You may be attracting pools of prospects, but you won’t get far if they’re not the right ones. The goal at the top of the funnel is to draw as many prospects in, but not just any prospect. They must be high-quality — those with a high potential to convert. So you must optimize your upper funnel marketing strategy in light of that objective.
You can’t market to everyone, so you must focus on a specific target audience. The challenge is attracting the right leads that you can further funnel and become paying customers.
Let’s start by understanding what is happening at the top of the funnel marketing.
- Upper funnel marketing is aimed at attracting and engaging potential customers early in the sales funnel, focusing on brand awareness, lead generation, and product education to set the stage for further marketing efforts.
- The marketing funnel can be linear, where customers move through stages sequentially, or non-linear, where they enter and move through stages in any order, requiring different marketing approaches for each.
- Optimizing upper funnel marketing involves strategies like brand awareness campaigns, content marketing, targeted advertising, email marketing, and lead nurturing campaigns to attract high-quality leads and guide them towards making a purchase.
What is Upper Funnel Marketing?
Upper funnel marketing describes the activities employed to attract and engage potential customers at the top of the sales funnel. It includes brand awareness, lead generation, and product education. It focuses on initial impressions of your business. Upper-funnel marketing sets the stage for lower-funnel efforts like sales and customer service.
At the top of the funnel, the buyer is just beginning their research, looking for general information about their problem or need. They may not be set to commit to purchasing but are starting to develop a preference for certain brands or solutions. As such, TOFU marketing activities should focus on raising awareness of the product and generating interest by providing all the needed information.
You must familiarize yourself with two basic funnel types to create an effective marketing funnel strategy.
A Look at Linear vs. Non-Linear Funnels
A linear funnel is the most basic type of funnel. It starts with awareness and moves through to purchase. With a linear funnel, customers move through the stages of the funnel sequentially—they can’t jump ahead or skip any steps.
For example, let’s say you own a dog grooming business. Your linear funnel might look like this:
Awareness: The customer becomes aware of your business through word-of-mouth or online advertising.
Interest: The customer visits your website through different search engines to learn more about your services.
Consideration: The customer compares your services to those of other businesses in the area.
Purchase: The customer books an appointment with your business.
Before you can begin marketing to customers, your linear funnel must be set up correctly. That means clearly defining each stage of the funnel and understanding what needs to happen for customers to pass from one stage to the next. Once you’ve done that, you can start planning your marketing efforts accordingly.
Unlike a linear funnel, a non-linear funnel doesn’t have strict sequential steps. Customers can access the funnel at any point and move through it in any order they choose.
The non-linear funnel is often used by businesses that offer complex products or services that require more contemplation on the part of the customer before the buying decision. For example, if you sell software that requires a subscription, customers might sign up for a free trial before deciding whether to subscribe long-term. In this case, their journey through the funnel might look like this:
Awareness: The customer becomes aware of your business through word-of-mouth or online advertising.
Interest: The customer visits your website or social media pages to learn more about your offer.
Trial: The customer signs up for a free trial of your product or service.
Purchase: Based on their experience with the free trial, the customer decides whether or not to subscribe long-term (or buy outright).
As you can see, there are multiple entry points into the non-linear funnel, and customers can move through the stages in any order they choose—which makes planning your marketing efforts much more difficult than with a linear funnel. However, if done correctly, non-linear funnels can convert potential customers into paying ones.
Understanding these funnels is essential to planning effective upper marketing strategies. Once you know which type of funnel you’re working with, you can start mapping your marketing efforts accordingly.
Five Strategies to Optimize Your Upper Funnel Marketing
Here are five winning strategies to attract customers who are not yet ready to purchase but are beginning to develop a preference for certain brands or solutions.
Brand Awareness Campaign
A brand awareness campaign is an upper-funnel marketing effort to promote a product or service. The ultimate goal is unaided brand awareness. It can be short-term or long-term, and it can be targeted at both new and existing customers.
The most common brand-building methods include print advertisements, television commercials, online ads, social media postings, and events or sponsorships.
- Print advertisements are a traditional method of advertising that can reach a wide audience. However, print advertising can be expensive, and it can be difficult to track the results of a print ad campaign.
- Television commercials are another traditional method that still works in-market audiences, but TV ads can also be expensive and difficult to track.
- Online ads are less expensive than print or television ads and offer businesses the ability to target every new or repeat customer with laser precision.
- Social media postings are another way to reach potential customers where they already are – on their favorite social media platforms.
- And finally, events or sponsorships can help business gain exposure by associating themselves with a popular event or well-known organization.
When choosing which brand awareness campaign is right for your business, it is important to consider your goals, your target audience, and your budget. Remember that some methods may work better than others, depending on your specific situation.
Content marketing is an excellent way to reach potential customers at the top of the funnel. By creating helpful, informative content that addresses your audience’s pain points and answers their questions, you can attract them to your brand and build trust. Once you’ve built that trust, you can start selling to them.
Here’s how to get started with top-of-the-funnel content marketing so you can attract more leads and close more sales.
Create compelling headlines
Your headline is the first thing potential customers will see, so it needs to be compelling enough to make them want to click through to read your article or watch your video. To write an effective headline, start by thinking about what would make you want to click on an article or watch a video. Then, use those same principles when crafting your headlines.
Write great copy
Once you’ve got a headline that piques interest, it’s time to start writing great copy that keeps readers engaged until the end. When writing copy for the web, it’s important to keep things short and sweet. No one wants to read paragraphs upon paragraphs of text; they want information that is easy to digest and understand. So make sure your copy is direct and concise while still delivering value.
