How to use a marketing funnel to win at PPC?

I’ve recently written a blog post with a top-level view of Marketing Funnels. Today I am writing about how to use a marketing funnel with PPC keywords in mind?


This is Bob – Bob has painful feet, Bob doesn’t know why he has painful feet. They hurt every time he tries to go running, a new habit he started since lockdown. Bob is the ‘user’ in our story.

Bob is our user in the PPC marketing funnel example.


When a user goes to a search engine to search for something, some information, a product or service. That user, will be at different stages of their own personal search journey.

If you are running PPC advertising, you need to be aware of the different stages of a users journey. These different stages help you to align your PPC marketing for the greatest return. Understanding user search journeys and marketing funnels enables you to reach the user at the right time, using the right keywords, for the right price. This journey can be visualised via a marketing funnel.

What are the different stages of the marketing funnel?

TOFU – Top of Funnel

At the top of the funnel, users are problem aware, they are not sure what the solution for their problem is yet. They are not yet tied to a particular brand. At this stage, the user is looking for a solution to a problem. They might be typing in search terms like –

  • foot pain when running
  • Why do my feet hurt after a run?

They then might realise that their foot pain is caused by poor footwear and thus the solution might be new shoes. But at this early stage, they are at the top of the funnel and know they have a problem but not yet sure of the solution.

When thinking about PPC, these top of funnel searches have a much higher cost of conversion. The user might not yet be ready to buy a product as still in the research phase. Therefore, there is a longer purchase journey to get this user from top of the funnel searches to conversion.
Popular TOFU keywords include terms like –

  • Which
  • Best
  • Reviews
  • How
  • Where
  • What
  • Why

Users are currently in the research phase with a problem and looking for a solution.

  • How can I stop the pain in my feet when running?
  • Why do my feet hurt when I run?
  • Best shoes for pain in feet when running.
  • Which shoes are good for runners with painful feet?
  • Reviews of shoes that stop the pain in feet when running?

MOFU – Middle of the funnel

The middle of the funnel Is for users that are now aware of the solution and aware of a particular product that fits the solution.

In the case above, the user might now realise, through information provided via the top of the funnel searches, that the cause of their foot pain is that their running shoes are old and worn out. The users learnt they actually need a specific type of running shoe. They need new ‘neutral ones to eradicate the cause of their foot pain. Now, that user changes their search queries, searching for things like

  • Neutral running trainers
  • Trainers for Neutral Runners

Although the users might still not be brand aware at this stage and still in the consideration phase they are looking for something more specific.

When it comes to PPC, the majority of search and shopping clicks will likely come from the middle of the funnel searchers. Users that know what they are looking for and are getting ready to buy.

BOFU – Bottom of the funnel

These users have a much higher intent to buy as are much further along in their buying journey.

They’ve done their top of the funnel research. They’ve narrowed it down to a particular type of product to buy. They are close to converting, they’re now looking for an exact product. The best deal, good customer service, free delivery.

There’s a much higher ROI on BOFU users. But, there are much lower volumes of people at the bottom of the funnel and it is more competitive. There isn’t a huge opportunity to scale up your advertising.

In the running shoe examples above, these users might now be brand aware. They are searching for a make and model of shoe and are ready to buy. They might now be searching on branded search terms or even particular models.

  • Asics Neutral Running Trainers
  • Asics Gel Nimbus

When it comes to PPC conversions, it is best practise to bid on terms that are within the middle and bottom of the funnel. Leave the top of the funnel for other channels like Organic, Social, Social Ads and PR.

But, bidding on TOFU terms via PPC can be cheaper and you can reach a wider audience. Thus you can gain more traffic for less budget. You can then use this traffic within a re-marketing campaign further into a users journey when their intent is further into the funnel.

If your budget is tight, it might be wise not to bid on TOFU keywords and focus more on MOFU and BOFU. But used within a wider strategy, bidding on TOFU keywords to get users into your marketing cycle can be an effective marketing tactic.

When it comes to PPC, you don’t run ads to create brand awareness and generate traffic. You run ads to get conversions, through sales and leads as every click costs money. You need to think about how each click is working for your business.

Think of the whole user journey and how it works within the wider funnel. Think about the complete user journey to aid what terms you bid on and what they are worth. Having a clear idea of your businesses marketing funnel for a customers journey can help you run more successful PPC advertising.

Example of a user's journey marketing funnel for buying running trainers.
Bob’s marketing funnel for buying new trainers.

Would you like to discuss marketing funnels and PPC for your business and don’t know where to start? Get in touch with Amanda, a PPC consultant in Cornwall ready to help grow your business.


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Published by amandawhitedigital

Amanda White is an SEO specialist with over ten years of experience working with some of the largest eCommerce websites in the UK with both an agency and in house background.

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