Top of Funnel vs Bottom of Funnel Marketing For Car & Truck Dealers

top of funnel vs bottom of funnel

Understanding Top of Funnel vs Bottom of Funnel

Understanding top of funnel vs bottom of funnel marketing is crucial for any business, but especially for car and truck dealers. The extended research period most customers go throw when selecting a vehicle lengthens the distance between the top of the funnel and bottom of the funnel. This represents customers at different stages of their buying journey, and requires the dealership to have separate marketing strategies for top of funnel and bottom of funnel customers. 

What is a Sales Funnel in Marketing? 

A sales funnel in marketing is a visual representation of the customer’s journey from awareness to action. There are many different models, each with a distinct number of stages, but to truly simplify the concept, it’s best to break it down into 3 stages:

what is a sales funnel in marketing

What is Top of Funnel Marketing (TOFU) For Your Dealership? 

At the top of the funnel, car and truck dealers focus on generating awareness and capturing the attention of prospective car buyers. They may not even be actively seeking a vehicle. Nevertheless, a little nudge from the dealer can help move them into the top of the funnel.

TOFU advertising can generate both awareness and interest through an offer that’s so good it gets their attention, by bringing awareness to pain points they might not be consciously aware of, or simply letting them know about a new model, feature, or benefit not previously offered.

Common TOFU Strategies: 

Why Does Top of Funnel Marketing Matter?

Top of funnel marketing matters to your business because it is essential for building brand awareness, establishing trust and authority in your primary marketing area (PMA), and attracting potential buyers – some who are not even looking yet. By providing valuable information and promoting your own brand through various channels, top of funnel marketing plants the seed for a future car or truck purchase, while simultaneously nurturing a relationship that makes the customer more likely to buy from you, rather than your competitors.

What is Bottom of Funnel Marketing (BOFU) For Your Dealership? 

At the bottom of the sales funnel, car and truck dealers persuade interested shoppers to make a purchase. This ranges from lead generation (form submission), to lead conversion (vehicle purchase). While some customers come ready to buy, the majority will require 5-90 days to make a purchase.

BOFU strategies provide a direct path for those ready-to-buy and address the doubts or concerns for those still working up the courage to make such a large purchase. Remember, not only will the majority of car buyers continue making significant monthly payments on their vehicle for years to come (+70% will lease or finance), but they will be spending considerable time behind the wheel of that vehicle for years to come, as well. (A 2022 study estimates that drivers spend 60+ minutes per day behind the wheel.)

As potential car buyers move further down the sales funnel, they become more interested in your features, benefits, and offerings.

Common BOFU Strategies:

Retargeting Ads

Email Marketing

Sales Events

Financing Options

Test Drives & Demonstrations

Why Does Bottom of Funnel Marketing Matter?

Bottom of funnel (BOFU) marketing strategies play a central role in turning leads into sales. They directly support the efforts and talents of your sales team. This is when you can really help pair customers with the vehicle they want or need. Generate great leads with personalized communication, targeted offers, time-sensitive incentives, and exceptional showroom experiences.

Balancing TOFU vs BOFU Sales Funnel Strategies 

Generally speaking, effective advertising for a dealership requires a strategic balance between top of funnel vs bottom of funnel advertising. Top of funnel increases your net pool of interested car shoppers, while bottom of funnel converts interest into overall sales. 

Neglecting or overspending on either one may lead to underperformance. Too much traffic (top of funnel) without bottom of funnel (conversion) can be stressful. Similarly, too little traffic (not enough traffic), can easily stress the most talented sales team. Balance is essential.

Work with your automotive advertising agency, marketing director, general manager, OEM rep, or other trusted consultants. Ensure that you’re balancing your top of sales funnel and bottom of sales funnel strategies on an ongoing basis.

Overall, to maximize your efforts, incorporate both TOFU and BOFU strategies into your dealership’s marketing budget. This will help expand your reach, provide value to local shoppers, and achieve sustainable growth and success for your business.


Top of Funnel vs Bottom of Funnel Marketing For Car & Truck Dealers | Team MMG