The success of your marketing strategy depends on the initial interaction with your target audience. But, what if your top of the funnel content is responsible for driving away potential conversions?
This detailed guide will explain everything you need to create highly engaging top of the funnel content. We will start with the meaning and walk you through tried and tested content types that reap incredible results for SaaS brands.
By the end, we will equip you with the common mistakes brands make and the right tactics to revamp your current top of the funnel content strategy.
What is Top of the Funnel (TOFU)?
The top of the funnel, or TOFU, is a stage when your prospects identify their problems and search for a relevant solution. Also known as the “awareness” stage, it is the first step in the buyer’s journey where marketers increase brand awareness about their products and services to attract potential leads.
During this phase, many confused individuals are willing to research more and consume relevant information. They may or may not have heard about your business. Since it’s their first interaction with your brand, it is at this stage that you should prove your value. The activities that you carry out in this stage determine whether the prospect will engage with your brand or not.
What is the Top of the Funnel content?
Top of the funnel content is the type of content created for the start of the buyer’s journey. It intends to educate your potential customers about their challenges and different approaches to solving them instead of trying to sell your products or services.
The goal of TOFU content is to answer as many questions of your audience and show your product or service as one of the solutions to their problems. When people get interested in your solution, they are more likely to convert to the next stage of the sales funnel. So, research and analyze what kind of content your audience wants and create it around their interests and preferences.
For example, a SaaS company that builds project management software might produce educational content related to the tips to manage your projects effectively.
In a nutshell, anything meant to introduce your brand could be considered TOFU content, such as blog posts, podcasts, educational videos, social media posts, infographics, and more.
Why does the Top of the funnel content matter?
If you think that TOFU content is easy to produce as it covers basic concepts, you can’t be more wrong. Doing this means you don’t take your content seriously, make your audience feel naive, and take ranking for granted.
Here’s why you should focus on creating content your audience is thrilled to find and consume:
- Your prospects are more interested in consuming non-salesy informational content in Google search. So, your TOFU content is your only chance to reach them, making it more effective than paid ads.
- People associate your brand’s worth with the content you produce. Creating value-enriched content will help you develop brand integrity and demonstrate your authority, knowledge, and expertise.
- It helps boost engagement since it doesn’t aim at driving sales but solely for educating potential customers. This makes people comfortable visiting your site and builds trust in your brand.
- It helps you rank higher in search engines for important keywords in your industry — only with a few successful pieces.
What are the types of Top of the Funnel content?
Now that you know what TOFU content is and its benefits, let’s look at some of the best content types that improve brand awareness and generate quality leads.
1. Blog posts
Blog posts and articles are the most common types of TOFU content. A blog with value-enriched content consistently helps develop credibility amongst your target audience. It helps them realize that you aren’t solely interested in making sales but in keeping your target audience informed.
Further, these also allow you to become a thought leader in your industry with ample knowledge. For SaaS brands, blogs can help you gain exposure for your software, show your product as a solution to your prospects’ problems, and keep them updated with trends and recent innovations.
The hardest part of creating a blog post is to come up with the topics. However, you can easily create tons of topic ideas by making a list of pain points and questions your audience might have before making a purchase. For example, if you’re selling customer relationship management software, you could write about the tips to manage your customer complaints effectively.
Blog posts are easily accessible through a simple Google search. Creating SEO-led content can ensure that these rank higher on search results, increasing the number of people who view it.
Check out Groove’s blog post created for the top of the funnel stage. Notice how it provides information on starting an ecommerce business rather than promoting its product.
- Before starting with your blog post, make sure you understand your target audience well. Ask questions like: What do they want to achieve by reading the blog? What problems do they want to solve? Will the content resonate with them?
- Spy on your competitors and check out their highly viewed blog posts to know what strategy they implemented for its success. The goal here is not to copy these elements but to gather insights into what your prospects want to read in a blog post.
- Let’s be honest: most people will not read your blog post till the end. If you want to keep them hooked, you have to write in a style that’s effortless to read and understand. So, be more conversational in your writing. Make prospects feel that they’re engaging with real people, not robots. Further, avoid jargon and add humor wherever appropriate. In short, write as if you’re explaining something to a friend.
- Give your audience something valuable to walk away with. Include actionable steps for your readers to achieve their goals. Plus, add relevant statistics and examples to back up the claims you make in your posts.
- Creating and posting a blog isn’t enough. Go through the analytics and notice which posts reaped you the best results in terms of signups, engagement, shares, views, and more.
- When writing how-to blog posts, perform the task yourself (if possible) and add screenshots for added personalization.
- To turn your blogs into effective sales and marketing tools, feature the top three blog posts on your website homepage, each in a different stage of the funnel. For example, the first blog should target the common challenges faced by your target audience and their respective solutions. The following blog posts could compare your product’s pricing with other alternatives and inform why it’s the best solution.
Tools to create blog posts
Here are a few blogging tools you can choose from:
- Generating topic ideas: BuzzSumo, Google Trends, HubSpot Blog Ideas Generator, Answer the Public
- Keyword researching: SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner, Moz, Ahrefs
- Writing and proofreading: Grammarly, Hemingway App
- Creating visual content: Canva, Pixabay, Unsplash
- Analyzing performance: Google Analytics
2. Company news
Company news refers to the happenings in your organization that your audience will be interested in knowing about.
Suppose your entire team is working towards something huge, and you finally accomplished it. This news is something you’d love to share with your audience and would like them to be a part of their significant achievements. Plus, this will make them feel involved, and they will be more likely to engage with your content.
- If your company won a significant award or collaborated with a big name in the market, share a screenshot on your social channels. Yes, you don’t have to create lengthy posts to get engagement on your company wins. A simple picture of your story is enough.
- Keep analyzing the current trends in the market. Tie your achievement with the trend and have a big influencer in the same industry promote it to your audience.
- Every significant achievement or breakthrough deserves to be spread. Contact relevant press in your area and tell them you are up for a one-on-one discussion.
- Let your loyal customers share the announcement on social media. People are more likely to listen to people than brands.
- Conduct a highly engaging live session with your audience on social media platforms, like Instagram or Facebook.
- Get your facts straight before making any company announcement. After all, you don’t want your prospects to criticize you in front of the whole world.
Tools to create company news
There aren’t any particular tools to create company news. In fact, there are numerous formats in which you can share about your organization’s crucial events, such as blog posts, social media posts, videos, podcasts, webinars, case studies, and more.
3. Feature announcement
Suppose you introduced a new SaaS product feature. The next step is to get your prospects to actually use it. This is where feature announcements can help.
A new feature announcement is when you alert your potential and existing customers about the updates in your product. These changes could be the new features or the up-gradation of the existing ones. Feature announcements can be in any form — short messages or notifications, long-form blog posts explaining the use of the new features, or videos.
Conducting these announcements is crucial in getting your customers’ attention and helping them with quicker feature adoption. Further, these are beneficial for your current customers, the churned ones, and your to-be customers as well.
Check out how Twilio is talking about its new feature — Twilio API for WhatsApp — in a blog post.
- Make sure your product team has a specific goal to achieve with the feature announcements.
- Your feature announcement should include either the introduction of the new product or modifications to the current ones, along with a clear explanation of its benefits to the users.
- It should have a clear call-to-action, be exciting, and be shared using interactive content formats, including videos, GIFs, social media carousel posts, and so on.
- Before sharing your feature announcements, ask yourself questions: Who needs to hear about this new feature? Why do they need to hear about this new feature? What do they want to hear about this new feature? Or, what channel can you use to announce this new feature?
- Segment your audience to ensure that announcements go out to only those who actually need them. This means that you cannot send an email to your entire mailing list unless you want to add up to your current email churn rate. Instead, you should choose the audience you know will benefit from the information.
- There are numerous platforms to share your announcement, including email, in-app notifications, press releases, social media posts, blog posts, etc. The platform you choose depends on where your audience is more likely to notice the announcement and how big you want it to be.
Tools to make feature announcements
4. Press release
A press release is a written or recorded official statement or news that a company issues to the new media. It is also known as a press statement, news release, or media release.
Press releases can help you get exposure in a challenging industry like SaaS, where new products are launched every single day. But remember: press releases are only for sharing vital information about the organization, such as new product launches, awards, grand opening, or additional features through a press release. It shouldn’t be used for trivial information which you can communicate through different channels like social media or a blog.
Press releases are shared on public news websites and channels, which means your potential customers can see them. So, instead of thinking of press releases as a way to earn media coverage, consider them as valuable content to build your brand awareness.
Typically, a press release is beneficial if:
- You are in the starting stage, and you need to boost your brand visibility.
- You are willing to invest a considerable amount of money in reaping the benefits of a higher ROI compared to other options.
- You want to improve your current brand image and develop a sense of familiarity amongst your target audience.
- You want to help your potential and existing customers stay intact with the massive updates in your company.
Check out Prowly’s press release, including information about the new hire along with company description, attractive visuals, and quotes.
- Don’t hesitate to brag about your product as this is the right place to do so. You can talk about your extraordinary features, what makes you stand out amongst the competition, and most importantly, align everything with how you make your target audiences’ lives easier.
- Explain features once you are done targeting the pain point. Remember that the motive here is to focus on your audience’s challenges while positioning your product as the best solution.
- Have you solved a specific highly-common problem in your industry? Is your story conveying how you did it correctly? If not, modify your story to emphasize how you helped your audience get out of a significant dilemma.
- Always write a customer-oriented story to make the most of your investment.
- Instead of reaching out to every journalist you can find online, focus on those who have experience in your industry and send them a personalized email or message.
- Publishing your press release at the right time can work wonders in getting maximum exposure. While the most compelling stories are usually sent early in the week, the releases published on a Friday afternoon get less traction.
Tools to create & distribute press releases
- Creating press releases: Prowly, Instant Press Release
- Distributing press releases: Newswire, PR Web, Business Wire
5. Educational webinars
Webinars are a popular content format used to engage with prospects and current customers during the awareness stage. In fact, 73% of B2B marketers consider webinars the best channel to generate top-quality leads.
A webinar is an online video lecture, seminar, or workshop, delivered virtually and in real-time to attract and engage your potential customers. They can also be recorded before sharing with the audience. Live or not, a webinar includes various interactive features that enable viewers to ask questions, leave comments, or collaborate with the hosts.
It’s crucial to host webinars based on the stage your prospect is currently in. For example, webinars in the awareness stage are mainly responsible for providing relevant information about a specific topic, industry trends, or challenges, and establishing meaningful relationships with your target audience.
