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February 24, 2022

Rethink Your Top-of-the-Funnel Marketing to Improve Lead Quality

By Chantel Hall, Marketing Content Specialist

The top of the sales funnel is your first opportunity to connect with your target audience, and optimizing your top-of-the-funnel marketing content can help you turn those viewers into leads. 

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A common mistake we see B2B marketers make at the top of the funnel is trying to get in front of as many eyes as possible, regardless of who those eyes belong to and how deeply they’re likely to engage. A better strategy is to focus on messaging and platforms that resonate with your target audience. Your top-of-the-funnel marketing efforts will have the best returns when you focus on the messaging and channels that appeal to your target audience.

Here, we’ll talk about building a top-of-the-funnel marketing strategy that includes the right content on the right platforms for engaging your target audience.

What kind of content should you use at the top of the funnel?

At the top of the funnel, your content should focus on your target audience’s pain points and aspirations. Your buyers may not know that a solution like yours exists for their problem – or even that a problem exists. Creating content centered on their pain points and introducing your solutions at a high level will help draw in leads that are just starting to open their minds to solutions.

You’ll still be marketing to a broader audience, but that doesn’t mean your content should be generic or devoid of anything specific to your customers. Even in the awareness phase, you should focus on leads that are likely to become valuable accounts – not filling your funnel with as many leads as possible.

What formats work for top-of-the-funnel content?

Top-of-the-funnel content should be attention-grabbing and easily digestible. Educational blog posts are an ideal format, with 55% of B2B marketers listing articles as the most effective content types for moving prospects through the sales funnel.1 Top of the funnel content can also be:

  • Infographics
  • Data sheets
  • Videos
  • White papers
  • Case studies 
  • Web pages, including pillar pages

These formats can all be great for building trust, demonstrating that you understand your target audience's challenges and can provide solutions that can help them meet their goals. You just have to ensure you’re not overwhelming readers with technical specs or in-depth information about solutions they may not see value in yet. 

Finally, your content at the top of the funnel should always include a strong CTA encouraging leads to take the next step. Once you’ve got their attention, you need to keep building your relationship with them and incentivizing them to continue moving down the funnel. You might lead them toward a gated content offer related to the blog post they’re reading or encourage them to sign up for an upcoming webinar discussing the report they just read in more depth. 

What channels should you be focusing on at the top of the funnel?

Marketers might assume they should be engaging with leads through every channel available to attract as many people as possible, but that’s not necessarily the best strategy for B2B sellers. Focusing on the channels that your customers are using is a better use of your time and resources than trying to create and optimize content for channels your buyers aren’t using for research.

Search engine marketing and social media are useful channels for this stage of the funnel. You’re working on building awareness, so your leads may not know who your company is or how your solution will benefit them. At the top of the funnel, leads are likely to find your awareness-building content while doing an internet search or browsing social media. 

However, the ideal combination of channels might be different for your business; looking at your current customers’ path to purchase will help you see where they’re interacting with your content and which platforms lead to conversion. Those are the channels to focus on.

Your top-of-the-funnel marketing strategy should bring qualified and interested leads into your sales funnel – not fill it with leads that are a bad fit or can’t be served by your solution. Create a strong top-of-the-funnel content strategy to attract and qualify valuable leads and improve conversion rates down the line.

Learn how Ironpaper can help you build a scalable demand generation program today.

Sources:

1Statistia, Most valuable content marketing types for moving prospects through the sales funnel according to B2B marketers in the United States in 2019, January 14, 2021

CMS Wire, The 3 Flavors of Content: ToFu, MoFu and BoFu, March 26, 2019

Upland Software, Everything You Need to Know About Top-of-Funnel Content in Under 500 Words

HubSpot, How to Create Content for Every Stage of the Buyer's Journey, June 9, 2021

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