Whether you call it the buyer journey or the marketing funnel, top-of-funnel content is the first stage to engage potential customers. While you need different content and marketing strategies as prospects move through the marketing funnel, top-of-funnel content is the most likely entry point.
How Do You Explain Top-of-Funnel Content?
Top-of-the-funnel content is designed to bring awareness to a company by educating readers or answering common questions. Often, top-of-funnel content (TOFU) focuses on common industry problems or challenges that need to be solved.
The goal is to capture the attention of people using search engines to find information online, establish your organization as an authoritative source of information, and drive your target audience into your content marketing funnel.
What Are the Objectives of Top-of-Funnel Content?
The objective of top-of-funnel content is to reach out to a broad range of potential customers as they are beginning the customer journey. Top-of-funnel marketing should grab their attention and demonstrate that your brand provides value.
Generate Brand Awareness
As part of your content strategy, each piece of content that is developed provides brand awareness and credibility. It’s the first step in building trust in your products or solutions, which is key to generating sales.
Answer Questions for Potential Customers
TOFU content generally answers specific questions that potential customers are searching for online. It’s important to understand the target audience to frame content properly, as well as the specific search terms people are using.
Provide Educational Content
Awareness stage content does not include a hard sell for products or services. It focuses on providing education and information. This is more important than ever — Google’s August 2022 Helpful Content Update promises to rank original, informative content higher.
To meet this standard, Google poses these questions:
- If someone comes to your site, will they find the content useful?
- Can you demonstrate firsthand experience and depth of knowledge that helps visitors?
- After reading your content, will visitors feel they’ve learned enough to achieve their goal?
- Will someone seeing your content have a satisfying experience?
If you can answer yes to these questions, Google says you’re on the right track.
Types of Content for Top-of-Funnel Marketing
Before the internet, marketers were forced to use paid advertisements to get the word out. While paid marketing campaigns are still valid, creating content that drives organic traffic is an extremely effective way to generate leads. It can capture people searching for solutions who may never see your paid marketing or know about your company.
Several types of content work effectively for top-of-funnel marketing.
Posts provide educational and informative content, generated to increase awareness of an issue or topic or answer questions. Often, blog posts are the first introduction to a company.
White papers go in-depth into problems, detailing complex issues or industry challenges and offering actionable solutions.
Infographics provide a visual way to understand use cases, comparisons, and tips. Readers should be able to glean the key points at a glance.
Social Media Posts
Short pieces of content on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms provide a gateway for users to learn more about a topic or click through to your website.
Webinars provide an interactive way for users to learn about industry issues and problems along with solutions using slideshows or videos.
How To Create High-Quality Content at the Beginning of the Customer Journey
Creating high-quality content at the beginning of the customer journey requires a strong understanding of your target audience. You need to research your target audience, their interests and needs, and your competition.
Create Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are representations of your ideal customers. This helps you create content that’s in line with their needs and deliver the information that speaks directly to them.
When developing top-of-funnel content, there are four steps you should take to create your buyer personas.
1. Analyze your current customers
By evaluating the people who are already your customers, you can get a good sense of who they are. Start by looking for patterns that indicate similarities. These might include:
- Geographic location
This information can help you spot segments and narrow your focus.
2. Analyze your market
You will also want to have a firm grasp of your market and how your products or services fit within that market. You need to know what problems you solve for customers and your unique value proposition (UVP) that sets you apart from competitors.
You’ll want to do research into your competitors’ offerings to help you find out who they’re targeting as well. You may want to target the same audience or find a slightly different niche that they aren’t filling. Either way, this can help inform your buyer persona.
3. Analyze engagement
By looking at your current marketing and content, you can get a sense of what generates interest. You’ll want to see what attracts attention and what customers are saying about your brand. Check out review sites, social comments, likes, and shares.
When you find content that resonates, it needs to be part of your overall marketing strategy. At the same time, it can help you refine your buyer personas.
4. Create your buyer personas
Once you’ve done your research, create your personas. Aggregating the information you’ve uncovered and creating a semi-fictional person who represents your customers can help you think of your prospects as individuals. You can then use this composite to create more personalized content.
Buyer personas should go beyond just demographics, including such information as:
- What problems or challenges are they facing?
- What are the key drivers that influence decisions?
- What values are most important to them?
Download a free buyer persona template from the team at Compose.ly.
Perform High-Volume Keyword Research
Keyword research helps you uncover the key search terms people use when looking for things on Google or other search engines. They can help you see what search terms you should use within your content that aligns with what people are searching for.
Keyword research can show you the most common ways people search and how popular or competitive these search terms are. It will show you what people care about and which terms generate the most searches.
