Last month, we gave an introduction to the Marketing Funnel and discussed how marketers need a balanced mix of programs beyond email and search to effectively reach prospects wherever they may be traveling online. In this paradigm, broad, top-of-the-funnel branding initiatives such as social engagement and demographic-targeted display ads provide initial awareness, and mid-funnel tactics such as social ads pinpoint buyers who have engaged. Only when your target audience is educated and primed to engage with your sales team directly will lower-funnel tactics, such as search and email marketing, perform at their best to convert leads and deals.
In this column we will focus on the top funnel and examine the different programs you can employ to increase brand awareness.
The top funnel is where you focus to increase awareness and recall of your company and products, and to drive more of the right traffic to your Web site, corporate blog or landing pages. Top-funnel campaigns convey what your company does, why your products are unique, and why customers should care about your company.
There are many different tactics that you can implement at the top funnel, including:
Top-funnel measurement can be tricky, which is why many marketers take the easy way out and simply attribute success to the strength of the last marketing campaign that touched a deal before it closed. For example, if they have deployed a display advertising program to fill or accelerate prospects through the funnel, and paid-search or SEO programs to convert prospects lower in the funnel, they may jump to the conclusion that search is driving all the new business, which may lead them to increase their incremental spend on search alone.
Here's the conundrum. If all credit is given to search, and spending on search is subsequently increased, the shortage of budget in display is likely to adversely impact the next quarter's search results. Simply put, the lower-funnel activity will plateau if you don't invest in the upper funnel.
One way to avoid short-changing your top-funnel programs is to assign an equal share of attribution to each marketing initiative you use. In an equal credit attribution model, you can spread the value of a deal evenly among each marketing touchpoint, and measure the ROI of each channel accordingly to guide future program investments.
Beyond proper attribution, there are several tangible metrics that you can track to get a handle on the impact of your upper-funnel programs. Fundamentally, if you’re reaching more of your target audience higher up in the funnel, you should see a lift in: