Sales Funnel Keywords | Search Scientists

Day 15 of 100 Days of AdWords Help: Sales Funnel Keywords

Not all PPC keywords are created equal.

Some keywords will put you on the fast track to broke.

When I train people who enter the world of PPC, one of the first concepts to master is the sales funnel, and how keywords fit into that sales funnel. To help make a complex topic accessible, I’m going to divide keywords up into 3 sections: bottom, middle, and top of sales funnel.

Bottom of the Sales Funnel Keywords: Shopping-Mode

The users at the bottom of the sales funnel are where we start most new AdWords Accounts. Let’s consider the mindset of a person very deep in the sales funnel. The users are in buy-mode. In addition, they:

  • Already know your product exists.
  • Already know the value of your product.
  • Do not need to be convinced they need the product or service.
  • Are in the process of deciding who to purchase from.

Let’s say we were selling external hard drives. At the bottom of the sales funnel, people may search:

  • product type, brand, or hardware numbers
  • external hard drives for mac
  • best external hard drives for speed
  • most reliable external hard drive for laptops

What’s great about starting with these keywords is that the user has raised their hand and is saying, “I am in the market to buy this product.” There is little debate what landing page to send the user to, or what their hesitations or motivations are. When you start an AdWords campaign, start with these obvious, overt keywords and get profitable as fast as possible.

Bottom of sales funnel keywords are great for products with established demand.

  • Bottom of sales funnel keywords PROS:
    • We as advertisers understand user intent
    • Very small percentage of unqualified clicks
    • High conversion rate to purchase
  • Bottom of sales funnel keywords CONS:
    • Less volume of searches than other areas of sales funnel
    • More competition, which usually means more expensive clicks

Middle of Sales Funnel Keywords: Learning-Mode

After we establish solid profitability at the bottom of the sales funnel, we begin to build out the PPC sales funnel. For clarity, this conversation will only touch on the AdWords Search Network (

Let’s move up a step from the bottom of the sales funnel. In the middle of the sales funnel, no longer does the user know exactly what they want. Instead, they’re learning whether or not the product or solution is suitable to their needs.

In this stage, they are simply interested in learning. In our example about external hard drives, a person at this stage may not be convinced they need one. They’re simply interested in whether or not the addition of an external hard drive would even solve their issues. They are using Google to learn, and may be searching:

  • how many photos can you fit on an external hard drive?
  • using an external hard drive to make movies in iMovie
  • difference between powered and USB external hard drives.

Do the searches above tell you that the users are going to purchase an external hard drive? Not quite. They’re simply interested in learning whether or not an external hard drive can solve their problem.

Serving these users a landing page that doesn’t address this learning phase is a recipe for low profits with your AdWords Account. Nothing is worse than asking for the sale too soon. When people go to Google to be educated, they are not ready to buy something. Set your brand apart from the crowd, and give people the right information to feel confident about making a decision and to move to the bottom of the sales funnel with you.

  • Middle of the sales funnel keywords PROS:
    • Costs lower than bottom of the sales funnel
    • Less competition
  • Middle of the sales funnel keywords CONS:
    • Advertisers need to put forth extra effort to make sure they serve the right message at the right time
    • Need to create a new landing page that addresses questions

Top of the Sales Funnel Keywords: Awareness-Mode

Brands spend millions to get attention from customers. To simply make them aware that their business exists is an achievement. After you have made the bottom of the sales funnel profitable, move to the middle of the sales funnel. If you have gone through the process of creating great landing pages for these informational, learning queries, then you are ready to use AdWords Search Ads to build awareness for your brand.

In the top of the sales funnel, users are not even aware that your product or service exists. They’re not interested in buying, but are definitely interested in hearing if a solution is right for them.

Let’s continue with our external hard drive example. In the awareness-mode of the top of the funnel, users do not know if your product exists. They may search:

  • running out of space on laptop
  • slow computer because of photos and videos solution
  • computer maintenance for laptops

We are a long way from people searching explicitly for hard drives. The users here may not know a solution exists for their problems.

During this stage, it’s extremely important to send your users to pages that are informational. Even more than at the middle of the sales funnel, you will lose a lot of money on AdWords if you send this traffic to your product page. At the bottom of the sales funnel, users were ready to purchase. However, we are a long way away from the bottom of the sales funnel.

Selling a product page to users at this stage is like selling a Ferrari to a family of 4 instead of a mini-van – it simply doesn’t work.

Closing Notes: What Keywords Should You Use and When?

If you are using AdWords for the first time, only use bottom of sales funnel keywords. You want to zero-in on the exact group that knows your service exists, wants to use it, and is ready to buy. Outside of buy-mode, we begin crossing over to ‘learn’ and ‘awareness’ keywords. It’s difficult for even experienced advertisers to ensure they serve the right message at the right time.

Once the bottom of the sales funnel is converting well, expand your website, create new pages, and capture attention at the middle of the sales funnel. Serving ads at multiple sections of the sales funnel allows you to engage with users before your competitors can.

This post is part of a series: ‘100 Days of AdWords Help

Share this post

Picture of Michael Erickson

Michael Erickson

Emailing my clients and telling them I helped increase their return on ad spend by 300% never gets old. I love rising above the technical jargon and providing your business with online marketing momentum to reach new heights. Enthusiast for all things science, surfing, and Search Scientists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *