Content marketing is a solid strategy for boosting search presence on Google and generating leads online.
Producing content allows you to answer your audience’s questions and nurture them through the buyer’s journey — Awareness, Evaluation, and Conversion.
In this article, we’re diving deep into the first stage of the Buyer’s Journey and talking about creating Top-of-the-Funnel (ToFu) Content to boost search ranking and raise awareness for your company.
What is ToFu Content?
Top-of-the-Funnel (ToFu) content focuses on providing answers to questions that your target audience is asking. Readers are looking to be educated or inspired and aren’t ready to make decisions yet.
How Does ToFu Content Fit into the Buyer’s Journey
Future buyers start their journey when they hear something that leads them to your business or product. Or perhaps they find you while researching a subject that is related to your product or service.
For example, let’s say that you’re a business consultant that offers strategic planning services. Your target customer attended a seminar and heard a new term — exit strategy.
They aren’t sure what it is, but they want to know more about it and how it impacts their business, so they do a Google search like “What is a corporate exit strategy?” They’ll find articles like this one and this one.
This ToFu content at the top of the funnel focuses on raising awareness and providing general answers to common questions your prospects ask long before they are ready for your services.
From there, with the right lead nurturing, they’ll likely go on to research things like:
- “How to create an exit strategy” (MoFu Content)
- “Who needs an exit strategy” (MoFu Content)
- “Exit strategy example” (BoFu Content)
- “Exit strategy consultant” (BoFu Content)
How ToFu Content Improves Search Rank
Future customers that are just beginning the buyer journey are hungry for information, and that hopefully leads them to your services. They learned about a new concept or opportunity, and now they want to know more about it.
These ToFu prospects are searching Google for more information about the topic of their current interest. They want to learn, and they will read the content you post on your site to learn more about the subject.
Each question that they type into Google is a potential lead for your business—and it’s up to you to give them the answer instead of your competitor.
Examples of ToFu Content
Blogging is one of the best ways to increase organic traffic to your website and generate awareness of your brand. It is an excellent tool to leverage when creating ToFu content.
If you write relevant blog articles on the topics that interest the reader, it shows you’re an expert on the subject matter concerning your business and the services you provide. When you give them content value at this stage, they will look deeper into your website for more information.
When writing blog articles, you need to create a strategy for determining what topics you’re going to write about and why, as well as when they need to be completed and published.
Each of your main topics should be broad. You will use them to create categories for sorting your blog articles. You will want to use subcategories to organize your content further, but don't get too carried away with this.
We don’t recommend that you develop subcategories that start to go down into multiple levels. Burying your content this way can become problematic, as it makes it hard for your search engine to find your content. Besides that, you’re likely to lose your reader.
Stick to only going one level deep with your subcategories to make them more user and search engine friendly.
To show you what I mean, let’s take a look at an example of an excellent ToFu blog article series to give you an example.
Freelance Digital Marketing - The Ultimate Guide
In this first example, Thrive Themes is targeting their ToFu prospects by offering them the ultimate guide to becoming a freelance digital marketer.
Their target audience is solopreneurs, and their primary product is a fully decked out WordPress theme with plugins that allows even the most non-tech savvy person to build and design a professional-looking website quickly and effortlessly.
By targeting people who are researching and learning how to become freelance digital marketers, they are attracting people who are the ideal customers for their product.
What makes this the perfect example of a ToFu blog article series, is how well they understand the reader's frame of mind and the information they need to learn to get the most value out of their articles as possible.
Instead of putting all their information into a pdf, they turn each chapter into a single blog article. A CTA (Call To Action) is at the end of each section. This prompts the reader to go to the next chapter and keep reading.
They understand that being pushy is only going to drive away a ToFu reader, so that’s why they don’t include a sales pitch or ads on any of the posts. It’s not until the end of the guide at the end of the very last chapter that they encourage the reader to take action appropriate for a ToFu prospect.
They don’t push the reader to think about buying anything. Instead, they tell them about another guide that’s relevant to the one they just read, and they include links with copy instructing the reader to check out the other articles on their blog or visit their YouTube channel for videos.
