Top of Funnel - What is it and How To Use It In Your Marketing Campaign

18 Apr, 2023

Top of funnel marketing is a crucial component of any online marketing campaign. Learn what it is and how to apply it to your strategy in this article. 

Top of Funnel - What is it and How To Use It In Your Marketing Campaign

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What is Top of Funnel? 

The top of the funnel refers to a specific stage in the customer buying journey. Top-of-funnel (TOFU) marketing is everything you do to engage a prospective customer before making a sale. TOFU marketing efforts help people who are not your customers find out about your business and decide they want to purchase. In the top-of-funnel stage of the buying journey, users should be exposed to your brand and your value proposition and learn about the existence of your product or service.

Many businesses will try to gain new customers at different points throughout their conversion funnel and skip over the top-of-funnel marketing methods (because ROI is generally a bit harder to attribute to this stage.) However, often it's the top-of-funnel efforts that end up contributing to the eventual sale.

Why is Top of Funnel Marketing Important?

Top-of-funnel marketing the first step in the customer journey and serves as the foundation for all subsequent interactions with potential customers. By casting a wider net and getting in front of your target audience before they actively start looking for what you offer, you can build your brand, establish credibility, and attract new prospects to your website (which can be retargeted later.) Without effective top-of-funnel marketing, reaching new audiences and growing your business can be far more intensive and costly. By investing in top-of-funnel channels such as social media, high-level advertising, content marketing, and search engine optimization, you can create a steady stream of leads, improve conversion rates, increase customer loyalty, and create a well-oiled marketing machine. 

Why is Top of Funnel Different?

Top-of-funnel marketing is nothing new; however, it is different from the digital marketing campaigns that probably come to mind when you think of online marketing. For most businesses, the bulk of digital marketing expenditure goes toward attracting and converting users that have already expressed interest in your product or service. On the contrary, top-of-funnel marketing focuses on developing brand awareness and familiarity with an audience that likely has not heard of you before. 

Unlike your standard digital marketing campaigns, which focus on direct attribution—top-of-funnel performance is often measured to brand lift, search volume, and overall ROI; rather than a direct last-click conversion. 

Similarly, because these users have not heard of your brand, the messaging and approach used in a top-of-funnel effort must differ from your average campaign. 

How to Implement a Top-of-Funnel Strategy?

What's next after you've decided that a top-of-funnel marketing strategy could work for your company? As with any marketing campaign, there are several things you need to do before implementing a top-of-funnel strategy.

First, you must decide who your target audience is to effectively gear messaging, creative, and targeting toward the right people. If you are unsure who your target audience is, DriftLead can help you find out. 

Now that you know your target audience, it's time to develop a creative strategy that will resonate with them. Of course, you will want to keep their pain points, interests, and where they spend their time online top of mind when building out any campaign. 

Top of Funnel Channels

Some digital marketing channels are better suited for top-of-funnel awareness campaigns than others. We will go through each one in more depth below. 

Paid Social

Investing in paid social media can be a great way to affordably generate brand awareness. It's an excellent way to reach users on channels where they are actively engaged and in the mindset of consuming content. With Facebook and Instagram being leaders in the social space, advertising on these platforms is a no-brainer. But now TikTok also presents a great opportunity with over 1 billion active users per month.

Especially since ongoing smartphone and browser privacy updates and the sunsetting of 3rd party cookies, paid social media is now used most effectively as a top-of-funnel channel.

With paid social, you can use video and banner ads to promote your brand, products, and unique selling propositions to your target audiences on social media. Video content is the key to social success in 2022 and beyond. Use video ads to showcase your products, demonstrate client results, feature testimonials, or highlight user-generated content. 

As with any campaign, we suggest starting with various types of creative and letting the data inform you on what is working. From there, you can hone in on the campaigns that are working and continually improve performance.

Organic Social

The next top-of-funnel channel is organic social media. Create content that attracts an audience and gets social shares. That's how you build a following and get in front of your ideal customers. Organic social media marketing will help you develop brand awareness, get to know your audience, and build a loyal following that not only buys but promotes, talks about, and recommends your product. 

The first step to any organic social campaign is to start creating shareable content on social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram. Use your target audience to inform the content you post. Ask yourself what your ideal customer will find helpful, entertaining, or inspiring. Aim to fill your feed with mostly that type of content and use promotional content sparingly. 

Display Advertising

Display and video ads are similar to social media in that they can achieve awareness across the internet, but not just on social media platforms. With display advertising, you can show your target audience visual content such as banner ads and videos on news outlets, blogs, YouTube, and even streaming platforms such as Hulu.

Display and video advertising can often be more affordable than social media and, in some instances, offer more advanced targeting capabilities. With programmatic display, you can target people based on the locations they visit and super-specific characteristics such as the kind of car they own, their credit score, and more. 


Providing valuable resources to your target audience is another excellent top-of-funnel strategy. Articles, whitepapers, infographics, podcasts, and webinars are all things you can provide to your target audience to develop brand awareness and familiarity. These are all great ways to show off your expertise, inform your audience of new trends, raise awareness about your latest products or services, and establish yourself as an industry thought leader. 

This can also be an effective way to grow your email list, again giving you a way to retarget these users in the future. 

Blog Posts

Blog posts are a great way to answer your audience's questions, show customers that you're engaged with their interests, and raise awareness about your brand. They also allow you to get valuable content on your site, which can help with other marketing efforts, such as SEO. You can create blog content in various ways: some larger businesses have dedicated departments that produce content for their website. If you don't have a dedicated content team, you can consider sourcing guest posts from other industry experts or freelance writers.

A/B Testing At the Top of the Funnel

A/B testing at any funnel stage is an effective way to improve campaign performance, and this is still the case at the top of the funnel. Test different variations of calls to action, imagery, and copy in your ad creative. This will help you understand what your target audience is most engaged with so you can apply it to other parts of your campaign. 

Furthermore, by targeting different user demographics (various ages, genders, locations, and interests), you can test what content those people respond best to so that later in the funnel, you can serve them with messaging that has already been proven to resonate. 

How to Get Started with Top-of-Funnel Marketing

Start generating brand awareness and familiarity with a top-of-funnel campaign by getting your free marketing plan today. 

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