Standing out in 2023 and beyond isn't as easy as in previous years. With the current increase in inflation, people cutting back on extra spending, and brands relying on marketing more heavily than ever before, it can be hard to know how to make your brand stand out amidst all the noise.
That's why you've got to catch people right where they are: at the beginning of the sales funnel. Statistics show that 96% of visitors who come to your website are not ready to buy, so you need to learn how to get your prospective clients from the very top of the sales funnel all the way to the end, where they are purchasing something from your brand.
If you're unsure how to achieve that or what you need to do to get there, then this article is just for you.
In this article, we will cover the following topics to inspire you in your marketing:
- What a sales funnel is
- The importance of top-of-funnel marketing in driving brand awareness and generating leads
- 3 emerging strategies for creating engaging content in 2024
- 3 tips for optimizing content distribution channels to reach a wider audience
- 2 examples of successful top-of-funnel marketing campaigns
Let's get to it!
What Is a Sales Funnel?
Before we get super deep into how to reach people in the sales funnel, let's look at a high-level overview of what a sales funnel is.
A sales funnel defines the steps the potential customer went through until they closed the deal. Imagine that the sales funnel could also be considered the customers who went through the sales pipeline and ended up closing the deal with the salesperson.
A sales funnel is, essentially, the other side of the pipeline: the prospect's side. As a salesperson goes through their sales pipeline, the customer goes through the sales funnel. Each step of the way gets them closer to the end of the funnel. If the customer decides to close the deal, they make it through the funnel.
Steps of a Sales Funnel
Different customers can describe sales funnels differently, so this is just one example of what a sales funnel could look like for a prospect.
At this stage, the potential customer has become aware of a new product, service, program, etc. This could mean they saw an ad, received a cold call, email, message or anything within that realm.
Perhaps the cold call or email came at just the right time for the potential customer. Now, they might be interested in what is being sold. They might take their interest further and look at the website or read a flyer that the salesperson provided.
Now, the potential customer is genuinely interested. Maybe they’ve accepted a demo call or product sample to further understand the service or product being sold.
Hopefully, the prospect will soon move on to this stage and let their intent be known. If this is the case, they are now considering being a client and moving through the next steps.
Before making any firm decisions, however, the prospect does some market research and tries to find out the competitor's pricing to know how they should negotiate the contract or price with the salesperson.
Finally, the customer has decided to finalize the deal by signing a contract or purchasing the product, and the sales funnel is final.
As you can see, there are several steps to the sales funnel, and all are key points to consider.
Why is it Important to Reach People at the Top of the Sales Funnel?
Top-of-the-funnel marketing is key to shaping a brand's identity and expanding its reach. The initial touchpoint for potential buyers creates awareness and interest in the brand's products or services.
Statistics show that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads, so catching them at the beginning of the sales funnel is key. By focusing on top-of-the-funnel strategies like content marketing, social media campaigns, and SEO, brands cast a pretty wide net to capture a broad audience's attention.
3 Emerging Trends and Strategies for Creating Top of Funnel Content in 2024
Reaching people at the top of the sales funnel requires creating awareness of your brand. As a content marketer, you know this means you are planting a seed for why your customer needs your product or service.
If 2023 feels like a whole new year in content marketing, you're not wrong. This year has seen increases like never before in how marketers well, market. Studies show that in 2023, 73% of marketers across the board use social media, 51% invest in paid social media ads, and 53% use email marketing. As a marketer, that means that you need to stay ahead of the game and catch emerging trends and strategies as they come.
Let's look into three emerging trends we've noticed so far for 2024.
#1 AI-Powered Content
Whether we like it or not, ChatGPT, Open AI, and other similar platforms are here to stay. We can huff and puff all we want, but the truth is that we just need to embrace it.
What if relying on AI as a tool to do a job more efficiently actually empowered us to do our jobs better since we now have time to focus on bigger and better things? In 2024, that's simply something we just can't miss out on.
