How is Performance Measured at the Top of the Funnel?

We will run down the different measured metrics used for paid, earned, and owned top of funnel media, and which ones should be most closely monitored.

Paid Top of Funnel Media


  • Adwords
  • Paid/Promoted Social Media ads (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc)
  • Display ads
  • Influencers and their original content

Effectiveness is Measured With

  • Reach: sometimes measured in impressions, this is how many people can be reached by this advertisement. For influencers, this can evaluated with unique monthly visitors to a blog, youtube channel and social media followers
  • Frequency: how frequently the consumer is exposed to the ad
  • CTR/ER: click through rate or engagement rate with the ad, how many users are clicking on the ad to learn more
  • CPC: cost per click on the ad
  • Brand mentions: how often a brand is mentioned in the advertising content, this can go a long ways towards raising SEO
  • Sentiment: how the audience is reacting to a brand, either positively or negatively.

These metrics evaluate how successful your ToFu marketing media was at making consumers aware of your product.

All of these are important in different ways, but the top three to monitor are reach, CTR, and sentiment.

Comparing your reach to the volume of people that actually clicked through will give context to the traffic achieved, giving you a real picture of how effective your strategy is for driving action. Sentiment is very important to review, high engagement isn’t great if all of the comments are negative.

Earned Media

Earned media is going one step further into the funnel, as consumers are now aware of your product, and moving towards the consideration stage by interacting with your paid media. Anytime someone shares your paid content for free, in the form of a retweet, share, like, etc , this is media that you aren’t paying for, but is still being circulated or created on behalf of your brand. It is earned, not paid.

Includes and is measured with:

  • Social sharing engagements with paid media (shares, retweets, likes, repins, etc)
  • Traffic (impressions) that come from earned media, show the level of awareness your audience now has of your brand
  • Effective CPC vs Contracted CPC for some media you can set a rate of cost per click on an advertisement, which is your “contracted” CPC. If your campaign achieves more clicks than you paid for, this overachievement lowers your actual cost per click, this actual cost is called your “effective CPC.” This won’t be relevant on platforms where you “bid” for clicks.
  • Reach is still important here, gauged by the collective reach of those who are engaging with your content in the form of sharing it with their audiences (retweets, repins, etc)
  • Brand Mentions will boost your rank in search results, as well, by increasing organic brand mentions, and therefore, your SEO.
  • Sentiment of those shares is very important to evaluate, getting 25 negative comments means something very different than getting 25 positive ones.

You can see that many of the metrics for earned media are the same as paid media. But, instead of looking at just the impact of paid media, earned metrics gauge the reach, traffic driven and engagement of those who are sharing your message at no cost.

What is really important to keep in mind with earned media is that this is what resonated most with your target audience, content they liked enough to share with their own followers or friends. Focus on what types of content is shared and you will uncover the type of and style of messages that your audience likes the best.

Owned Top of Funnel Media

Now that your audience is considering your product, you need to be measuring what happens when they arrive at your owned media destinations.


  • brand social channels
  • brand website/landing pages
  • PR communications
  • direct emailing

Is Measured With:

  • Number fans/followers on brand owned social media channels
  • Engagement of followers with those owned social channels (retweets, shares, etc)
  • Opens of emails sent directly to subscribers/customers
  • Downloads of coupons providing value to your customers will make them more likely to keep considering your product
  • Email Newsletter sign ups this should also provide real value to customers, otherwise you will see lots of unsubscribes
  • Impressions on landing pages specifically those associated with your paid media campaign

Is your website set up to receive people that have been attracted by your paid media (and potentially earned media)?

Do you have information, offers, testimonials, and other persuasive content experiences that will inspire them to continue their consideration of your product and company?

If not, you need to start adding to your pages, use the most trafficked pieces of earned media for inspiration if you’re not sure where to start.

Adwords, Facebook ads, and influencer posts (and their audiences’ sharing) can make people aware of your brand and possibly even move into consideration, but there needs to be a something to greet them after the introduction is made if you want them to continue their consideration.

The performance of your top of funnel strategy will be evaluated by the awareness you created and how you move them to the consideration phase of their journey.

By tracking the previously mentioned metrics for paid and earned media, and comparing them to the metrics of your owned media, you will have a strong understanding of who is moving from awareness into consideration, and therefore the effectiveness of your top of funnel.

This might seem like an overwhelming amount of data to track, and if you do not have very large resources at your disposal, it is unlikely wise to do it yourself. A good partner, service, or platform will be able to track any and all of these metrics for you and present them in a clear, concise format that you would be proud to pass along.

Now that you know which metrics to keep an eye on when evaluating your top of funnel performance, what can you do when you find that your top of funnel is not as full as it needs to be?

In our next post we will discuss how to optimize your top of funnel strategies, so that all of these metrics will actually mean something!

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Heidi Cohen

April did not disappoint in the world of influencer marketing and the creator economy.