Funnels? No, we’re not talking about offering funnel cakes to get new customers, though that might be a decent strategy. Instead, we’re looking at the marketing funnel, specifically the top of the funnel, where you begin the process of converting prospects into life-long customers.
According to a Search Engine Journal article, a staggering 95% of marketers create top of funnel content — and for good reason. A smart top of funnel marketing strategy is one of the best ways to grow any business, especially a knowledge business, as top of funnel content feeds your full marketing funnel.
In this article, we take a closer look at what top of funnel marketing is, why it’s important, and how to utilize this strategy for your own business, whether you sell digital products, physical goods, or both. Let’s dive in!
What is top of funnel marketing?
Top of funnel marketing, also known as TOFU (no, you can’t eat it), refers to any promotional or marketing activity that attracts your ideal prospective customer and engages them in your universe. It focuses on two things:
- Brand awareness – explaining who you are, what you do, and why it matters
- Lead generation – offering lead magnets that share valuable information for free in exchange for the prospect’s email address
At this stage, you want to give leads enough information to intrigue them, so they follow you, consume your content, and recognize you as an authority in your industry.
Your goal with TOFU marketing isn’t to get people to buy, especially if you have an expensive offer. Instead, the goal is to move them deeper into the funnel. To do this, you need to get them onto your email list so you can nurture that relationship and move them along the buyer journey.
A good way to do this is to offer something truly irresistible in exchange for their email address. Similar to those salespeople in the mall who give you samples to draw you deeper into their shop. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they get results. And like those samples, your lead magnet (marketing-speak for sample) needs to be the type of content that they can't find anywhere else.
The stages of a marketing funnel
Before we cover what type of top of funnel content converts best, let’s take a broader look at how top of funnel marketing fits in with the full marketing funnel. To understand the full marketing funnel, it's important to know that the buying process or the buyer’s journey happens in several stages.
In stage one, buyers are aware of their problem and begin searching the Web for information — including products and services that could help them. This is the top of the funnel.
In stage two, buyers evaluate or consider their options and begin narrowing their selection pool. They may opt to:
- Use the information they learn to solve their problem themselves.
- Buy a product or service to do it for them.
- Do nothing.
Of course, marketers want to convince buyers that buying is the best option. They call this the middle of funnel, or MOFU.
In stage three, buyers are ready and intend to buy. But before they do, they want to be sure they’re making the right decision by watching demos, reading sales materials and testimonials, and seeking other social proof like case studies. Marketers consider this bottom of funnel, or… you guessed it… BOFU.
At every stage, you’ll lose a percentage of leads. Your job is to stop the leaks, so more leads make it all the way through. One way to do that is to give buyers the content they need at each stage of the funnel to move them into the next stage of their buyer journey.
To do that, you must understand what motivates your buyer, so you can give them the information they need to take that next step with confidence.
What top of funnel content converts best?
The type of top of funnel marketing content that converts best with your audience depends on what they're looking for and how you plan to solve their problem. Here are a five top of funnel content ideas to consider:
When people are needing help, their first impulse is to try to do it themselves. They search online for help, like “How to dye my poodle pink.”
They’re looking for a step-by-step guide that walks them through the process. But in many cases, once they see how complicated it is (have you ever tried grooming a dog that doesn’t want to be groomed?), they realize they don’t actually want to do it themselves.
If you’re the one who gave them a valuable how-to guide, they trust you to do it for them. This is the perfect way to move people down the funnel. Plus, it’s exactly how you want to engage your audience, whether you dye poodles pink or coach people looking for a job.
Both live and on-demand webinars are a great way to generate leads and introduce users to your topic. Here, prospects provide their email address in exchange for the webinar content.
For example, you might host a webinar on how to achieve a specific outcome, complete with a resource list on what's needed.
Checklists are a useful quick start for prospects. They’re also one of the easiest lead magnets to create, not to mention one of the most effective at generating leads. Checklists can be integrated into blogs, website landing pages, and anywhere else you might bring visitors into your business universe.
If someone is trying to solve their problem themselves, you’re their hero for showing them how. And if someone just wants it done, your checklist tells them what to expect when they work with you.
Whitepapers, reports, and ebooks
Although whitepapers, ebooks, and reports have historically been used in the technology sector, they've recently gained popularity in other niches. They help you sell your product as the ideal solution for the problem your prospect is experiencing.
Whitepapers need research and other proof elements to back up your claims. They can take time to write, but it’s worth the effort. They do a great job of turning interest into action.
Here’s a great example of a report - The Creator Pulse.
Videos and tutorials
Videos are popular with buyers because they don’t feel “salesy.” With TOFU marketing, videos present a great way to inform or educate your users in a way that's accessible, fun, and interesting.
Infographics are excellent for showcasing data as they make it scannable and mentally digestible. Even if you're not a graphic artist, there are tools like Canva on the market that make it easy to create these types of graphics. Plus, infographic content can be easily repurposed for multiple channels - blogs, social media, and emails.
This is a case where more is definitely better. Feel free to add videos or graphics to checklists and whitepapers. Or, create your own mix of formats and resources!
This not only adds interest, it helps you build trust and authority, so prospects are eager to take the next step to learn more about you and what you have to offer.
Here are even more lead magnet examples to get your creative juices flowing!
Creating successful top of funnel content
Top of funnel marketing is about qualifying leads and getting them to take the next step of the buyer journey with you. You don’t actually want a huge list. It’s true. Rather, you want to build a list of high-quality potential buyers!
For that to happen, the top of funnel content you create needs to be:
Targeted – It should only appeal to your target audience. Not everyone.
Customer-centric – Ask yourself: what’s your prospect trying to learn? What’s their ultimate goal? How can you help them get the most out of what you have to say and share?
Snack-sized – Whatever content you share needs to be easy to understand, engaging, and valuable. Think of it as a snack-sized piece of your full online course, membership site, or coaching program — something to whet their appetite.
Engaging – You don't want to bore people to tears with complex information or too much detail too fast. At the same time, you want to hold their attention and pique their interest by providing information they can’t get anywhere else. Keep your TOFU content educational and entertaining.
Visual – Even the most interested customer isn't going to stick around and read a wall of text or technical charts. By including checklists, infographics, and videos, you can distill complex information into easy-to-understand tidbits.
How to distribute your top of funnel content
Top of funnel content should be distributed everywhere your prospects hang out online. Think Starbucks, but virtual:
- Social media
- Forums (if they allow you to share your content)
- Blog posts
- Guest posts
- Outreach emails
We call this an omni-channel approach: showing up on multiple channels to amplify your reach. Different prospects will find you on different platforms. And if someone sees you in more than one place, you seem to be everywhere, which makes you look relevant and authoritative.
The bottom line on TOFU marketing
In TOFU marketing, you have a lot of options. The key is to figure out what your ideal customer needs and wants at the beginning of the buying journey, and give it to them.
Don't hesitate to talk to previous customers to understand why they chose you. This can give you valuable insights into what prospects are looking for.
Kajabi makes it easy to create top of funnel content and build landing pages and funnels to deliver it to your best prospects.
With our Kajabi Funnels feature, you don’t have to be a marketing expert to create a funnel that works. It's drag-and-drop simple and comes with pre-made templates to follow and learn from — so you can click your way to a professional-grade sales funnel in minutes, not days or weeks! We like to think our Funnels feature puts the fun back in funnels.
Ready to attract and nurture leads from top of funnel to the final sale? Try Kajabi today for free. Sin up below!