A full-funnel content strategy engages customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey with blog posts, social media, product comparisons, and webinars to drive more leads and conversions.

Here, you’ll find: 

  1. What is a full-funnel content strategy?
  2. How to build a full-funnel content strategy in 5 steps
  3. The stages of a full-funnel content strategy
  4. Why you need a full-funnel marketing strategy

Just like personalized gifts, a full-funnel content strategy gives your target market the topics, formats, and value they need at every stage of the buyer’s journey

We chatted with Samantha Ridgway, SEO account manager at HawkSEM, about how to build a supercharged full-funnel content strategy. 

We’ll break down the elements we used to boost our clients’ content, like when we revamped our medical client Happy Ears Hearing Center’s landing page for a better user experience. The results: a 44% increase in local conversions and a 396% boost in organic traffic. 

 What is a full-funnel content strategy?

A full-funnel content strategy involves creating content for every stage of the customer funnel (also known as the buyer’s journey), which includes the top of the funnel (ToFu), middle of the funnel (MoFu), and bottom of the funnel (BoFu). 

It acknowledges that within your target audience are smaller audiences of potential customers. Each of these audience segments requires nurturing to advance them through the sales funnel. You do this by creating specific types of content spread across your broader digital marketing strategy

 How to build a full-funnel content strategy in 5 steps

Let’s break down the 5-step full-funnel approach we use to supercharge conversions for our clients:

  1. Understand your audience
  2. Consider your unique business landscape in the funnel
  3. Choose the right marketing channels
  4. Create content for every stage of the funnel
  5. Measure performance with the right metrics

 1. Understand your audience

Ready to create content? Not so fast. Before you think about posting that Instagram Reel, first understand your audience and where they are in the buyer’s journey.

Keyword research is your first step to gauging that intel. This helps you see the search terms typed into Google, and which ones demonstrate different audience intent (the motivation behind every search query, such as knowledge-seeking, brand-specific information, or the urge to buy a product). 

The right tools and tactics will take you even further. Ridgway shares her go-to tools and tactics below.

Google Analytics 

Wondering who’s visiting your website? Ridgway says Google Analytics (GA) tells you that and then some:

“[You can] gather insights into user behavior on your website such as traffic sources, user demographics, and popular pages,” she shares.

HawkSEM has another tech tool up its sleeve that acts as the perfect complement to GA’s insights. 


ConversionIQ is HawkSEM’s unique performance analysis system that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to collect, interpret, and display data into actionable insights.

The key benefit?

“Using data visualization tools such as HawkSEM’s ConversionIQ dashboard aids in streamlining data analysis,” explains Ridgway. 

“Its analytics tracking can analyze conversion goals and the flow of users through different stages of the conversion funnel, and will help map users back to bottom-funnel intent.”

Curious to see that flow for yourself in real-time? There’s a tool for that, too. 

Heat maps and visitor session recordings

Heat maps show you play-by-plays of your audience interacting with your website. They share cursor movements, clicks, and how long it takes for a web visitor to navigate to a new page or bounce off your website. 

Ridgway says you can learn a lot about your audience and their marketing funnel stage with session recordings to watch your audience’s journey:

“Heat maps and user session recording tools such as Microsoft Clarity or Hotjar allow SEOs to analyze how users interact with a website and provide insights into user engagement and where users are in the content marketing funnel, depending on what parts of a page they are most often interacting with,” says Ridgway. 

Here’s an example: Say you notice your audience signs up for your newsletter more often on a blog page than through your contact form. This indicates that they’re curious about you, but not quite ready to buy. 

Sounds like a top-funnel audience, in which case you could target them with blog posts, social media content, and engaging video content (more on that later). 

 2. Consider your unique business landscape in the funnel

At HawkSEM, we deliver an average of 4.5X ROI for our clients. This includes brands big and small, across various industries and business models like B2B/B2C, ecommerce, SaaS, finance, education, and much more. 

Ridgway says one ingredient in that recipe for success is our keen attention to brand factors that affect the customer journey, such as:

“A brand’s business size, industry, and niche,” explains Ridgway. “Another piece to consider is the size of investment users are making in a product.”

For example, the mom shopping for a new pair of jeans usually has a more straightforward customer journey than the fintech exec looking for a project management SaaS. 

Ridgway shares considerations for your brand’s customer journey:

Business size: small business vs. enterprise

Where does business size come into play? Can small and large businesses market in the same fashion? Not exactly, says Ridgway.

Small business marketing (SBM) should focus on building awareness through local SEO, like Google Business Profile map listings, word-of-mouth, and social media

Larger corporations have heftier budgets to invest in industry events and third-party ad placements that build tons of awareness.

However, Ridgway says there’s more involved at this scale:

“Decision-making processes are also more intricate, involving multiple stakeholders, and thorough evaluation of features of services,” explains Ridgway. 

Local businesses will likely have more success with grassroots efforts that make an impact using accessible resources, while large businesses can build mega brand awareness from web content and branded events.

Business industry example: SaaS vs. ecommerce

Ridgway says SaaS audiences take a lot more time in the consideration stage before making a purchase. To put things into perspective, an ecommerce business could convert an audience within weeks or even days, while SaaS brands might need a few more months.

Why? SaaS investments are longer-term commitments. Ridgway explains:

“The consideration stage for SaaS is often long due to the complexity of the product and the fact that users need more nurturing to understand features, compare options, and evaluate if the product is compatible [with] their business,” she says. 

Here are a few content ideas for SaaS brands to build trust with their audience so they can feel comfortable subscribing : 

  • Webinars
  • IT team meetings
  • In-depth evaluations
  • Free trials
  • Case studies
  • Competitor reviews and comparisons

On the other hand, Ridgway says ecommerce audiences don’t need as much time to make a purchase decision about a product:

Prospective customers can quickly assess product features, prices, and reviews, making the consideration phase much shorter,” says Ridgway. “Converting is much simpler as well for ecommerce, as customers make individual purchases based on immediate needs.”

Ecommerce brands can focus on product visibility via: 

  • High-quality product pages
  • User-generated content
  • Social media content and engagement

Your niche and business model also influence where to find your audience. 

 3. Choose the right marketing channels for your business

You can have the best brand messaging strategy on the planet, but it won’t manifest into conversions if your audience doesn’t see it. That’s why your full-funnel strategy needs to clearly outline the marketing channels you’ll use for every stage of the customer journey.

For example, LinkedIn is an ideal top-funnel channel for SaaS brands. Why? B2B tech audiences love reading LinkedIn listicles and success stories. 

Similarly, Google Shopping Ads are a great bottom-funnel channel for ecommerce brands to push that sale. 

Not sure which channels your audience loves most? Do a little digging:

  • Monitor the competition: Where do the most successful competitors post their content? 
  • Send out a survey: You might add a quick 1-2 minute survey to the purchase page or follow-up email to your customers to learn about their social media preferences.

Once you figure out where your audience is? 

 4. Create content for every stage of the funnel

We explored an initial example of mortgage content for all stages of the marketing funnel. How can you adapt this blueprint to your business?

Now that you know how your audience’s needs evolve through the funnel, you can simply fill your content calendar with ideas for each phase. 

Of course, the actual content will look unique to each brand to account for their market and audience. However, the types of content can easily be adapted to every industry.

Here’s a full-funnel content strategy checklist to get your creative juices flowing: 

ToFu content ideas checklist

  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts and updates
  • Infographics
  • Photographs
  • Audio and video podcasts
  • Email marketing newsletter
  • Ebooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Webpages

MoFu content ideas checklist

  • Educational resources
  • Quizzes
  • Pillar pages
  • Surveys
  • Discounts and special offers
  • Downloads
  • Webinars
  • Events

BoFu content ideas checklist

  • Customer testimonials
  • Case studies
  • Product specs
  • Comparisons with competitors
  • Demos and consultations

 5. Measure performance with the right metrics

You just invested sizable funds into a social media ads campaign to market your new product. How do you know if your money’s well spent? And how do you determine when to shift your strategy?