Seeding your TOFU content with the right search terms is an important step in search engine optimization (SEO) to help you rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Compose.ly offers a comprehensive Keyword Research and Analysis report that can help you uncover new SEO opportunities. You can also use the free Google Keyword Planner.
Identify Commonly Asked Questions in Search Queries
Beyond specific keywords, you also want to see what questions potential customers are asking that align with your products or services. A significant amount of searches are in the form of a question, such as how, what, where, or who. When you can answer a question directly, you stand a better chance of ranking.
If you can capture the Google Snippet with an answer, your content can be featured below the paid links but above all the other organic results. To do so, however, you’ll need to know what questions are being asked and provide the answer that succinctly matches the search intent.
This can also help you get featured in Google’s “ People also ask” box, which highlights some of the most common questions and answers. As part of keyword research, typing search terms into a search engine and reviewing the "People also ask" can provide insight.
Center Your Content Strategy Around the Marketing Funnel
The content marketing funnel includes three stages. Each stage helps drive potential customers through the buyer journey.
- Top of funnel (TOFU): TOFU content is about awareness and discovery when potential customers are searching for solutions to challenges. At this stage, you are trying to capture leads.
- Middle of funnel (MOFU): MOFU content targets potential customers when they enter the research phase. In this stage, they are actively seeking a solution to their problem and conducting research into you and your competitors. At this stage, you are nurturing leads and providing them with personalized content to help in their research.
- Bottom of the funnel (BOFU): This is the final stage of the marketing funnel, where you are looking for conversions. Prospects are ready to make decisions, and you are encouraging them to act.
By focusing your content on the various stages, you are providing the content that potential customers are looking for at each stage.
As an example, you might think of it this way:
- TOFU: An explanation of common challenges and how they can be solved.
- MOFU: How your products and services are the best solutions.
- BOFU: Why prospects should buy your solution now.
Focus on Creating Valuable Content That Can Help Your Target Audience
If your TOFU content comes across as a blatant sales pitch, it will likely be ignored. At this stage, people are looking to learn about a topic, finding out whether others are facing the same challenges, and searching for answers.
Your TOFU content needs to capture their attention and answer their questions directly. In other words, each piece of content needs to deliver value. When you are developing content, take into account your buyer persona and keywords, so that you:
- Put your target audience at the center
- Focus content around solving challenges and problems
- Create a strong narrative that positions you as an authority on the subject
- Answer the questions posed or deliver on the promises you make
People will make decisions quickly about whether you are providing value. If you are not, it can hurt your brand and cause potential customers to continue to search for solutions, possibly from your competitors.
Advantages of TOFU Content
Top-of-funnel content is a powerful tool that can drive organic traffic. It can help you capture leads and feed prospects into your marketing and sales funnel.
Besides building brand awareness, TOFU content also provides several key advantages.
Has Low Competition
Since most companies focus on the bottom of the funnel, there’s less competition at the top end. TOFU content also provides a remarkable ROI. Once you’ve crafted a strong piece of content, it can deliver organic traffic for years to come, especially if you keep it updated.
Compare that to paid marketing, which works as long as you continue to pay for it. For example, buying keywords on search engines can help expose your brand. However, the minute you stop advertising, that exposure is gone. Organic content can pay dividends long after it was created.
Builds Customer Trust (Potential and Actual Customers)
Sales don’t happen without trust. Potential and current customers must believe you have the expertise to deliver on your promises. TOFU content provides a forum for you to demonstrate your expertise and showcase how you solve problems.
When you consistently add value and provide helpful information, you can gain that trust.
Provides Your Sales Team With Assets
TOFU content also provides assets for your sales team. When potential customers ask a question, it’s easy to direct them to the right piece of content that answers their questions. It also helps move buyers along, eliminating much of the work for the sales team in creating or explaining things. Once activated, sales teams can focus on selling.
Content marketing also helps the marketing and sales team to nurture prospects by providing them with the right content at the right time in the buyer journey.
Helps Improve Overall Results
There’s also a snowball effect that occurs with strong TOFU content. When your content ranks high on search engines, answering questions and providing valuable information, it sends quality signals. These signals are part of the algorithms search engines use to rank websites. So, the better your TOFU content ranks, the more valuable the search engine will see your website as.
As you consistently create content, you’ll start to rank organically for common questions and search terms, which has a cumulative impact to help your overall rankings.
Get Help With Your Content Needs Today
If you need help creating your top-of-the-funnel content, driving organic traffic into your sales funnel, or creating a strategic plan for content marketing, the experts at Compose.ly can help.
Compose.ly’s team of professional writers creates high-quality content that drives organic traffic. Contact Compose.ly today and start generating more qualified leads.