What is bottom-of-funnel (BoFu) marketing? Bottom-of-funnel marketing is a strategy that aligns with the latest “decision” stage of the buyer’s journey. Marketing activities late in the funnel work to validate the buyer’s purchase through decision-enabling content that helps late-stage buyers confirm their choice and avoid buyer’s remorse.
Funnels have become ubiquitous in a marketer’s day-to-day life. Being that marketing is such a fast-paced ever-evolving industry, it’s mind-blowing to think that something invented by advertising advocate Elias St. Elmo Lewis back in 1898 is still deeply ingrained in our marketing culture today.
As much as we like to toy with the idea that we have evolved past marketing funnels, we haven’t. Funnels have evolved with us. Rather than following a rigid top-to-bottom progression, modern buyers may come and go from various stages of the funnel. Our job as marketers is to be ready for them, wherever they are in that journey.
We’ve already covered the earlier stages of the marketing funnel, the top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) and the middle-of-the-funnel (MoFu). I’m afraid I don’t have any more puns for you. Still, please be careful not to mix up bean curd with ToFu and mofo with MoFu. Now that we’ve got that sorted out, let’s take a long look at bottom-of-funnel (BoFu) marketing.
What is bottom-of-funnel marketing?
Bottom-of-funnel (BoFu) marketing is a strategy that aligns with the latest “decision” stage of the buyer’s journey. Marketing activities late in the funnel work to validate the buyer’s purchase through decision-enabling content that helps late-stage buyers confirm their choice and avoid buyer’s remorse.
Marketing funnels and buying stages are used interchangeably because the fundamentals are identical between the two. Funnels show a top-down journey, where buyer stages typically (but, not always) illustrate a left-to-right version of that same journey.
Waaaaaaaay back in 1898, Elias St. Elmo Lewis set out to explain how the selling process works when he came up with the AIDA model, which includes these four stages in a top-down marketing funnel format:
- Attention = Top of the funnel
- Interest = Top of the funnel / Middle of the funnel
- Desire = Middle of the funnel
- Action = Bottom of the funnel
Because these foundational marketing concepts have been around for over a century, you will see a variety of names for the buyer’s journey stages — Awareness for ToFu, Consideration for MoFu, Decision for BoFu — or about a billion other versions.
Here are some synonymous terms for this part of the marketing funnel: BoFu, bottom of the funnel, bottom of the sales funnel, bottom-of-funnel content, bottom of the customer funnel, lower-funnel marketing, decision, late in the funnel
Top of the funnel vs. bottom of the funnel
Understanding the nuances of funnel marketing aligns with that “know your audience” mantra you’ve repeated over the years. To connect with someone, you need to understand where they’re coming from.
A prospect at the bottom of the funnel either sailed past or carefully transitioned through the top of the funnel. They deliberated for a while at the middle of the funnel, considering their options and solutions. Now they are at the end of the line, ready to make a decision to buy what you’re selling… or what someone else is selling.
If you don’t meet buyers where they are, a huge disconnect will transpire. With anyone in the BoFu stage, botching communications or missing opportunities can very well mean that your entire team jeopardized the sale. While the ToFu stage is a completely different audience and situation.
Top of the funnel
The top of the funnel is the time to get the buyer’s attention by flagging them down with useful and educational content that helps them self-serve and self-educate when it comes to figuring out the problem they need to solve.
You maybe start to pique the buyer’s interest with ways your product or service could be the solution they are searching for. But this effort is super light-touch as website visitors are not necessarily considering solutions at that particular moment. ToFu is all about building awareness and trust.
Bottom of the funnel
The bottom of the funnel is a time for action and closing the deal. However, BoFu is also about making the buyer feel good about their purchase, so they don’t have regrets and leave you for one of your competitors they were considering during the mid-funnel time period.
Sales has limited time to nurture leads, so anyone they converse with should be a warm lead (MoFu), not a cold/lukewarm lead (ToFu).
For example, it isn’t appropriate for sales to reach out to someone who just subscribed to the blog to see if they want a demo or a consultation. But, someone who attended an in-depth product webinar? That someone is lurking in the middle of the funnel and their behaviors indicate they are very likely shopping for solutions. It’s a good time to offer a demo or consultation… content that validates the purchase.
Why you need bottom-of-funnel marketing
First sales said, “We need more leads” then came back to clarify, “Actually, we need better leads.” Now sales is saying, “We need to close more deals.”
Plenty of lukewarm leads are pouring into the top of the funnel and plenty of warm leads are expressing interest in the middle of the funnel. Sales needs help from marketing to tend to the hot leads who are close to making a purchase decision.
This past year has been challenging for all businesses, making late-stage content even more essential. Top sales challenges are a reflection of the economic uncertainty many sales teams are facing. These include: competitive pressure (60%), time to sale (36%), and customer experience and retention (34%).