Ridgway shares important key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to assess performance at each funnel stage 

Top-funnel performance metrics

Top-funnel content aims to build awareness. So, how can you tell whether your audience knows you exist? These metrics will fill you in:

  • Organic traffic (people navigating to your website from Google)
  • Impressions (people who view, like, comment, and share your content)
  • Business interactions (the number of interactions with your Google Business Profile listing if you’re a local business or have brick-and-mortar locations)

Mid-funnel performance metrics

The key to successful MoFu content is engagement. In other words, you want to feel and hear the buzz.

Does your audience like your content? Do they spend time digesting it, and if they do, how long do they stay? 

Here’s Ridgway’s list of MoFu metrics to keep tabs on: 

  • Time spent on page
  • Page views
  • CTR
  • Social media impressions

Bottom-funnel performance metrics

Bottom line (pun intended): if your BoFu content isn’t converting, it isn’t working. You could see skyrocketed clicks and traffic from your ToFu and MoFu content, but they need to lead to conversions to be worthwhile investments.

Here are the most important metrics to track: 

  • Conversion rate
  • Lead or conversion generation
  • Product page views

Pro tip: Get an award-winning agency like HawkSEM to be your final layer of security on BoFu content. Think of it as insurance for all your marketing initiatives; plus, wouldn’t it feel great to achieve a 4.5X ROI (our client average)?

 The stages of a full-funnel content strategy

Here’s what the content at each funnel stage entails: 

  • Top-of-the-funnel content entertains, educates, and builds awareness
  • Middle-of-the-funnel content builds trust and encourages consideration
  • Bottom-of-the-funnel content converts and seals the deal

Ridgway says no matter your industry, all customers follow the buyer’s journey:

“Users follow the same general path from awareness of a brand to considering the brand among others, to ultimately converting or even repurchasing products or services as they evangelize a company, making it their go-to-brand and the one that they’d recommend to peers, friends, or family,” she says.

Let’s look a little closer into each stop along that path to conversion.

Top-of-the-funnel content

Top-of-funnel audiences are curious about your industry but not quite as familiar (sometimes not familiar at all) with your brand. This means you don’t want to market your products too aggressively because you still need to build credibility with these prospective new customers. 

Ridgway puts us into the top-funnel mindset:

“When someone is first aware that they may be interested in a product or service, they’re generally looking for education about what a product or company is,” explains Ridgway. 

Content for this stage of the funnel is informative yet entertaining, encompassing blog posts, video content on social media platforms, and podcasts. It builds brand awareness and plants the seed for audiences to see you as the solution to their problems.

Suppose someone is looking to buy their first home. They might type keyword phrases into Google like “What is an FHA loan?” Ridgway says this audience seeks top-funnel education, and a long-form blog post is the perfect way to greet them.

Personal finance brand NerdWallet says hello in the #1 spot on the search engine results page (SERP):

nerdwallet on the serp

In this example, NerdWallet piques their audience’s interest by providing a list of the best lenders for FHA loans and breaking down all the pertinent details involved with the loan that the searcher should know about.

But how do they keep them hooked?

Middle-of-the-funnel content

Middle-of-the-funnel audiences are familiar with your brand, but you’re still building trust with them in order for them to make a purchase. Ridgway says middle-funnel content addresses customers moving from the awareness stage to the consideration stage:

“The user may make searches such as ‘What is the best home lender for FHA loans?,’ ‘FHA loan vs USDA loan,’ or ‘how much home can I afford?’” says Ridgway. “This clearly indicates that the user has intent to make a home purchase, but [is] evaluating all their options.”

