It’s hard to grab people’s attention these days, and even tougher to keep it. That’s why so many brands spend significant time and energy focused on the top of their marketing funnel. Especially with inbound marketing, if you want to create leads among your target audience, you’ll need some powerful tactics to draw potential customers into your marketing funnel.
To help guide you through a few top of funnel marketing tactics is our Director of Client Services, Kate Cygan. Kate has spent her career working closely with businesses of all sizes and managing the implementation and success of their marketing strategies. Through her experience, she’s identified five key tactics businesses can use to attract leads into your funnel and a few tips on how to convert them.
Top of Funnel as a Foundation
The top of the funnel is the entry point into your brand. It’s where you can capture the largest audience that’s interested in your product or service. And Kate notes that, most importantly, it’s where you can start building a relationship with potential customers.
“Instead of talking to someone in your sales department, most, if not all, customers do some form of online research before deciding to engage with your brand,” Kate says.
Using top of funnel tactics can help you capture these awareness stage leads through various marketing channels and bring them over to your website. The goal is to create an interest in your brand that leads them to engage and offer more information. Ideally, this content will target your ideal client and their unique problems but this wide net is likely to catch a few extra fish too.
“It’s important that you’re allowing your online audience to either qualify or disqualify themselves based on the information on your website,” Kate notes. “That way they know if their needs and your brand are a good fit before they ever even talk to someone on your team.”
Kate reminds us that fostering this independent assessment can save your sales team time on leads that just aren’t a good fit, allowing them to focus energy on better opportunities.
Lastly, it’s important to understand how your top of funnel tactics form the foundation of your customer’s journey.
“These tactics generate brand awareness and act as the very first touchpoint with leads,” Kate says. “That establishes who you are in their mind and how you can help them. It’s important to provide information that can build trust and credibility so leads feel confident enough to take the next step with you.”
Top of Funnel Marketing Tactics
Kate likes to remind her clients that when it comes to their audience, it’s important to remember that people interact with every marketing channel differently. Each of her top 5 tactics present a distinctive way to relate to, entertain and engage top of funnel leads with different types of content.
Social Media Posts
Whether it’s through paid ads or natively posted content, social media is a unique opportunity to engage with potential customers on a more personal level. It’s also a great opportunity for lead generation because many consumers go straight to their favorite platforms when they want to learn more about a brand. And with the rising use of social media, it’s a reliable first touchpoint with your target audience.
“When planning your social content, try to stick to the 80/20 rule,” Kate says. “80% of your content should educate or entertain your audience and only 20% should directly promote your business or products.”
To make sure that informative 80% is diverse and valuable to your audience, Kate recommends using another social media formula—the 5:3:2 ratio. In this method, 50% of your weekly posts are sourced from somewhere else; 30% are your own creations; and 20% are just for entertainment that matches your audience.
For example, if you post 10 times a week, 5 posts would be shared from brands you follow or thought leaders offering interesting insights. Three posts would be information you create in-house, whether about your products and services, industry, brand or other relevant topics. Two posts would be fun, such as pictures of the office dog or a poll for who won your Wacky Shirt Wednesday contest.
“Don’t forget user-generated content,” Kate adds. “Using testimonials or sharing posts from your clients using your product (when you have permission to do so) can create some social proof for your brand.”
When awareness stage leads find your account and see other people, just like them, enjoying the value of your product or service, it’ll plant the seed of trust. They’ll have the confidence they need to explore your brand further and start their journey through your marketing funnel.
The beauty of blogs is that you can target each piece of content to a specific stage in the buyer’s journey. So when it comes to capturing those top-of-funnel leads, creating awareness stage blog posts focused on providing helpful information will yield the best results.
Kate likes to remind clients that it’s also important to leverage search engine optimization in your content marketing. Optimizing blog posts with target keywords and answering questions your audience is asking can help you rank better on search engine results pages, which makes your posts visible to a wider audience.
“One thing to remember when working with SEO is that it’s a slower approach than other marketing strategies,” Kate says. “It can take about 6-9 months to start seeing a lift in your organic traffic.”
The slower timeline is because you have to rely on the search engine (usually Google) and its algorithms to discover, index and rank each of your pages before you can start moving up in the search results.
