The Forgotten Middle: Overcoming an outdated approach to the marketing funnel

May 2, 2024 • < 1 minute read

Did you know it takes an average of eight touchpoints with a brand before a user converts? Yet the focus is often on just the first and last touchpoints: upper-funnel awareness raising and lower-funnel conversion campaigns. The remaining six touchpoints on the ladder of engagement — the “middle” of the funnel — are rarely planned strategically, and the role of long-term nurturing is often overlooked, if it’s done at all. This is a real issue, as it’s within this hidden middle that most of the legwork to prime people to convert takes place.

Marketing funnel graphic

According to Netchange research, two-thirds of organizations either don’t have a ladder of engagement or don’t measure the progress of nurturing audiences through it.

In This Article

Connecting the marketing funnel Attribution & measurement Nurturing audience journeys Breaking internal silos Getting started with full funnel marketing

Connecting the marketing funnel

In our experience, there’s often a divide in organizations, with teams struggling to work in a unified way toward a cohesive goal — on one side, a strong focus on top-of-funnel brand awareness marketing and, on the other, driving conversion. The middle of the funnel rarely comes into play, leading to teams feeling like they’re on opposing ends of the field, rarely understanding how everything is interconnected, and, sometimes, even feeling fragmented, misunderstood and their objectives deprioritized.


More often than not, this is due to an overly simplistic view of attribution, journeys and measurement that leads to siloed ways of thinking. And it’s only by understanding each of these — and learning how to begin unpacking them — that organizations can truly break free of an outdated approach to marketing.

Attribution & measurement

The Problem: There is no simple “source of truth” when it comes to attribution.  

This can be a tough pill for many organizations to swallow. With channels like Display primarily being post-view in nature, many conservative approaches to reporting, such as last-click models, do not show the full story. And while Google Analytics 4’s latest data-driven model offers a healthier view of outcomes, even this contains its own biases and does not necessarily show a 100% accurate view of results. 


Attribution is still a challenge for most, especially when it comes to measuring the long-term impact of brand. And with attribution windows in platforms typically spanning 28 days at most, ongoing measurement of long-term awareness and engagement is very difficult to quantify. 


The Solution: A triangulated view that realistically represents attribution and helps to determine the middle ground.

While tools like Google Campaign Manager can go a long way toward showing a multifaceted view of measurement, it is pricey, with costs typically in the range of $150K+. But the good news is you can make progress even without large budgets by triangulating multiple views of attribution. For example, comparing and contrasting last-click, data-driven and mixed media models against one another allows you to determine attribution patterns and realistic middle-ground. 


However, while last-click and data-driven models are easily available within GA4, manual mixed media models are tailored to your organization and, as such, take time and expertise to develop. Our typical approach is to take a percentage of post-view conversion as reported by platform on top of conservative last-click reporting. That percentage shifts throughout the year, so adjustments are required. Pressure-testing your attribution strategies is a key part of validating their success, so we would perform tests throughout that period.

Nurturing audience journeys

The Problem: The linear marketing funnel is not sufficient in today’s joined-up digital world.

People no longer take a singular journey from awareness to consideration to conversion on one platform and one device. Second device screening is commonplace, as is hopping between platforms and campaigns. With most platforms unable to cross-share data, it’s impossible to take a singular approach to audience journeys. 


The Solution: Tailored, multi-channel journeys that work together in the aggregate across channels

Understanding how to nurture specific audiences effectively across channels requires us to understand their multi-channel behavior, motivations, and barriers to action — and then shape tailored campaigns that nurture them from A to B in relevant ways. 


For example, different audiences can have different reasons for not making a purchase. One audience may not be ready as they don’t know its advantages over their existing product choice, while another may be on board but held back by its price. Campaign tactics should have streams that account for both. Highlight to the first audience what distinguishes the product over the rest of the market, and to the second, testimonials from service users outlining how the product is worth the cost and has positively impacted their lives. You can further reach these distinct audiences by retargeting them based on which pages they visited on your website.


Additionally, achieving incremental progress requires a complete shift in how we view a funnel. While people are used to viewing it as a simple linear journey with a single path, the reality is that people take multiple actions in lots of ways on mixed channels and, at times, even hopping up and down the funnel.


Breaking internal silos

The Problem: Teams must prioritize their objectives, which creates silos and prevents the organization from taking a unified approach to marketing.

Every team has objectives to meet and a budget to manage. However, these objectives typically sit at the top or bottom of the funnel — shifting brand awareness or increasing conversions. Rarely is there measurement of how campaigns are intersecting with teams working in tandem to deliver a collective output. 


Developing a successful marketing strategy can require a seismic shift, one that goes beyond individual teams and into the very heart of budgeting. It requires an understanding of interconnected journeys and collective outcomes at the most senior levels of any organization, which is far easier said than done. 


The Solution: A multifaceted framework of measurement that demonstrates the value of full funnel marketing that everyone is held accountable to.

Breaking down silos begins with defining a success measurement framework as diverse as your audiences and their journeys. Taking a multifaceted view of attribution is a good place to start, as it showcases the interconnecting role of channels, objectives and the value they’re adding to the bottom of the funnel. Decision makers can begin to understand the value in through-the-funnel investment, as well as the ineffectiveness of measuring success through singular metrics. This will enable teams to work collectively toward achieving a common goal — with year-on-year growth accompanied by data-driven multi-channel insight.

Getting started with full funnel marketing

In many ways, these principles are ever-evolving and the job is never done. But by digging into them and delivering progress, work can begin — with more tactical A/B and pressure tests able to be run in tandem. And with the implementation of multi-channel attribution framework, we can measure incrementality and highlight the impact of full funnel marketing strategies on a long-term basis — an approach which only improves as you gather data over time.

If you’re ready to move forward, we can help. We’re experts at figuring out what your audiences think and how they feel to help you better position yourselves. And we have the expertise and experience you need to create and test a mixed media model that more accurately determines attribution. 


Let’s talk.

Share this articlelisting