Use strong visuals.
In addition to great copy, strong visuals are essential for keeping people engaged with your content. People are visual creatures; we process images 60 thousand times faster than text. So including images, infographics, charts, and videos in your articles will help break up the text and make your content more visually appealing—and more likely to be shared!
Once you’ve created amazing top-of-the-funnel content, promote it like crazy. The most effective avenues include social media, email marketing, and paid advertising.
By promoting your content across multiple channels, you’ll reach a wider audience and increase the likelihood of conversion.
Measure your results
Lastly, don’t forget to conduct brand measurement and assess the results of all your hard work. After all, what’s the point in investing time and energy into creating top-notch content if no one’s reading it? By measuring pageviews, social shares, or comments, you’ll get a better idea of which pieces of content perform well with your audience so you can replicate marketing success in future campaigns.
While many businesses think advertising is only effective for generating leads at the bottom of the funnel, targeted advertising can be extremely effective for upper-funnel marketing activities.
Here are a few tips:
Choose the Right Platforms
Not all advertising platforms are created equal—some platforms are better suited for brand awareness campaigns than others. When choosing a platform for your targeted advertising, it’s important to consider factors like ad format, audience targeting capabilities, and cost.
Select Effective Keywords
If you want your ads to be seen by the right people, you need to select keywords that are relevant to your product or service. But selecting relevant keywords isn’t enough—you also need to ensure that your target audience is searching for them. For example, “dresses” would be a relevant keyword if you sell women’s clothing. However, if you’re targeting working mothers who don’t have time to go shopping, “affordable online dresses” would be a more effective keyword since it reflects the needs of your target audience.
Create Compelling Ads
Once you’ve selected the right platforms and keywords, it’s time to create ads that will capture your target audience’s attention. To do this, start by clearly defining your objectives—what do you want your target audience to do after seeing your ad? Once you know what you want your target audience to do, craft creative headlines and copy that will grip their attention and convince them to take action. Don’t forget to include a call to action in your ad to clarify what you want them to do next!
Email marketing is a great way to reach potential customers and promote your product or service. Using email marketing for upper funnel activities, you can create a more holistic approach that will ultimately lead to more sales. Here’s how to do it.
Use Targeted Lists
The first step is to create targeted lists. Rather than sending your emails to everyone on your list, take the time to segment your list into different groups. It could be based on location, age, or interests. Then, create separate emails for each group. It will ensure that your message is relevant to the recipients and that they are more likely to engage with it.
Include A Call-To-Action (CTA)
Your email should always include a CTA, even if you’re not promoting a specific product or service. A CTA could be something as simple as “Learn More” or “Sign Up Now.” By including a CTA, you’re giving recipients a specific action to take that will help move them further down the funnel.
Make Your Emails Mobile-Friendly
It’s important to make sure that your emails are mobile-friendly. More and more people read emails on their smartphones, so you must optimize emails for mobile devices. It means using short, concise sentences and large images that can easily be viewed on a small screen.
Lead Nurturing Campaigns
Lead nurturing is developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel and delivering targeted content that moves them closer to purchasing. The goal of lead nurturing is to build trust and credibility, establish yourself as a credible resource, and position your company as a trusted solution for their needs.
Lead nurturing campaigns are versatile to use in your full-funnel marketing strategy.
How Does Lead Nurturing Work?
Lead nurturing campaigns are typically delivered through email, although other channels, such as direct mail and social media, can also be used. They usually consist of automated emails triggered by a prospect’s interactions with your brand, such as subscribing to a newsletter, downloading a white paper, or attending a webinar.
The content in the lead nurturing emails is designed to move recipients further down the funnel by educating them about your product or service, building trust in your brand, and demonstrating your authority in the industry. The frequency of lead nurturing emails varies depending on the campaign goals and strategy, but they are generally sent weekly or bi-weekly.
It’s important to track the results of your lead nurturing campaigns so that you can continuously optimize them for maximum effectiveness. To do this, you need to set up tracking mechanisms such as Google Analytics goals or UTM parameters to see which recipients take which actions. You should also A/B-test different elements of your lead nurturing emails, such as subject lines and CTA copy, and send times to find out what works best for your audience.
The five strategies above can help you optimize your upper-funnel marketing and set your business up for successful lower-funnel tactics.
As we’ve seen, it is important to focus on filling that top of the funnel with high-quality leads that will eventually turn into customers. Creating a more holistic approach to the customer journey at every funnel stage inevitably leads to more sales.
Here are other frequently asked questions that will help you learn more about marketing funnels.
Upper funnel media refers to the advertising methods used when customers first learn about a business. For example, a company may display advertising on social media, videos, and websites.
Since your business needs to leave a positive first impression, upper-funnel media encourages people to interact with your business rather than make a purchase.
The upper funnel has more people in it. Since you’ll lose some people during the process, the lower funnel won’t have as many people. However, the lower funnel has potential customers close to their first purchases.
You want to place more leads into the lower funnel, but a good portion won’t end up there.
The lower portion and upper end of the funnel refer to leads who might become customers. They show interest in the business, have interacted with it, and may buy something in the future.
The upper middle refers to the people deciding if they want to purchase a product, while the lower relates to the steps right before purchasing anything.
Yes, you can use performance marketing at the top of the funnel. Performance marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on driving specific actions, such as website visits or product purchases. It relies on data and insights to determine which channels and campaigns will most likely result in desired outcomes. It makes it very effective to target potential customers who are most likely to be interested in your product or service.