Top of Funnel Pay Per Click Strategies

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “Top of Funnel PPC Strategies.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: How do you define “top of funnel” as it relates to PPC? Why?

  • I would define it as people who are searching but they don’t know what they want yet. and by “what they want” I mean model, brand, etc. They just know they want or need X – Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
  • The people that go into stores and say they are “just looking”. – Matt Umbro
  • People who aren’t ready to pull out their credit cards yet. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • You know you want something, but not quite sure what it is yet… it’s the “educational queries”. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
    • Agreed. I think there’s a mid-funnel, too, once they know what they want & are comparing price, S&H options, etc. – Amy Bishop
  • Top of funnel – users in the research phrase, tire-kickers, or curious cats. – Pascal Inderabudhi (@pasc)
  • Targeting not identified and designated as a deeper engegement segment. I.E. Tables vs. Buy Coffee Tables. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • Research phases of the consumer buying cycle. – Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
  • General research and browsing for different types of products/services. – JD Prater (@jdprater)
  • It’s a bit intuitive. Is it a keyword that you would want to have another conversation on. IE Does it fit a remarket click? – Ira Kates (@IraKates)
  • Searchers who are looking more for information and most likely not ready to convert yet. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Folks in the research phase, figuring out who you are. Interested in your product type if not YOUR product specifically. – Kiko Correa (@obiwankikobi)
  • People who are unaware that they need you. – Francis Shovlin (@fmshovlin)
  • Broad discovery type queries/keywords for those still shopping around. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • Top Funnel Users = People who just stepped into my web of PPC/online strategy…and will eventually pay me money. – Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
  • Top o’ funnel in PPC space is building awareness. PPC is not always about conversion. U often have to build an audience/need. – John Ellis (@JohnWEllis)
  • Prime example – “fun family vacations” *top of funnel* No destination or brand in mind. Top of Funnel = Prime Content Marketing & Educational Pieces. – Bryant Garvin
    • Wouldn’t you put that more mid funnel? They know they want a vacation for the family, they just need the dest. – Ira Kates
      • Having been in travel marketing I would still put this more top of funnel… meaning it’s anyone’s game. – Bryant Garvin
  • User’s that may need your service but don’t know it yet. Building awareness. – Matthew Lloyd (@MaLloyd20)

Q2: What are some strategies you take to get top of funnel visitors to convert?

  • Get them into a retention model, stat! Remarketing, email blasts, etc. – Dave Rosborough
  • Don’t go for the kill up front. Offer something an informational asset/get a quote. Start the good ol’ remarketing! – Luke Alley
  • Answer their questions through content creation, marketing automation & build a relationship of trust. – Bryant Garvin
  • Don’t describe “what” people are looking for in your ads. Explain “why” they should pull the trigger in ads and landing pages. – Joe Martinez
  • Once in the funnel, start with a claims/proof approach to landing page copy that shows your product/service is what they need. – Ryan Moothart (@ryanmoothart)
  • Soft conversion goal to get their foot in the door, then nurture. – Francis Shovlin
  • Keep ad text, CTA, and LP as general as query, but leading down a path. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • Ensuring you are tracking what is converting down the line & building that essence into your upper funnel copy. Remarketing for search! Don’t let that initial click die. Data mine the top funnel keywords to understand which convert later. – Ira Kates
  • Work to understand the intent behind the TF query. Raw Search, Assist, Pathing Reports tied with conversion data. – Josh Kelson
  • Ad copy answering some of the most common questions can help (Free S&H, Low Price Guarantee). – Amy Bishop
  • Explain the why and the benefits of them. – Matthew Lloyd
  • I think LP is a crucial part of Top of Funnel conversions. Too general & lose them. Too specific & they’re not yet ready. – Kirk Williams
  • Click path reporting to start bucketing long term converting upper funnel vs. more mid/short term converters. – Ira Kates
  • I try to write ads that qualify the customer and help set their expectations. – JD Prater
  • Perhaps utilize sitelinks as well to offer up some popular avenues for narrowing in on the user’s end goal. – Dave Rosborough
  • Top of funnel is where very specific content creation is essential & shockingly will help SEO efforts as well. – Bryant Garvin
  • Different conversions. Know what keywords you need to speak to again. ex. If they visit multiple pages & spend x time on site. – Ira Kates
  • Establish credibility of product or service. Work to answer the questions of a TF searcher, then lead down conversion path. – Josh Kelson
  • Loving the answers of remarketing and sitelinks. If I’m an e-commerce client i want to be on PLAs to catch comparison shoppers. – Kiko Correa
    • And Dynamic Remarketing to engage them across the Display Network. – Matt Umbro
    • If you win on price sure. If not it’s a chance to get a valuable click ahead of time. – Ira Kates
  • (positive) reviews tend to help, too. Especially for high $ purchases or products that are supposed to have some type of effect. – Amy Bishop
  • Agreed. Quality content is KEY at this point! – Josh Kelson
  • RLSA, Display Remarketing, RLSA on FB. Use the initial touch of search to expand your reach of exposure and ability to sell. – Josh Kelson
  • In addition to building remarketing & automation lists, use search query to identify & add lower funnel KWs that convert. – Pascal Inderabudhi

Q3: Do you believe bidding on top of funnel keywords is necessary for account growth? Why or why not?

  • Top of Funnel keywords offer search query reports which give new ideas. – Matt Lukens (@mmlukens)
  • It’s beneficial for incremental sales and to get more eyes on the product. But harder to fit in the budget. – Matthew Lloyd
  • For established accounts, it’s necessary for growth. Gotta create awareness before demand. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • Yes, so many of these users have potential to return and/or be re-marketed to. Just need to be wise with budget for top funnel. – Ryan Moothart
  • Necessary, no, but beneficial yes. Have to keep some kind of balance to keep ROAS in check, though. – Amy Bishop
  • It goes back to, if you have a way to “lead the sheep to pasture” after that initial click… if you don’t it’s not worth it. – Bryant Garvin
  • Yes the ToF keywords are essential for guiding new customers to your brand. – Dave Rosborough
  • Yes. Try to focus on lower funnel terms initially and then expand to upper funnel once we’ve exhausted those searches. – Luke Alley
  • Absolutely, if efficiency is stagnant in a good way it’s probably time to look for expansion. – Matt Umbro
  • Necessary no, but it’s definitely helpful. Cautiously bidding on those terms can give you ideas for new search queries. – Joe Martinez
  • I think it depends completely on the industry and search impression share. – JD Prater
  • Might be worth setting separate goals for top of funnel vs regular keywords to gauge performance. – Michelle Morgan
    • True. Combining into one goal can skew results. I don’t do this like I should, but would be a good idea. – Luke Alley
      • Same here. Also difficult to get full pic of impact from ToF kws. Hard to get clients on board with diff goals too. – Michelle Morgan
    • Great point – yes, set expectations that TOF keywords won’t have as great efficiencies as more specific terms. – Matt Umbro
      • But even more crucial to look at complete picture & attribution or TOF will NEVER meet ROAS. – Bryant Garvin
        • Exactly. Need to know impact AND have ability to track appropriately. Tall order. – Michelle Morgan
      • They can end up being like display campaigns when it comes to performance, but still beneficial. – Michelle Morgan
    • Good idea. how do you easily differentiate? Labels, or do you separate TOF into unique campaigns, or another way? – Kirk Williams
      • I seperate into their own campaigns and negative out specific terms. ie: “oval” would be a negative in “coffee table TOF” campaign because I have oval ad group. – Matt Umbro
      • Separate campaigns are usually good enough. Able to easily see perf, separate budget, and track in GA as well. – Michelle Morgan
        • So you’re grouping campaigns by normal category/product separation, AND by TOF consideration? WOW. and that WOW was sheer respect. Time to start experimenting more. – Kirk Williams
          • Yes sir! More time consuming but worth it for optimizations and reporting. – Matt Umbro
          • ToF keywords tend to be non-brand, short tail, and really general. I want them out of my other campaigns. I’m a firm believer of more upfront work for later efficiency in mgmt, reporting, & optimizations. – Michelle Morgan
            • I’d venture to say TOF are never brand terms.
              – Dave Rosborough
            • That’s true, I guess I’ve always separated by ad group, but I can see reporting benefit for campaigns. – Kirk Williams
              • I will segment by ad group as well if it makes sense. ie: tomatoes and all types will go in one campaign but vegetable terms will go in their own TOF campaign. – Matt Umbro
  • Maybe in the past it didn’t make sense, but the value & optimization down funnel it now generates makes it indispensable. – Ira Kates
  • If you want to grow you gotta reach people who don’t already know you. Whether you use TOF KWs, Display, Social PPC is up to you. – Kiko Correa
  • Disagree with some. ToF kws poor for branding compared to *gasp* other media. – Matt Lukens
  • Even if your CPCs aren’t that aggressive, you’ll want ToF keywords in your account. Segmented of course for maximum control. – Dave Rosborough
  • If funnel is maximally optimized, absolutely necessary for growth. Grow brand awareness + mine search queries 4 addl targets. – Pascal Inderabudhi
  • Absolutely so long as you set appropriate budgets and goals for top of funnel campaigns. – Maria Corcoran (@mariacorcoran)
  • ToF KWs can expand your reach and ability to market through other channels. Use for reach and growth. Create cookie pools. – Josh Kelson

Q4: For those running TOF campaigns, do you put extra emphasis on search funnels and multi-attribution reports? Why or why not?

  • Yes Why? Duh! – Bryant Garvin
    • You’d be surprised how many clients have no idea what these reports are. – Matt Umbro
    • On both sides of the coin. Client and Search Partner side. Not to mention those who say the “know”. – Ira Kates
  • Not extra emphasis but I’m sure to show their impact. I give them their due. Not over reporting but not under reporting either. – Michelle Morgan
  • Emphasize multi-channel conversions in EVERY campaign. – Kiko Correa
  • I always speak to them and underly their importance even if we don’t always send. – Matt Umbro
  • Yes context = value for ToF campaigns. – Pascal Inderabudhi
  • Use them more for internal use to guide optimization strategy. These are usually too in depth for my client base. – Joe Martinez
  • Entirely new goals should be set based on micro-conversions – a simplistic way to judge perf… in essence yes to a funnel. Attribution is only valid if it is set up correctly, too many folks are looking at it incorrectly imho. – Maria Corcoran
    • How so? – Matt Umbro
      • Attribution based on 1 conversion & weighted equally vs intent w/in funnel w appropriate goals. – Maria Corcoran
  • Yes, have to make sure that the juice is worth the squeeze. TOF has different goals but should show indication of consideration. – Amy Bishop

Q5: For those running Shopping campaigns, is there a way you create TOF campaigns to go along with more specific campaigns? How so?

  • Most definitely. These conversions tend to not lead to direct value. Need to show impact overall to justify. – Francis Shovlin
  • Adjusting feed titles and descriptions is key to whether you will get TOF terms for shopping campaigns. – Bryant Garvin
  • Yes, create diff campaigns to capture “Categories’ and then Top selling Products. – Kirk Williams

Q6: How does your ad copy differ in TOF campaigns vs. more specific ones? Why?

  • No brands in copy for ToF KWs. Users less likely to know brands. – Matt Lukens
    • Disagree on this… you should test because sometimes having a brand adds value and CTR potentially. – Bryant Garvin
    • But you are degrading your QS and losing an opportunity to indoctrinate new discoverers. Completely agree with Bryant here. Have you tested this before?- Ira Kates
  • I try to make ad copy as specific or general as the ToF kw I’m targeting to prevent from losing customers on either end. – Kirk Williams
  • TOF – more feature, benefit oriented. BOF – stronger CTA, more demand-gen-y. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • TOF ad copy talks to breadth of product line and variety (for ecomm that is). – Matt Umbro
  • Concentrate on more of a brand story for Auto client. Lower funnel is about offers. Upper is about craftsmanship and features. – Ira Kates
  • Tho IMO it’s worth experimenting with top selling product specific ads for some ToF ads to help them “make the leap.” E.g. if a certain drill is 75% of your sales & query is “electric drill”, experiment with showing that top drill in ad & LP. – Kirk Williams
  • Not as much KW focused. Really showcase value with messaging, review extensions and offer to clarify there is no other option. – Joe Martinez
  • ToF copy focus on informational and key differentiators to competitors vs sales driven for BoF terms. – Maria Corcoran
  • Depends on product, but focus on market differentiators. Why would I look? Sell them on your ability to answer their question. – Josh Kelson
  • TOF ad text should also speak to what sets you apart. More specific campaigns can capitalize more on brand recognition. – Kiko Correa
  • TOF ads are typically going to be generic in context. Going back to earlier in the chat, use sitelinks to add some specificity. – Dave Rosborough
    • Great point – using sitelinks to add specificity. – Josh Kelson
  • TOF campaign copy = broad terms like product category – further down the funnel the more specific copy gets. – Peter Thistle (@PeterThistle)

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More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
• Francis Shovlin (@fmshovlin)
• Ira Kates (@IraKates)
• JD Prater (@jdprater)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• John Ellis (@JohnWEllis)
• Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
• Kiko Correa (@obiwankikobi)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Maria Corcoran (@mariacorcoran)
• Matt Lukens (@mmlukens)
• Matthew Lloyd (@MaLloyd20)
• Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• Pascal Inderabudhi (@pasc)
• Peter Thistle (@PeterThistle)
• Ryan Moothart (@ryanmoothart)

Top of the Funnel Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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