Check out this educational webinar by Stripe:
- Your educational webinar should demonstrate your company’s expertise, unique approach to problem-solving, solutions to everyday challenges, and so on. The goal here is not to explain your product features in detail. Instead, it should aim at simply acquainting your audience with their challenges and your platform as a reliable solution.
- Create an attractive webinar landing page that tells the audience everything about the upcoming webinar.
Take the Kissmetrics’ webinar landing page, for example. Notice how they have targeted a common challenge their target audience faces in the introductory paragraph. Next, it mentions the industry leaders who will convey their ideas to walk you through your path of success. Lastly, they have provided the key pointers that the webinar covers.
Tools to conduct webinars
To provide a hassle-free experience to viewers and prevent your webinar from getting interrupted by a poor internet connection or random log-outs, you can use some of the best webinar tools, including Riverside, Livestorm, Zoho, WebinarNinja, and more.
6. Lead magnets
A lead magnet is an incentive you offer to your prospects in exchange for their email addresses. In other words, it is one of the most effective ways of entering your potential customers’ inboxes. A lead magnet can take different forms, such as downloadable guides, ebooks, checklists, whitepapers, and more. But, it’s offered as a resource aimed at solving the audience’s problems.
An email address is personal information, and if a prospect shares it with you, you know you have attracted them to your offerings. Further, how well the lead magnet converts depends on how you create it. If not done well, you can’t expect your prospects to join your email list. On the other hand, a great lead magnet can result in the flow of quality leads through your sales funnel.
For example, Adespresso uses this eBook to build their email list.
- Your lead magnet isn’t for everyone. To create a compelling piece, you must know who you’re creating for. Ask these questions to get more clarity:
1. Who am I creating the lead magnet for?
2. Is that person at the top, medium, and bottom of the sales funnel?
3. What do they want to achieve by downloading your lead magnet?
- Make sure your lead magnet solves at least one problem your target audience has. If it doesn’t solve their pain points, it won’t work at all.
- Avoid creating a lead magnet about something general. The more specific you are about the lead magnet’s topic, the more leads you will convert. Plus, adding a little personalization can go a long way in making people exchange their email addresses with your lead magnet.
- No matter what format you choose to create your lead magnets, make sure it is quick and easy to digest.
Tools to create lead magnets
Some best tools for creating a lead magnet are:
- Choosing a topic: HubSpot Blog Ideas Generator, Answer the Public
- Designing a lead magnet: Wistia, Canva, Loom
- Promoting a lead magnet: Wishpond, ActiveCampaign
7. Social media posts
With over 4.55 billion users, social media is one of the most powerful channels to generate brand awareness and attract potential customers to your offerings — without spending a dime. So, if you aren’t promoting your SaaS brand and content on social platforms, NOW is the time to do so.
Social media is the best channel to create a strong first impression among your target audience. Plus, posting valuable content consistently can make you an industry leader in your segment or industry. Remember, the goal should be to introduce your brand by sharing content that grabs more eyeballs and helps prospects find answers to their common queries.
In a nutshell, social media posts are an integral TOFU content because almost half of the world’s population is present on social media to discover new products and services. And, more customers want to connect with businesses over social media.
Here’s how Grammarly is doing a great job in nailing social media marketing:
- Figure out what kind of audience is interested in your brand, product, or service. And based on that, identify the right platforms where your target audience spends most of their time.
- Use different types of engaging content formats to capture attention. Instead of lengthy texts on a screen, use video content, carousel posts, attractive graphics, and GIFs to convey knowledge. Also, instead of using one content type, use a mixture of various formats unless you want to bore your customers with your posts.
- Make the most of meme marketing and use your humor to grab attention.
- Decide the frequency of posting. If you’re posting content five days in a row but nothing in the next two months, don’t expect your followers to engage with your content.
Tools to create social media posts
8. Social media paid ads
Since your audience is searching for answers all over the internet, paid social advertisements can help them find their way to your offerings quickly.
Your social media ads should focus on a broad target audience as many potential customers don’t even know your brand exists. For example, suppose they are struggling with providing seamless customer support. In that case, you’ll want to create ad content that educates and engages your audience — you want them to understand what your product does, so next time they struggle with the same, they might be inclined to try your product instead of competitors.
Check out this social media ad from Funnel:
- Your ad’s success depends on how well you know your target audience, their demographics, and changing preferences. If you aren’t targeting the right people, they won’t show interest in your content, making it difficult to attract leads.
- Investing your time and resources into the right platforms where your audience hangs out the most is a must. However, you aren’t limited to just one network. Also, you don’t need to invest on every platform if your audience isn’t active on them.
- Don’t make the mistake of running social media ads without setting achievable goals. After all, you can’t run a successful campaign if you don’t know what you want to achieve.
- Use compelling visuals to capture the attention. Low-quality images can make your company look untrustworthy. Plus, your prospects are less likely to interact with your brand.
- Focus on inserting strong and relevant CTAs that drive prospects to take action. For example, if you’re trying to sell your product, having “Sign Up” as your CTA may not work for your advertising campaign. Instead, a CTA like “Book Now” or “Get Offer” would be the best option.
- Measure your social media ad’s performance and modify your strategy accordingly.
Tools to create social media ads
9. Influencer partnerships
Nowadays, SaaS brands worldwide are embracing influencer marketing as one of the most cost-effective and impactful marketing strategies to reach out to their target audience.
People trust other people more than they trust brand messages and claims. With influencer marketing, you’re putting your message across to your target audience who already follow these influencers. So, it doesn’t seem pushy and helps you build your brand credibility.
You can collaborate with influencers on various platforms, such as YouTube videos, social media posts, podcasts, webinars, guest blogs, and more.
These influencers aren’t your typical lifestyle influencers. They appear different because their audience is diverse — such as marketing managers, CEOs, product managers, and other employees of a company. Further, they are more likely to be expert gurus, YouTubers, thought leaders, brand advocates, and even CEOs.
Not only do they help you get the word out about your offering, but they also reach exact decision-makers within the business. Further, they bring a human element to your brand story and convey information that your customers haven’t found from your other content types.
Check out how Adobe worked with various influencers to spread inspirational thoughts:
- Develop an influencer brief that focuses on your awareness objectives.
- Make your influencer acquainted with the pain points you’d like to mention before introducing your brand as a solution.
- Since people listen to their favorite influencers and want to use what they’re using, it’s the best way to gain attention by offering freebies. You can announce how you are offering free samples or an engaging contest with exciting awards.
Tools for successful influencer partnerships
Some topics don’t give people an adrenaline rush or are rather dull. These subjects can be explained through infographics using fun visuals and examples.
Infographics are an effective content marketing method for conveying big, simple, and complex information. These are the perfect combination of visuals and content that is easy to read, understand, and share across various channels. In other words, infographics focus on two significant aspects:
- Having value-filled content
- Highly-engaging graphics to capture instant attention
Take a look at this attractive infographic by HelpCrunch:
- Create your infographic with a specific audience in mind. Whom are you trying to reach? What problems do these customers face? How can you solve them? Ask yourself these important questions when thinking about your audience and how your infographic will reach them.
- Let your visuals do as much of the talking as possible. If you need to use a lot of words to explain the topic, something is wrong.
- The flow of your infographic should make sense so that people know which order to read your information, statistics, and supporting arguments in.
Tools to create infographics
11. Landing pages
A landing page is a standalone web page involving elements like a compelling copy, customer testimonials, engaging visuals, and a strong CTA to drive visitors to take action, such as subscribing to a newsletter or signing up for an account, downloading a report, and more.
Marketing post-click landing pages in the awareness stage are used to create the best first impression. Your landing page should focus on more educational content than a solid sales pitch. Remember, people have a problem, and they are looking for a solution that your brand resonates with.
- Landing pages can be used throughout each stage of your marketing funnel to increase engagement. However, avoid using the same post-click landing page for prospects in the top, middle, and bottom-funnel. This is because prospects are looking for different information at different stages, and using the same content will only drive your possible conversions away.
- Combine your landing page with a lead magnet, which offers something in exchange for the visitor’s email or other relevant information. For example, it could include a free downloadable ebook or whitepaper to help them to some extent.
Here is an excellent example of a landing page by Later in the awareness stage:
Tools to create landing pages
12. YouTube videos
People are watching online videos more than ever before. In fact, video content consumption has almost doubled since 2018.
These numbers are huge and indicate that videos are no longer an optional strategy but an absolute must-have if you’re serious about getting your offerings in front of your target audience. People are likely to pay more attention to compelling videos than lengthy articles. Not only does it help you build brand identity, but it also forges a deep relationship with your audience.
Brands that consider video marketing recognize YouTube as a great way of spreading awareness and generating leads organically. And since it’s the second-biggest search engine globally, after Google and Facebook, your customers are on YouTube, and you need to reach out to them there.
- Identify the challenges your target audience faces and make explainer videos focusing on that problem. Also, make sure to be highly specific with all different approaches.
- Introduce your brand and team through an engaging brand video.
- Create a commercial video with highly compelling visuals based on your target audiences’ challenges. This video aims at targeting the problem and putting your brand forward as a relevant solution.
- Avoid creating promotional videos at this stage. Instead, make highly informative videos that address your customers’ pain points and offer solutions.
- While longer videos tend to perform better in search, your videos don’t have to be too long. You can create a one-minute video wherein only the graphics talk. Sometimes that’s enough to drive people’s attention and engage them.
- Go through your blog posts and make a list of highly-engaging ones. Repurpose them into YouTube videos. You can also look at the interactions on your social channels to understand the topics your audience wants to know more about.
Tools to create YouTube videos
You don’t always require a professional DSLR camera to shoot your YouTube videos. Even a smartphone can be the perfect solution, especially when you’re just starting out. Further, you can use the following tools to create different types of YouTube videos:
- Animated videos: Biteable and Animoto
- Screen-recorded videos: StoryXpress
- Live-streaming videos: Vimeo
- Whiteboard videos: Doodly
13. Invite experts for an interview
Would you take advice from a subject matter expert or read blogs from a company you’ve never heard of?
The first one, right?
People are likely to pay more attention to an industry expert than people they hardly know about. These renowned individuals are extensively experienced within a particular niche and instantly catch their attention, making your prospects explore your brand more. Further, this can boost your brand’s credibility, authority, and authenticity.
You can target the most common problem your potential customers are desperately searching for answers to on the internet. They would love to hear their favorite industry experts talk about these challenges. Hence, turning to SMEs can demonstrate to your audience that you know exactly what you’re talking about and that your content is reliable and trustworthy.
- It’s crucial to select the right individual to interview. Make a list of experts who align with your company’s mission or goals.
