Top of funnel content is for brand-building, and bottom of funnel content is for sales. Ever heard this line before?
It’s not that I don’t have empathy for the people who say this. Most of the time, they just want a clear-cut delineation between brand and lead generation campaigns. I get it.
But still, that’s the wrong way to think about top of funnel content.
Top of funnel content (or TOFU content, as some people say), is designed to address the questions potential buyers ask during the awareness stage of their buyer’s journey.
And a buyer’s journey implies a buyer.
Which means that they’re buying something. Which means that they’re being sold to.
So while high quality top of funnel content will help to grow your brand, it should also drive sales and revenue. That way, you get an actual, tangible return on your digital marketing investment.
Here are some tips for creating top of funnel content that’s effective at feeding your sales funnel.
1. Focus on customer questions, needs, or pain points.
The #1 metric of content quality is whether you’re addressing or solving a real-life customer question or problem. This makes topic selection one of the most important drivers of content ROI.
If you want your top of funnel content to drive sales, you need to be intentional and selective in what you write about. You should only choose topics that deal directly with your target audience’s questions, needs, or pain — and occasionally something entertaining as well.
In addressing those key topics, you should be able to provide some unique value to the reader, something that they aren’t going to be able to get anywhere else.
Note that at this point in the buyer’s journey, you’re only seeking to draw awareness to these questions, needs, and pain. Don’t try to solve them at this point. Wait until the buyer moves to the next stage of the buyer’s journey before you do.
This isn’t the time to sell, but set them up for a potential sales conversation down the road.
2. Relate your top of funnel content to a product or service.
Generally speaking, top of funnel content is educational in nature. That said, just because a piece of content seeks to educate rather than sell, doesn’t mean that it’s completely irrelevant to your product or service.
Take Zoom, for instance. Earlier this month, they posted a helpful blog post on best practices for enabling a remote workforce.
This piece didn’t sell Zoom’s product directly, but it clearly educated the buyer on potential problems in their current remote workforce management structure, opening the door to discussing potential solutions.
If it’s helpful to think of it this way, start by thinking of the specific benefits your product or service gives to your customers. From there, work backwards until you arrive at the questions and topics a potential buyer would ask right as they start looking to solve those problems.
3. Create content for every stage of the funnel.
Once you attract and convert potential customers through your content, the remainder of your content marketing strategy should drive them into the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey and then, finally, into the decision stage.
This means you should have content prepared for every stage of the funnel so you have material to use in nurture campaigns and sales communications:
- Content at the bottom of the funnel can function as a hard sell, demonstrating the value of your product and helping the buyer make a decision.
- Content at the middle of the funnel helps the buyer weigh multiple options and consider the use cases and specific needs they require at this point.
- Content at the top of the funnel simply brings awareness to the problem in an effort to get them to think about potential solutions.
You don’t want to bring in a bunch of top of funnel leads and leave them with nowhere to go. Make sure you have a full funnel’s worth of content so you have a clear path forward for every lead you bring in.
4. Involve salespeople in the development process.
There are so many potential types of content for you to create — blog posts, white papers, how-to guides, checklists, videos, podcasts, etc. — that you can’t develop it all by yourself.
But since developing quality content at scale is so important, consider bringing in other people to help you with your content. Namely, your sales team.
Aside from providing additional manpower, salespeople can be a valuable asset in content development.
For starters, out of all the people in your organization, they’re the closest to the customer. They’re able to quickly identify which topics will be of value and which ones won’t (remember: this is the #1 metric of content quality).
Additionally, involving salespeople in the content creation process will increase their buy-in, making them more likely to help distribute that content in their sales communications.
So let them help create a piece of content. If it works, involve them more deeply in the next one.
Not only will this help increase the quality and scale of your content, it’s a great way to improve the alignment between marketing and sales. And in the end, the alignment between marketing and sales is where the rubber meets the road.
If you have content that generates high-quality top of funnel leads, nurture them to the point of wanting to talk to a salesperson, and a salesperson that can push them over the finish line, generating revenue is only a matter of time.