What is a full-funnel PPC strategy?


Marketing relies heavily on the marketing funnel concept, a tool essential for visualizing and planning our strategies.

When used correctly, it can greatly benefit your marketing efforts, particularly in PPC, where budget allocation directly influences outcomes. 

This article breaks down what a full-funnel PPC strategy looks like, from top to bottom, so that you can use it as a blueprint for your own PPC strategy.

The marketing funnel: A refresher

At its core, the marketing funnel is a simple way to illustrate the consumer’s path toward purchasing a good or service. The stages of the marketing funnel are:

  • Awareness: The first stage of the buyer’s journey is awareness, where people are just learning about your brand or what you offer but haven’t dug any deeper than that. Think of all the brands you’ve seen ads for but have never clicked on or done further research. That’s awareness.
  • Consideration: The middle of the funnel is the research phase of the buyer’s journey, where they’ve identified a problem (“I want to buy a hot tub”) and have begun researching a solution (“Google search: best hot tubs”). Brand awareness plays an important role in this stage because people are more likely to trust a brand if they’ve heard of them before. 
  • Conversion: The final stage of the marketing funnel is exactly what it sounds like: the actual purchase. The customer has identified the problem (“I need a hot tub!”), researched solutions (Google search, going to brand websites, or a brick-and-mortar), and decided to make a purchase. 

There are even phases in the marketing journey past the point of purchase, such as loyalty and advocacy, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll focus on these three stages.

Now that we have the definition of each marketing funnel stage, let’s go step by step and see what a full-funnel marketing strategy looks like in the PPC world.

Top-of-funnel PPC: Awareness campaigns

The top of the funnel, or awareness stage, is the very first stage of the customer journey, where people haven’t yet identified a problem that needs to be solved. 

These people are still valuable to market to because while they may not be in the market for your product now, they may be in the future, so you want them to think of you when they finally start doing research. 

Examples of PPC campaigns that can help generate awareness are:

  • Display campaigns.
  • Video campaigns.
  • Discovery campaigns.

Dig deeper: Guide to PPC top-of-funnel reporting

Middle-of-funnel PPC: Consideration campaigns

Once a user is aware of your brand and begins researching, you want to provide informative content that helps them make an informed decision for purchase. Users will often use keywords like “best” or “review” to help find the best brands to shop with.

Examples of PPC campaigns that can help target the middle of the funnel are:

  • Search campaigns.
  • Video campaigns (more informative, like tutorials or demos).
  • Display campaigns (using more refined interest targeting).

Bottom-of-funnel PPC: Conversion campaigns

The moment of truth comes after users finish their research. Make yourself as easy to find as possible by using branded search campaigns and Shopping campaigns.

If the user takes a while to make a purchase decision, using remarketing can help keep your brand top of mind.

Examples of PPC campaigns that can help users convert are:

  • Search campaigns (branded and non-branded).
  • Display remarketing campaigns.
  • Shopping campaigns.

Dig deeper: Setting PPC goals: How to tailor KPIs and metrics for each funnel stage

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A full-funnel PPC strategy in action

What if your PPC budget is small? Can you focus on one of these categories instead of all three?

Yes – but with a small caveat. 

If your marketing budget is too small to cover these three categories effectively, you’re better off starting at the bottom of the funnel and working your way up. Make sure you maximize your effectiveness at the bottom of the funnel and then add in the middle and top of the funnel once your budget improves.

While this is useful for increasing revenue on a limited budget, it’s not the best strategy for long-term growth. Let’s illustrate this with an example.

Continuing my hot tub example from earlier, say your business consistently gets 100 customers in the conversion stage of the funnel per month and a conversion is worth $10,000 on average. If you have a 5% conversion rate on those customers, that’s $50,000 in monthly revenue. 

Focusing only on the bottom of the funnel will help you grow that conversion rate by getting more people at the bottom of the funnel to convert. That 5% could turn into 10% if things go well, which would be $100,000 in monthly revenue!

Amazing, right? It is, in the short term.

While you’ll initially see a revenue bump with this strategy, long-term growth is hard because you’re not trying to grow the real number that matters strategically, which is the number of people at the bottom of the funnel. If you don’t grow the number of people looking to convert, it gets harder and harder to grow the business. 

Now, let’s run the math on what a full-funnel strategy can do:

Same example as before: 100 customers at the conversion stage, 5% conversion rate at $10,000 per purchase. Adding bottom-of-the-funnel advertising can help boost the conversion rate from 5% to 10% (ideally), but what if top and middle funnel grew the number of potential customers from 100 to 200? 

200 customers x 10% conversion rate = 20 conversions at $10,000 per purchase. That’s $200,000 in revenue, with the potential to continually grow the number of customers in your target market. 

While this example is obviously a best-case scenario, it’s all to illustrate the point that while targeting the bottom of the funnel is good, implementing a full-funnel strategy, where you take customers from awareness to consideration to conversion, is the best and most consistent way to achieve long-term growth in paid advertising.

Crafting awarenesss, consideration and conversion-focused PPC campaigns

Implementing a strategic full-funnel approach to your PPC campaigns takes more initial effort but pays dividends through continual, scalable growth over chasing short-term profits.

By guiding potential customers from initial awareness through consideration and onto conversion, you increase lead volume and gain momentum. 

Display, video, search, shopping, and remarketing play distinct roles across the funnel. Evaluate your business’s current customer volume and conversion rates to prioritize budget and resources.

With the proper full-funnel PPC foundation supporting your efforts, you enable the revenue growth your business needs to thrive.

Dig deeper: How to use always-on marketing in paid search

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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