What is full-funnel marketing? Creating a funnel strategy
Updated February 24, 2023
For many shoppers, research and discovery happen across multiple channels at once. If you’ve ever scanned product reviews on your phone while shopping in store, or toggled between a brand’s social media feed and website while watching a TV commercial, you’re not alone. According to a 2022 PYMNTS study, 28% of US consumers used a smartphone the last time they shopped in a store.1 Also, 63% of viewers in a Magna and Amazon Ads study reported that they feel the urge to buy a product when they see it featured in a TV show.2
The ubiquity of mobile devices and social media means that shopping journeys are becoming more fragmented—making it critical to adopt a full-funnel strategy that simultaneously drives awareness and demand across multiple channels.
Full-funnel marketing encompasses all levels of the funnel. When we say “funnel,” we’re referring to the marketing funnel, which outlines the most straightforward journey a customer might take in the path to purchase. Full-funnel marketing starts at the top of the funnel and continues to consider the needs of customers throughout all its levels.
Marketing funnels are linear; customer journeys are not
It’s important to consider shoppers at all levels of the marketing funnel, since they can often have different wants or needs. The top of the marketing funnel represents shoppers in the awareness stage, and the bottom of the funnel represents shoppers in the purchasing stage.
Upper-funnel marketing refers to strategies to build brand awareness. For example, many TV commercials are designed to build awareness among audiences who may not have a need for the product yet. Mid-funnel marketing strategies typically focus on building consideration and standing out in your category. For example, blog content can help differentiate a product from others in its category. Lower-funnel marketing drives purchase among shoppers who show potential to buy. For example, remarketing ads with calls-to-action like “Buy now” can bring shoppers closer to the point of purchase. A full-funnel marketing strategy simultaneously builds awareness, consideration, and purchase.
The marketing funnel is a helpful framework for engaging audiences. At the same time, customer journeys and funnels aren’t interchangeable concepts. Funnels are linear, but customer journeys rarely move directly from awareness to consideration to purchase.
No two customer journeys are the same
Let’s put this in context.
Imagine a hypothetical soap company called Suds and two hypothetical customer journeys. The first customer is watching Fire TV, a media player that turns any TV into a smart TV, when they see a commercial for Suds’ “Surf and Sea” soap for men. They are out of soap and love surfing, so pause Fire TV and open the Amazon mobile app, typing “surf soap” into the discovery bar. They click on Suds’ Sponsored Products ad and start reading reviews, but get distracted when their friend calls to ask about surfing this weekend. They pause Fire TV to take the call. After they hang up, they notice clouds outside the window, so they check their favorite weather website and are relieved to see sunny skies forecasted for the weekend. They then notice a Sponsored Display ad for Suds’ “Surf and Sea” soap on the weather page and remember why they pulled out their phone in the first place. The ad brings them back to the Suds “Surf and Sea” product detail page. They are embarrassed about having come so close to running out of soap and want to ensure it doesn’t happen again, so they click “Subscribe & Save” and return to watching Fire TV.
This shopper’s path to purchase is representative of today’s purchasing journey in three ways.
- It’s fast. When the commercial starts, they’re not yet aware of Suds. By the end of the commercial, they’re a repeat customer (assuming they continue their subscription).
- It’s multichannel. When the customer grabs their phone while watching the commercial, it’s almost as if they’re in the awareness and consideration stages simultaneously.
- It’s not linear. They skip certain stages of the marketing funnel when they opt to subscribe before even unboxing and trying the product.
On the other hand, a different customer might have a totally different customer journey. Let’s say they notice the near-empty soap container and decide to take matters into their own hands. They might type “men’s soap” into the discovery bar on Amazon and start browsing the category for soap that has good customer reviews and fast shipping. They might discover Suds through an ad on another soap brand’s product detail page, then click on the ad to read reviews about whether customers like the “Surf and Sea” scent too, and visit Suds’ Store to learn more about their environmentally sustainable packaging.
