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The Value Of Generating Top-Of-Funnel Leads From Google Ads

I recently wrote about lowering the barrier to conversion by enticing landing page visitors with a different kind of offer (a softer ask!).

In this latest article, I discuss a keyword strategy for Google Ads that advertisers can use to bring in cheaper traffic and leads that are higher up in the funnel.

Higher funnel lead generation is the long play of paid lead generation. These are people who are in the informational stage before making a purchase. They will take longer to turn into paying customers. The shorter play is to increase your ability to convert customers from bottom-of-funnel keywords.

But, in some cases, there's only so much search volume behind these particular keywords, and you have to look at other areas of the funnel to initiate visibility and bring customers to your business.

First, A Note:

The concept I am about to outline is for advertisers who have already proven the usefulness of Google Ads to business stakeholders and want to increase conversions from all areas of the marketing funnel.

In writing this article, I was mainly thinking about software, technology, service, or low-volume niche businesses. The strategy below, however can apply to any type of business if you’re looking to generate more conversions.

Increasing Lead Volume With Top-Of-Funnel Leads

When starting Google Ads for the first time, businesses should look for bottom-of-funnel keywords that most closely align to their primary business—product or service. These keywords should supply the business with a sustainable, profitable quantity of conversions.

Once this has been achieved and more leads are desired, keywords surrounding top-of-funnel searches can be cheaper and deliver more quantity because the searches are broader and more frequent.

Bottom-of-funnel, on-the-nose searches can be extremely profitable when the right customer comes through. Many times the cost-per-click on these terms is extremely expensive, upwards of $50 per click for competitive placement. (Of these expensive terms, I’m thinking of “software,” “service,” “company,” “provider” centric keywords.)

But, take away the “software” from the term (reducing a four or three phrase term to a three or two phrase term) and now you have a broader search being conducted prior to or after the “software” search. Depending on your industry and the landing page offer, you will likely convert more of these users more frequently.

Top-Of-Funnel Campaign Examples

Let me show you what this strategy looks like in an actual Google Ads account.

Below is a visual example of campaigns from two accounts to illustrate the two campaign types I am talking about:

Some notes on the campaign data above:

  • Each snapshot represents 3 months worth of Google Ads data

  • The campaign names have been replaced with their place in the funnel (BOFU for bottom-of-funnel and TOFU for top-of-funnel)

  • In many cases (but not always), the TOFU (top-of-funnel) campaigns are bringing in a higher quantity of leads compared to the BOFU (bottom-of-funnel) campaigns

  • Most of the time, the TOFU campaign leads cost less than the BOFU campaign leads

  • The keywords across all campaigns represent different searches from the same searchers at different points in their buying process. Some users are just starting their journey while some are nearing the end of it

Channeling Top-Of-Funnel PPC Learnings Into SEO Strategy

Maybe you already rank organically for the types of top-of-funnel keywords I'm discussing in this article. Perhaps you created a content offer around this topic or keyword set and understand how important the traffic and resulting downloads from these keywords are for your business. Or, maybe you've yet to explore this strategy at all.

By developing and enacting a top-of-funnel paid lead generation strategy, you can develop a sense of which keywords generate the best leads for your business and create a downloadable content offer that matches up directly to these keywords. You might be surprised by how qualified or unqualified downloads from these types of keywords are and inclined to double down on your SEO or switch your focus to a different set of keywords.

Whatever the outcome, the learnings from this exercise are invaluable to your online visibility.

Justifying Top-Of-Funnel Lead Optimization

Businesses that focus on converting searchers who are higher up in the funnel are able to:

  • Drop new contacts into email marketing campaigns

  • Build out retargeting audiences for Google and other channels

  • Promote a new piece of content to a relevant audience

  • Send more leads, regardless of readiness to buy, to sales

  • Generate keywords learnings that can be channeled into SEO strategy

However you choose to nurture these types of leads is completely up to you. What's important is that you spend time analyzing leads (people!) from the top portion of the funnel to understand more about how they search and what they might need from you to make that final step to purchase.


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