Getting Customers Through the Gate With ToFu (Top of Funnel) Marketing

Matt Jackson 29 October, 2019
Top of Funnel Marketing Example - Sushi Shop

The first time you saw the term “ToFu marketing,” you probably thought of ads for a vegan restaurant. While top of funnel marketing could do wonders for this type of business, it has positive, far-reaching effects for any organization that employs it. The truth is that companies often focus efforts exclusively on closing the sale, while missing opportunities to attract new buyers. Managers may also not realize that a heavy sales pitch too close to the top of the funnel may push people away.

Marketers divide a buyer’s journey from interested to bona fide customer into three stages. These include awareness, evaluation and purchase, which coincide respectively with the top, middle and bottom of the funnel. Put simply, top of funnel marketing focuses on raising awareness about a brand, product or service. This is the stage where people look for answers to burning questions or are considering their options.

For an overarching view of the entire digital marketing funnel check out our article on How to Boost Sales With a Digital Marketing Sales Funnel.

You have likely been in this position before. Think back to the aversion you may have felt for companies that skimped on giving information so that they could push products instead. Your customers feel the same frustration during their initial research, so don’t be that company. Here’s what you need to know about getting customers through the gate with top of funnel marketing.

Understanding What Happens at the Top

Many business owners roll their eyes at awareness campaigns. Some marketers may also advise clients that only large corporations with equally gigantic marketing budgets have the resources to focus on awareness. Possible competitors in this space include the likes of Pepsi, Google, Tesla and Amazon. There is some truth to this.

However, there is no denying that a potential customer must first become aware of a company’s existence before they can buy from them. In some cases, customers need to know the product or service even exists — from anyone. This is where top of funnel marketing becomes important as it focuses on educating rather than immediate selling.

Digital Marketing Sales Funnel - Top of Funnel Diagram

At the awareness stage, buyers may have very specific needs they need to fulfill. Consumers are typically looking for answers to a question, seeking solutions to a problem or trying to figure out what potential solutions may best meet their needs. They don’t begin evaluating specific brands until the middle of the funnel.

Here’s an example to illustrate how this affects your lead magnet development. Let’s say you own a bank that offers auto loans at competitive rates. A consumer decides they no longer want to use TransLink to get around Brisbane, but may not work at the office very often. They start to consider their options, which includes budgeting for cabs, relying on rideshare services, renting a car, leasing a car or purchasing a vehicle.

Notice that an auto loan is only suitable for one of these options. This is why it’s important to focus on providing information customers can trust for top of funnel marketing. Pushing a sales pitch too early and too forcefully can taint the advice given to appear too biased in your favor.

Strategies for Reaching ToFu Consumers

Every successful company has its own strategy for reaching customers at the top of the funnel. Without it, customers wouldn’t know the company existed. So, how can you rope customers in to use your resources when making their decisions? How can you master top of funnel marketing so that customers reward your hard work by purchasing from you in the end?

1. Provide Invaluable Information

Forbes notes that during the ToFu stage, buyers are still debating what the best solutions to their paint points may be. Providing invaluable information about a specific course of action may increase the likelihood of moving them to the middle of the funnel later on. There are several ways to do this:

  • Publishing free eBooks that require only an email to download, so you can follow up with the potential customer later
  • Maintaining an updated blog that tackles all the questions or issues customers might have that would lead them to your industry or company for solutions
  • Creating a how-to video that illustrates how customers can solve specific problems that may require the potential use of your own products or services

Asian Cooking Classes Lead Magnet Example

  • Free download in exchange for the user’s basic contact information.
  • Download is of pure value to the user only – not to the business selling (e.g. not a catalogue for example).
  • Having an effective lead magnet that does not cost the business repeatedly is not a requirement but recommended especially when scaling.
  • Lead magnet is related to what the business offers and helps guide the visitor toward the services offered.

2. Include Search Engine Optimization

SEO plays an important role in top of funnel marketing. Without it, customers would enter search queries that match your business perfectly, but get directed to information from your competitors instead. Note the type of titles that are most likely to catch their attention. At this stage, potential customers may be most interested in articles that discuss what, why, how and best. Keep in mind that by next year, 50% of online queries will be voice searches.

When evaluating the ROI of any strategy, the more widespread the benefits, the more attractive it becomes. Not only does SEO attract more traffic to your website by extending into untapped markets, it also helps to move customers down the funnel. Fast and easy-to-use websites as well as better online exposure results in higher conversion rates for you.

3. Keep It Cohesive for Branding Purposes

When handling top of funnel marketing, business owners often misinterpret what marketers mean by cohesiveness. The end result is that they replicate content across multiple mediums. The same thing posted on Twitter ends up on Facebook and so on. Customers bore easily, so few will continue following the same brand on multiple platforms if the content is all the same.

Instead, keeping cohesive speaks to the aesthetics, the tone or voice of the brand and the overall message. Using style guides can help to ensure that people working on different aspects of your content creation maintain one voice that shares the same overall message. This aspect of top of funnel marketing helps customers identify your brand as the provider of information they may come across on different platforms.

If you need help developing your style and brand guidelines document – contact us!

4. Create Persons for Your Customers

Do you know who your customers are? You may have a basic idea, but personalizing your audience can make a big difference. How do you pull this off? Gather the data you’ve been collecting and create customized personas of your customers. The keyword here is personas: not one, but several. Customers have different needs and this is often tied to differences in demographics. This, in turn, affects your top of funnel marketing strategy per segment.

Persuasive personas are responsible for a whopping 90% of sales for companies that use them correctly. Using personas also helps you identify the consumers you don’t want to focus too much of your resources on because they may not be as profitable. This allows you to set parameters for social media marketing, dictate the tone of your content and create the vibe of your ads. If this is news to you, you can develop your business’s personas in our FREE Digital Marketing Planner download.

Example Digital Marketing iGen Persona
Example of an iGen customer persona given in the Free Digital Marketing Planner.

Hire iSonic as Your Creative Agency

Content marketing plays an indispensable role in your SEO and overall marketing strategy. Content includes not just text, but images and videos. Hiring the right creative design agency can help to ensure the content is ingrained in your website rather than an afterthought. Combined with high loading speeds, ease of navigation and mobile-friendly features, you can create the top of funnel marketing strategy that delivers results.

At iSonic, we have been trusted with web design and digital marketing services for trusted brands, such as The University of Queensland, Bainbridge Technologies and Harvey Norman Commercial. Contact us for more information on how we can best serve you.

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