Now that we’re late in the funnel, it’s time for some real-talk about BoFu. Bottom-of-funnel marketing often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. The majority of marketing’s attention goes to marketing activities that support the top or mid-funnel instead.
It’s not only “up to sales” to close deals, as marketing plays a key supportive role. Described another way, BoFu marketing is sales enablement.
At the narrowest part of the funnel, BoFu marketing:
- Turns SQLs (sales qualified leads) and sales opportunities into customers.
- Requires the lowest frequency of sales-enablement/decision-based content.
- Converts people who have the highest likelihood of making a purchase (hot leads).
Common bottom-of-funnel marketing tactics
Bottom-of-funnel marketing tactics should include persuasive and product-focused content that helps your audience feel confident and ready to buy.
Late in the funnel, this person has already gone through the pros and cons — the features and benefits — of various solutions and narrowed their choices down to a smaller selection. Since this is such a critical point in the buyer’s journey, decision stage content needs to fully support the purchasing process and be as friction-free as possible.
We can’t stress enough that the bottom of the funnel is where the lead becomes the customer. Any and all marketing tactics for the BoFu audience should enable decision-making and avoid being a deterrent. Before starting that brilliant campaign or sharing that rich content, ask yourself:
Will marketing tactics X, Y, or Z validate the buyer’s decision and purchase?
Your confident “yes” to this question means you’re reducing friction at a critical moment in the sales cycle by supporting your audience at the decision (BoFu) stage so they don’t walk away to one of your competitors. If you’re feeling less confident and the “no” response pops up, consider this a major red flag with your marketing tactics, which may be perfect for early or mid-stage prospects, but all wrong for hot leads.
This FAQ page for OtterBox aligns with the end-goal of validating the buyer’s decision and purchase…
But, this reviews section on the OtterBox website is a better fit for the mid-funnel audience as it supports buyer research and evaluation…
BoFu marketing ideas
- Email (email nurture campaign with decision content + demo)
- ROI calculator
- Implementation guide
- Pricing sheet
- Product info
- Account-based marketing (Using above BoFu marketing tactics to convert target accounts)
Bottom-of-funnel marketing do’s and don’ts
Decisions, decisions. You’re getting the gist of BoFu marketing by now… it’s all about validating the purchase decision. Your buyer has a lot of options out there, so keep these do’s and don’ts in mind as you’re aligning your content strategy with this mission-critical buying stage.
1. Do create decision-making content.
We often talk about wanting to reach decision-makers… here’s your chance. Long gone is the content that shows someone what their problem is and how to fix it. Your BoFu content clearly demonstrates that your offering is the unmatched solution. This is the time to sell, so messaging should be direct, informative, and benefits-focused.
2. Do focus more attention here.
Top-of-funnel content requires the highest frequency of content production, followed by mid-funnel content. It’s easy to get tied up with the earlier stages and neglect this critical stage of the funnel. Marketers are overdue to pay more attention to BoFu marketing tactics. While bottom-of-the-funnel content production is the lowest frequency, it is arguably the most important. As such, it still takes a lot of time and effort to produce.
3. Do embrace self-serving content.
Marketers cringe over self-serving content, with most of us being focused on keeping messaging conversational and informational. Permission granted for a little self-serving content. Obviously, this doesn’t mean you’re broadcasting boastful announcements about your brand. You’re still serving your buyer by showing them how your product or service will meet their unique business needs.
4. Don’t think you’re the only game in town.
Your competitors are just a contact form submission away for your prospects. It’s never been easier or quicker for someone to comparison shop. There is no room for slip-ups at this point in the game because you’re not the only game in town. Don’t be tone-deaf to your buyer’s needs. Listen and learn from them and similar prospects to make sure you’re addressing their top goals and challenges.
5. Don’t ignore your sales team.
If there was ever a time for legit marketing and sales alignment, this is your moment. Sales is probably sending you not-so-subtle signals or even cries for help: “We could really use X content for prospects in Y industry” or “The contact page could use X, Y, or Z improvements.” Sales enablement and bottom-of-funnel marketing are simpatico. Ask sales how you can help and see what ideas they have for reaching buyers more effectively.
6. Don’t rely solely on your internal team.
As mentioned above, your team is very likely spending so much time creating content to appease the earlier stages of the funnel that you can’t keep up with late-funnel initiatives. To give more love to BoFu tactics, consider expanding your internal team’s capabilities. Teamlancing is a win-win, where you hire specialists who bring an outside perspective, dedicated bandwidth, and extensive skills to help you fill the gaps and scale your efforts.
Here we are, a century later, and we’re still using marketing funnels to guide our marketing efforts. There’s a reason these buying stage fundamentals have staying power. The funnel provides an insightful structure, helping us approach messaging in a way that truly resonates with someone who is searching for a solution to their problem.
Bottom-of-the-funnel marketing is a chance to enable your sales team and guide your potential customers. Success for your organization is within reach… you just might need to spend a little more time thinking about this later stage so you can offer the right level of support.