So, how do you get them to decide your brand is the answer? Ridgway says to use engaging content ideas:

  • Interactive assets (like surveys and quizzes)
  • Comparison content (like charts and infographics)
  • Useful resources (like loan calculators) 

NerdWallet delivers another informative blog post coupled with a useful loan calculator:

nerdwallet loan calculator

Handy, right?

Remember, middle-funnel content can leverage both paid and SEO strategies. Ridgway shares how:

“Target keywords that have modifiers such as ‘best’ with paid media,” recommends Ridgway. “It can be hard to rank for these terms through SEO content alone, as high-authority aggregator (data-collecting) websites often dominate the space.”

In this case, NerdWallet maintains prime SERP space in the mortgage content niche with its bulletproof SEO strategy. Still, brands like Best Money, Fund, and Rocket Mortgage come out on top with Ridgway’s strategy: 

So what should you do if SEO rankings feel too out of reach in a competitive niche? 

“Bid on these terms with the goal of showing up in Google via paid ads,” says Ridgway.

Meaning? If you can’t win out of the gates organically, paying to play can get you prime real estate with optimal visibility as you build up credibility with awareness content.

Bottom-of-the-funnel content

Bottom-of-the-funnel audiences are ready to purchase a solution for their challenges (AKA their pain points). Ridgway says these are the audiences actively looking to take action with your product or service.

What are the signs they’re ready to convert?

“They are searching with transactional intent,” explains Ridgway. “In the example of a home lender, searching for ‘Application for Insert Brand Name Home Loan’ is a clear indication that the user is looking to get a mortgage quote.”

But you want to make it easy for them to convert, which is where Ridgway says conversion rate optimization (CRO) steps up to bat:

“Elements like a clear call-to-action (CTA), simplified forms, exit-intent popups, trust badges, social proof, and more come into play,” she says.

Rocket Mortgage does so with a clear pathway right in the SERP via a link to “Apply Online Today”:

rocket mortgage on serp

And once you click the link? They continue the process, guiding the conversion-ripe lead to their final destination of the funnel:

rocket mortage screenshot

See that prominent red button to apply? How about the logo and mention of rewards points? These are all things Ridgway describes as essential for bottom-funnel content. 

All these content initiatives might ask more of your budget and schedule, but the payoff is well worth the investment. 

 Why you need a full-funnel marketing strategy

Search Engine Journal found that 87% of marketers create content for different stages of the customer journey — and they have pretty compelling reasons to do so. 

Google shares that brands with upper- and lower-funnel content through Google Ads garnered 52% more incremental sales than those who solely rely on middle-funnel content. 

This mirrors the results HawkSEM delivers our clients when we prioritize full-funnel marketing. 

Our finance client New City Financial (NCF) wasn’t sure where their audience was in the funnel. So we kept tabs on all their customer interactions across all channels and collected valuable data to understand the buyer’s journey better. 

With this knowledge, we went to work on new marketing tactics for each stage that led to a 6X conversion rate.

Let’s look at one last example to make the case for full-funnel marketing. 

How does a tripled lead volume sound? That’s what we achieved for Nava Health when we dove deeper into lead form submissions and offline conversions (appointment visits) to understand their customer funnel. 

Want to level up your brand in the same way? A full-funnel strategy is your ticket.

The takeaway

Just like you can’t drive a car without fuel or power, you can’t drive conversions without a full-funnel content marketing strategy. Simply put, it’s the best way to give your audience multiple touchpoints to interact with your brand wherever they are in their customer journey

But audience research and analysis, endless pieces of content creation, and constant performance tracking can eat up weeks of your time. Plus, if your content doesn’t bring you the conversions you’re after, you could waste precious marketing funds. Cue the groans of frustration. 

A better solution? Leave your full-funnel content strategy to the pros. Our dedicated SEO and PPC strategists work tirelessly to ensure your content meets new customers and existing customers at every funnel stage. 

We’ll speed up the audience research process, and leverage decades of expertise and advanced marketing tech, all while delivering engaging, unique content your audiences will devour. 

Ready to convert potential customers into paying customers? Let’s talk.

Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation