Now more than ever, marketers must be strategic and agile to keep up with the changes in consumer behaviour. Whether you are selling a product or a service that has a long or short sales cycle, having a holistic marketing plan is important for any campaign to be successful. Planning and executing a full-funnel campaign approach is a way of grouping and breaking down the different stages of your customer’s journey. It allows for holistic data collection and attribution models to be applied. From the top-of-the-funnel, also known as the awareness stage, where users are just starting to get introduced to your brand, all the way to the bottom-of-the-funnel, also known as the conversion stage, where the user is either ready to buy or has purchased your product.

Consumers do not have a linear journey—they are constantly moving from platform to platform, and device to device, making every interaction unique. Your marketing campaign should consider this behaviour, and ensure it captures attention from all angles. Having a single catch-all campaign may seem like a cost-efficient way to quickly reach your goal. Although you may see immediate results, it is not a sustainable brand strategy in the long run as it won’t increase brand awareness, or brand affinity.

Having a clear understanding of who your target audience is and where they fit within the funnel is key to unlocking how you will decide to reach them. There are many digital channels out there for reaching your target audience, including search, social and programmatic advertising. We have outlined 5 steps to guide you on how to set up your next full-funnel marketing strategy.

Step 1: Understand the Stages Within the Marketing Funnel

There are various ways to define and breakdown the marketing funnel depending on the complexity of your sales cycle, but generally, there are 3 main parts to the funnel:

Upper funnel is the first stage of the buyer’s journey. In this stage, you are prospecting new customers to introduce them to your brand and offerings. It is an opportunity for brands to tell their story, collect data through cookies or obtain email addresses of those customers who are genuinely interested in what your brand has to offer. Connected TV (CTV), video, display and native are great awareness formats to consider to get your message out there. The main objective would be to get as many impressions or “eyeballs” on your ad as possible–ultimately capture attention and have the users click on your ad and be directed to your website.

Moving down the funnel, we enter the middle—where it is time to nurture those leads into potential customers! Prospects are now in the consideration phase, where they are learning and researching your brand, the products or services you offer and of course, your competitors. Video, native and display are effective formats to use when driving users to quality content such as blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers, or detailed product specs—giving a taste of not only your offering but how you differentiate from the competition. It is key to engage with your prospects and nurture those who have expressed interest to ensure they have a memorable experience. The ease of accessing relevant content when making a decision will help you build trust with your prospects, making them more willing to continue down the funnel to purchase or sign up.

Finally, we reach the lower funnel, where prospects have shown interest, they have done their research, and are ready to make a purchase. You want them to choose you! Ensure you have ads with a simple call to action (CTA) that is relevant to the landing page of the product or service being promoted. Nurturing prospective customers down the funnel will narrow and better define who your true customers are, while also ensuring a harmonious consumer journey throughout.

Step 2: Define Your Target Audience

The optimal full-funnel approach begins with knowing who you are trying to reach and where they fit in the funnel. Consider using different targeting tactics to capture your audience throughout. Use the 5 W’s—who, what, when, where, why—to define the ideal customer profile. It also provides an opportunity to plan and weed out any users within the funnel who may not be the right fit. This can be done by creating an exclusion audience of users who have completed a conversion or have satisfied a predefined parameter that is important to your business. Alternatively, a lookalike audience can be built to target users who have similar online behaviours of your most desired customers to spend your ad dollars wisely on an audience that matters most.

Step 3: Determine Where and How to Reach Your Audience

Once your audience is defined, it is time to do some research and determine where the best places are to reach these people. Is the best place to reach them on TV, or is it through a social platform or browsing within apps? Here are some questions to keep in mind when determining how to reach your ideal target audience:

  • Where do they typically discover brands?
  • How much time do they spend consuming content per channel type (i.e watching TV, browsing the internet, or on social platforms)?
  • What kind of content do they consume? What are their main interests?
  • Have you considered developing ads that are relevant to how they can be contextually targeted?
  • What is the length of your sales cycle? Are there multiple decision-makers?

After deciding which channels to leverage in your full-funnel strategy, consider the strengths of each channel and determine where it fits within the funnel. For example, Connected TV is known for its ability to reach viewers on a mass scale, making it ideal to include CTV in your upper funnel strategy. Whereas an effective lower funnel channel example is display advertising with a strong CTA. Display ads have evolved into many different formats through rich media capabilities that capture user’s attention and intent—the possibilities are limitless. The marketing tactics you select should align with critical decision-making milestones made by your prospects, so that they ultimately choose you.

Step 4: Set Realistic Goals

Once you have determined the channels you are going to include and where each of them fits in the funnel, be sure to set realistic KPIs per format. This will aid in defining the purpose of that campaign clearly. Consider the example of running a native campaign as an upper funnel vs. a middle funnel tactic. The nature of native ads is inherent in the customer’s experience and great for showcasing brands with an interesting story to share. In an upper funnel strategy, where the objective is to drive awareness and get users to your website, native ads can be used to introduce a new product or be used in brand comparisons. In this case, the key native metric to set as a goal is CTR. On the flip side, when native is used with a mid-funnel strategy in mind, the key metric you are aiming for is engagement—time on site. Knowing how much time a user spends on your site after seeing your ad will provide a better idea of whether the landing page or website content is engaging enough.

Step 5: Consider Your Creative

Creative assets and messaging play an important role in the success of any campaign. In many cases, creatives are either an afterthought or are repurposed to fit within a section of the funnel, in hopes that they will be effective and impactful. For a more holistic approach, creative messaging should actually be considered in the planning stage of a campaign, because the messaging a consumer receives should be relevant to where, when and how they are receiving it. Your ads need to tell a consistent story, at any point in the funnel. This is beneficial for brand recall and allows you to observe the impact and stickiness of your brand.

Keeping in mind that users’ attention spans are decreasing, the purchasing experience should be seamless and easy for the point of sale to occur. Now that we have covered the importance of executing a full-funnel approach, try testing these 5 steps when strategizing your next campaign. Notice the positive impact of honing in on the strengths of each channel to obtain your overall campaign goal.

Are B2B and B2C full-funnel approaches different?

The short answer is yes—mainly because the consumer’s journey is very different. The long answer is no, as the concept of a full-funnel approach is the same—awareness, engagement, consideration, and conversion. The tactics used within each stage of the funnel will differ between a B2B or a B2C model, especially since the sales cycle for B2B products or services is usually longer due to the multi-step buying process—involving multiple decision-makers and is typically a higher-ticket item. Here is an example of how a simplified marketing funnel may look for a B2C or B2B conversion journey, however not all purchase decisions are strictly linear in nature.

Whether your business is B2B or B2C, keeping a holistic full-funnel strategy in mind will not only help you build a solid foundation for your marketing efforts in the long run but it will help emphasize your brand persona, brand recall, and brand affinity.