In the last few years, quantum computing and machine learning fostered rapid developments in their respective areas of application, introducing new perspectives on how information processing systems can be realized and programmed. The rapidly growing field of Quantum Machine Learning aims at bringing together these two ongoing revolutions. Here we first review a series of recent works describing the implementation of artificial neurons and feed-forward neural networks on quantum processors. We then present an original realization of efficient individual quantum nodes based on variational unsampling protocols. While keeping full compatibility with the overall memory-efficient feed-forward architecture, such a construction effectively reduces the quantum circuit depth required to determine the activation probability of single neurons upon input of the relevant data-encoding quantum states. This suggests a viable approach towards the use of quantum neural networks for pattern classification on near-term quantum hardware.