Over the past two years, digital marketing evolved dramatically due to Covid. Digital transformation literally helped businesses survive and flourish. And for those that adapted, the good news is that they will continue to benefit after the pandemic. New approaches like User Experience (UX), will deliver long-term benefits. But getting back to business as usual means attracting new leads and customers. It’s time to think about inbound marketing.
In this article, we will explore top-of-the-funnel marketing strategies. We will first explain what top-of-the-funnel means, what it has to do with inbound marketing and why it’s so essential for your business.
Then, we will analyse seven of the best inbound marketing strategies. By the end of this read, you’ll know all about top-of-the-funnel marketing and how to implement effective tactics to generate new leads.
What is Top-of-the-Funnel Content?
To understand any part of the funnel, we must first define what a marketing funnel is.
A marketing funnel is a model businesses can use to describe the different stages in their customer acquisition strategy. The concept has evolved from the consumer behaviour theory known as the buyer journey. A customer takes theoretical steps from awareness through the various stages of their purchasing decision and post-purchase behaviour.
Also known as TOFU, top-of-the-funnel marketing is the first step to attracting a customer. The theory is that you need the highest number of leads at the top of the funnel where prospective customers become aware of your business, brand or product as a solution to their need. Thus, the goal is to maximise awareness.
High-quality content can increase brand exposure and visibility, and in turn, help to build awareness across your target market.
You can think of TOFU as the first step of a predesigned User Journey. You use attention-grabbing content to capture the attention of your target market. Once the user becomes aware of your brand, your job is to engage them and guide them down the funnel to a purchasing decision.
Building brand awareness is one of the hardest phases in the marketing cycle. Of course, converting a visitor into a customer takes skill. Nevertheless, the first touchpoint with your brand is crucial. Let us analyse why.
Why Should You Optimise Your Inbound Marketing?
It becomes evident that top-of-the-funnel content aims to improve the first experience your customer has with your brand. As they say, first impressions count and you only have one chance at a first impression.
Customer behaviour has changed dramatically, especially since the pandemic began. According to Statista, more than 80% of customers around the world shopped online in 2020.
Most customers do extensive research online before buying a product or service. This research takes place on search engines such as Google, and on social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.
And that’s exactly what inbound marketing is all about. In fact, TOFU encompasses all of your marketing tactics designed to introduce your brand to new users. It’s in these moments that you really need to stand out from your competitors if you desire more customers in your theoretical marketing funnel.
7 Effective Inbound Marketing Strategies for TOFU
In our experience, the following marketing strategies have proven to be very effective when it comes to generating new leads.
The age-old method of WOM (Word-of-Mouth) is – and always has been – one of the most effective TOFU marketing strategies. According to Forbes, there is nothing more effective than word-of-mouth when it comes to the three E’s: Engage, Equip and Empower.
Even though word of mouth traditionally relied on natural conversations about your brand, passing on awareness from one person to another (referral), modern WOM marketing is about predesigned efforts.
To encourage these recommendations, you must build trust between your business and your customer. High levels of customer satisfaction are the key to turning people into advocates for your brand.
A satisfied customer is more likely to recommend your brand to friends and family or even promote you on social media.
2. Referral Programs
Referral marketing is a tactic based on the principles of word-of-mouth marketing, but with one fundamental difference – it incentivises recommendations. Existing customers can sign up to recommend your brand in exchange for a reward.
Referral programs utilise digital marketing tactics and usually utilise a referral page within their website. Customers choose to share your brand with friends, family, colleagues, etc. via WOM or social media, along with a link that connects a new buyer with the referral club member.
Consumers trust recommendations from family and friends more than advertising and messages from brands themselves. That’s why referral programs are a great way to attract new customers.
According to recent research, more than 60 million households (about 50% of all homes in the U.S.) are podcast fans and more than 75% of all people are familiar with podcasting.
For this reason, podcasts have become one of the best marketing tools in 2021. Advertising your brand on a podcast proves to be a brilliant tactic, especially when that podcast’s content is relevant to your niche.
In general, podcasts have a loyal audience. Since all listeners of a podcast share the same interest, they have a sense of belonging, often taking the conversation to social media and online forums like Reddit. Therefore, promoting your brand through podcasts is a brilliant TOFU strategy.
Podcasts are suitable for both B2B and B2C businesses. All you need to do is choose a podcast that is thematically relevant to your product or service.
4. Contest Marketing: Competitions and Giveaways
Contest marketing is another brilliant top-of-the-funnel marketing strategy. A well-designed competition or giveaway is sure to increase brand awareness and promote your products/services.
Competitions are also one of the most innovative ways to connect with your audience. Contests, giveaways, quizzes, and trivia are just some of the contests you can organise.
Hiring a social media influencer is also a smart way to increase your campaign reach. In fact, influencer marketing has become one of the most effective TOFU tactics, so why not use an influencer to host or promote such an event or campaign?
5. Social Media Promotion
In 2021, many brands are heavily reliant on their social media accounts for TOFU. Platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook have millions of users every day., so posting is a great tactic for increasing brand touchpoints.
Social media can be extremely powerful channels for capturing new leads and customers in your funnel. Investing in top-notch visual content and paid ads on social media are popular ways to promote your brand.
Don’t forget the CTAs. Calls to action (CTAs) are all about encouraging customer decision-making. Many brands get so caught up in visually representing their brands in a certain way on social media, that they forget to include tactics to pull leads further down the funnel. CTAs should always be integrated into your TOFU content.
6. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Search engines are highly powerful tools and necessary strategies in digital marketing. Most online experiences begin with research on Google or Bing. And that’s exactly why Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is so important to your top-of-the-funnel marketing.
SEO is arguably the most effective method when it comes to driving traffic to your website. The higher your site and pages rank on Google, the more new leads you generate and the more customers you attract. It’s as simple as that.
However, optimising your content for search engines can be tricky. You should always try to stay up to date when it comes to trends in search engine marketing. Plus, always use best practices and familiarise yourself with the main steps in on-page SEO, as outlined in this free handy guide.
7. Quality Content
Written content is a great way to attract new customers via search engine results and posts shared on social media. When it comes to blog posts, Google usually prefers longer articles (1000+ words) that signify authority on a subject and value for the reader. Don’t forget to include internal links to other blog posts or pages on your website in order to keep users engaged.
As for visuals, use more than just images. According to a recent study, blog posts that contain infographics receive over 170% more links than standard posts.
An infographic is a visual representation of information or data (that is relevant to your brand). In addition to infographics, original visual elements like images and videos are also important for your top-of-the-funnel marketing.
In fact, most professional marketers believe that original visual content (illustrations, videos, diagrams, etc.) is a great way to achieve your marketing goals.
Filling the Funnel
So, now you know why it’s essential for your business to understand the user journey and focus on top-of-the-funnel content.
These inbound marketing tactics will help you build awareness and attract more leads. You can start by improving your website’s SEO and incorporating CTAs. Then, you can invest in creating top-notch visual content.
There are many more inbound marketing strategies that you can try. This is why many businesses choose to hire a marketing consultant. A professional can help you stand out from your competitors and fill your marketing funnel with an endless supply of buying customers.