Paid Media
6 min

Foolproof Full-Funnel Marketing: YouTube Best Practices

Christine Schrader Christine Schrader VP of Content & Communications

Performance marketers are facing a lot of challenges from changes to data privacy, and the need to find new ways to sustain growth is front of mind for many brands. The answer? Go up the funnel.

YouTube is a great way to start moving in the right direction so you don’t get stuck in a performance plateau because you’re over-indexed in direct response. 

The OG video marketing platform offers an easy way to develop a full-funnel strategy for your brand that ensures you will create enough demand to grow your market share and make your bottom-funnel campaigns even more effective. 

If you find the right balance between your brand and performance marketing investment, your business will build an engine that drives significant incremental growth that is sustainable over the long term.

What is the value of a full-funnel marketing strategy?

It’s no secret that strong brands deliver better returns over time. Brand equity matters even more through periods of economic disruption that affect consumer spending behavior like inflation. If you have a great upper-funnel strategy that integrates with your performance campaigns, you’ll be better positioned to succeed through the storm and keep growing, even through massive events like a pandemic or recession.

Let’s talk about why this balance is important. Conversion-driving tactics like branded search campaigns, shopping campaigns, or ads featuring promotional offers on social will absolutely drive a spike in revenue in the short term. But as soon as the campaign or promotion ends, sales will drop back down to the base level. 

In many ways, businesses that are only investing in the lower funnel are signing up for a cycle of feast-or-famine that is not built to drive growth over time.

full-funnel marketing strategy returns over time

A full-funnel marketing strategy solves for this problem and drives long-term, sustainable sales growth—and YouTube might be the best-positioned platform to start if your brand has traditionally focused only on conversion.

What YouTube best practices drive full-funnel marketing success?

Organizations often silo their brand and performance marketing teams, budgets, and strategies. But YouTube is uniquely positioned because it offers effective paid media and advertising options built for every stage of the funnel

That gives performance marketers the chance to start investing in direct response YouTube campaigns to get performance numbers on the board, then testing into more sophisticated upper funnel campaigns.

“The smartest advertisers are not thinking ‘I start at the top and then move my way down the funnel.’ They’re actually flipping the funnel and starting at the bottom of it by using YouTube as a performance channel first, and then moving up slowly.”

Aprajita Jain | Chief Brand Evangelist, Google

The YouTube formula for expanding into the upper funnel actually starts at the bottom:

  1. Drive more conversions 
  2. Drive more consideration 
  3. Drive more awareness

Step 1: Drive more conversions with YouTube

The key to YouTube success in the lower funnel is consumer behavior. Consumers often use search and video seamlessly, and YouTube often plays a key role in the purchase decision. In fact, according to Google’s research, 80% of people use both Google search and YouTube in the research phase.

You can use insights from Google search data to understand a consumer’s intent, then capture that demand by leveraging lower funnel campaigns on YouTube. If you take your 50-100 top-performing keywords on search and plug them into YouTube campaigns, you can serve a video ad when somebody who has searched for one of those keywords shows up on YouTube.

Two iphones showing how to reach people on youtube after they show intent on google

Once you’re seeing bottom-funnel results from your YouTube investment, you’re in a good position to make the case to diversify into mid-funnel consideration campaigns that keep your brand top of mind with your most valuable customers.

Step 2: Drive more consideration with YouTube

According to McKinsey & Co, “brands in a consumer’s initial consideration set are 3x more likely to be purchased eventually than brands that are not.” And that consideration set is shrinking; McKinsey puts the average at 2.5 brands. 

“We all want our brands to come to mind easily, and to be associated with purchase occasions. But building those occasions in today’s world with all of us trying to fight for consumer attention is increasingly challenging. The considerations set is actually getting smaller. We don’t want more options. We want fewer better options.”

Natalie McCaffrey | Head of Consumer Strategy, Wpromote

But the reality is that there are more options out there for consumers than ever across nearly every category of product or service, especially online. Traditional methods of staying top of mind like TV advertising during the holiday season aren’t sufficient anymore. You need to stand out from the crowd and earn a spot in that consideration set.

Don’t depend on frequency, because you can’t show the same person the same ad over and over on YouTube and expect it to be effective. Get creative with your storytelling and test different sequences and combinations of videos.

You’re really starting a longer conversation with the consumer, which can also help improve customer lifetime value. But first it’s time to move to the top of the funnel: awareness.

Step 3: Drive more awareness with YouTube

Driving conversion and getting into the consideration set are important, but actually creating net new demand is also essential to sustain performance over time.

According to a report by Nielsen and Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) at 47%, creative is one of the highest drivers of ad effectiveness. On digital channels, it has an even stronger impact and can be up to 80% of the make or break of your brand campaign.

Creative should be a strong throughline across the funnel that ties everything together. At the top of the funnel, you might have a broad campaign focused on introducing the brand to a new audience: that campaign could be designed to make them laugh, grab attention, get an emotional reaction, or show value alignment. But it gets your brand name into the minds of new potential customers. 

What you serve next should not feel completely different from a creative point of view, but it might provide much more information on the actual brand, products, or services and what they do. You’re connecting the dots and easing your way into that consideration set with a variety of ads and different sequencing.

As you go down the funnel your campaigns can get increasingly targeted or personalized, serving more specific messaging and creative to people based on what they’re engaging with or what they’re interested in. 

Ready to make your marketing more efficient, effective, and measurable? Then check out our guide, Performance Branding: The Evolution Of Brand Marketing.

Digital Marketing Performance Marketing Strategy YouTube


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