Think about the last time you bought a product or service, or were interested in doing so. Did you hit “checkout”? Did you leave something in your cart and come back later? Did you browse and exit the page? Whatever the outcome of your journey was, you (perhaps unknowingly) participated in a marketing funnel, a process used to help those considering a purchase.
The marketing funnel is made up of 3 key parts: top, middle, and bottom. The marketing funnel starts with as many leads as possible and ends with a few, qualified ones that make it to the finish line.
But the buying journey isn’t always linear. Before the end goal (whatever it may be) can be achieved, marketers must first commit time, energy, and resources to the top of the marketing funnel. (I think we need more detail here)… “Before the end goal (whatever it may be) can be achieved, the top of the funnel must be wide enough that qualified leads come out at the bottom.
That means marketers must first commit time, energy, and resources to the top of the marketing funnel.”
So…What Exactly is Top of the Funnel Marketing?
First thing’s first: Top of the funnel marketing refers to the first stage of the buyer’s journey. This is the part where you’re trying to make a good first impression on people who have never heard of you before.
Think of it like a blind, first date. Even though your date has never met you, you can show your personality, crack a few jokes, and prove you’re worth going on a second date with.
The key to top of the funnel marketing is not all that far from the very thing some people lack at dinner parties, foreign countries, or in a crowded subway cart: awareness. It all comes down to awareness. The top of the funnel is the best time to focus on letting your audience know who you are and how your offerings fit in with their needs.
This is not the best time to try to make a sale. Even if you have the best, most innovative product in the world, no one will be interested in buying it without knowing anything about it.
But in order for leads to get to know you and your offering, you’ll need a way of talking to them. Start by collecting emails or phone numbers to get in touch with your leads.
From there, you can begin to engage with and nurture them to hopefully move them further down the funnel. You can do this in a few ways, including:
- Publishing blog posts and informational guides that explain what you do and what you offer.
- Exchanging a gated resource, like a whitepaper or video, for an email address.
- Placing catchy, attention-grabbing CTA buttons on pages that lead to more sales-focused landing pages.
Above all else, remember to keep your content visual (a picture’s worth a thousand words), engaging, and concise to keep leads from bouncing. Have you ever had a waiter show up with a 4-course meal when all you ordered was some spinach and artichoke dip?…Exactly. Keep things short, sweet, and to the point.
How Can Top of the Funnel Marketing Help?
So now you understand why top of the funnel marketing is necessary, but what exactly does it mean for your company or brand? What can it do? What are the benefits? Is there a catch?
Here are just a few (of many) benefits that top of the funnel marketing can bring:
- Increase your brand awareness
- Build trust and authority with consumers
- Distinguish you among your competitors
- Brings more leads to your sales teams
Furthers Brand Awareness
One of the main benefits of top of the funnel marketing is that it furthers brand awareness. Brands live and breathe around us in our everyday lives, no matter where we are. From watching your coffee shop crush type away on their Macbook Pro to drooling at the image in your head when someone mentions Haagen Dazs ice cream, brands are recognizable because of the awareness these companies have built.
When executed correctly, top of the funnel marketing can help your brand develop content, messages, and even images that both potential and returning customers can engage with and think of when they see your logo or hear your name.
This awareness piece becomes especially crucial when it comes to B2B sales, as multiple stakeholders often need to reach an agreement before a product or service can be purchased.
At the end of the day, this much is true — No one can buy your product or service if they don’t know who you are or what you offer.
Builds Trust and Authority
Trust and authority are two important things that top of the funnel marketing can grant you.
Trust is the glue that holds business and consumer relationships together. If you don’t believe us, just think about the last time a company broke your trust.
Maybe it was a severely delayed shipment, a damaged product that was non-refundable, a hotel room with a leak in the ceiling that no one ever came to fix. Whatever it was, you probably haven’t ordered from or used their services again, or it’ll take you a while to.
Authority is what establishes your business as a leader in your industry, and can be leveraged to bring in potential customers.
You’re probably more likely to listen to someone like your boss over a toddler that’s just learning how to form sentences — although, we could probably all learn a thing or two from toddlers. Authority also strengthens your reliability, and the meaning behind the things you say and provide.
If demonstrated effectively, trust and authority are likely to help you gain new customers. Potential and existing customers alike are more likely to recommend a business they trust and see authority in. After all, there’s nothing more embarrassing than making a recommendation and having something go wrong.
Differentiates Your Company Against the Competition
Now more than ever, businesses are fighting for the attention of consumers. With the click of a button, a consumer can look at a never-ending stream of products, services, brands, advertisements, and the list goes on and on.
In the midst of all the noise, top of the funnel marketing helps companies stand out. A few ways to do this is to trial and error various tactics, analyze content efficiency, and evaluate feedback to set your brand apart from the rest.
In the wise words of Tina Turner, top of the funnel marketing could help you be simply the best, better than all the rest.
Generates More Leads for Your Sales Team
If you want your company to generate revenue, you’re going to have to find leads from somewhere. As the top of the funnel, you’re casting a wide net in hopes of catching something of quality.
Run an informative blog, post on social media channels, or send out regular newsletters to target wider audiences and get in front of more potential customers.
