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How to Build a Full-Funnel Marketing Strategy (w/ Example)



How to Build a Full-Funnel Marketing Strategy (w/ Example)

Strategies involving full-funnel marketing and omnichannel marketing can be confusing. Many articles on the topic discuss complex KPIs and goal tracking. This guide keeps it simple.

Rather than giving you unnecessary details, this article aims to teach you how to build a simple and effective full-funnel marketing strategy so you can target potential buyers at all stages of your customer journey. 

I’ll also give you real-world examples to help you understand and follow along.

What is full-funnel marketing?

Full-funnel marketing means creating specialized content for each part of the marketing funnel: top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel.

Content for each part of the funnel has a different goal and a different audience, as shown in the graphic below: 

The marketing funnel that's made up of three parts

Let’s break these down further, with examples:

Top of the funnel (TOFU)

Top-of-the-funnel marketing is aimed at customers who may not even be aware of your brand/product or a problem you can help them fix. 

The largest audience usually falls under TOFU because people in this stage don’t have specialized knowledge like those farther down the funnel—which is why it’s also the biggest part of the funnel.

For example, we wrote a guide to answer the question, “What is SEO?” 

Someone searching for that question on Google probably doesn’t know what it is or that Ahrefs even exists—let alone understand why our software is important. This is TOFU content.

Middle of the funnel (MOFU)

Middle-of-the-funnel marketing is aimed at people who know they have a problem but don’t yet know what the solution is. The funnel is beginning to get smaller at this stage.

Our guide to keyword research is a good example of MOFU marketing. 

Someone searching “keyword research” probably understands basic SEO but may or may not be aware that Ahrefs exists to help them with it. They are closer to becoming a customer than someone searching for beginner information but may not be ready to pull the trigger yet.

Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)

Bottom-of-the-funnel marketing is aimed at people who know what their problem is and are considering your products or services to solve it. This is typically the smallest, most targeted portion of the funnel.

A great example of BOFU content is our comparison of Ahrefs vs. SEMrush.

Someone searching “ahrefs vs semrush” is likely ready to buy but isn’t sure which product to go with. Our comparison page helps guide them to making the final purchase decision.

There’s also full-funnel content…

It’s possible to take someone through the entire funnel in a single piece of content. 

For example, our “What Is SEO?” guide takes someone from not knowing what SEO is, to understanding why it can solve their problem, to knowing how Ahrefs can help. 

Be on the lookout for opportunities like this so you can maximize sales with less effort.

Why is full-funnel marketing important?

It’s important to create content or media for all stages of the funnel. If you don’t, you will miss out on a lot of potential customers.

Most companies focus solely on BOFU marketing, which will usually have the highest conversion rates. However, it is also typically the most expensive and competitive stage of the funnel. 

Including TOFU and MOFU marketing efforts broadens your pool of potential customers and plants seeds for future growth.

In fact, a Nielsen meta-analysis of CPG campaigns found that full-funnel marketing strategies receive up to 45% higher ROI and 7% increases in offline sales compared to single-funnel campaigns.

How to create a full-funnel marketing strategy that converts

You can create an effective full-funnel marketing strategy in five steps:

  1. Mapping your customer’s journey
  2. Choosing your marketing channel
  3. Setting your KPIs
  4. Creating content
  5. Tracking performance and tweaking based on data

Step 1. Map your customer’s journey

Before anything, you should spend some time understanding how your customers go from no awareness of your brand to making a purchase—i.e., the buyer’s journey.

The buyer’s journey is broken down into three stages:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision

Here’s an example buyer’s journey for a new Ahrefs customer: 

Potential buyer's journey of Billy Blogger

Our customer may begin by looking for ways to get more traffic—without any knowledge of SEO or Ahrefs. From there, he may decide to pursue SEO, realize he needs tools, and begin researching what is available. Finally, he may decide to purchase an Ahrefs subscription.

To uncover a customer’s journey applicable to your business, put yourself in the customers’ shoes. 

Who are your customers? What problems do they have that you can solve? How do they find the solution to these problems? How can you create content to be a part of this journey?

Of course, everyone’s journey is different and all you can really do here is try to understand how potential customers are likely to make decisions, then use content/media to guide them.

Step 2. Choose your marketing channel

Trying to create a full-funnel marketing strategy for multiple channels at the same time is a surefire way to kill your plan before it even gets going.

Instead, it’s better to choose one channel at first and develop, execute, and track its performance until you create a system that works—then move on to another.

You can choose from any of the social media platforms, paid advertising, and many other marketing channels. However, at Ahrefs, we focus on organic search by performing SEO.

SEO is great for full-funnel marketing because you can target keywords across the funnel, rank them in Google search, and get consistent traffic month after month.

For example, our piece on how to get more website traffic (TOFU content) gets an estimated 1K–2K monthly search visits, according to Ahrefs:

Organic traffic for Ahrefs' article on how to get more website traffic

Our list of free SEO tools (MOFU content) gets an estimated 36K visits:

Organic traffic for Ahrefs' article on free SEO tools

And even our Ahrefs vs. SEMrush vs. Moz comparison (BOFU content) gets an estimated 1.2K visits:

Organic traffic for Ahrefs' article on comparisons between Ahrefs and its competitors

It’s also possible that by creating content for every stage of the funnel, you can actually receive compounding results because Google’s search algorithm cares about topical authority. In other words, if you cover all the topics targeting keywords across the whole funnel—not just the BOFU keywords—your overall rankings may improve.

Hopefully, it’s clear to see why we focus so much on this channel.

If SEO sounds right for your business, check out our complete SEO content strategy guide.

Step 3. Choose your KPIs

This is where other guides may get complicated. But don’t worry, I’ll keep it super simple.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are metrics that you can track to keep tabs on how well (or poorly) your marketing is performing so you can adapt your strategy accordingly. 

KPIs could be anything: website traffic, goal conversions and attributions, time on page, bounce rate, etc.

But I recommend you start with a single KPI: traffic.

Traffic to your content is one of the easiest and strongest indicators of how well your marketing efforts are performing. Typically, more traffic = more sales.

Now, you don’t just want traffic for traffic’s sake. But if you’re targeting the right keywords and creating content around your marketing funnel, traffic to those pages is a good indicator that your efforts are working. 

What qualifies as success here varies depending on your niche. Some niches are low-volume and hyper-competitive, while others have a lot of high-volume keywords. The important thing is seeing your traffic numbers increase over time. 

You can track traffic using Google Analytics and Google Search Console. If you’re using GA4, head to Engagement > Overview and scroll down to see your views.

Google Analytics 4 engagement overview chart

Another solid KPI that goes hand in hand with traffic—if you’re using SEO as a strategy—is keyword rankings. The higher you rank for a given keyword, the more traffic you’ll get.

Personally, I check Ahrefs at least once a week to see how my websites are performing. I’ve been in business for over 10 years, and the overall website traffic and keyword rankings are still my main KPIs (alongside overall profits) to determine whether my efforts are working or not.

I’ll talk about my tracking process in step #5. For now, it’s time to roll our sleeves up.

Step 4. Create content

Now that you have your strategy in place and know what your KPIs are, it’s time to begin creating your content. 

What kind of content you create depends on your niche and marketing channel. I can’t possibly cover them all in this article. So instead, I’ll assume you’re going with my advice on using SEO as your main traffic channel.

The first step in creating a full-funnel SEO strategy for your website is keyword research

This is the process of uncovering what keywords your potential customers are searching for on Google at each stage of the funnel. The simplest way to do this is by plugging a seed keyword into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and filtering the results to fit your needs. 

For example, in the awareness/TOFU stage of Billy Blogger’s buyer journey, I would start with a seed keyword like “website traffic” and look at the keyword ideas. 

Keyword ideas for "website traffic," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Right away, I see two potential articles from these ideas:

  • How to check your website’s traffic
  • How to drive traffic to your website

I can then repeat this with different seed keywords for each funnel stage to get more ideas. 

For the MOFU stage, I can search “seo” as the seed keyword. This gives me keywords like “what is seo,” “how to do seo,” “seo best practices,” and more.

