Now that you have implemented a few pay-per-click campaigns, you are probably starting to get a feel for what is working and what isn’t. You might even be realizing that your entire strategy is a disaster and you need to start from scratch. If your sales team or your bottom line aren’t seeing the results you were expecting, keep reading!

You should know your sales funnel (if you don’t, learn it). In the increasingly cluttered digital space, reaching your customers at every stage in the sales funnel can’t be an afterthought; it needs to be the foundation that you build your pay-per-click strategy on.

Image Courtesy of Sparkitects:

Almost to a fault, humans obsessively research everything that impacts their life. From headaches to home shopping, if we want to know more about something we open up our phones or laptops and track down information. We also are worrywarts. We rely on constant exposure and validation to push us in the direction of our wants and desires.

You might be asking yourself, “How does that translate to the sales funnel and furthermore my pay-per-click strategy?” Now you’re asking the right questions.

For the sake of this article, let’s pretend the product we are trying to sell is tickets to a children’s theatrical production we have aptly named “Search Engine Sally and the Adventure Down the Sales Funnel.”

Top Funnel Strategy

The top of the funnel audience includes potential customers just beginning their research. They are searching for solutions using vague questions in hopes of getting specific answers. As search marketers, we are the saviors that deliver these answers to them with a simple click.

All too frequently, search marketers have the tendency to miss the big picture. We are so focused on putting every dollar of our budget into showing ads to people who know exactly what they want that we miss people who are still trying to identify a solution to a problem. This causes us to miss out on these top of the funnel searches.

Using our example to inform the searches at this stage of the sales funnel, we could expect search phrases to include:

  • Family events near me
  • What can I do with my three-year-old this Saturday?
  • Attractions for children

Discovering the motivations of these people provides a gold mine of information that we can use to inform our PPC strategy.

By targeting these search phrases in our campaign, we can deliver ads to potential customers that have no idea who we are or what we do. Additionally, we can address the audience’s ambiguity with ad copy that provides hyper-relevant solutions to their problems.


Even if the searcher doesn’t commit to buying our product right then and there, we have still made our brand visible to someone who fits our customer profile.

Studies have shown that brands appearing at the top of the first page of search results have a higher chance of being identified as a market leader by users, capturing market share, and driving more revenue.

An essential note: If brand recognition is important or you face a long sales cycle, consider changing your AdWords attribution model to something other than a last-click model, which attributes the entire conversion to the click that directly led to the conversion. Using models such as time-decay or linear can give a more accurate representation of each touch point, and allow you to more efficiently allocate your marketing efforts.

Middle Funnel Strategy

When a buyer is in the middle stage of the funnel, the strategy pivots. We can assume they know what they want, but they don’t know where they are going to get it. This part of the funnel is characterized as the interest and consideration stage. We know what the user is looking for, and now it is our job to frame our product as THE way to satisfy their wants or make them consider us as a possible solution.

This stage of the funnel requires us to stand out from our competitors. Because our audience knows what they want, we need to demonstrate how we are different from every other company that offers something similar. This is the ideal stage to highlight your product’s unique selling proposition.

In our example, we would expect that the searcher knows that they want to take their child to a children’s show or is interested in the Search Engine Sally brand, but they haven’t decided which show they want to see or what type of Sally offering is right for their family. There is a significant amount of brand comparison research happening at this stage as other theatrical productions are also being considered by this audience.  

To successfully reach this audience, we want to focus on search phrases that are more zeroed in on our actual product. Some examples would be:

  • Children’s show near me
  • Kids’ theater
  • Search Engine Sally birthday party
  • Search Engine Sally gifts

Our product may not exactly match all of these searches, but they are highly relevant to our brand and offerings.

Once again, we want to ensure our ad copy is specific to the intent of the person in this stage of the buy cycle while showcasing the uniqueness of our live show:

Finish your journey down the sales funnel with Follow the Funnel: A Guide to Successful Campaign Structures PART II. Read it now!

About the Author

Reed Langton-Yanowitz

Partner/VP of Paid Digital

Reed Langton-Yanowitz is the head of the paid search department at Rocket55, where he previously held the position of SEO account manager. He has over five years of experience in marketing and has worked with accounts of all sizes in a variety of industries including construction, manufacturing, B2B, B2C, and higher education. Originally from Rochester, Minnesota, Reed moved to Minneapolis after graduating from Carleton College where he studied economics and Spanish. As a technophile with a penchant for behavioral psychology, digital marketing has provided the perfect combination of Reed’s lifelong interests. When he is not working to improve the visibility and profitability of institutions online, Reed enjoys watching soccer and spending time with his family down in Rochester.