Tradition dictates that acquiring and converting new leads from top of the funnel marketing is about ten times more expensive than it is to convert leads you already have.
But does it have to be?
Optimizing your top of the funnel marketing can cut your costs dramatically and help you reach the right audiences every time.
What is Top of the Funnel Marketing?
You’re already familiar with the marketing funnel stages, but let’s discuss your work at the top without getting caught up in the details.
Top of the Funnel (ToFu)
The objective at the top of the sales funnel is to reach out to as large and relevant an audience as possible. You’ll want to do that with a message that is specific to their needs, and to do that you’ll need to understand your audiences. You can always learn more as they move through your marketing funnel, but you need to start off with a solid foundation if you want to optimize your funnel from the top down.
You may have some conversions at this point, depending on how rapid your typical buyer’s journey is, and where they enter your marketing funnel from, but this part of the marketing process is more about awareness and visibility towards your audience personas. Here you want to be getting involved and sparking conversations around the topics they care about - not necessarily going for the sell.
You’ll want to be measuring the engagement you’re getting with your content strategy, and see how closely the people you are attracting line up with your audience personas.
What Sets the Top of the Funnel Apart
From there, if your business can position itself as an authority on the topic, your top-of-the-funnel efforts will revolve around jumping into the conversation and grabbing your audience’s attention to boost awareness and engagement.
It’s important to understand how your individual business’ marketing funnel aligns with your typical customer journey. Harmonizing the two will ensure that people will encounter content at each stage of their customer journey that’s relevant and interesting to them.
For a long time, the top of the funnel has been considered too expensive and amorphous to be efficient. The tools marketers used were time-consuming and tedious, resulting in months-long feedback loops and broad data that lacked the definition needed to run a pinpoint accurate top of the funnel marketing strategy.
Changing the Game on Traditional Marketing Wisdom
The tools and data one could collect in the past left the top of the funnel in a space where it was expensive and time consuming to gather the data you would really need to target accurately.
The tools and methods of the past had and continue to have some draw for marketing professionals: surveys and focus groups are tried and relatively true approaches to marketing. They’re also understood quite well in the vernaculum - people know what you mean when you bring up ‘a recent survey.’ Above all, they were used for almost a century, so they are comfortable in their antiquity.
But marketing campaigns have evolved. The tools and methods of the past are just that: of the past. Campaigns have generally become smaller, but run more frequently. The new challenge, therefore, is keeping your data up-to-date and valuable with the ever increasing pace of marketing. The days of an acceptable feedback loop being months long are gone. Content intelligence these days is rapid and constantly evolving.
Surveys can still compliment your data too, but their value is more limited. Especially in recent years with the rise of social media, the wealth of information available to consolidate your competitive intelligence is endless.
As the ways in which consumers interact with brands and make purchasing decisions change, , shouldn’t too the way we collect our data?
While in the past only bottom-of-the-funnel efforts could go with a tried and true approach based on hard data, top-of-the-funnel activities have caught up in their effectiveness. We are at a point in time where, with the right tools, marketing professionals can put their audience data to work immediately to inform their strategy and set better expectations for a campaign.
You’re now able start off with much more accurate audience data before you even launch a campaign, with tools that allow you to collect and collate data, segment your audiences, and have a deep understanding of your 5W’s and H as the basis of your campaigns.
Knowing Your Audience Personas
This is backed up by the Marketo Engagement Gap report’s findings on marketer vs. consumer sentiment:
- 61% of marketers believe they engage with the right content.
- 56% of consumers believe businesses need to have a deeper understanding of their needs.
- 51% of consumers believe brands send too much irrelevant content.
Get started with our target audience analysis guide for everything you need to know about collecting your data, defining your personas, and putting them to work.
Cost Efficiency at the Top of the Funnel and Throughout
Leads are the lifeblood of your marketing funnel. You probably have a good idea of what your Cost Per Lead, or CPL, looks like, and typically it will fall into two categories:
- A high CPL with clients fairly ready to buy and entering right away at a later stage in your funnel. These will move quickly through your funnel, and their buyer’s journey will be relatively short.
- A low CPL with clients who aren’t as immediately interested in converting to paying customers. These leads will require a longer time to nurture and cultivate before they are ready to convert, so their buyer’s journey will be longer.
Thankfully, the tools you need to effectively reach out to new audiences currently outside your funnel - your unknown audiences - and bringing them in have evolved.
The tech and tools marketers need to collect and process data throughout the funnel are much more defined and widely used these days, with multiple tools offering different ways to track and disassemble data, giving you the actionable insights you need to drive conversion. The key to your an efficient and streamlined top of the funnel marketing is strategy leading into accurate and actionable personas. The good news is that the days of slaving away for weeks to compile your audience data into personas are gone. These days you have the tools you need to define your audience personas right at your fingertips.
This is because you will see a knock-on effect as you pick up better leads, leading to an easier nurturing stream, and better conversion and retention rates as a B2B brand - and more interested first time customers who are more likely to become repeat patrons and brand advocates for your business in the future as B2C brand.
Thankfully, the technology and tools you need to make that happen are much more accessible and, more importantly, more accurate than they were just a few years ago. You can now tap into AI tools to consolidate your audience data into valuable buyer personas in moments, for each of your campaigns and use that to personalize your advertising with pinpoint accuracy so you reach people who really are interested in what your brand has to offer.
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