In this case, the customer enter the funnel in the consideration stage. They know they need soap, and prefer products that are branded for men. They narrow the category, and Suds successfully stands out among peer products.
In other words, while the funnel is a helpful framework to ensure you’re reaching customers across potential paths to purchase, few customer journeys can mirror the funnel—and no two journeys can be exactly the same.
A full-funnel strategy can help you reach more shoppers across more touchpoints
Shoppers can enter the funnel at any stage, or seemingly skip stages. Nevertheless, in each of these two examples, Suds can attribute the conversions to a full-funnel advertising strategy that encompasses awareness, consideration, and conversion.
If Suds focuses exclusively on driving conversion by investing in Sponsored Products ads and bidding on branded shopping queries, the brand may fail to reach shoppers whose shopping journeys start in the awareness and consideration stages.
If Suds focuses exclusively on driving consideration by investing in strategies like Sponsored Display product targeting, the brand may reach shoppers who are browsing the category, but miss shoppers who are not in the aisle.
If Suds focuses exclusively on building awareness through streaming TV advertising via Fire TV, the brand may reach audiences who see their Fire TV ad, but miss an opportunity to engage audiences entering in the consideration stage. And they may fail to sustain the engagement with shoppers unless they pair their upper-funnel campaign with lower-funnel tactics like the remarketing ads that bring them back to the product detail page.
You may not be able to predict the steps shoppers take before buying your product, but a full-funnel approach is a good framework for a customer engagement strategy that helps you meet customers where they are.
While Amazon is a retailer, it’s also much more than that. Customers count on Amazon properties and services to browse reviews, watch movies, listen to podcasts and music, follow livestreams, read books, and keep up with their shows, at home and on the go. They listen to Amazon Music during morning runs, they count on Alexa to create shopping lists for dinner, and they unwind at the end of the day by streaming Fire TV.
There are many Amazon touchpoints shoppers may encounter on their path to purchase. As a result, Amazon Ads is uniquely positioned to build full-funnel marketing strategies that reach audiences throughout their daily lives.
At the same time, this depth and breadth of reach can make it tough to know where to start when building a full-funnel strategy—so we’ve broken the process down into five simple steps.
1. Make sure your products are ready to buy
We always recommend starting with the bottom of the funnel and working your way upward when building a full-funnel strategy. For example, before you pay to promote a product, check to ensure your product’s detail page is free of spelling errors and content mistakes, and has enough images, reviews, and ratings to stack up against other products in your category, and you’re presenting the Featured Offer. We call this A+ content within retail readiness.
Tip: Another fast (and free) way to make your products retail-ready is through the free branded content that Amazon Ads offers, like Posts and Stores. Stores is a destination to extend your brand and promote discovery. Posts is an opportunity to educate customers about your products through compelling lifestyle imagery.
2. Reach shoppers who are most likely to purchase
Once you’ve optimized your product detail pages for conversion, start experimenting with tactics to help drive purchases. For example, we recommend Sponsored Products ads that reach shoppers using branded search terms indicating high intent (e.g., “Suds surf soap”) or remarketing to audiences who have viewed your product detail page using Sponsored Display.
Tip: Remarketing ads appear anywhere customers spend their time, making this tactic a great way to stay top of mind. Since your total potential remarketing audiences depends on the size of the audience that has viewed your product detail page, consider remarketing following key buying periods like Prime Day and the holiday season, when your product detail pages may have seen increased page views.
3. Stand out in your category
Once your products are retail-ready and optimized for conversion, we recommend investing in ad types that can help you stand out in your category and differentiate your brand from peer products. We call this owning your aisle. For example, a soap company might use Sponsored Display product targeting to reach shoppers browsing relevant categories (e.g., soap), similar products (e.g., peer soap bands), or complementary products (e.g., shampoo).
Tip: If you have a newly launched product, you might even want to use product targeting to run placements on your own product pages to help make shoppers aware of your new releases.