- Be prepared for rejection as every expert isn’t ready for an interview.
- Once you find an expert, research everything you can about the person. This will help you acknowledge their accomplishments before asking your questions.
- Start the interview by providing a little overview of the topic. This helps break the ice and get things moving. Then, dive into the deeper questions you’ve prepared.
- Before the interview, brush up on the topic so you can come up with good questions. This shows that you take your work seriously and boost your chances of interviewing the expert again.
Tools for virtual interviews
Some tools to make your interview process more efficient:
- Scheduling the interview: Google Calendar and Calendly
- Conducting the interview: Zoom, Skype, Interviewstream
- Transcribing the interview: Descript
14. Direct Mail
Direct mail is a marketing strategy used to engage prospects and existing customers by sending a physical letter, package, brochure, printed mailers, and other items. These can work wonders amidst all the digital noise, especially in the TOFU stage, where prospects are unaware of your offerings.
Your emails can get lost among other content, but your direct mails will surely reach your target audience. In fact, direct mail’s response rate is 4.4% — compared to 0.12% for email.
It’s a wonderful opportunity to introduce your brand to individuals you know are searching for you. Once people receive your direct mail, they will research more about your products or services and reach out to you on the internet. Further, getting physical mails and letters can evoke nostalgia and add a more personalized touch to the overall message, making it more memorable.
- Consider your product and who it is best suited for. Researching your target audience and finding where they live can save you time and money by sending your direct mails to the right people.
- Start with a small pool of people and consistently stay in touch with them.
- Your direct mail should follow a customer-centric approach and focus on how you can help them.
- Don’t sound too promotional, and add a CTA by the end. For example, you can mention how they can find a free ebook on your website.
- Since direct mails will form a first impression of your business among your target customers, ensuring they are free of typos and grammatical errors is necessary. Also, make sure it reads well and sounds professional.
Tools to create direct mails
There are numerous tools to design different kinds of direct mailers. It’s a convenient option for companies that can’t afford a graphic designer. These tools include Canva, Figma, and even Photoshop.
A microsite is an individual web page or a cluster of pages that include content produced for specific buyer personas. Unlike regular websites, it is simple and easy to navigate. Plus, it is more singularly focused on a particular campaign or content.
A microsite is typically a subdomain completely independent of the main website’s URL. However, it still represents the same brand.
You can launch a microsite when:
- You have specific interactive campaigns in mind
- You are launching a new product or service
- You have an incredible brand story to tell
Check out Adobe’s Creative Types microsite:
- Since microsites are singular-focused, take time to brainstorm an idea you would like to focus on and stick with it.
- Decide on the right domain name. You can choose branded URLs that produce higher click-through rates. Or consider subdomains — microsite.yourcompany.com.
- Ensure that you have cleverly placed CTA buttons that reflect what you want to achieve from your microsite.
Tools to create microsites
16. Organize industry events
Industry events are a type of content that engages an audience on a level that is not possible through other content types. They can help you meet crucial business goals, such as boosting demand for your SaaS product or service, building brand awareness among potential customers, and driving revenue from the event itself.
SaaS brands often invest in educational events to answer relevant questions and challenges. However, irrespective of the type of event you organize, it can be a great way to put your name out there.
- Determine what you want to achieve from the event — Do you want to drive leads? Do you want to increase your brand awareness? Or, do you want to scale your product demos or trials?
- Be clear about your target audience to reduce the chances of inviting the least interested individuals.
- Select an event theme that aligns the best with your core brand values.
- Make sure your event is on-brand by using the same color scheme, tone, etc., that you use for your other content.
- Pick a venue that helps sell the event. In case of a virtual event, make sure the software you choose is reliable and allows you to plan, promote, and conduct your event seamlessly.
- Market your event by creating an event website, promoting it on relevant social channels, etc. You can also use paid marketing to reach your targeted individuals in a short period. Not only that, collaborate with influencers to promote your brand.
Tools to organize industry events:
17. Guest contributions
Guest contributions are one of the best content types you can invest in. It is a great way to spread your brand’s message and win the trust of your target audience. So, start contributing content to highly-authoritative websites with a well-developed and engaging audience.
If you manage to write a top-quality post, you can end up achieving the following:
- You get a continuous flow of traffic to your website and social channels. It helps you connect with people who are already interested in your offerings.
- You get the opportunity to improve your credibility and establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry.
- You get to introduce yourself and your brand in front of a highly-relevant audience.
- A single backlink from authoritative sites can boost your search rankings, making your content more discoverable and indexable on Google.
- Select highly-authoritative websites that align with your brand and target audience.
- Research their brand tone and existing blog posts to write an excellent pitch.
- Read the guidelines thoroughly to create content that gets accepted.
- Personalize your article by adding personal opinions and real examples to the subject matter.
- Remember that your target audience will read this post. So, write an article that provides value and makes you stand out as an expert in your area.
Tools for guest blogging
Numerous tools are available online to help you search the high-authoritative websites, find trending topics, and reach out to the bloggers in your industry. These include BuzzSumo, Pitchbox, BuzzStream, Ninja Outreach, and more.
Conducting surveys in the initial stages can help you get acquainted with your target customers’ preferences. When used to their full potential, these can become a highly reliable source for shaping your content strategy.
If you gather feedback from unqualified leads in the awareness stage, you might be surprised to find that many potential customers come from demographics you never anticipated because you never talked to them or listened to what they say.