If you don’t want to wait that long to start seeing some kind of return from your written content, Kate suggests finding ways to use it in the sales process. “Educate your sales team on how the content can be used in their approach and when it makes sense to send certain pieces of content to their prospects. This can help to educate and nurture leads to push them further into your sales funnel.”
[👉 Want to learn more about content SEO? Check out this article!]
This type of interactive content is extremely valuable because it requires leads to engage with your brand to access the information they want. It’s also a chance for you to gather more information about new leads so you can effectively target their interests and steer them toward relevant products or services.
Kate notes another benefit of using quizzes as top-of-funnel content is that you can give users “personalized” results. This shows you’re invested in what’s right for them and not just in making a sale. “This can also help drastically shorten the sales cycle when executed correctly because it builds trust with the person and gets right to the heart of their problem,” Kate says.
Plenty of companies utilize quizzes to help their customers find the right product for them. They could be detailed and require some personal information, or broad just to get a feel for someone’s preferences. Kate recommends checking out these three examples to see how the quiz structure can vary:
“Quizzes take the guesswork out of finding a product or service. And if customers feel like what they’ve found matches their needs, they might not need to spend more time looking at your competitors. They’ll be much more inclined to stay on your website and hit the ‘Buy Now’ button.”
Video is a key component of any good digital marketing strategy. Kate says she loves using videos in sales and marketing processes because it “makes your messaging feel more real and is more engaging for your audience.” It’s also a great way to break down complex topics into short, digestible pieces, which can yield powerful results for technical businesses.
One hurdle many businesses are concerned about when considering video is the investment. To that, Kate reminds us, “Not all content needs to, or even should be, overly produced. There’s power in a professional video done on a smartphone that shows the real people behind the business.”
Kate’s favorite example of this tactic is the “Shot on iPhone” ad campaign that debuted in 2014. The premise was simple: source high-quality, user-generated videos to show the quality of the iPhone’s camera. It had low production costs with a high production value and piqued people’s interest in the product. Today, people are shooting entire feature-length movies on their iPhones!
Although you might not have quite the brand power of Apple, your videos can be just as powerful. Your video marketing should mostly live on your website, but Kate also advises finding ways to integrate it with your sales process or repurpose it for other channels, such as social content or blog posts. This helps you reach a larger audience and provides value to people considering a purchase decision.
At Lone Fir, we use 1:1 videos in both our sales and marketing processes to speak directly to potential clients and explain our services. It helps develop a personal connection and allows the person to watch and learn on their time.
Another way to leverage video in your marketing campaigns is by offering webinars. This is one of the best ways to educate and engage leads because you know they’re interested in your topic and looking for guidance.
Webinars can be live or pre-recorded, but Kate says there’s something special about hosting a live webinar. “It’s a unique experience to be able to reach these awareness stage leads in such a personal setting. They’re sitting at their computers with you and you know that you’re reaching them with information they care about. Plus, it gives you a chance to directly interact with them by answering their questions and offering to follow up after the event.”
There’s even the added benefit of an understood quid pro quo when it comes to webinars. In order to access the video or get the Zoom link, users have to exchange some of their information. This gives you a starting point with a lead, according to Kate. It shows you what their interest is, which can help you choose the right email marketing options to nurture their interest and eventually convert them into a customer.
One company that does a great job of using webinars (and video) in their marketing campaigns in Clearscope. Users can find significant value in their product alone, but for users on the platform’s email list, there are regularly added bonuses in the form of exclusive webinars.
“Clearscope utilizes its industry knowledge to target their customers’ biggest pain points: generating organic traffic,” Kate says. The Clearscope team uses its in-house experts to break down major topics in the content marketing world. This gives people access to professional advice and tutorials for just the cost of their email address.
What Value Can You Offer?
Top of funnel marketing tactics is all about offering the right kind of value at the right time. People in the awareness stage are looking for information above all else. If you can be their knowledge base, then it helps you build a trusting relationship from Day One and gives leads the confidence to take the next step with your brand.
To get some more advice or just to chat with Kate about your business’s top of funnel tactics, schedule a call with us! She’s always happy to help our clients grow.