#2 Short Form Video Content
According to HubSpot's 2023 Social Media Marketing Report, social media marketers planned to double down on short-form video in 2023, with 33% of the surveyed marketers planning to invest most in the relatively new format in 2023.
Traditionally, videos were longer, but now short-form content, especially 60 to 90 seconds, performs better than ever. As a marketer, you should analyze past and current efforts to decide which video length works best for your brand; just be sure to try out short-form video content to see the exponential reach you may see.
#3 Genuine Content
People relate to brands that have genuine content. If you aren't marketing like you're talking to a friend, then you probably need to reevaluate.
Studies show that 75% of customers will pay more for products or services from a brand they believe to be genuine, so be true to your brand's voice when getting your message out there.
3 Tips for Optimizing Content Distribution Channels to Reach a Wider Audience
As a marketer, chances are that you already know how to market and what to do. You're a marketer; it's what you do!
Every now and then, when campaigns start to run stale, you may start to question how you can innovate your campaign and optimize your content distribution channels to reach a wider audience.
Here are three quick tips you can implement.
#1 Widen Your Horizons
If you use targeted keywords or locations, try to branch out more. A few quick things you can do are to focus on more keywords, narrow out poorly performing keywords through negative keyword implementation, and expand your location reach.
#2 Invest a Teensy Bit More
In marketing, every dollar counts, and sometimes, that's all it takes for engagement and lead generation to shoot up. Consider taking one of your high-performing avenues and increasing your spending. Analyze what part of your current marketing effort isn't performing well and funnel those funds into an avenue that could skyrocket. Even if it's only a few dollars more, sometimes that is all you need.
#3 Tap into Closed Groups
As simple as it sounds, posting in closed and niche groups is a phenomenal way to reach new prospects. Close groups tend to focus more on niche scenarios, so it's one way to really broaden your reach quickly.
Consider sharing an already written post to see how well the post performs and brings a prospective customer from the top of the sales funnel all the way to the end, where they purchase your product.
2 Examples of Successful Top-of-Funnel Marketing Campaigns
Reaching people at the top of the sales funnel when they're in the awareness stage is an excellent marketing strategy.
Let's take a look at 2 brands that adopted this strategy.
Take Red Bull as a good example of a brand that just nailed it. Its content marketing strategy doesn't just revolve around energy drinks; it extends to extreme sports events and sponsorships.
By associating itself with these high-adrenaline activities, Red Bull elevates its brand visibility and attracts a diverse audience in the awareness stage, ultimately funneling them toward considering its product.
HubSpot is another great example of top-of-the-funnel marketing in action. Through its blog, educational resources, and free tools, it attracts leads seeking solutions to their marketing challenges, so they're already in the awareness stage.
By providing valuable content and addressing pain points at the top of the funnel, HubSpot establishes credibility and trust, making it more likely that these leads will progress through the marketing funnel and become customers down the line.
#3 Nectar HR
Nectar, an employee recognition software, focuses on top-of-the-funnel marketing by creating content around relevant keywords like employee recognition, company swag ideas, HR podcasts, etc.
These are topics that an HR manager would be interested in exploring and would possibly search for on a search engine.
Once they find Nectar’s page, they become aware of Nectar as a brand and might choose to read more about the services they offer.
Final Thoughts on Top of Funnel Marketing Ideas in 2024
Top-of-funnel marketing serves as the springboard for any successful marketing plan. It successfully catches people's attention, introduces your brand, and starts meaningful conversations with a wide audience.
Through methods like engaging content, active social media presence, and smart SEO tactics, you can reach those who are just beginning to explore their needs and potential solutions.
Just remember that the real magic of top-of-funnel marketing extends beyond just getting noticed. It's about providing real value, addressing problems, and earning trust. Brands that excel here don't just gather leads; they build relationships. They guide potential customers along their journey, from that first spark of awareness to becoming loyal advocates.
Focusing on these initial touchpoints isn't just a step but the beginning of sustainable growth, which will foster connections that grow from initial interest into long-term loyalty.
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