The Complete Guide to Top of Funnel (TOFU) Marketing

It might make sense to create whatever marketing materials you think will help your audience.

But such a hotchpotch approach might get you a handful of readers — no leads though.

The solution? Planning campaigns for each step of the customer’s journey with you; starting with top of funnel content.

This is the initial stage in your marketing funnel that creates brand awareness and encourages your target audience to stay with you.

Unsure where to start? We’ve got your back with this guide that dives into not just what top of funnel marketing is but also covers TOFU marketing content types and examples.

So let’s dig in.

 

What is Top of Funnel (TOFU) Marketing?

Top of funnel marketing is marketing that focuses on creating awareness about your brand and adding interested members of your target audience to your marketing funnel.

It’s got very little to do with products and services. Instead, it focuses on showcasing your business as the authority in your field. The underlying aim? To gain your target audience’s trust.

Essentially, your target buyers have a lot of choices these days. This not only makes it difficult for you to catch their attention but also to gain their trust.

With top of funnel marketing though, you create different types of content to get in front of your audience.

And by making sure all the content you push out is valuable and audience-relevant, you can effectively gain your content consumers’ trust and get them to share their contact details.

Ultimately, this helps you add potential buyers to your marketing funnel where you can nurture them further.

 

What are Top of Funnel Marketing Goals?

There are two broad goals of top of funnel marketing:

  • Create awareness about your brand
  • Add buyers to your funnel (or, generate leads)

Between brand awareness and lead generation, there are multiple small goals that you need to be mindful of too.

For example, establishing yourself as the authority or expert in your field, ensuring your content is relevant to your audience and doubling down on the value you offer.

All these goals help you get on your audience’s radar and stay there.

 

12 Popular Top of Funnel Marketing Tactics

Before you plan out your top of funnel content, it helps to understand and define a few things. These include:

  • Understand who your target audience is. Before you sit to plan, make sure you have a strong grip on who you’re targeting with your content. Learn what content formats they prefer to consume and find out the questions they’re asking. This will help you create relevant TOFU content.
  • Define your goals. Do you want to inform, educate or entertain? You’ll want to choose your TOFU content types based on these goals.
  • Determine your content’s unique value proposition. This answers two simple but critical questions: what will make your awareness-generating content unique? And how will it stand out from the sea of content that’s already vying for their attention?

Based on this preliminary research, figure out the content formats you want to create.

You can try anything from audio content to video or written content. You can also pair written content with visual content as we do here at Samandishe. Our blog posts answer your questions. But to make them more valuable to you, we add infographics and videos to the posts.

The exact content format that you should be creating for your top of funnel marketing, however, depends on your audience’s preference.

Again, knowing your audience can help answer this question for you. It’ll also assist you in defining your brand voice and content goals.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the top of content types you can create for TOFU marketing.

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1. Blog Posts and Guides

These types of long-form content are a proven way to win your audience over by comprehensively answering questions they have.

To add, the better you answer their questions, the better you’ll position yourself as the expert on the topic.

In addition to being thorough in your answers, there’s another trick to ensuring your long-form content is a success: make it easy to read.

But how can you make your content readable? Shorten your sentences and paragraphs, break text into bullet points and add subheadings to structure your content.

Most of all, use visuals such as blog post graphics to break text and aid understanding. You can even add visual calls-to-action throughout your post to drive conversions.

The good news? Using Samandishe, you can quickly knock together visually engaging graphics for your guides and articles.

Here’s an example blog CTA template:

 

 

2. Social Media Posts

Start with selecting 2-3 social networks that your audience uses. From there, create engaging social media content to add people to your funnel.

For example, if you have to-do list-making software, share tips on boosting productivity to position yourself as an authority on the subject.

As with blog content, a winning element of social content is beautiful visuals.

Luckily, Samandishe’s vast bank of social media graphics include templates for all social channels — from Instagram to Pinterest — and can help you quickly create engaging content.

Besides, you can also design social graphics from the scratch. Here’s a video walkthrough of the process:

 

3. Pillar Page Content

The hub and spokes model for top of funnel marketing can not only position you as an expert in your audience’s eyes but also in front of the search engine.

The plan? To create a pillar or main page that addresses a broad topic — say content marketing. Ideally, this page should answer all the questions that your target searchers are asking.

You need not go too deep into answering these questions though. Because it’s here that cluster pages come into the picture.

These are individual posts that answer each question in detail. For example, content marketing strategy, content marketing examples, content marketing ideas and so on.

When the pillar page addresses these topics, it should link to these in-depth pieces.

In this way, you will be improving your SEO as well as providing your readers with lots of helpful resources — generating both brand awareness and leads in the process.

 

4. Ebooks

Ebooks go into more depth on a topic than blog posts do.

So if you see a blog post doing particularly well among your audience, capitalize on it and create an ebook on the topic.

Once done, add the link to the ebook in your blog post — asking readers to share their contact details in exchange for getting their hands on the ebook.

This way, you’d be generating leads in exchange for value. Simple, isn’t it?

But wait — wouldn’t designing an ebook eat up a lot of your time? Not really.

By leveraging ebook templates from Samandishe’s gallery, you’ll only have to focus on writing authoritative content. Then, add all the content into your chosen template, customize it according to your brand colors and you’re ready to go.

Here’s an example ebook template to give you an idea:

 

5. White Papers

Like ebooks go deeper into a topic than blog posts, white papers go deeper than ebooks.

Essentially, white paper content uses a formal, research-backed approach to promote an idea, concept or methodology for solving a problem.

Meaning: you’ll need subject matter experts to write white papers.

