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Expanding Search Campaigns Up The Purchase Funnel

SEJ Funnel

You are probably familiar with the purchase funnel that illustrates the customer journey to a conversion. You can also use this concept to identify keywords to include in your paid search campaigns.

I’m going to explain how to expand your search campaigns by moving up the purchase funnel using our company’s AdWords account as the example, but you can use this process for any type of business.

At Cardinal Path, we put on AdWords training courses. Just because a user isn’t searching specifically for “AdWords training” doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be marketing to them. I just need to market to them in a different way.

Below is an overview of what search terms say about where the user is in the purchase funnel:

Purchase Funnel

Each of these stages represents a different audience that needs to be marketed to in a specific way. Let’s start at the bottom of the funnel and work our way up.


This will be the easiest audience to convert because we offer what they want. In this case, they want to attend an AdWords training course.

Strategy: Show why CPT is better than other AdWords training courses. Ads should focus on differentiation, whether it’s in price, skill set, etc. When a user clicks on the ad it should place them near the end of the conversion path on the site. You know they want what you offer, make the conversion process as easy as possible.

AdWords Training


This audience wants to learn more about using AdWords, but is not looking specifically to attend a training session.

Strategy: Show that hands-on training is superior to other methods of learning AdWords. The ad should direct them to a page talking about what’s offered in the training course that isn’t available in remote training, such as live feedback and Q&A.

Learn AdWords


These people are familiar with AdWords and are at the beginning stages of researching the platform.

Strategy: Show users why it’s important to have proper training before starting your own AdWords account. The ads could mention things like “avoiding costly mistakes” or “learn how to set an account to achieve good Quality Score.” The landing page should show what you learn from the training and also testimonials from attendees about how account performance improved after taking the course.

Adwords Train


These people know it’s possible to advertise online, but don’t know how to do it. We’ve also moved away from people who are familiar with AdWords. Here we have to sell the importance of paid search, specifically through the AdWords platform.

Strategy: Make the case for why online advertising is essential for all businesses and why is AdWords the best place to start. Stats such as the increase in digital ad spend or Google holds 67% of the Search Market share will grab a users interest. The landing page could show real examples of how AdWords advertising has improved ROI.

Adwords Success


Start your account with keywords lower down the funnel. Build a strong, healthy account with highly relevant terms before you start to expand. This will help with Quality Score when you launch new keywords higher up in the funnel that Google may deem less relevant.

Make sure to add in negative keywords BEFORE launching campaigns. Use the keyword tool to find negatives to add into your campaigns so you aren’t wasting money on irrelevant traffic.

Make ads relevant to your product or service, even if it might lower CTR. It’s more important that your ad accurately reflects what you sell, than if it has a high CTR. For example, when targeting people looking for “online training” I still want my ad to show we are a hands-on, live training course. Having a 100% CTR is nothing but a waste of money if none of the clicks turn into conversions because people are expecting to find something different when they get to your site.

Separate campaigns by stage in the purchase funnel. It’s likely that you’re going to want to set different budgets and targeting methods for terms that won’t show an immediate return. It will also be easier to quickly see performance differences based upon level in the purchase funnel. You should have different metric goals as well, for example a lower CTR goal for higher-level campaigns.

Track micro conversions showing progression toward the end goal. Even though our main goal is a purchase, we need to track other conversions along the way to determine if we are effectively moving site visitors toward the bottom of the funnel. Actions such as signing up for an email list, downloading a PDF, or watching a video can show we are actively engaging users on our site.

As you target people in higher up the purchase funnel, know it is going to take longer for them to become converting customers and you won’t see immediate return. But these are still very valuable users that shouldn’t be ignored. You’ve just got to figure out the best strategy to market to each group to move them through the purchase funnel.

Category SEO
Bethany Bey Digital Remarketing Consultant at Cardinal Path

Bethany Bey is a Digital Marketing Consultant at Cardinal Path, where where she manages paid accounts across multiple platforms. She ...

Expanding Search Campaigns Up The Purchase Funnel

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