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Why Invest in Top of the Funnel Paid Media?

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Top of the funnel: image of two people, a man in a gray T-shirt and a blonde woman in a black blouse looking at a laptop screen.

Time passes, but you continue to invest in paid media with exclusive mid- and bottom-of-funnel strategies. 

Investing in these stages of the funnel brings a certain security, you feel you have more control over the data and autonomy to correct investment routes, but isn't it time to give more value to the top of the funnel?

In this article, Pareto debunks the main preconceptions about top-of-funnel media investment. At the same time, it shows its importance, how to plan an efficient campaign and how to measure its results so that you can create your top-of-funnel campaign today.

What is Top of Funnel (ToFu)?

Top of the funnel is the awareness stage, the public's first contact with your brand and the awakening to a problem or desire that they don't always know they have.

The communication of the campaign and the way it is distributed has more weight in defining the stage of the funnel than the channel itself.

If you advertise a new flavor of pie with a discount coupon on a billboard inside the market, for example, your goal will obviously be to reach the bottom of the funnel, by establishing close contact with the acquisition.

If you advertise a new flavor of pie next to the gondola in the market with a tasting action, the objective will be the consideration of purchase, promoting an experience, so we're talking about the middle of the funnel.

Now, if you advertise the best pie in the region on billboards in the streets, the objective is to raise awareness and therefore the stage is top of the funnel.

It's very important that at this stage you do your utmost to educate and generate desire in your audience, not least because they need a reason to buy from you.

The clearer the need or problem and how the brand can easily solve it, the more likely the audience impacted at the top of the funnel is to move on to the next stages of the marketing funnel. 

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Is it Always Necessary to Advertise to the Top of the Funnel?

Ideally, yes, but it all depends on the brand's focus on a particular type of client, take the example of a language exchange agency.

  1. Type A: there are those people who already know and are looking to develop their language, in which case the agency can advertise content that shows destinations, tips and testimonials from people who have ventured into cultural immersion;
  2. Type B: there are those people who haven't yet woken up to the importance of a second language, in which case ads can awaken this need in them with real cases of post-exchange career advancement;
  3. Type C: There are people who are already interested in doing an exchange to improve their language, but don't know your agency. The ad can be for more popular destinations or even promotions, taking you a step further down the funnel.
  4. Type D: There are also those people who already know your agency, in which case it's not a top-of-the-funnel ad that will convert them, but a bottom-of-the-funnel ad with a promotion or an online event, for example.

One way to better understand how to work with each type of customer - there can be many - is by studying the brand's persona very well, so you can use tools such as the empathy map and build a personalized strategy. 

The Importance of the Top of the Funnel in Paid Media

Above, we saw that Types A, B and C make up that portion of the population that would hardly have done business with the agency if it hadn't been for the influence of top-of-the-funnel ads.

It turns out that the number of Type D people is limited. Most will be impacted after investing a certain amount in ads. That's why, in order to scale the business, you need to move up the ladder and start generating reputational capital, demand and desire.

Besides, how many brands offer similar products or services to yours? You might hope that word-of-mouth marketing will work, but in practice it doesn't.

The number of brands recommended by people through word of mouth is lower than the number of brands they buy, which in turn is lower than the number of brands they know.

"Perfect! I've understood that it's necessary to invest in the top of the funnel. But how can I plan and measure a Top of Funnel campaign?" 

How to Define the Best Paid Media Strategy for ToFu?

Every advertiser knows that it takes a series of experiments to find the ideal communication mix for a brand, all depending on its audience, trends, times of year, etc. 

Depending on the media, you can be guided by the audience, calculate Gross Rating Points (GRP), Cost per mille (CPM), reach and the like, but a special tip is to always focus on integrated communication and maintain good planning.

Here's how to do it in practice!

1. understand your audience

If you're the kind of manager who thinks that anyone with money is your target audience or that your audience is the same as it was 20 years ago and the strategies you used will always work, you're already falling behind.

As society has evolved, new ways of acquiring information and new challenges have emerged, and people have changed their consumption habits. Not to mention the fact that new competitors are emerging all the time.

More than defining your ideal consumer and buyer persona, it's important to carry out research and use methodologies, such as the empathy map, to literally put on your audience's skin.

Find out what they consume, what they work with, who their influencerswhat platforms they use, what time of day they are online, etc. These small details can make all the difference to your strategy.

2. Define the brand's objectives

Just as important as understanding your target audience is defining the brand's objectives, at this stage it's important to be more analytical, but also to think outside the box.

Many managers realize that they need to sell more and therefore invest more in middle and bottom of the funnel strategies, but there are other variables to consider.

Understand that if you want to increase your turnover, you also need to show that you are needed by people who don't know they need your brand and don't even know it exists. You do this at the top of the funnel.

Some valid objectives for the top of the funnel involve increasing recognition on "x" channels, brand recall, increasing reach, engagement, interaction, website hits, among others.

3. Define the campaign's investment

This question is worth gold. A lot of things have to be taken into account when defining an investment, but two that deserve special mention are: the market in which the company operates and its momentum.

  • Market

If the market is already very well educated, such as a smartphone market, for example, investment can be more targeted to capture demand with middle and back-end campaigns. 

However, if you are operating in a market with less recognition of the problem or, for example, in the case of retail fashion companies, which need to generate the desire to buy, then you need to invest more in the top of the funnel. 

  • The company's moment

If you're looking for market expansion and brand recognition, you'll need to invest more in the top of the funnel. 

Top of funnel can be considered a risky investment stage, making an analogy with the financial market, since the Return On Investment (ROI) is medium and long term, in some cases becoming uncertain compared to a bottom of funnel campaign. 

However, despite the risk, this investment has a direct impact on the education of your market, the strength of your brand and the other stages of the marketing funnel. 

As well as planning how much you're going to invest, you need to make sure that part of the budget goes towards producing quality creative, as this has a strong influence on the results of top-of-funnel campaigns. 

There are companies that stipulate, for example, 15% of the total campaign budget for the production of the creative and 85% for its placement, but this figure varies greatly from company to company.

It depends a lot on your executive decisions and there are many ways to invest in the top of the funnel, some cheaper than others, so identify the one that best fits your brand's needs. 

4. Choose the channels to work with

Each channel has its own importance and this choice depends on the objective you have set for the top of the funnel and the characteristics you have discovered about your audience.

For example, if your aim is to generate desire, need and recognition, you could explore platforms such as Squid, which works with digital influencers.

Now, if your goal is to be more geolocalized and you operate in Rio de Janeiro, you can try advertising on Mobees, which shows your brand on car roof displays throughout the city.

5. Produce specific creative for the top of the funnel

Art, videos, photography, everything has an enormous weight in society. It's nothing new that people judge other people by their appearances, imagine with brands?

You have to be very well established in the market to sell your image with half-baked art, but when you get to that level of strength, you'll demand only the best, so start doing it now.

In addition, the top-of-the-funnel creatives can't be the same as middle-of-the-funnel and bottom-of-the-funnel creativesThe objectives are different and therefore so is the artwork.

Top-of-the-funnel content needs to be easy to understand, associative and intuitive so that users remember the brand. Well-done artwork has the power to generate this impact.

Research by Ipsos found that 75% of campaign success is driven by creativesThis is because advertising only works when it grabs the public's attention.

It's worth emphasizing that when we talk about the top of the funnel, we mean raising awareness, educating, appearing, being remembered, showing strength, quality and authority.

For a school, for example, it's more interesting to focus on creatives that present testimonials, methodologies and awards at this stage of the funnel, rather than sales information such as "Open Enrollment". 

Invest in a marketing agency or a designer with experience and good taste, think of it as friendly advice or leave room for the competition to overtake you.

6. Practical example

Here's a practical example of how to create strategies for paid media campaigns at the top of the funnel stage.

  • Basic data

My audience is from Rio de Janeiro and they don't know they need or haven't aroused a desire for my product yet. They usually consume Tik Tok and follow Fulana Ciclana on Instagram.