For the BOFU stage, I can enter broad keywords that are specific to my product, such as “ahrefs,” “best seo tool,” etc.

For more keyword research tactics, check out these other guides and tools:

After you finish your keyword research, you can prioritize which keywords to create content for first based on a combination of search volume, keyword difficulty, and proximity to the bottom of the funnel. I like to create my BOFU content first, then MOFU, then TOFU—simply because content closer to the bottom usually converts better.

Once you have your target keywords in mind, it’s time to create search-optimized content. There’s a lot to learn here, but I’ll break it down into five basic steps (you can read the linked articles for a more in-depth look):

  1. Determine the search intent of the keyword you wish to rank for
  2. Create a content outline if writing a blog post or landing page
  3. Follow my SEO writing tips while writing the content
  4. Publish the content and perform some basic on-page SEO
  5. Learn link building to help your website and articles gain authority

That’s all there is to it. There are more nuances to SEO, of course, but the basics are simple: Create high-quality content that matches the search intent of your target keyword, then build internal and external links to that content to prove its trustworthiness.

Step 5. Track performance and make tweaks

Once you’ve published some articles and started promoting them, you need to track those KPIs over time to see how well they’re performing.

Again, Google Analytics and Google Search Console can help you track your traffic. But if you also want to track keyword rankings like I mentioned, you can do so with Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker.

Simply plug in your website and the keywords you want to track, and you’ll be shown a dashboard with your current rankings and which pages are ranking for which keywords.

Ahrefs' Rank Tracker report

This is a great way to see how well your pages are performing for your chosen keywords, but I also like to look at my websites in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer by diving into the Organic keywords and Top pages reports. 

The Organic keywords report will show you all the keywords you’re ranking for, as well as give you the option to compare current rankings to previous rankings. 

Organic keywords report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

If you notice you’re losing rankings over time, that’s a sign you may need to refresh your content to keep it relevant and keep your funnel working.

The Top pages report, on the other hand, will show you which pages are your top performers in terms of traffic and number of ranking keywords. This is great to see which parts of the funnel are performing the best, allowing you to create more of what’s working.

For example, our blog post on affiliate marketing is our top-performing article on the entire site:

Top pages report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This tells us it’s probably a good idea to create more content around affiliate marketing which, for us, is a MOFU topic. We’ve published dozens of articles about affiliate marketing since learning how well this one is performing, and they’re now bringing in thousands of new visitors every month.

Lastly, the Top pages report is the perfect way to decide which pages to invest in conversion optimization to improve the number of leads and sales you’re getting from your highest-traffic pages.

Final thoughts

Full-funnel marketing, when done right, can maximize your sales and minimize your costs. And luckily for you, it doesn’t have to be that complicated.

In short: Try to understand your customers, create content for each step in their buyer’s journey, then track how that content is performing and tweak your strategy based on the data.

Questions or comments? Ping me on Twitter.

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Google Documents Leaked & SEOs Are Making Some Wild Assumptions



Google Documents Leaked & SEOs Are Making Some Wild Assumptions

You’ve probably heard about the recent Google documents leak. It’s on every major site and all over social media.

Where did the docs come from?

My understanding is that a bot called yoshi-code-bot leaked docs related to the Content API Warehouse on Github on March 13th, 2024. It may have appeared earlier in some other repos, but this is the one that was first discovered.

They were discovered by an anonymous ex-Googler who shared the info with Erfan Azimi who shared it with Rand Fishkin who shared it with Mike King. The docs were removed on May 7th.

I appreciate all involved for sharing their findings with the community.

Google’s response

There was some debate if the documents were real or not, but they mention a lot of internal systems and link to internal documentation and it definitely appears to be real.

A Google spokesperson released the following statement to Search Engine Land:

We would caution against making inaccurate assumptions about Search based on out-of-context, outdated, or incomplete information. We’ve shared extensive information about how Search works and the types of factors that our systems weigh, while also working to protect the integrity of our results from manipulation.

SEOs interpret things based on their own experiences and bias

Many SEOs are saying that the ranking factors leaked. I haven’t seen any code or weights, just what appear to be descriptions and storage info. Unless one of the descriptions says the item is used for ranking, I think it’s dangerous for SEOs that all of these are used in ranking.

Having some features or information stored does not mean they’re used in ranking. For our search engine,, we have all kinds of things stored that might be used for crawling, indexing, ranking, personalization, testing, or feedback. We even have things stored that we aren’t doing things with yet.

What is more likely is that SEOs are making assumptions that favor their own opinions and biases.

It’s the same for me. I may not have full context or knowledge and may have inherent biases that influence my interpretation, but I try to be as fair as I can be. If I’m wrong, it means that I will learn something new and that’s a good thing! SEOs can, and do, interpret things differently.

Gael Breton said it well:

I’ve been around long enough to see many SEO myths created over the years and I can point you to who started many of them and what they misunderstood. We’ll likely see a lot of new myths from this leak that we’ll be dealing with for the next decade or longer.

Let’s look at a few things that in my opinion are being misinterpreted or where conclusions are being drawn where they shouldn’t be.


As much as I want to be able to say Google has a Site Authority score that they use for ranking that’s like DR, that part specifically is about compressed quality metrics and talks about quality.

I believe DR is more an effect that happens as you have a lot of pages with strong PageRank, not that it’s necessarily something Google uses. Lots of pages with higher PageRank that internally link to each other means you’re more likely to create stronger pages.

  • Do I believe that PageRank could be part of what Google calls quality? Yes.
  • Do I think that’s all of it? No.
  • Could Site Authority be something similar to DR? Maybe. It fits in the bigger picture.
  • Can I prove that or even that it’s used in rankings? No, not from this.

From some of the Google testimony to the US Department of Justice, we found out that quality is often measured with an Information Satisfaction (IS) score from the raters. This isn’t directly used in rankings, but is used for feedback, testing, and fine-tuning models.

We know the quality raters have the concept of E-E-A-T, but again that’s not exactly what Google uses. They use signals that align to E-E-A-T.

Some of the E-E-A-T signals that Google has mentioned are:

  • PageRank
  • Mentions on authoritative sites
  • Site queries. This could be “site: E-E-A-T” or searches like “ahrefs E-E-A-T”

So could some kind of PageRank scores extrapolated to the domain level and called Site Authority be used by Google and be part of what makes up the quality signals? I’d say it’s plausible, but this leak doesn’t prove it.

I can recall 3 patents from Google I’ve seen about quality scores. One of them aligns with the signals above for site queries.

I should point out that just because something is patented, doesn’t mean it is used. The patent around site queries was written in part by Navneet Panda. Want to guess who the Panda algorithm that related to quality was named after? I’d say there’s a good chance this is being used.

The others were around n-gram usage and seemed to be to calculate a quality score for a new website and another mentioned time on site.


I think this has been misinterpreted as well. The document has a field called hostAge and refers to a sandbox, but it specifically says it’s used “to sandbox fresh spam in serving time.”

To me, that doesn’t confirm the existence of a sandbox in the way that SEOs see it where new sites can’t rank. To me, it reads like a spam protection measure.


Are clicks used in rankings? Well, yes, and no.

We know Google uses clicks for things like personalization, timely events, testing, feedback, etc. We know they have models upon models trained on the click data including navBoost. But is that directly accessing the click data and being used in rankings? Nothing I saw confirms that.

The problem is SEOs are interpreting this as CTR is a ranking factor. Navboost is made to predict which pages and features will be clicked. It’s also used to cut down on the number of returned results which we learned from the DOJ trial.

As far as I know, there is nothing to confirm that it takes into account the click data of individual pages to re-order the results or that if you get more people to click on your individual results, that your rankings would go up.

That should be easy enough to prove if it was the case. It’s been tried many times. I tried it years ago using the Tor network. My friend Russ Jones (may he rest in peace) tried using residential proxies.

I’ve never seen a successful version of this and people have been buying and trading clicks on various sites for years. I’m not trying to discourage you or anything. Test it yourself, and if it works, publish the study.

Rand Fishkin’s tests for searching and clicking a result at conferences years ago showed that Google used click data for trending events, and they would boost whatever result was being clicked. After the experiments, the results went right back to normal. It’s not the same as using them for the normal rankings.


We know Google matches authors with entities in the knowledge graph and that they use them in Google news.

There seems to be a decent amount of author info in these documents, but nothing about them confirms that they’re used in rankings as some SEOs are speculating.

Was Google lying to us?

What I do disagree with whole-heartedly is SEOs being angry with the Google Search Advocates and calling them liars. They’re nice people who are just doing their job.

If they told us something wrong, it’s likely because they don’t know, they were misinformed, or they’ve been instructed to obfuscate something to prevent abuse. They don’t deserve the hate that the SEO community is giving them right now. We’re lucky that they share information with us at all.

If you think something they said is wrong, go and run a test to prove it. Or if there’s a test you want me to run, let me know. Just being mentioned in the docs is not proof that a thing is used in rankings.

Final Thoughts

While I may agree or I may disagree with the interpretations of other SEOs, I respect all who are willing to share their analysis. It’s not easy to put yourself or your thoughts out there for public scrutiny.

I also want to reiterate that unless these fields specifically say they are used in rankings, that the information could just as easily be used for something else. We definitely don’t need any posts about Google’s 14,000 ranking factors.

If you want my thoughts on a particular thing, message me on X or LinkedIn.

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Do Higher Content Scores Mean Higher Google Rankings? Our Data Says It’s Unlikely.



Do Higher Content Scores Mean Higher Google Rankings? Our Data Says It's Unlikely.

I studied the correlation between rankings and content scores from four popular content optimization tools: Clearscope, Surfer, MarketMuse, and Frase. The result? Weak correlations all around.

This suggests (correlation does not necessarily imply causation!) that obsessing over your content score is unlikely to lead to significantly higher Google rankings.

Does that mean content optimization scores are pointless?

No. You just need to know how best to use them and understand their flaws.

Most tools’ content scores are based on keywords. If top-ranking pages mention keywords your page doesn’t, your score will be low. If it does, your score will be high.

While this has its obvious flaws (having more keyword mentions doesn’t always mean better topic coverage), content scores can at least give some indication of how comprehensively you’re covering the topic. This is something Google is looking for.

Google says that comprehensively covering the topic is a sign of quality contentGoogle says that comprehensively covering the topic is a sign of quality content

If your page’s score is significantly lower than the scores of competing pages, you’re probably missing important subtopics that searchers care about. Filling these “content gaps” might help improve your rankings.

However, there’s nuance to this. If competing pages score in the 80-85 range while your page scores 79, it likely isn’t worth worrying about. But if it’s 95 vs. 20 then yeah, you should probably try to cover the topic better.

Key takeaway

Don’t obsess over content scores. Use them as a barometer for topic coverage. If your score is significantly lower than competitors, you’re probably missing important subtopics and might rank higher by filling those “content gaps.”

There are at least two downsides you should be aware of when it comes to content scores.

They’re easy to cheat

Content scores tend to be largely based on how many times you use the recommended set of keywords. In some tools, you can literally copy-paste the entire list, draft nothing else, and get an almost perfect score.

Scoring 98 on MarketMuse after shoehorning all the suggested keywords without any semblance of a draftScoring 98 on MarketMuse after shoehorning all the suggested keywords without any semblance of a draft

This is something we aim to solve with our upcoming content optimization tool: Content Master.

I can’t reveal too much about this yet, but it has a big USP compared to most existing content optimization tools: its content score is based on topic coverage—not just keywords.

For example, it tells us that our SEO strategy template should better cover subtopics like keyword research, on-page SEO, and measuring and tracking SEO success.

Preview of our upcoming Content Master toolPreview of our upcoming Content Master tool

But, unlike other content optimization tools, lazily copying and pasting related keywords into the document won’t necessarily increase our content score. It’s smart enough to understand that keyword coverage and topic coverage are different things.


This tool is still in production so the final release may look a little different.

They encourage copycat content

Content scores tell you how well you’re covering the topic based on what’s already out there. If you cover all important keywords and subtopics from the top-ranking pages and create the ultimate copycat content, you’ll score full marks.

This is a problem because quality content should bring something new to the table, not just rehash existing information. Google literally says this in their helpful content guidelines.

Google says quality content goes beyond obvious information. It needs to bring something new to the tableGoogle says quality content goes beyond obvious information. It needs to bring something new to the table

In fact, Google even filed a patent some years back to identify ‘information gain’: a measurement of the new information provided by a given article, over and above the information present in other articles on the same topic.

You can’t rely on content optimization tools or scores to create something unique. Making something that stands out from the rest of the search results will require experience, experimentation, or effort—something only humans can have/do.

Enrich common knowledge with new information and experiences in your contentEnrich common knowledge with new information and experiences in your content

Big thanks to my colleagues Si Quan and Calvinn who did the heavy lifting for this study. Nerd notes below. 😉

  • For the study, we selected 20 random keywords and pulled the top 20 ranking pages.
  • We pulled the SERPs before the March 2024 update was rolled out.
  • Some of the tools had issues pulling the top 20 pages, which we suspect was due to SERP features.
  • Clearscope didn’t give numerical scores; they opted for grades. We used ChatGPT to convert those grades into numbers.
  • Despite their increasing prominence in the SERPs, most of the tools had trouble analyzing Reddit, Quora, and YouTube. They typically gave a zero or no score for these results. If they gave no scores, we excluded them from the analysis.
  • The reason why we calculated both Spearman and Kendall correlations (and took the average) is because according to Calvinn (our Data Scientist), Spearman correlations are more sensitive and therefore more prone to being swayed by small sample size and outliers. On the other hand, the Kendall rank correlation coefficient only takes order into account. So, it is more robust for small sample sizes and less sensitive to outliers.

Final thoughts

Improving your content score is unlikely to hurt Google rankings. After all, although the correlation between scores and rankings is weak, it’s still positive. Just don’t obsess and spend hours trying to get a perfect score; scoring in the same ballpark as top-ranking pages is enough.

You also need to be aware of their downsides, most notably that they can’t help you craft unique content. That requires human creativity and effort.

Any questions or comments? Ping me on X or LinkedIn.

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Unlocking Brand Growth: Strategies for B2B and E-commerce Marketers



Unlocking Brand Growth: Strategies for B2B and E-commerce Marketers

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, scaling a brand effectively requires more than just an innovative product or service. For B2B and e-commerce marketers, understanding the intricacies of growth strategies across different stages of business development is crucial.  

A recent analysis of 71 brands offers valuable insights into the optimal strategies for startups, scaleups, mature brands, and majority offline businesses. Here’s what we learned. 

Startup Stage: Building the Foundation 

Key Strategy: Startups focus on impressions-driven channels like Paid Social to establish their audience base. This approach is essential for gaining visibility and creating a strong initial footprint in the market. 

Case Study: Pooch & Mutt exemplified this strategy by leveraging Paid Social to achieve significant year-on-year revenue gains while also improving acquisition costs. This foundational step is crucial for setting the stage for future growth and stability. 

Scaleup Stage: Accelerating Conversion 

Key Strategy: For scaleups, having already established an audience, the focus shifts to conversion activities. Increasing spend in impressions-led media helps continue generating demand while maintaining a balance with acquisition costs. 

Case Study: The Essence Vault successfully applied this approach, scaling their Meta presence while minimizing cost increases. This stage emphasizes the importance of efficient spending to maximize conversion rates and sustain growth momentum. 

Mature Stage: Expanding Horizons 

Key Strategy: Mature brands invest in higher funnel activities to avoid market saturation and explore international expansion opportunities. This strategic pivot ensures sustained growth and market diversification. 

Case Study: Represent scaled their efforts on TikTok, enhancing growth and improving Meta efficiency. By expanding their presence in the US, they exemplified how mature brands can navigate saturation and seek new markets for continued success. 

Majority Offline Brands: Embracing Digital Channels 

Key Strategy: Majority offline brands primarily invest in click-based channels like Performance Max. However, the analysis reveals significant opportunities in Paid Social, suggesting a balanced approach for optimal results. 

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