4. Build your brand
Once you’re confident you’re owning your aisle, we recommend increasing consideration with products like video and display ads through the Amazon DSP and Sponsored Brands. At this stage, consider bidding on broader shopping queries (e.g., “soap”) and reaching in-market audiences. In-market audiences are audiences whose shopping patterns suggest they may be interested in your product.
Tip: Consider using Sponsored Brands to drive traffic to your Store page to educate shoppers in the consideration stage about your brand’s story and products.
5. Expand your reach
The final step to a full-funnel campaign is building awareness. Amazon DSP can help you scale your reach across multiple channels (including display, audio, and over-the-top video) without sacrificing relevance. Using the Amazon Ads audience builder, you can define audiences based on lifestyle (e.g., Jeep enthusiasts), streaming preferences (e.g., recently streamed the movie Soul Surfer on Prime Video) and look-alike audiences (e.g., Amazon Fresh look-alikes).
Tip: Consider combining audio and Streaming TV ads to reach audiences beyond the screen and at home.
By using a full-funnel strategy with Amazon Ads, you can use shopping signals to make your campaigns work harder and engage what would otherwise be hard-to-reach audiences. Whether you want to surface your cosmetic brand among audiences who have recently streamed certain types of films, or launch a new air-filtration product to aid allergy sufferers, full-funnel Amazon Ads solutions are built to help you connect with any audience, wherever they may be in their shopping journey. You don’t need a huge marketing budget or a big agency team to manage a full-funnel strategy that delivers results.
We recommend a full-funnel approach because it helps prepare you for a diverse range of customer journeys. Here’s why it can be helpful to take a full-funnel approach to Amazon Ads rather than hone in on a single stage of the funnel (e.g., driving purchase) or goal (e.g., return on advertising spend [ROAS]).
Best of all, your full-funnel strategy doesn’t have to be elaborate to be effective. Many advertisers start by combining sponsored ads with display, and the results speak volumes. Once you’re ready to broaden awareness, try adding Streaming TV ads or audio ads, for example.
For simplicity, we’ll call the following media mix a modified full-funnel strategy: Sponsored Products and/or Sponsored Brands, plus display advertising with Sponsored Display and/or Amazon DSP. We’ll call a modified full-funnel approach that also includes streaming TV a comprehensive full-funnel approach.
Here are four goals a modified or comprehensive full-funnel strategy may help you accomplish:
1. Reach new audiences
If you think homing in solely on branding is the best way to grow new-to-brand sales, think again. Few shoppers convert to purchase immediately. Pairing upper-funnel and lower-funnel tactics can help your brand stay top of mind.
2. Increase consideration
We have a variety of products—from Sponsored Brands to Streaming TV (STV) ads—that are designed to help increase consideration and help brands differentiate their products from peer products in their category. Also, brand-building tactics can be part of a balanced marketing strategy. Combine upper- and lower-funnel marketing in your marketing strategy, for example, by using a combination of Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands.
3. Drive sales
Many advertisers believe performance marketing is the best way to drive sales, but a full-funnel approach can be more effective. Expanding your strategy beyond the purchasing stage of the funnel can help you proactively engage new shoppers and help drive more sales in the long term.
4. Build loyalty
Some marketers view loyalty as a separate stage of the funnel, but investing in a full-funnel strategy, rather than pursuing brand loyalty as a separate tactic, can help to set your brand up for repeat purchases. If you’re trying to grow customer lifetime value, a full-funnel approach may help you build the trust that underpins customer longevity.
When you adopt a full-funnel marketing strategy, you can see compounding effects that lead to stronger results in every stage of the funnel, from a potential increase in ROAS to a potential growth in sales to building awareness and purchase intent. If full-funnel marketing is new to you, start with a modified full-funnel strategy and work your way up to a comprehensive full-funnel strategy.
1 PYMNTS and Cybersource, US, 2022
2 Magna and Amazon Ads, The Converging Worlds of Content and Commerce, US, 2022