We are living in a world where people are constantly bombarded with information. To be heard, marketers must create compelling content that captures the attention of their audience. One strategy for capturing attention is building awareness and credibility through the top of funnel marketing.
This article will discuss what top-of-funnel marketing is and how you can use it to build your brand awareness and generate more leads for your business.
What is the top of the funnel strategy, and why should you be using it?
The top of the funnel strategy is a marketing term that refers to activities such as branding, brand awareness building and lead generation.
These types of campaigns are focused on “widening” your potential customer base by getting people interested in what you’re selling before they actually need it or realize they want it.
While many digital marketers have started focusing their attention on bottom-of-the-funnel strategies like conversion optimization and upselling (i.e., purchase intent), there are still plenty of opportunities for businesses at the top of the funnel.
Where do free trials fit in your campaign?
For example, think about all those brands that offer free trials. This type of campaign allows customers to experience firsthand how great something might be without investing any money upfront into buying anything yet.
Getting people acquainted with your brand in this way is a perfect strategy for building awareness and reaching new potential customers.
A few more examples of top-of-the-funnel strategies are co-marketing campaigns, social media engagement (i.e., retweets, likes), blogging/vlogging to create content that will be interesting to wider audiences outside of the people who already know about you.
The point is – it’s not yet time to worry about converting prospects into customers. The bottom layer is all about that – optimizing their experience on the site once they’re there. In the beginning, it’s a great time to start thinking about widening your audience through outreach and branding via channels like these.
How to create a content marketing plan for your business
Prior to any marketing or branding activities, you need a plan. Since content marketing is one of the best ways of getting your brand recognizable, credible, and interesting, it’s a good point to start.
Step One: Determine what you want to accomplish.
I’d recommend starting with a content marketing mission statement that defines your goals and values at the heart of your brand strategy.
This is important because it will help guide which type of content to create, how much budget should be allotted for each piece, who should have input in creating the message, etc. It’s also worth noting – this plan can’t exist without knowing where you’re headed.
It might sound basic, but many people get caught up on “what” they need to share instead of “why.” For example: if your goal is simply to increase awareness, then sharing tips isn’t going to cut it. By contrast, if branding or lead generation is more relevant objectives than just plain awareness, then you’ll need to think about how you can create content that will accomplish these goals.
Step Two: Know where you want to go.
Now that we know the key objectives for your strategy, it’s time to think about how you’ll get there.
Know what will work best in terms of channels (website, social media, email marketing) and tools (blogging software, video hosting).
Once you’ve established these things, then move on to defining KPIs. This is all about measuring success, so a good place to start would be tracking engagement metrics like shares or likes.
Step Three: Design Your Content Strategy & Marketing Plan
This stage involves three main components: content creation, distribution channel analysis, KPI mapping and optimization.
Start by creating an editorial calendar identifying which days/weeks will have new posts and what will be written on them.
Next, map out your content plan by identifying the types of posts you’ll write (e.g., how-to articles, product reviews). Looking at your competition can help you get a feel for what types of posts are popular on social media and how often they’re shared.
In fact, tapping into your competitors is the best way of gathering information. While simple mimicking of their strategy won’t really do you any good, looking into their activities can give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Top 8 tips for brand awareness building
Work with your customers: Reach out to satisfied customers and ask them if they would be willing to write reviews about you or share/like content that is posted on social media. You could also offer discounts in exchange for customer feedback.
Improve your SEO to rank better
First of all, your website will need content. At times, if the industry is not too fierce, this is all you need.
I know people who managed to rank in the top 3 with nothing but well-optimized content and a properly executed internal linking strategy.
The best way to have great SEO is to build topically relevant silos of content. To clarify, this means that, for each “money page,” you should have at least a dozen of other pages that reinforce this one by supplying link juice.
It’s imperative not to have the pages cannibalize one another, too. This means that you should have one dedicated keyword of large volume for these traffic and conversion generating pages.
The same goes for internal linking. While topically similar keywords are totally fine to rank other pages for, make sure that you’re not diluting the power of one page between a couple of other ones.
Content curation sites like Triberr are great at finding relevant blog posts, which means less work spent building out a campaign strategy from scratch.
Encourage your existing clients to refer their friends and family. This may seem obvious, but many people don’t do it as much as they could.
To start a referral program, you may want to introduce an incentive in the form of a discount for both the referrer and the referred.
Paid advertising is a great way to get the word out. Such ads can be targeted in most instances based on location, age group or profession.
Networking doesn’t always have to happen online. The more social interactions you have with people who are interested in what your company does, the better chance they’ll remember it later on when considering products or services that might interest them.
Since the pandemic is nearing an end, this can prove to be a great strategy. People are tired of isolation and they crave human contact now more than ever.
Diversify marketing channels
Don’t rely too heavily on just one form of marketing.
Try using multiple methods of marketing so potential clients don’t feel like someone’s harping at them. Combine email campaigns, guest posting, Facebook Ads and paid promotions for the best results.
It also helps keep things fresh. Using well-established, industry-specific marketplaces with social media integrations can be a great way of providing your customers with yet another possibility of reaching you.
Build relationships with other brands and companies that share your values. This will help to broaden the reach of your company’s message, which can lead to bigger success in the future.
Focus on Brand Awareness
You need to be focusing on brand awareness before you even start thinking about sales or profit margins.
A company’s brand is what makes them memorable. With the pandemic on its way out, people will need to find new ways of getting their fix of innovation. If you don’t have a strong branding strategy in place before then, your business could quickly be forgotten among all the competition.
As soon as you have an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), start building your brand.
Nowadays, the competition is quite fierce, and unless to win over customers with an innovative product, branding should come first. The thing is, 90% of startups fail — these are the statistics. There are multiple reasons for their failure, such as low budget or the lack of a business plan, but one of the most prominent ones is a poor branding and marketing strategy.
As soon as your product starts gaining traction, executing word-of-mouth marketing strategies and sales funnel building are the next steps. You need to become at least somewhat recognizable.
Mind you, that recognisability should not be associated with a bad product, but with a good one. In this case, contrary to some others, bad publicity is not good.
Benefits of branding over doing direct-response ads only
The benefits of branding over just direct-response ads only become apparent when the product truly is worth talking about. And it’s not enough for your audience to hear you. You need people to actually care what you have to say. You need to understand that your message has value for them too.
The value can happen through building a strong brand that communicates who you are as an organization or person. Also, this can answer the question of why somebody should buy from you rather than somebody else.
Building this strong brand takes time. Don’t expect overnight success with this approach. Still, if done well, it will last long into the future as demand grows for more of your goods or skills.
All in all, there are many different strategies one could adopt depending on the industry, market characteristics, and the mission of the brand.
Branding should come first, marketing second. The top of the funnel strategy is to build brand awareness. The top of the funnel approach takes time but will last long into the future.
Top Image Credit: created by vectorjuice; freepic; thank you!
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