Stop Overlooking the Upper Funnel

If you market products or services that have a long consideration cycle, chances are your efforts are focused on the bottom of the funnel. In B2B marketing and direct marketing for high-ticket items, ROI is usually the most important metric, so marketers tend to focus on getting those leads into the CRM and over to sales. After all, the faster those leads are generated and closed, the better the numbers look.

As a result, getting budget approval for top-of-funnel awareness efforts can be especially challenging. Most mid-market companies (especially those in the B2B space) aren’t concerned with branding and aren’t willing to invest in campaigns that appear too far removed from closing sales.

Fill the Top to Fuel the Bottom
It’s not surprising that many businesses have avoided top-of-funnel efforts in the past. Marketing culture has been guided by last-click attribution for eons, particularly when it comes to considered consumer purchases and B2B services. Search was – and, in many cases, still is – the go-to tactic for marketers who needed to prove their ROI, and these habits have been slow to break.

However, if marketers aren’t investing in top-of-funnel efforts, they’re limiting their ability to cost-effectively add new prospects. Mid and lower funnel tactics are only reaching those consumers who are already familiar with a brand, who’ve already purchased, or who have entered the funnel by accident (and aren’t truly qualified customers). It’s simple, but obvious: you have to get out there and spread the word.

It’s understandable that some marketers would be uneasy about allocating budget to awareness efforts. Historically, expanding awareness entailed tactics that felt a lot like throwing money out the window — adding display ads to AdWords campaigns, buying remnant media, or placing a banner on a popular website. It had all the expense, impact and accountability of a quarter-page ad in the back pages of a glossy magazine. However, to shy away from investing in the top of the funnel is to hamstring your own campaigns before you’ve even launched them.

Better Tech Means More Accountability – Even at the Top
That’s not the case today. Technology in advertising and marketing has not only improved dramatically, but it has become dramatically more accessible. That means that even smaller companies can engage with top-tier platform partners. Many of these technology platforms can empower marketers to reach and engage new audiences at every phase of the funnel, tracking and measuring their actions as they engage and delivering important insights along the way.

Top-of-funnel marketing in the age of data is far more targeted than it’s ever been, and consumers don’t even necessarily have to click through their first exposure to an ad to begin their journey through the funnel. So, not only can marketers gain the opportunity to encourage new leads to become customers, but they’ll also have a larger and more meaningful sample to measure their marketing efforts against. At last, marketers at smaller enterprises can begin to understand who their various audiences are, what resonates with each one and — most importantly — what drives each to convert.

What marketer doesn’t want a better understanding of their audience and the journey to conversion?

After all, accountability is key for marketers at growing companies. Their dollars must go further, and they don’t have a lot of room to breathe. However, that can’t be an excuse for short-sightedness. Instead, it must be regarded as an opportunity to demand more. Demand investment in a multi-touch attribution solution that provides a clearer picture of the entire customer journey. Demand investment in the full-funnel, not just end-game conversions.

At the end of the day, when the top of the funnel is fed, the health of the entire marketing operation is elevated, as is the health of the organization.

Marketing at the top of the funnel fills the funnel with tons of new prospects, which, with the right technology and strategies to support the journey, will almost certainly lead to more sales.