As with other long-form content though, ensure your whitepaper is formatted for readability and understanding.

Need help with white paper design? Choose from these white paper templates — here’s one of my favorites:

 

6. Videos

Not all audience types prefer long-form content. Or they enjoy video content with long-form content.

The correct answer depends on who your audience is and what their preferences are.

But if you’re planning video content as part of your top of funnel marketing, you have a few options such as:

  • Plan long, in-depth videos answering your audience’s questions
  • Create bite-sized, tips-based video content
  • Design short explainer videos with the intent to educate
  • Create screen recorded videos that walk viewers through the answer

Whatever your approach to video marketing, use Samandishe to create your videos.

This way, you don’t have to shell out heavy money for production. Plus, you can save your time by DIY-ing the process using video templates.

Here’s an explainer video template you can use right away:

 

7. Research Reports

Research reports are one of the fastest ways to establish yourself as an authority on the subject.

To drive home success using this top of funnel tactic, identify a research gap. Ask yourself: what is something your audience is searching for but has no data-fueled answer to?

From there, survey your audience to get data on the topic.

Heads-up though: the work that goes into surveying and creating a research report can be extensive. So be prepared to go into it with the we-can-do-it mindset.

As for visualizing the data you discover in your research, use our design tool.

Thinking you don’t need to bother with the data visualization part? Think again. Because it’s the only way to:

  • Ensure important findings don’t get lost in the sea of data
  • Improve shareability — more and more people can share your charts and graphs on their social and with their network
  • Repurpose content. That is: share the same data visualization in your blog posts, newsletter, guest posts, social media and other marketing channels.

Here’s a research report template you can use now:

 

8. Webinars

Next up, try webinars.

These are interactive top of funnel content types that have a written, spoken and audience-engagement (think: live Q&A sessions) element to them.

You can also invite other experts to double the value that you offer attendees. In fact, inviting someone your audience follows as an expert can help you quickly and easily get their attention.

In addition to planning guests to invite, be sure to design a branded presentation deck for the session. The reason? To create a cohesive brand identity, which is a smart way to become memorable for your audience.

Here’s a webinar presentation template you can use:

 

9. Quizzes

Quizzes are also interactive content types as they get your audience to actively engage with you.

The best part? You can use the quiz to understand and segment your target buyers better while generating leads.

For example, if you’re a beauty brand, you can create a quiz that helps site visitors understand which lip shade will suit them best.

 

10. Calculators and Online Tools

Who doesn’t love free tools, right?

Basically, anything that can help your audience be a better version of themselves will make an effective tool that helps you generate leads.

For instance, a content ideas generating tool or a headline optimizing tool.

 

11. Checklists and Templates

This type of supplementary content is simple to create and doesn’t take much time too.

Want a pro tip? Look at the blog posts you’re publishing and see if there’s a template or checklist you can create to make it more actionable for readers.

Say you have a post on content distribution. You can easily add a gated distribution checklist to it to help people follow the steps they need to take to distribute their content better.

And if you really want to crush it with supplementary content like this: design them with your brand colors so your brand is front and center of your audience’s mind whenever they use the checklist.

 

12. Infographics

And, finally, you have infographics that are highly applauded for making content easy to understand.

The cherry on top? You can use infographics to build links and improve your SEO besides sharing them with your long-form and social content.

Fortunately, using pre-baked infographic templates makes designing professional-looking infographics a piece of cake.

 

6 Examples of Top of Funnel Marketing

Now to help you see the practical side of TOFU marketing, here’s are six of the best industry examples.

 

1. Databox’s Expert Roundup Posts

Like most B2B SaaS companies, Databox took to long-form blog posts for their top of funnel marketing.

But the interesting part? Their approach to what makes their content unique: the expert insights that they add to their posts.

That is: each of their blog posts is based on original research. They survey a pool of contributors, asking for their insights. Then, they add their findings alongside the respondents’ quotes.

 

2. CoSchedule’s Checklists and Templates

To differentiate their blog content, the CoSchedule team aims for depth and supplementary content.

This means all of their blog posts are highly comprehensive. And the icing on top? They have checklists, cheatsheets and other such useful content.

This helps them easily generate leads.

 

3. HubSpot’s Pillar Page Strategy

HubSpot planned its content using the hub and spoke model.

They’ve pillar pages on topics related to their business and audience. From there, all pillar pages link to respective cluster content, therefore, providing the ultimate resource pages to their audience.

 

4. Moz’s Whiteboard Friday Series

Moz’s weekly explainer videos with Rand Fishkin, their former CEO, are a great example of videos done right.

In each video, Rand would tackle educational content related to SEO, answering a key question the audience had.

 

 

5. Benefit Cosmetics’ Live Videos

In each weekly video, Benefit Cosmetics discusses a new topic or shares a new product in real-time.

This allows them to engage with their audience as well as keep a pulse on what interests them. Often, this means that the team finds the topic for their next live video from the live session they’re hosting. Win-win!

 

6. Recess’ Instagram Content

This is an excellent example of top of funnel social media content.

The sparkling water company attracts its target audience of millennials by discussing issues they face related to stress and anxiety.

 

Start Planning Your Top of Funnel Content Today

From creating in-depth blog posts to designing engaging infographics and video content, you have a lot of top of funnel content types to explore.

Just make sure you identify the content formats your audience prefers. From there, plan your content and be consistent.

One last thing: for most of these content types, be sure to plan attention-grabbing visuals.

Samandishe can help you DIY this quickly and effectively. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Instead, try the design tool for yourself for free.

Or, book a demo to learn more about how your entire marketing team can use Samandishe to create exceptional visual content.

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