You can see their blog article series for yourself here: https://thrivethemes.com/freelance-digital-marketing/
Videos can be used on their own, but they’re even more effective when used in combination with blog articles or email newsletters.
Videos are one of the fastest ways to establish trust with a new ToFu prospect, and you would be missing out on the opportunity to convert a bunch of new leads by not leveraging the power of video content.
You can establish a YouTube channel and post them to drive traffic to your website. You can also use them on other social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Increase engagement on your blog articles by including a video introduction, visual explanations of complicated topics, or even summaries of the key points mentioned in the article.
In most cases, when someone lands on your article, they skim the written content on the page, and if they don’t see anything that grabs their attention, they bounce.
By including videos in your post, you’re way more likely to see those types of visitors stick around a little longer because they clicked to watch it.
The longer a visitor sticks around, the better because it helps you rank higher in the search engines. Search engines want to serve up the best content to searchers, and websites with readers who stick around longer must be providing something their visitors want to see—right? Right.
So, it only makes sense that search engines with a lower bounce rate (# of visitors that leave quickly rather than continuing to view other pages within the same site) are ranked higher in search engines.
You can get these visitors to stick around even longer by creating high-quality videos that are engaging and provide value to the viewer.
Here’s an example of a highly engaging video that has gotten a massive amount of views.
Anna Wintour Teaches Creativity and Leadership | Official Trailer | MasterClass
Anna Wintour’s video, published on YouTube on September 6, 2019, has gotten almost 20 million views. You'll find this video embedded on the Masterclass landing page, where you can purchase a pass to attend her Masterclass.
What makes her video so impressive is that she checks all the checkboxes an engaging and actionable sales video should check. What do I mean by that?
The video starts with Anna quickly rushing through a sea of reporters who are desperately trying to get her attention while she speaks to someone on the phone.
Within the first few seconds of her video, she’s already hooked the viewer with action and made them want to keep watching. This scene infers to the viewer that she has celebrity status, which helps to gain the viewer’s trust.
The video continues with emotionally engaging music, and the words “meet your instructor” flashes on the screen. This scene makes the viewer aware that the person in the video is going to teach them something, which piques their interest.
Then a quote from a trusted source flashes next: “Most powerful woman in media and entertainment.” - Forbes
Seeing this, the viewer will think, “Well, if Forbes thinks that highly of her, maybe she can teach me something useful. Tell me more.”
The creator syncs this video with the impression he expects the viewer to have. Anna comes out to talk one-on-one with the viewer. She gives a class sample with the opportunity to enroll in her Masterclass to get the instruction they are searching for.
You can watch Anna’s video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7BkeFy_L94
Guides or eBooks
You can do your guide like the previous example, but another way is to make the guide into a PDF that you use to collect emails from visitors so you can nurture them into leads.
Guides and eBooks are both used for this purpose. You need to make sure that they are thorough and detailed and provide actionable steps the reader can use to earn a quick win.
A quick win is when you teach them something valuable and provide them with steps and the tools they need to make it happen. The best guides and eBooks prompt the reader to perform some kind of quick and easy action that produces real results they can feel good about.
By providing ToFu visitors with the resources and tools that gave them that experience, you establish yourself as an expert and earn their trust.
Here is an example of one of my favorite eBooks offered as a gated download (they have to provide you with their email first) that does a great job at nurturing ToFu readers.
HubSpot: How to Use Instagram for Business
HubSpot sells software that helps businesses with their CRM, marketing, sales, and website needs.
One way they attract ToFu prospects is by offering a free eBook to teach them how to use Instagram to promote their business.
A visitor can download this comprehensive eBook when a visitor fills out a request for some basic contact information. They can then use that information to send more relevant information and content later.
The eBook explains everything someone needs to know about how to use Instagram along with HubSpot’s marketing software to create and monitor campaigns.
You can get the free eBook and read it for yourself here: https://offers.hubspot.com/instagram-for-business?_ga=2.164895167.1875007924.1586461913-1771823768.1570153515
It’s never been easier to bring your blog articles to life and showcase your personality. Video isn’t your only option. You can use podcasts to establish trust and connect with ToFu leads as well.
