How to Win at Top of Funnel Marketing

Jean Myers
Published: Mar 18, 2020
Last Updated:
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It's natural to focus on the bottom of the funnel, turning leads into loyal customers, but conversion rate doesn't mean much if your pool of leads could fit in your living room.

Effective top of the funnel marketing broadcasts your brand and demonstrates your company's credibility, bringing in new leads to nurture and solidifying your place as an industry leader.

What is top of funnel marketing?

In the middle of the sales funnel, you're working to convince your audience that you provide the best solution for their need and that your solution is worth the price you're asking. At the bottom of the funnel, you're making the hard sell and developing brand loyalty. But before you get to either of those stages, you have to build awareness about your brand.

Top of the funnel marketing is designed to reach consumers who have never heard of your company. Perhaps they don't even know your product or service exists. With top of the funnel marketing, you're building awareness not only of what you offer but who you are. Is your company steadfast and dependable? Edgy and gutsy? Global and diverse?

At the top of the funnel, you're introducing your brand to the consumer for the first time. You aren't pressing for commitments or even email addresses. Top of the funnel marketing offers value to the audience for the sake of offering value, which inherently builds trust and interest in your company.

What does it accomplish?

The two primary goals of top of the funnel marketing are to:

  1. introduce your brand to as much of your target audience as possible, and
  2. secure a reputation as a trustworthy industry expert.

These two goals are key to making sales further down the funnel.

Building Brand Awareness

The key to cost-effective top of the funnel marketing is segmentation, focusing your campaign on a group of people who share interests or needs rather than trying to appeal to everyone at once. Targeted marketing reaches the consumers most likely to be interested, therefore moving them down the sales funnel.

It also helps you connect with your audience. Someone who views your ad or blog post and feels that the company understands their needs, lifestyle, and preferences is going to be inclined to feel an affinity for the brand and to trust the communicator who "gets" them.

Establishing Trust

When you offer well-written, thoughtful content that is relevant to the industry and the reader's needs, you communicate two things:

  1. This company adds value without expecting anything in return. They genuinely want to help their customers.
  2. This company knows what they're talking about. They are a trustworthy source of information.

Position your company as a thought leader in your industry, and people will turn to you for guidance when they have questions about your area of expertise.

Whether they are considering a purchase, need to compare products, or are just curious about some aspect of your niche, you want consumers to rely on you for answers. Forge that relationship using content that displays your knowledge and insight.

What does top of funnel marketing look like?

Blog posts and articles

Content marketing costs less than half as much as traditional ads and results in three times as many leads—given its economic advantages, it's no surprise that many brands use content like blog posts and articles as a core part of their marketing efforts. Company websites with a blog have 97% more links leading traffic their way.

<div class="tip">Quality outweighs quantity. Even if you published articles on a daily basis, lackluster content would not benefit your business's branding. Be sure to write good articles that deliver real substance and value to your audience.</div>

Social media

90% of adults aged 18 to 29 are on social media. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Nextdoor, and Pinterest are some of the most popular platforms. Regular social media posts are an inexpensive way to connect with your target audience.

When it comes to social media marketing, creativity is key. Mix it up with live videos, infographics, quotes, cartoons, stats, top ten lists, and links to your webpage content. Rapid, relatable responses to comments and questions also demonstrate an investment in your customer base and convey your brand's vibe.


What is someone more likely to share with a friend, a traditional ad or a funny video clip? More serious ads have their place, but so do quizzes, GIFs, and quirky memes. It's crucial to know your audience with this route though, as what is humorous to one group may be confusing or offensive to another.

How do you connect with your audience?

Audience analysis

The key to successful top of the funnel marketing is segmentation, or designing a campaign to reach a subgroup of your target audience.

Define a group that has similar preferences, habits, and needs. Conduct market research to find your target audience and use tools such as Google In-Market Audiences and Custom Affinity Audiences to find out who is clicking ads and searching for words related to your niche.

Buyer personas

Use that data to create a buyer persona, a sketch of a character that represents a segment of your target audience. This gives you a clear picture of the kind of person you are communicating with. What do they want? What kind of ad layout appeals to them?

Media selection

Find out where your buyer is hanging out online. Which platforms do they prefer? Besides social media networks, consider forums like Quora and Reddit.

Research the most engaging form of content for that platform and for that market segment—then customize accordingly.

Content development

Use what you have learned in your research to personalize your content for your target audience. Let them know that you understand the challenges they face, their pain points, and what makes them tick.

How will you know if it’s working?

Keeping an eye on metrics can help optimize your top of the funnel marketing. Be sure to measure:

  • how many people view your content
  • the sources and demographics of that traffic
  • user response, e.g., click-through rate, bounce rate, average session length, pages per visit

Google Analytics and Search Console, SEMRush, Facebook Insights, and Instagram Insights all provide helpful metrics.

Major Takeaways

Top of the funnel marketing can introduce your brand to potential customers who would otherwise have never heard of your company. Make a good first impression with content that meets the consumer where they are and offers them valuable knowledge, insight, or entertainment.

This article was written by writer Tracy Patterson.


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