These channels can provide another way for leads to engage with your brand and potentially convert. By extension, you’ll be increasing the chances for your marketing team to pass leads along to your sales team.
One great way to generate leads is through an FAQ page, where visitors or potential leads can find the information they’re looking for. Establishing a knowledge base like an FAQ page can position you as a helpful resource to potential leads, and may even move the needle forward a bit.
What Are Some Common Top of the Funnel Marketing Tactics?
When consumers are familiar with your brand and marketing content, they’re more likely to turn to you when they have a problem or need that your business can solve or fulfill.
By establishing credibility with effective top of the funnel marketing tactics, your high-quality content can get in front of consumers and even influence their purchase decisions.
There’s no blueprint for how to make the most of the top of your funnel, but here are a few ways you can set yourself up for success:
It might be cliche, but content is still King. And it’s getting more flexible these days. With platforms like TikTok making its way to the main stage in the past few years, it’s clear that the way we approach content marketing must evolve to keep up with the times.
By leveraging a range of platforms, you can share informative, engaging content such as:
- Evergreen pages that stay fresh and relevant, no matter the season. Kind of like a Pinterest board, but with words.
- A blog with a regular publishing cadence. Don’t be afraid to venture out beyond your usual topics. Have a little fun with it!
- A podcast or featured content on industry-related podcasts. This is a great way to speak with other industry experts, strengthen your credibility, and get in front of new audiences.
- Youtube and Vimeo videos. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, imagine how much a video is worth.
- Infographics, e-books, case studies, white papers, and articles on popular social media platforms. Take to Twitter and promote lengthy items in 250 characters or less.
- Guest-blogs on sites related to your business. Everyone loves to see a well-connected industry expert.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential part of any effective top of the funnel marketing strategy that will help you capture more quality leads. Before you jump the gun, ask yourself following questions:
- What is your target audience searching for?
- What are they typing into Google? What related items are they Googling?
- What problems do they have and how can your products and/or services help?
Once you can answer some basic questions, you can use tools to help you strengthen your SEO strategy and attract more leads.
Some fundamental aspects of optimizing an SEO strategy include:
- Posting regular content, whether it’s through a blog, newsletter, or website pages (we really weren’t kidding when we said content is King).
- Linking to authoritative sites.
- Building internal links from one page to another on your website.
- Analyze relevant search data so you know what your customers are looking for. If you don’t know what your audience is searching for, you won’t be able to craft your message to appeal to their needs. This part is a really important one.
Your business can also use paid advertising, which can help your business put your ads in front of people who’ll take action when they see them.
If you’ve ever Googled something and the first link you saw had an “Ad” logo in front of it, you’ve seen an example of paid advertising! This is a great way to bring your page to the forefront of a user’s search. You can also post paid ads on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Similarly, if you’ve ever seen a banner advertisement while browsing the latest engagement announcement on Facebook, you can be sure that company has paid to get back in front of your eyes.
Keep in mind that some platforms are great for one kind of ad but bad for another. For example, if you’re trying to advertise to an older demographic, you’re likely to have more success on Facebook than on Instagram or Snapchat.
And if you’re looking to advertise to professionals and businesses, you should prioritize LinkedIn and other professional social platforms, as they are designed specifically for professional networking purposes.
Organic Social Media Posts
On the flip side of paid advertising, you have organic social media marketing. If you don’t know what this means, organic social media can complement your paid advertising efforts to create highly effective results.
Leveraging organic social media for your top of the funnel marketing strategy is a great way to naturally attract customers and build traffic to your sites and channels.
There’s flexibility with organic social media to see what content is or isn’t landing and resonating with your target audience. The best news is you can always adjust according to how your audience responds and prioritize your best-performing channels.
This strategy is also a great way to engage and build trust with local potential customers. The personable nature of organic social media grants companies the opportunity to interact directly with consumers, build loyalty and strengthen relationships, and continue to reinforce brand awareness.
How It All Ties Together
Like the name suggests, the top of the marketing funnel is only the first step into the entire process. As leads continue to move down the funnel into the middle stage, they’ll likely be more prone to seeing how your business is the one they should utilize to solve their problem.
It’s time to move past the small talk and get to the heart of the problem or need. The middle stage is where businesses can convey what their product or service can offer the consumer and why it’s the best fit for their needs.
Much like an onion, with each stage of the marketing layer comes layers that can be peeled off. For leads who reach the bottom of the funnel, they’ll be faced with more sales-heavy offers, deals, negotiations, and more that will lead to an eventual “purchase”.
But before we peel back all the layers, we must consider a very important truth: Leads cannot reach the bottom of the funnel if they leave at the top.
- How to Optimize Your Bottom Funnel Marketing in 2022
- What Is A Marketing Funnel & How Does It Work?
- How To Build The Most Effective Affiliate Marketing Funnels
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Henry is a marketing and communications specialist. He enjoys helping individuals and brands find answers to their marketing questions. He has spent the majority of his career in the SaaS industry, gaining experiences in areas such as corporate communications, digital marketing, branding, and community building.
Henry currently serves as the head of product marketing and comms at Metricks.