Imagine trying to sell something to someone without making an effort to introduce yourself properly to them. It doesn’t matter how cool or useful your product is; people can’t be interested in buying it if you don’t put yourself out there and explain why they’d want it.
Marketers realized this even way back when they began developing the ideas and principles of the marketing funnel. Initially, the concept included four stages (AIDA — Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action) that marketers still utilize today.
However, as consumer habits and technology shifted, the sales funnel has been reconstructed and enhanced several times.
In this article, we’ll delve into the beginning stage of a simplified version of the sales funnel. First, we’ll talk about its importance, then introduce tried and true marketing tactics that will ensure your funnel’s engine runs smoothly so that you’re ready to focus on the later stages of the buyer’s journey.
The top end of the sales funnel
The top of the funnel (ToFu) is the first of three main stages of the sales funnel. The other two are, naturally, the middle of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel. All three require a different approach since potential buyers have different mindsets at each stage.
This beginning funnel stage is characterized by building brand awareness and generating leads. Its purpose is to introduce your brand and products to your entire target group of buyers and attract as many as possible so they can enter the funnel and continue their buying journey.
The top-of-funnel stage is extremely important, as the next two stages of the sales funnel are meaningless without it. If the tactics implemented at this stage are fruitless, there won’t be anyone left in the funnel to complete the buying process and close a deal.
The top benefits of running a thriving top-of-funnel stage include:
- Increasing the reputation of your brand and products
- Attracting prospects
- Bringing buyers closer to their pain points and addressing those pain points effectively
- Educating buyers on your products’ values
- Leaving a great impression and moving leads down the sales funnel
- Learning what prospects need and want to see in the next stages
7 best Top-of-the-Funnel tactics
There are several types of content that you can utilize at the top end of your sales funnel; content at this stage needs to be easy to discover, educational, and engaging.
Remember that you’re casting a wide net over your entire target group at this stage. It’s best to focus on the following types of content so that you can be ready to narrow down your efforts and focus on the generated leads:
- Blog posts
- Educational articles
- Social media posts
- Research articles such as reports, ebooks, and white papers
With the following seven tactics, we’ll cover all of the above (and more!). Let’s dive in.
Take SEO seriously
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the essential parts of a good marketing strategy and should always be included in your top-of-the-funnel efforts.
Generating traffic via conventional content marketing is critical for top-of-the-funnel success. So is getting the right people to your site to create brand awareness and generate leads.
A strong SEO strategy results in prospects finding your top-of-the-funnel content and entering your sales funnel.
You need to be super serious about this segment since any futile efforts in this department will make your leads enter some of your competitors’ sales funnels instead of yours. Research by HubSpot shows that 75% of customers only visit the first page of search results.
Fortunately, adhering to the best SEO principles will eventually get your content to rank high. To increase your brand’s awareness and reputation, make sure to incorporate most, if not all, of the following:
- Rely on keyword research to address your customers’ pain points.
- Invest in building internal links and backlinks to build relationships.
- Create original, useful, and engaging content.
- Optimize your title tags and meta descriptions to ignite interest.
- Use subheadings for backlinks to stand out.
- Use bullet points, white space, and visuals to improve readability.
- Work on your website’s loading speed to retain prospects.
- Constantly polish up user experience (UX).
Remember that all your content needs to be centered around the topical interests of your client base. You must put them first (provide value and address their pain points) and yourself second (minimize sales talk).
Create helpful interactive tools
In digital marketing, if content is king, interactive content is God. Interactive content marketing is a very effective way to engage your audiences and show them that you’re a brand worth trying out.
Creating interactive online tools can go a long way to capture the attention of your visitors. In fact, 81% of marketing professionals claim that interactive content outperforms static content by a large margin.
Incorporating interactive content ensures that you don’t overload your website with textual information only but provide actionable tools that visitors can use for their benefit. It gives an interesting angle to any brand. Quite simply, brands that don’t offer any interactive content risk losing prospects to those that do.
There are several interactive content types that you can use to freshen up your online presence and provide value for your potential customers. Those include:
- Interactive assessments
- Interactive infographics
For example, MarketBeat’s dividend calculator is a fantastic way to generate brand awareness because it’s a tool that people interested in finance will continue using. Finance professionals and earnest investors will keep returning and potentially engage with other MarketBeat products.
Their calculator is so effective because it boasts a ton of different fields, and yet it’s very easy to use. The results are extremely simple to read since they are displayed with charts and infographics.
Another reason people would keep coming back to use MarketBeat’s dividend calculator is that the results are free to obtain — they’re not behind a newsletter signup or a paywall.
Cater only to your verified buyer personas
You should never create content blindly. Every business caters to a specific demographic, so it’s crucial to know who you’re creating material for and what those people’s needs are.
Crafting your content while using the same language your potential customers speak can be very useful to assure them that with you, their needs will be met and their fears finally put to rest.
