We’ve all been a part of the marketing funnel, especially at the top. It may have been as early as last night.
Here’s an example. You finally get time to sit back, kick your feet up, and relax on the sofa. With the remote in hand, your search for a movie or show to stream on Redbox. As soon as you click on the preview, you're in! Welcome to the top of the marketing funnel.
It all starts at the top, including the process of conversion. That’s what makes the top of the funnel a key player and an area for your business to focus on to draw the spotlight on you.
What is the Marketing Funnel?
A marketing funnel, also known as a sales funnel, represents a customer’s journey with your company. It breaks down their journey into four stages (AIDA):
- Awareness (Top of the funnel)
- Interest (Middle of the funnel)
- Desire (Middle of the funnel)
- Action (Bottom of the funnel)
There is a fifth stage to consider that falls between the stage of Interest and Decision. It is called Evaluation.
Personas have been created and the goals identified before engaging with any part of the funnel.
Stage 1 | Awareness
Grab your fishing pole and head out to the lake. It’s time to get your name out there.
Show off your products and services to potential customers through marketing techniques such as email marketing, social media posts, and blogging.
During the awareness stage, your goal is to draw the attention of customers to your company. You can’t sell a product or service that no one knows about, can you?
Stage 2 | Interest
Your line is in the water, but not for long. During this stage, you’ve hooked the customers. They are beginning to notice your products and services and are gaining interest.
Now, the customer spends more time on your webpage (even if they are just browsing). They are reading reviews but are still unsure.
Stage 3 | Evaluation
In stage 3, the customer's interest becomes more serious. They evaluate your products and services, searching for customer reviews and testimonials.
Stage 4 | Desire
Time to change your customer’s thought process from an “I like it” to an “I need it.”
The customer wants to establish trust during the "desire stage, so try to close the loop! Provide them with the facts, offering opportunities for a demo or comparing product stats.
Stage 5 | Action
This is the moment of truth. Will the fish bite the line so you can reel them in?
The customer is ready to make a commitment, following through with their shopping cart and giving you the sale. Does that end the cycle, though?
Absolutely not! It’s expensive to gain the interest of customers. Thus, at the decision phase, you want to focus on how you can keep them interested and how they can lead you to new leads (i.e., referrals).
What Is the Top of the Funnel?
Stage 1, Awareness, represents the top of the funnel (ToF).
Not only are customers beginning to learn about your products and services, but you are also beginning to learn about them. It’s the start of a beautiful friendship.
As your potential customers are skimming the website, you can gather important information regarding their search. This includes their likes, interests, and browsing behavior.
Moving Customers to the Middle of the Funnel
Not all potential customers that pass through the top of the funnel make it to the next stage. Here are a few strategies to use to encourage their movement to the middle of the funnel:
- Keep them educated
- Create a sense of value
- Make your content interesting
- Have visuals
- Focus on the buyer
- Don’t be a pest; give the customer space
- Think ahead; what does the customer want next?
Marketing Ideas at the Top of the Funnel
There are various marketing techniques to choose from at the top of the funnel. It’s the best time to put your creative hat on and think like the customer.
Let’s review some of the tools that are at your disposal to jump-start your new customer’s journey at the top of the funnel.
Email remains a prime form of communication for people. It’s available in a customer’s back pocket, literally!
Behind the scenes, you’ll have:
- An email list. This includes potential customers who have shared interests in your products or services or fall within a targeted location, demographic, or age group.
- Pre-built templates. Specially tailored messages are ready and rearing to be sent to customers' email boxes, triggered by a specific action or behavior.
Use email marketing to your advantage. Capture leads by constructing emails with:
- An opt-in form.
- A clear, defined call-to-action (CTA)
- Landing pages
- Invitations to events
SEO or SEM
Search engine optimization (SEO) is known to build awareness. It’s the intent to enhance a customer’s experience. Time is of the essence, and people want to find what they want when they want it. Waiting isn’t always an option.
Examples of SEO include:
- Content marketing
- Link-building strategies, such as backlinks
Search engine marketing (SEM) is another form of marketing that works at the top of the funnel. It works similar to SEO, except it is specifically used in paid search marketing.
According to Statista, over 3.78 billion users were on social media platforms! That makes it a solid place to grab the attention of your target audience. This number is only expected to grow!
To attract potential customers through social media, try solving a problem for them. One they may not know they even have. It could indirectly speak to their professional or personal life, leading them to explore your brand.
Advertisements through social media quickly drive traffic to your website.
Potential customers may not arrive at your website directly. Instead, they are brought there through SEO, social media, and other website referrals.
Once they arrive, it’s your chance to shine and pull them deeper into the sales funnel. Encourage them to move from the top through offers or promotions, or ask them to sign-up for newsletters and updates.
Blog posts are used as a form of conversation between parties. It contains discussions or information useful to a targeted group of people.
The world wide web makes stumbling across a blog post second nature. For example, perform a google search for a general recipe. Review the results. Many are bloggers, sharing their experiences with the audience firsthand.
Make content appealing enough in a blog post so that your target audience is doing a second take. Infographics and eye-catching images are two examples.
With the top of the funnel focused on winning their audience's attention, retargeting acts as a means to follow-up or check-in.
Let’s suggest that a particular visitor you identify as visiting your website begins to sign-up for communications, then vanishes. Providing you have their email address, retarget them.
Set up an automated email triggered to send after a specified period of lapsed time. Include a personalized message in the email letting customers know that you noticed and there may be items they viewed that are waiting on the shelves for them to return.
Reminders work wonders. They may even lead to the customer further down the funnel, to the point of conversion. It’s worth a try!
Metrics to Focus on At the Top of the Funnel
Reporting and analytics are a part of the process. They serve as a form of measurement for you to use to enhance your strategy. You want the best results from your campaign, so use these to lead the way to success.
Metrics to use at the top of the funnel include:
- Email Bounce Rates - This rate should be low, indicating that your email list has active, valid email recipients. The more that bounce back means less visibility to your brand.
- Impressions - How many eyes have seen an advertisement? What is the view rate? It may be good to note what channel it is viewed on too.
- Average Time on Site - Are people spending time engaging with the website, or is the visit short?
- Web Traffic - First, measure the number of people visiting your website. Then, measure the number of people that return. Why are they returning or not returning?
The Bottom Line
Don’t overlook the top of the funnel. There is a commitment here, and effort is required. Money, too, as marketing efforts should be in full swing, getting your brand out there in front of the public.
Run the metrics and analyze them routinely. It may take one small adjustment to open the flood gates, guiding potential customers from the top of the funnel to their next stage, the middle.
Make the process of engaging with your audience more efficient through email automation. Visit QuaGrowth for more information on how you can maximize your results.