Upper-Funnel vs. Lower-Funnel Marketing: What’s the Difference?

Upper-Funnel vs. Lower-Funnel Marketing: What’s the Difference?

7 Min Read

To make the most of your marketing dollars, you need an effective strategy based on your goals. But those goals will differ based on your target audience. Attracting customers at the top of the buyer funnel will require different language and tactics than when you’re marketing at the bottom of the funnel. Understanding the difference between the upper funnel and lower funnel will help you launch campaigns that speak to each audience—and ultimately achieve your goals. 

What Is Upper-Funnel Marketing? 

Upper-funnel marketing is all about creating that awareness, interest, and desire. At this stage, you’re teaching potential customers about your brand and establishing yourself as the best possible solution to their pain points.

The “buying funnel” refers to the process of sorting (or segmenting) potential customers based on where they are in their purchasing journey and what they know about your brand. Someone at the top of the funnel is in the early stages, meaning they’ve figured out that they have a problem and need a solution, but they aren’t yet aware of your brand or how it can benefit them.

Importance of Top-of-Funnel Marketing

Top-of-funnel marketing allows you to cast a wide net and appeal to a broad range of potential customers, and through funnel optimization, you can make the middle and lower portions more efficient.

Appealing to buyers in the beginning stages of their journey helps you build your brand and solidify your reputation. Some top-of-funnel strategies, including content marketing and social media, help you develop a relationship with potential customers; you might even end up converting some of them without having to move them further down the funnel at all.

Strategies for Top-of-Funnel Marketing

Because your goal with top-of-funnel marketing is to generate leads and draw people to your brand, strategies at this stage are primarily aimed at helping people find you and learn more about you. To capture potential customers at the top of the funnel, you might focus on:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) 
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) ads
  • Paid social media posts
  • Content marketing, including blogs and videos
  • Connected TV advertising

When you’re creating top-of-funnel ads for these channels, use language that inspires potential customers to take action. For example, if you’re running a lead generation campaign on social media, you might offer access to a webinar or a gated piece of content to anyone who signs up for your newsletter. Your paid social media posts would primarily promote the benefits of the webinar to encourage sign-ups. Once people sign up, they can learn more about your brand through your newsletter.

They might also choose to follow you on social media instead of signing up for the webinar. If you’re really lucky, they might even do both.

What Is Lower-Funnel Marketing?

Lower-funnel marketing involves speaking to potential customers who are aware that they have an issue that they need to solve, are aware of your brand, and are doing research to decide whether to buy from you or a competitor.

With a solid top-of-funnel strategy, you can move more leads down your funnel to this stage, where they’re almost ready to convert. At the bottom of the funnel, your primary goal is to make the sale. At this stage, you’re circling a potential customer’s decision, addressing their questions and objections, and highlighting why they should choose you over the competition.

Importance of Bottom-of-Funnel Marketing

Bottom-of-funnel marketing, sometimes referred to as the conversion funnel, is the part of your interaction with a potential customer in which you (hopefully) close the sale. At this stage, the prospect knows about your company and has already considered making a purchase. They just need that final nudge to get them from “add to cart” to “check out.”

The bottom of the sales funnel is important because this is the stage in which prospects become customers. Nailing your marketing strategy at this stage can also help you build customer loyalty. This allows you to generate revenue from prospects you’ve nurtured through your pipeline.

Strategies for Bottom-of-Funnel Marketing

At this stage, your messaging should be succinct and actionable. Instead of communicating how your brand benefits customers in general, focus on why the potential customer should choose you over the competition. Strategies at this stage involve setting yourself apart and proving your case as the best brand. They may include:

  • Case studies
  • Product comparisons
  • Promo codes and special discounts
  • Product demonstrations
  • Client testimonials

Bottom-of-funnel ads and marketing campaigns should be persuasive. Instead of offering an overview of your company, a good bottom-of-funnel campaign will specifically focus on your product or service, answering customers’ questions and guiding them toward a purchase. Like at the top of the funnel, you can use content and video marketing at this stage as well.

However, at this stage, your videos should be oriented toward showcasing what makes your product or service stand out from the herd and why a potential customer should buy yours (and no one else’s).

Summary of Key Differences

The main difference between lower-funnel and upper-funnel marketing lies in the goals and objectives of each stage. The people you’re speaking to are at distinctly different stages of their buying journey.

At the top level, you can cast a wider net, launching digital marketing campaigns that speak to a wider range of potential buyers. The top of the funnel is all about getting people into your sales pipeline. At this stage, you need to make them aware of your brand and its benefits.

The bottom of the funnel is all about conversions. At this stage, you’ve already done a good job of making people aware of your brand and helping them learn more. Now it’s about inspiring people who are already interested to spend their money with you—instead of with your competition.

Importance of Full-Funnel Marketing

If you want to sustain growth for your company, you can’t neglect either end of the marketing funnel. Once your company has existed for a while, it’s tempting to move past brand-building activities and focus only on the customers who are already shopping with you.

But paying attention to both the top and bottom of your sales funnel will help you keep your brand relevant with new customers while maintaining top-tier service with the ones you already have. With a full-funnel marketing strategy, you can also ensure your branding and messaging stay consistent.

To make it happen requires some cross-team collaboration, too. The members of your sales team who are tasked with closing the deal need to be in the loop on what your marketing team says about your products and services. Considering the full funnel also helps you more effectively guide shoppers through their journey. When launching video ad campaigns or writing social media posts for the top of your funnel, for example, you can slip in some language that might move a person from awareness to consideration.

Conversely, you can use top-of-funnel strategies to retarget former customers who haven’t shopped with you in a while. Customers may move through various stages of the sales funnel more than once throughout their time with your brand, and a full-funnel strategy helps you stay on top of the process.

How CTV Advertising Can Keep Your Funnel Full

Connected TV (CTV) offers the best of top-of-funnel and bottom-of-funnel marketing, allowing you to build awareness with the same level of targeted precision you would use for a performance-driven campaign.

Like with traditional television advertising, you can create memorable ads to build brand awareness. People remember about 95% of what they learn through video content, so these ads are a simple but impactful way to bring people on board. And unlike traditional television ads, CTV lets you target specific audiences and test and measure your campaigns.

MNTN lets you create performance-based marketing campaigns to target new users through CTV ads and even retarget people who have already interacted with your brand. With MNTN Performance TV, you can connect with customers whose streaming media tastes align with your branding instead of having to choose a slot on a random TV show and hoping to catch some interest.

At MNTN, we work with you to optimize your ads and target them in a way that makes it easier to achieve your goals. Learn more about how you can scale your full-funnel advertising strategy with MNTN by requesting a demo.

Top of Funnel vs. Bottom: Final Thoughts

Concentrating on the full funnel allows you to keep growing your business, building awareness among a new audience while still guiding potential customers at the bottom of your funnel toward a purchase.

The main difference between the top of the funnel and the bottom is intent. Your goal at the top of the funnel is to make potential customers aware of your brand and how you can benefit them. At the bottom of the funnel, this goal shifts toward guiding customers to choose you over your competitors.

With a full-funnel strategy, you can meet people where they are in their journey and move them up and down your funnel. Concentrating on both ends of the funnel lets you use consistent messaging that builds awareness, drives loyalty, and ultimately helps you grow your business.