The easiest way to know how your audience feels and thinks is to build buyer personas. There are several ways to do so, but guessing and assuming are not among them. Instead, use some of the following best practices to verify your clients’ buyer personas:
- Conduct plenty of research on your customers’ buying habits,
- Run surveys and interviews with detailed questions.
- Gather behavioral and traffic data from your website and social media pages.
- Use A/B testing tools.
- Study your competitors and learn how they engage with their customers.
Once you gather enough reliable information about your audience, use the most relevant pain points to create content topics. Answer the most pressing questions they may have and suggest how valuable you are in terms of fixing their problems.
You can even leverage your knowledge of your potential customers by enhancing your content and adding an emotional touch that speaks to their wants. That can be a great booster to their purchasing drivers and become very useful for the later stages of the sales funnel.
Repurpose high-Quality Articles as video
Creating videos is a must for every marketing strategy in 2022, especially when discussing the top of the sales funnel.
Videos can give a brand many benefits in terms of generating leads and building brand awareness. That’s why 84% of marketers confess that videos helped them with lead generation. Another statistic shows that a staggering 90% of people discover new products and brands when they watch videos on YouTube.
Given that videos are more easily digested than articles or blog posts, repurposing high-quality articles as videos can multiply the rates of gathering prospects and increasing brand reputation.
Scott’s Cheap Flights did just that with their How to Use Google Flights to Find Cheap Flights post. They created a video that was effectively the same as their page and published it on their YouTube channel.
With this move, they gave a huge chunk of their users a chance to digest the same information in video format, meaning they can spend less time and effort to learn everything described in their long-form article.
With everyone being on YouTube these days, this allows Scott’s Cheap Flights to get ahead of everyone that only uses their website to post valuable information. The success of the video is proof of that — it’s gathered 450k views and 4.7k likes.
Establish authentic credibility
Even though readers will typically be interested in proof of your credibility a little further down the funnel, there’s no reason not to associate your brand with massive credibility during a phase when you’re mostly looking to generate brand awareness.
The top of the funnel allows room for information that will label your brand as credible among your audiences. This means publishing posts and articles that are backed up by real research. Providing evidence that your products bring the exact value you speak of is how you stand out from the competition.
Some of the ways to prove that you’re a real expert in your field include:
- Quoting real science from relevant sources.
- Going into more detail than the reader might expect.
- Delivering exceptionally well-researched content and making it obvious that your conclusions can be trusted.
- Showing measurable proof that your offer is the right one by including percentages and citing numbers.
- Linking to highly authoritative external resources.
Speaking with authority can create a platform of credibility that will help you later in the sales cycle. This is especially true in the finance and health industries, as shown in the following example.
January is a next-generation tool that uses AI to help users build healthier habits and lead happier lives. Their Glucose Monitoring, Blood Sugar And Weight Loss: Why It’s The Key To Losing Weight post backs every statement with a reliable academic source. This way, it’s easy for first-time readers to learn that January is an authoritative voice in the health industry.
Create a community
Communities that exist in the name of a brand or product are proof that that brand/product must be doing something amazing to bring people together in one place.
In that spirit, creating Facebook groups dedicated to your brand or signature products can go a long way in instilling trust in people. This is very important for the later stages of the sales cycle.
So why are we mentioning it now? Dedicated Facebook groups leave a great impression on first-time visitors. When people see an entire community dedicated to a brand/product, they become aware and show organic interest in the product.
The most successful types of communities are those that don’t exist purely for the sake of making sales but rather offer support to members who need help with a specific pain point.
To better understand what we’re talking about, let’s check out a sleep aid brand called Somnifix. They created a Facebook group — Sleep by Somnifix — dedicated to their flagship product used to help with better breathing while asleep.
We can notice that the brand and product are constantly mentioned, but there’s no sales pressure. Admin and members give tips and discuss matters related to sleep.
In communities like this, members’ interaction is key for adding to the brand’s reputation.
Showcase your product naturally and logically
People don’t usually visit blog posts to be impressed by products. They go to be guided, to have questions answered, or to be entertained. Shoving your product in their face in an unnatural way will hurt your content’s credibility and objectivity.
Try to display your product visually in a natural way to the content. Try to market it without even writing captions saying what product it is. Just show it looks great.
So, your primary goal is always to be helpful with your content — mentioning your products should always be a secondary objective. Impressively, ditching the sales talk works great for sales purposes.
GILI Sports and their 6 Reasons Why Paddle Boarding Is a Great Workout is a great example of hinting at products in a natural and subtle way.
They bring people to their content so that they can discuss the health benefits of paddle boarding. They elaborate on the topic without any sales pressure or product mentions, but they feature their products looking amazing. This is a great tactic for lifestyle brands.
We hope our tips will enhance your marketing strategy and have your funnel outperform your initial expectations.
Every company is different, so we’re sure that your marketing funnel employs many complex mechanics. In any case, our tactics apply to any strategy, and implementing whatever you can from them will help you achieve great results.