What does a full funnel digital marketing strategy look like?
written by Laura Holyer

Funnels. Marketers love to talk about them. But what does a marketing funnel actually mean? How do you implement one and what’s the best ‘funnelled’ strategy?! Read on to find out how you can successfully execute a full funnel digital marketing strategy.

So, what is a marketing funnel?

A marketing funnel, sometimes known as the purchasing funnel, describes the journey with a business that a customer goes through. From never knowing anything about you or your services/product, to starting to engage with you to making a purchase.

The AIDA model, whilst something out of the uni textbooks (god do I not miss them!!), describes the stages a consumer goes through in the buying cycle for a product or service.

Awareness

Someone is aware of the problems they are facing and possible solutions. At this stage they’re not always brand or specific product aware.

Interest

Someone is now starting to show more interests in the product or service.

Desire

They start to show desire of buying and from a particular brand.

Action

They purchase! Or start to make a step into purchasing with an enquiry, or several web page visits or engagement on a social media platform of the brands.

What does the marketing funnel look like?

The funnel in marketing terms has three main parts;

Top of the Funnel (TOFU)

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)

I’m not a massive fan of the acronyms myself but if you’ve ever heard a marketer talking about TOFU a lot, then it was probably in reference to the funnel.

Further stages of the funnel underneath the bottom can also be added around advocacy, loyalty and retention but that’s too much for this post!

Top of the Funnel (TOFU)

The top of the funnel is the awareness stage, where the potential audience is huge… but conversion is generally low as the users at this stage are not ready to buy. They’ll likely not be in the market to purchase right yet, thought about your product and probably not even heard of your brand.

  • What are the goals of top of the funnel? Drive awareness, be memorable, get someone thinking about your brand, educate someone – why do they need to know about you/your brand & your offering?!
  • What marketing content & messages are best for TOFU? At an awareness stage, hard selling will very likely fall on deaf ears, so marketing activity and messaging should be centered around engagement & education i.e helpful resources, data, insights, brand collateral etc. Video content, social media content, blogs, interactive tools, infographics all work well at this stage – again without a hard sell. Be inspirational, educational and memorable not ‘Buy Now – 20% Off Your First Order’.  
  • What marketing channels should be used at the TOFU? Paid social advertising, email marketing (cold audience), webinars / podcasts, social media all serve well at the top of the funnel. PPC and SEO can also effectively be used at the top of the funnel but is often not used due to the KPI’s not giving a knowingly strong return and instead is used at MOFU and BOFU
  • What should I measure at TOFU? The best KPI’s to look at are generally; impressions, reach, brand searches, clicks to website, new email sign ups
  • What are consumer consideration points at the TOFU? Will X solve my problem? Do I really need my problem solved?!

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) – H3

The middle of the funnel is the consideration stage. The audience pool is smaller but the intent to soon convert is higher. At this stage, a user has already seen your brand before from your top of funnel activity and you now want to get them to engage further and show more levels of intent.

  • What are the goals at the middle of the funnel? Get engagement, build trust, start to get enquiries and forms of contact
  • What marketing content & messages are best for MOFU? At the consideration stage, you don’t want to sell too hard but you’ll want to be warming up this audience further so they start to seriously consider it (yay!). Case studies, blog posts, promo / explainer / how to content work well at this stage
  • What marketing channels should be used at the MOFU? Email, PPC, SEO, paid social, influencers can all be used effectively to target a middle funnel audience. Retargeting, databases and keyword search can be used as targeting methods
  • What should I measure at MOFU? The KPI’s here are; social engagements, clicks, website engagement, conversion points (add to cart, sign ups)
  • What are consumer consideration points at the MOFU? What is the best X for my problem of Y? Is this product or brand a good one? (BOFU – is this the best value, can I trust them?)

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)

The middle of the funnel is the conversion stage. At this stage, a user has warmed to your brand by showing more intent to purchase with you. The audience pool is smaller but if you does this part well, the return will be worth it.

  • What are the goals at the middle of the funnel? Sales & enquiries
  • What marketing content & messages are best for BOFU? Product focused, USP’s, offers, customer reviews, incentives to buy. This can form content of videos (UGC), simple adverts (single image, carousels), product demos, shopping adverts.
  • What marketing channels should be used at the BOFU? Search works well at bottom of funnel targeting very intent led keywords & retargeting for PPC, shopping, paid social, affiliate marketing and email all work well at the bottom of the funnel
  • What should I measure at BOFU? Add to carts, sales, enquiries, signups
  • What are consumer consideration points at the BOFU? Is this the best value, can I trust them?

What is the messy middle of a marketing funnel?

The above makes it seem quite simple – target engaging content at the top of the funnel to a target audience, engaged with them with case studies & customer reviews at the middle of the funnel, then warm up that audience with a reason they can’t not buy from you – simple, right?!… Not quite! At the same time, lots of other brands are doing the same thing and your potential customer is going through a range of Google searches, asking their friends and researching lots of product and company variations. This, my friend, is called the ‘messy middle’.

Source of image: Think with Google

As a consumer, the buying journey can go something like this:

  • Great, I think I’ve found the product I need
  • Enquire with the brand that has good version of said product
  • See a competitor ad on Facebook
  • Start to look into more with them
  • Get distracted with life & forget about purchasing from anyone
  • Receive an email from brand 1
  • Change mind about needed the product
  • Something happens and definitely need to buy
  • About to make a purchase
  • See you can get cashback with another brand
  • Umm and ahh about whether this other brand is better
  • Eff it, purchase from original company

This process can be more simplified or much more complex depending on a few things; the competition in the industry (& how much digital marketing is being done), the product and how considered this purchase is (examples)

How do you know what your marketing funnel should look like?!

Every businesses funnel looks different. Some are quite simple and don’t need as much nurturing, such as a drink or pain relief whereas when deciding to buy a kitchen or a holiday there’s a lot more research & thinking involved.

These few questions can help identify what your funnelled activity should look like:

  • Is your product/service an impulse buy? Look at how quick it takes someone to buy from your Analytics.
  • What are customer consideration and pain points? Do customer research, ask people. This can be taken into account when thinking about KPI’s at different stages of the funnel.
  • What is the competition like? Do they run much digital marketing activity? Run competition research & visits sites like a customer would to find retargeting adverts. ahrefs/semrush are good for seeing what keywords sites rank for, what paid keywords they use etc and Facebook Ads Library can show you what adverts they run
  • What resources do you have for content? Case studies, customer reviews, user generated content etc

What budget split should there be within the funnel?

A common mistake businesses make is focusing their attention at the bottom of the funnel and the quick wins. Don’t get me wrong, you can see great success from this but for longer term wins & to build a better brand, the top and middle of the funnel should be key focuses of your marketing activity too.

There’s not a right or wrong budget split, and it again depends on the type of product/service and the decision making process. Generally speaking, we like to use the following split:

  • 40% Top of funnel – Here traffic can be more expensive and there’s a bigger pool of people available to target and creativity can be much greater here. A worthwhile investment for the long term
  • 30% Middle of funnel – The engagement and start of the conversion stage – the exciting bit which shouldn’t be forgotten or you won’t feed the bottom well enough
  • 30% Bottom of funnel – Lots of opportunity here and the above activity allows for a quality pool of users who are likely to want to buy from you so the 30% of total budget can be sufficient.

Summary

The key takeouts and steps you can take are:

  • Define what the steps involved for a customer are
  • Decide what actions should be measured along each stage
  • Plan your marketing strategy & digital marketing channels for each stage of the funnel

So, now you hopefully know a bit more about funnels; what each stage means and why it’s important to look at all stages.

If you’re not sure how to start making sure you’re working through the marketing funnel for your business. Get in touch with us for a power hour.