  • Possible strategies
  1. Generate desire, need and recognition: get in touch with Fulana Ciclana through Squid (Influencer platform) and promote with Tik Tok influencers;
  2. Generate brand awareness and maintain contact: advertise on Tik Tok, on Facebook Ads and advertising on cars in Rio de Janeiro with Mobees;
  3. Intercept searches about the brand and target Top > Middle > Bottom of funnel: advertise in Google Ads in Search campaigns;
  4. If your audience is adult and can driveTry Waze Ads campaigns;
  5. If your audience is young and consumes online content: invest more in YouTube Ads or Instagram Ads campaigns.

Do you realize that there are several possibilities, but that you can tie them all together to maximize results? Do you know what the advantage of doing this is? You begin to understand more and more about what best impacts your target audience.

Over time, you'll have a record of the best strategies and you'll be able to take more risks with guerrilla marketing, street actions, urban intervention and even ads in traditional media with more confidence, discovering your client's favorite program and channel.

How to Measure Top Funnel Results?

There are several ways to measure top-of-funnel results, and within the tools themselves you can extract all the data you need to analyze the evolution or decline of the idea and the results of the strategy adopted.

Here are some tips on how to measure the results of top-of-funnel campaigns!

Measuring with basic top-of-funnel metrics

There is a myth that impressions, reach, frequency, followers and even clicks are not satisfactory results, especially for paid media professionals with a focus on performance.

However, these metrics are important because they have a direct impact on a brand's reputational capital and can influence purchasing decisions.

Let's take chocolate milk as an example. When you look for the product on the market, it's natural to opt for the one you know best or think you know best.

Out of three unknown brands, you'll probably choose the one that made an impact on you on some channel, even if you don't remember it, or the one that has the best creative, packaging and layout on the shelf.

Although investing in the top of the funnel doesn't bring short-term results, if the target audience is well-chosen and is the company's potential consumer, this result guarantees a growth in brand awareness, impacting on the conversion rate of all other campaigns. 

Remember that you don't choose a groom at the altar, so this decision is the result of a long relationship and brand awareness.

Measuring with non-traditional channels at the top of the funnel

Now, how do you measure the results of off-platform strategies, such as influencers, TV, OOH and the like? The answer is simpler than you think: create control points.

What do you mean? You remember that the tip for working with ToFu is integrated communication, right? 

Exactly, you now need to connect these strategies to other channels for control, always prioritizing digital channels. 

Measuring impact with digital influencers

A clear example of how to measure the impact of top-of-funnel campaigns with digital influencers would be to track the growth in the number of followers over the campaign period

To do this, you can create discount coupons for influencers to share with their follower base. All right, but if I generate a coupon, wouldn't that have an impact on sales and therefore the bottom of the funnel? 

Yes, but that sale came from a top-of-funnel strategy that followed its natural flow, so be sensitive to understanding the weight of each stage of the funnel.

Measuring impact with QR Codes

Want more examples? Some brands create QR codes to measure the impact of TV campaigns, the landing page related to the QR code can follow top, middle or bottom of funnel strategies. 

Measuring impact with surveys

If you own a physical business, for example, you can use Waze Ads, monitor visits to your store and carry out CRM searches to understand how they reached you.

If you have a short message to pass on in Rio's traffic, you can use Mobees as a medium and do the same type of research, or use its dashboards to monitor impressions and use your creativity to create other forms of control. 

Remember that both Waze and Mobees are platforms integrated with Pareto.iowhere you can advertise with just a few clicks and monitor your actions.

Finally, every month there's a new platform, a different trend, a hack of the moment. This is a reflection of the technological evolution we're going through, which, by the way, is very good. 

Because of this, there are several ways to invest in the top of the funnel, from the most traditional, such as radio and TV, to the most up-to-date, such as Tik Tok. 

To find out how Pareto can boost your top-of-funnel paid media campaigns and help you be remembered by your target audience, see 7 Ways to Invest in Top of Funnel Marketing with Pareto!

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