Upper funnel traffic has led many digital marketers down a dark and difficult road. Chasing after those juicy head terms bubbling with search volume can be a long, costly and unfruitful journey. A keyword that may bring significant traffic may also bring added CPCs, CPAs and potentially lower AOV.
Now, I’m not saying that going after upper funnel traffic shouldn’t be part of your marketing strategy. Upper funnel keyword visibility can aid greater brand awareness. What I am saying is that there are times when going after upper funnel traffic just doesn’t make sense.
If you’re trying to balance your budget or fight an upper management battle around keyword and traffic targeting, here are five scenarios where going after upper funnel traffic isn’t the right choice.
1. When ROI is Priority
Upper funnel traffic can cost some serious dollars and not yield the greatest return. Because of the number of competitors battling for visibility, CPCs can cost several dollars and result in nothing more than a page bounce. Targeting these terms too aggressively can definitely drain your budgets and man hours. In situations when ROI is the only metric, going after upper funnel traffic can actually work against you.
2. When Marketing Budgets are Tight
In situations where your marketing dollars barely cover the basics, you don’t have much flexibility to go after a ton of upper funnel traffic. In this scenario you need to stick to your base to ensure you have the right brand coverage and conversions. It’s wise to at least have a few PPC campaigns that test upper funnel traffic to see how it may convert, but when budgets are tight, you don’t have a lot of play in that space.
3. During the Off Season
For most businesses, there is a time during the year when product demand is low. This typically results in less traffic and engagement with your site. The off season is the time to hyper focus on the high efficiency traffic and save valuable budget for peak season when people are ready to buy. Upper funnel traffic will be more costly during the peak season, but the intent to purchase tends to be stronger as well.
4. When Your Pages have High Bounce Rates
Nothing will waste your marketing dollars more than high bounce rate. Even if you have amazing visibility for upper funnel keywords, if your visitors bounce, your business will be sunk. Before you make the move to go after upper funnel traffic, make sure your site has great engagement. Look at bounce rate, time on site, pages per visit, etc. Because upper funnel traffic is typically in the research phase of the purchase cycle, you definitely need to provide them with a user experience they can’t help but want to engage.
5. When You are a Small Business
Small businesses are often the underdog – especially when it comes to competing for upper funnel traffic. They have less budget, tight revenue goals, smaller marketing teams, etc. As glamorous as it may appear to rank high in the organic and paid space for a big juice search term like “plumber” or “optometrist”, the percentage of traffic that you can probably service will be small (especially if you’re an owner/operating trying to bid on terms without understanding the ability to geo-target). Instead, focus on niche terms, learn about geo-targeting of category terms for PPC campaigns and tap into Google+ Local.
Don’t get me wrong. Going after upper funnel traffic is a great way to build brand awareness, increase market share and disrupt the current competition. You just need to balance priorities and know when (and when NOT) to go after it.