content for each stage

Once you have clear KPIs for the channels in your funnel, you can create content to serve those goals. 

This is the hardest part to nail down, and you should constantly iterate on this step based on how you track against your KPIs.

You could start by trying ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu content for each channel. From there, determine which channels most successfully engaged your audience at each stage. Then, vary the types of content you create within that funnel stage to see what works.

For instance, you discovered paid media campaigns targeting BoFu are most successful for the channel. What BoFu content performed the best? Was it retargeting, abandoned cart campaigns, or reactivation campaigns? You can experiment with the campaigns you run and A/B test their messaging to excel with your KPIs.

5. Measure your performance

Now, the moment of truth. How well does your full-funnel strategy work?

Measuring impact is the most difficult part of a full-funnel strategy because you’ll likely be pulling data from disparate dashboards and sources. Consolidating that data into one place can save you hours every month.

The closer you get to a single source of truth, the better. For example, AdRoll’s dashboard pulls data from multiple paid media sources into one place so you can compare their performance. You don’t need to bounce between Facebook, TikTok, Google Ads, and your other sources to pull reports and plan strategy adjustments.

With robust reporting and clear attribution, you can stay on top of the full funnel. 

Final thoughts

Now you know what full-funnel marketing means, it’s time to discover why it matters to you. Every company tailors a strategy to their niche. Having an intimate understanding of your customer will help you visualize full-funnel tactics for your business to create a frictionless customer journey.

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