Podcasts are audio-only files you can upload to individual blog articles as well as popular podcast stations—like Apple Podcasts.
An excellent example of a great podcast is this one that I happen to listen to myself. Let’s take a look at this to see what makes a podcast engaging and informative.
Building a StoryBrand with Donald Miller
Donald Miller utilizes a simple format for every podcast that makes them flow exceptionally well and keeps the ToFu listener entertained and engaged the entire time.
Each of his podcasts begins with a pre-recorded intro with relaxing music that leads into him welcoming the listener to his podcast. He then quickly states his tagline and proceeds with the topic of the podcast.
He has a co-host that helps keep the conversation from going stagnant, and he interviews influential people to help drive more awareness of his brand and reach out to ToFu prospects.
All the interviews are pre-planned and pre-recorded before he sits down with his co-host to record the introduction. He uses a well-timed ad in the middle of the podcast and at the end to promote his business and his most recent product or service.
He creates podcasts on topics that closely align with his industry and the products and services he offers to his clients.
You can listen to one of his podcasts here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/building-a-storybrand-with-donald-miller/id1092751338
How ToFu Content Generates Leads
ToFu content raises awareness and brings organic traffic from search engines. It introduces someone to you, probably for the very first time.
ToFu content is the beginning of their journey. It takes a person from initially finding you, to trusting you, and hopefully hiring you — if you set up your funnels correctly.
The right funnel won’t be pushy and won’t be full of sales tactics. you need to build it with the understanding that these visitors aren’t ready to commit. (Hint, you’re reading a ToFu article on our website right now.)
ToFu content knows that the reader is seeking information and wants to consume more content. Therefore, you should offer additional content as their next logical step — we refer to these as content upgrades.
Content upgrades can take the form of:
- Downloadable content like ebooks, checklists, infographics, or whitepapers
- Live or pre-recorded webinars
- Comment forms with a prompt to leave a comment in the body of the article
- Newsletter subscription forms
- Podcast subscriptions
- YouTube or other social subscription
- Print magazine subscriptions
These content pieces should align with the original content they converted on.
For example, if you wrote an article on “5 Questions and Answers about Preparing a Business Plan,” a good upgrade offer would be something like a free downloadable template titled “A Customizable Business Plan Blueprint.”
You offer this content in exchange for the reader’s basic contact information — typically just an email and first name.
This voluntarily given information provides you with permission to talk to them again through the additional content. The additional content keeps your reader learning more and encourages more prolonged engagement with your company while they do it.
If you’ve set up your funnels with the right content, they will graduate from ToFu to MoFu and finally BoFu—if they are the right fit for your services.
ToFu (Top-of-the-Funnel) content is created to help you attract potential customers and nurture them into leads that will eventually purchase your services.
Some Examples of ToFu Content Types to Create Are:
- Blog Articles: one of the best ways to become a recognized expert in your field and grow awareness of your brand through increasing organic website traffic.
- Videos: establish trust with ToFu prospects and quickly turn them into hot leads that are ready to buy.
- Guides or eBooks: collect the contact information of ToFu prospects and get permission to send them more relevant information and content in the future to nurture them into leads.
- Podcasts: similar to videos when it comes to establishing trust and nurturing ToFu prospects, but they are audio-only.
Are you ready to take the information you learned today and turn it into an actionable plan you can implement and execute for your business?
Create Your New Marketing Strategy Today
Now that you understand the importance of creating ToFu content and you know what the different types of ToFu content you can create are, it’s time to use that information to create a new marketing strategy you can implement.
At Sparkitive, we understand just how hard it is to figure out what you need to do to generate new leads and increase revenue for your service-based business.
There is a ton of information and advice out there from experts, and people who think they are experts, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lost by it all.
That’s why our team of gurus sat down and created a free guide to show you how to create a new marketing strategy step-by-step that will produce the results you want.
Get your free guide and create your marketing strategy today: Fast Track Your Business: The 5-Step Marketing Plan for Professional Service Firms.
As a professional services provider, your billable time is valuable. You don't want to waste it on bad marketing tactics that won't yield the results you're looking for.