Whatever you find, you’ll be glad you asked.
You can use the survey results to create content that speaks to your potential customers’ challenges to keep them hooked.
- Make sure the questions are related to the customers’ problems and not your product or service. For example, if you’re selling a project management tool, ask “What’s your biggest challenge while managing projects?” rather than “What do you think about our tool?”.
- Surveys are crucial, but that doesn’t mean you’ll keep your customers engaged with it for a long time. Keep them as short as possible and let your customers know upfront how long the survey will take. Ideally, a survey should take three minutes or less to complete.
- People come across hundreds of surveys frequently. You need to give them a solid reason to be a part of it. Provide them free samples or resources on completion of the survey to gain their interest.
- Next, decide how you’ll ask your questions. Open-ended questions can allow you to capture new insights. But, analyzing written responses can be tough. On the other hand, multiple-choice questions can help draw conclusions faster.
Tools to create surveys
19. Team photos
Photos of your team members are a fantastic way to introduce them to your customers and establish trust among them. When customers know who they are working with, they feel more comfortable doing business with you. Further, it shows your staff you are proud of them, making them feel valued.
For example, say your team has been working hard towards achieving a milestone. Once it does, take a team photo and use your storytelling skills to describe the same. Plus, you can simply introduce your members on social media. This will allow your followers to learn about the individuals responsible for shaping the company.
However, an unprofessional team photo and a well-presented one is the difference between a new customer choosing you or one of your competitors.
Take a look at this team photo by FreshWorks:
- Using your team members’ personal photos is a big NO. The picture you took at your office party or from last year’s vacation can appear unprofessional and make your customers feel you don’t take yourself seriously.
- Whether you’re hiring a professional photographer or taking the photos yourself, determine where the images will be used — on the billboard, website, or business cards? For something large as a billboard, we recommend using a professional.
- Decide what you want your photos to convey, such as professionalism, sense of humor, comfortable working environment, and more.
- When it comes to lighting, taking pictures in natural light is the best bet. You can shoot outdoors. Or, if you get good sunlight from a window, shoot with that source behind you.
Tools to take team photos
You don’t need a professional camera to take team photos — although it will help. You can use the camera on your iPhone or iPad for the same. Further, using a DSLR camera is also ideal for high-resolution images.
20. Blogger outreach
Blogger outreach is a kind of influencer marketing wherein you collaborate with other bloggers to create top-quality content that promotes your product or services. You leverage the influence and the strong following of other bloggers to boost your brand awareness.
A blogger outreach campaign involves reaching out to the authority bloggers in your niche and sending them a personalized pitch highlighting your goal (improving brand identity, boosting sales, or generating quality backlinks) and what’s in it for them (a free subscription to your product or service). Once they agree, assist them in creating content by providing a sample product for review or allowing them to interview you.
And when the content is published, you and the other blogger can promote it on your social channels, resulting in high brand exposure to new audiences.
Many marketers believe that blogger outreach is just about spamming blogs asking for links back to your website. But in reality, it is an excellent opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with the right bloggers, given that you follow the right strategies.
- Pick the right blogging partner. Just because someone is willing to accept your pitch doesn’t mean they are the right fit. Take time to research the blogger — how long they’ve been in the blogging business, their writing style and tone, follower count, and the engagement level. Further, also check their website’s domain authority and search engine performance.
- Before pitching a particular blogger, engage with them on their social channels. Retweeting or sharing their posts with an additional caption is a great gesture that shows you’re interested in building long-term relationships and not just a one-time collaboration.
- When sending your outreach pitch, avoid sending generic emails to every blogger you approach. Instead, make sure your pitch is personalized and has an attention-grabbing subject line along with a clear and crisp copy. Also, mention subtle details about their content and how it can be helpful for your audience.
Tools to nail blogger outreach
Doing all the outreach manually can get pretty overwhelming. Here are a few tools you can use for a successful outreach campaign:
- Outreach tools: Buzzstream, Ninja Outreach, Pitchbox
- SEO tools: Ahrefs, SEMRush
- Email finder tools: Hunter.io, Snov.io
21. Audio/Video podcasts
Nowadays, many individuals are hooked on listening to podcasts. In fact, the global community of podcast listeners is expected to reach approximately 800 million by 2025.
Why? Because podcasts — whether audio or video — are one of the most effective, fun, and engaging ways of consuming information. It is similar to a radio show, except they are conducted on a digital platform like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and more, where listeners can select from various podcasts according to their preferences. Not only that, but you can also choose video podcasts if you want to watch them instead of just listening to them.
While websites work best in advertising your brand and converting leads, some people may never find it on search engines, especially those not fond of browsing the internet. This is where podcasts can help. Plus, you can reach your potential customers more than once and persuade them to convert.
As you work on your podcasts, you can also advertise through PPC or social media ads to not only increase your listener base but also link it to your website or landing pages. This helps you reach out to more target customers and increase your website traffic.
Take HubSpot Podcast Network, for example. It talks about numerous topics ranging from marketing, sales, and leadership to customer success and startups.
- Nobody likes to listen to podcast episodes that are long and uninteresting. So, it’s always best to keep them short and exciting by including new and intriguing topics and actionable steps that will persuade them to act.
- Before recording a podcast, plan the content beforehand to know what to talk about in your podcast. Is your podcast going to be educational? Or is it going to be an interview with an industry expert?
- Your podcast won’t reach anyone if you don’t promote it on relevant channels. So, create a strategy on how you’ll distribute your episodes with your target audience.
- Your podcast recording equipment makes a huge difference in the success and failure of your episodes. So, invest in top-quality tools like microphones to avoid sharing a podcast with poor audio quality.
Tools to create audio/video podcasts
You need a microphone, headphones, and a USB audio interface to record an audio podcast. For a video podcast, a DSLR camera, good lighting, and studio space are required in addition to the above tools.
22. Free tools & templates
People like to get free stuff, especially when it comes from a reputable company. Whether it’s a free sample product, a free product trial for seven days, one-hour consultation, or an e-course or book, it’s an offer that’s hard to resist. That’s why various brands worldwide leverage the “power of free” to boost their brand awareness.
The idea of giving away free tools and templates might seem counterintuitive to SaaS businesses. After all, the idea is to sell your products or services. However, freebies can be an incredible tool in attracting new customers and generating leads. Plus, these can get them acquainted with your excellent product — if they are satisfied enough, they will invest their time and money for more.
In a nutshell, you can nurture these leads along the way to ensure they eventually become familiar enough to make a purchase.
For example, Mixmax, a sales management platform, offers a 14-day free trial with no credit card required.
- The first step for a successful freebies campaign is determining your goals and objectives. Do you want to generate awareness about your brand? Are you hoping to introduce new products? Is your aim to get more subscribers for your newsletter?
- Not every freebie is worth getting attention. So, the best practice is to choose the right one relevant to your brand. You should also consider your audience, budget, and promotional strategy when deciding which free tools and templates to include.
Tools to create free templates
There can be numerous types of freebies you can offer your audience, including e-books, e-courses, templates, checklists, free trials, downloadable guides, and more. Here are some tools you can use to design them: Canva, HubSpot’s Infographic Templates, HubSpot’s 5 PowerPoint SlideShare Templates, PicMonkey, and more.
Top of the Funnel content production best practices
Now that you know the mistakes brands make while producing TOFU content, let’s look at a few best practices for constructing the awareness that we are targeting:
1. The intent is everything in content marketing
During the awareness stage, people consume content as part of their research or interests. They typically have little idea about the available solutions and want to understand their problems to identify a solution effectively. In other words, they consume content with informational intent.
Hence, the intent is what you should consider before crafting your content. Your goal in TOFU should be to produce content that can help, educate, and entertain your potential customers. Further, create it through the lens of the audience, not your brand. It should help your target audience understand the topic, your brand, or an industry.
2. Think about answering their questions
People can’t buy your products if they don’t know how you can solve their problems. Therefore, it’s crucial to sell a solution before selling your products. If you focus only on selling your idea, you will never know your customers’ troubles.
Create informational and educational content surrounding their pain points, show them that their problem has a solution, and then present your product as one of the solutions.
In short, understanding the potential customer’s needs and concern areas will help them better understand your brand. It helps build their trust and strengthen the relationship that exists between them and your product or service.
3. Write in an entertaining tone
The success of any content depends on how you present it. When the beginning of the content is entertaining, people tend to read further. Plus, if your content appears as if a friend is talking to your customer, they understand it more profoundly.
Hence, the tone presentation should be thoughtful and have glimpses of humor to keep the potential client engaged. You can also inject your personality in your blog posts, videos, or emails by sharing your mistakes so your readers can learn from them, telling them why you’re on the mission to change the world, and so on. Not only does it add a human element to your content, but it also allows readers to know you.
Further, asking questions is a wonderful way to keep your audience engaged and invested in your content.
4. Write to entice their emotions
You might have produced content overflowing with great ideas, valuable information, and enormous potential. But, if it doesn’t connect with your readers emotionally, it won’t be able to hold their attention for longer, and there’s a huge chance they might forget about it.
How successfully a brand triggers its customers’ emotions determines whether they will engage with your content and buy your offerings.
5. Think of how you approach someone for the first time
The first impression is the last most of the time. Your competitors are waiting for your one mistake that can dampen your reputation and boost their chances of winning your potential customers. Further, one wrong move and you can go viral all over the internet — that too for the wrong reasons.
Hence, be wise and create an effective strategy to approach your audience. You don’t want them to check your content just to run away without taking any action.
6. Be genuine
Customer experience not only depends on what kind of product or service you offer. It also depends on your communications — from marketing to sales and support. This means the customer experience starts even before an actual purchase happens.
During the awareness stage, customers encounter your content and it influences their trust in your brand. However, many companies lie to win new customers and make promises they can’t deliver. And when they find out, you lose them forever.
Therefore, be genuine from the beginning, even if it funnels out some customers. Speaking of promises…
7. Do not go overboard with your claims
Over-promising is a risky game. Not delivering on your ideas and promises is the most dangerous thing you can do to your business reputation. Plus, it makes it impossible to create the WOW effect in the customers’ eyes, resulting in a negative customer experience.
Therefore, never go overboard with your claim. Sometimes, things can take a U-turn, and taking back words can be impossible. Make realistic plans, and even if you want to make changes, ensure they are small and don’t strain your and your customers’ time.
8. Be direct yet approachable in your communication
Your digital customer interactions may feel automated, one-way, and impersonal. This can make your prospects think you’re unapproachable, resulting in them leaving you and going to your competitors where they can clear their doubts.
To avoid this, add a human element to your digital conversations and stay approachable through text and email. You can also use instant messaging software and chatbots to meet your customers on different platforms and quickly get in touch with them.
9. Educate your audience
The more you educate your audience about your offerings, the more they will trust your brand. An educated customer is far more likely to purchase your product than a prospect who’s struggling to understand what you’re selling.
When you simply provide valuable information to your customers instead of being salesy, they see you as an industry expert and are more likely to engage with your content.
In a nutshell, the way to boost conversions is to teach your audience about your brand and then think about selling something. The sooner you shift your focus on providing education instead of being salesy, the greater customer retention and loyalty will be.
10. Inspire them to be better
Customers choose a product or service, thinking it will help them grow and lead a comfortable life. The last thing they want is to feel that their purchase decision was wrong.
So, if you inspire your prospects that your products will improve their living standard, they will likely give it a stronger thought. In fact, they will be your most loyal customers if it works out for them.
Top of the Funnel Content Production Mistakes
Below are some top of the funnel content production mistakes that will drive you away from achieving results.
1. Annoying them with website popups
At the awareness stage, people are getting themselves acquainted with your brand — they’re expecting to see content that’s relevant to them. While highly-valuable content drives their attention, annoying website pop-ups will push them away. It wouldn’t take them long to leave and explore other options.
Make sure you don’t ruin their experience by putting too many pop-ups on your website. Also, avoid shoving up the pop-up as soon as they land on your website. Instead, add a delay before displaying the pop-up or display it on the second page viewed during the visit.
2. Too many CTAs in the content piece
The goal of having a CTA on your page is to give readers a clear action to take during or after scanning the content. Adding too many CTAs will not only overwhelm your users but also make them do nothing rather than something. So, it’s crucial that you have one strong call-to-action in a content piece unless you want to confuse your prospects and drive them away from your content.
Also, make sure the CTA is relevant to the visitor’s position in their buyer’s journey. For example, during the TOFU stage, the prospect knows they have a problem and have started searching for a solution. They might be more interested in downloading an ebook or viewing a page overview video than buying your product.
3. Flexing products and offers unnecessarily
The awareness or TOFU stage is used to make customers aware of your brand and the products or services you have to offer them. However, this doesn’t mean you will flex your products in every content piece.
Remember, you are creating informative content that can help people solve their problems. And, talking about your products and offers repeatedly will not lead to any actions. At most, they will annoy your visitors and drive them away.
4. Not bringing awareness of the problem
During the awareness stage, the customer often searches for a solution to their problem. So, your content’s focus should be on the major problems and explore all the possibilities related to them.
Instead of providing generic information, target rock-solid issues or challenges. While you can include your product as one of the solutions, prospects may respond best to content that thoroughly explains all the other options rather than focusing on one brand.
For example, say your prospects struggle with tracking their work time, and your company sells a time tracking tool that could help them. Instead of creating content focused on your offering, create a blog that explores various solutions to the problem and talks about different time tracking tools at the end of the piece, including yours.
5. Not addressing common questions
Your potential customers will always have tons of questions during the awareness stage. So, your content must address the questions they are repeatedly searching for.
Finding and understanding these questions before creating your top of the funnel content will not only mitigate the pain points before occurring but also lead to satisfied customers, resulting in more conversions.
6. Unattractive designs and layout
Whether you’re creating a blog post for your website or your latest ebook, remember that design is just as important as the content. No matter how valuable your content is, it’s a total failure if your design and layout don’t capture customers’ attention.
Great design not only helps you stand out from the crowd but it creates a better user experience for your customers. So, make sure it doesn’t create confusion and present the information in an appealing and easy-to-consume way. When people can’t read your cluttered content, they will become frustrated and bounce. Speaking of user experience…
7. Overlooking user experience
People at the awareness stage will not become customers on the first visit. A poor user experience denies you the possibility of a second encounter. Make sure their initial experiences compel them to visit again. After all, these minor factors add up to eventual conversions.
Many businesses focus only on the technical aspect of user experience and avoid content and how users see and consume it. Since content is a crucial part of any website, it should also be a critical part of boosting the user experience.
Informative content combined with exceptional user experience can engage potential customers early on, boost brand authority and trust, and help improve your search rankings.
8. Not following “power of one” in copy
Putting multiple ideas in one copy is another rookie mistake most content marketers make while producing top of the funnel content. You cannot expect positive results if your copy tackles numerous aspects at once. It will only confuse your readers and make them leave.
This is where the “Power of One” strategy can help.
The “Power of One” is a strategy created by the famous American marketer — Michael Masterson. According to this strategy, all the elements in your copy should revolve around one powerful idea. The idea is to find one good idea the potential customer can understand immediately, and stick to it. Also, make sure the idea is strong, easy to comprehend, and trustworthy.
The top of the Funnel or awareness stage is the first step in the buyer’s journey. This is the stage where prospects require valuable content that addresses their pain points and attracts them to your product or service. Plus, it helps you establish trust and thought leadership with potential customers.
So, start experimenting with different content types and keep measuring your progress. Follow the above tactics to ensure prospects move down the marketing funnel and don’t abandon you in the initial stages.
Vikrant Jhala is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Growfusely – a SaaS content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. He loves to research, develop and populate content. He has a keen interest in photography, eCommerce, and emerging technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence. Connect with him on LinkedIn: @vikrantjhala.