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As a marketer, you are always looking for ways to grow your business and achieve your growth marketing goals — or at least you should be. You’re likely already familiar with the content conversion funnel, but if not, there are multiple steps along the process you may be focusing on strengthening. In its most basic form the funnel has three main components.

At the top of the marketing funnel, you should prioritize attracting high-quality traffic. This is really where you build awareness. Within the middle of the funnel is where you want to build trust. Your audience will evaluate you and your product or service. The bottom of the funnel is where mutual value is created and your audience will make a purchase or follow through with another call to action. Some approaches add additional steps prioritizing retention or referral, which we agree is extremely important.

It’s important to consider whether you’d like to focus on top of the funnel organic traffic or bottom of the funnel converting traffic to drive growth. You need to decide which approach would work best based on your organization. Occasionally, this varies depending on industry. It will also vary based on your established growth marketing goals.

Should You Prioritize the Top or Bottom of the Funnel?

To help you make this decision, it's important to understand the differences between top of funnel and bottom of funnel traffic and how each can impact your growth marketing goals.

Top of funnel traffic refers to the early stage in the customer journey. This stage is where potential customers are starting to become aware of your brand and are considering engaging with you. This traffic is typically generated through awareness campaigns, such as content marketing and social media.

Bottom of funnel traffic refers to the later stage in the customer journey. Here, potential customers are actively considering making a purchase or taking some other desired action. This traffic is typically generated through conversion campaigns, such as email marketing, retargeting, and paid search ads.

For both, SEO and content can play a role in helping you show up for important terms in either top or bottom of the funnel. You just need to decide which to focus on first.

So, How Do You Decide? 

In all honesty, this decision about what to prioritize varies across industries, and your overall marking approach is a big factor as well. Here are a few factors to consider:

Your business goals and objectives:

When making any strategy decisions, you need to ask yourself what you're trying to achieve with your marketing efforts. If your goal is to drive brand awareness and reach a larger audience, focusing on TOF traffic may be the way to go. This is a common top priority for new businesses that need to get their name out there. 

Keep in mind TOF traffic is typically gained by targeting search terms that are broad with high search volumes. When you start ranking well for those terms you’ll see your site’s traffic go up, which means more potential for leads. If you don’t have strong conversion paths set up, this may not do you much good, though.

Say your goal is to drive sales or conversions, then BOF traffic may be more appropriate. If you’re in the fourth sales quarter and numbers are down, prioritizing conversions would probably be the best use of your time. Focusing on customers who already know and trust your company can be an easy way to boost sales, but it’s important to retain a personalized connection with your customer base to successfully utilize this approach. 

And opposite of TOF, BOF traffic is typically lower search volumes, but more quality searchers. You may not see that satisfying spike in traffic, but will ideally see an increase in conversions if you have strong paths and CTAs.

Your target audience: 

Second, ask yourself who you are trying to reach with your marketing efforts. Understanding your target audience’s needs, wants, and behaviors can help you determine the most effective way to engage with them. 

If your target audience is primarily made up of first-time buyers or those who are unfamiliar with your brand, focusing on TOF traffic may be the best approach. A witty social media campaign or partnering with a fun influencer can get your business in front of new eyes. 

If your target audience is made up of repeat customers or those who are already familiar with your brand, BOF traffic could be more effective. This could look like sending out a personalized email marketing campaign to previous customers. You might even send them a promo code or coupon to thank them for their previous purchases and encourage a repeat sale.

Your marketing budget: 

How much money do you have to allocate toward your marketing efforts? TOF traffic tends to be more expensive than BOF traffic, as it requires a longer-term investment in content creation and SEO strategy. 

BOF traffic, on the other hand, can be less expensive because you know your audience and how to reach them. It also allows for a more immediate approach, like email marking discussed early. An additional benefit that comes with this approach is that email is an owned media, so you’ll be using resources like time and energy rather than chipping away at your budget.

Your marketing resources:

Before making too many plans, it’s important to take inventory. Do you have the time, talent, and resources needed in order to execute a TOF or BOF marketing strategy? If you have a small team or limited resources, it may be more feasible to focus on only one side of the marketing funnel. This may mean creating quality content that doesn’t need much follow through. Or instead, you really prioritize making past customers feel special.

On the other hand, if you have a larger team and more resources at your disposal, then you’ll probably be able to focus on both TOF and BOF traffic. And to be honest, combining both strategies at the same time yields additional benefits. However, you have to determine if it’s worth the cost for your business. Not all organizations can prioritize both, and in some cases stretching yourself too thin can cause more harm than good. Marketing requires balance.

In the End, It’s Up to You

Using both approaches can be particularly effective to help grow your business. However, not all budgets or team configurations allow for that approach. Focusing on TOF traffic helps build your brand and reach a wider audience, while BOF tactics convert those potential customers into paying customers. 

These strategies can help you drive both awareness and conversions, leading to sustainable growth for your business. However, the ultimate decision of whether to focus on TOF or BOF is up to you. If you're really unsure, it may be time to consider a growth marketing agency. By considering these factors, you can determine the best approach for achieving your growth marketing goals.

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