Top of Funnel Marketing: Reaching More Potential Customers

Google adwords expert

Almost every business wants to improve its brand awareness. After all, the more people who know and have a favorable attitude toward your brand means more potential customers and higher revenue, right? While it’s certainly not easy to increase brand awareness, it is definitely possible when you focus on top of funnel marketing strategies. In this blog post, we discuss some of the best ways to market your company to improve its visibility and build a thoroughfare that drives success.

top of funnel marketing
Image courtesy of Coast Digital

Above, you see a version of the conversion or sales funnel. Unlike the one you use in your kitchen, a sales funnel is leaky. Thus, as you pour more into the top of the funnel, you see some escape out of the sides, so there’s less to flow through to the bottom of the funnel where your cash register rings. Improving performance relies on both feeding more prospective customers into the top of the funnel as well as moving them more efficiently through the funnel so a higher percentage of those entering the funnel convert.

Of course, that’s a pretty tall order and different strategies (and metrics) guide your actions at each stage of the funnel so you optimize performance. Today, we’ll focus on top of funnel marketing strategies. You’ll find other posts on this site that focus on other stages in the marketing funnel.

Top of funnel marketing strategies

At the top of the marketing funnel is the awareness stage of the consumer decision-making process. At this stage, you face a market unaware of your product or its attributes. Your challenge at this stage of the funnel is to reach as many folks making up your target market (a subset of the population that represents the sweet spot for your product based on their needs, desires, income, beliefs, attitudes, etc). Members of your target market share commonalities across demographics, geographic, behavioral, and psychographic variables that make them more like each other than those not part of your target market. At the end of your efforts to build a target market, you should build personas that look like the one below. For many products, you may have multiple personas that require modification of your marketing efforts to optimize performance with each persona, which we’ll discuss in a later section of this post.

market persona
Image courtesy of Dribble

Reach and frequency

Reach refers to the percentage of your target market (or persona) exposed to your marketing messages in some channel. The higher that percentage, the better you are at exposing your target market to your message. However, it often takes more than 1 exposure before a prospective buyer even considers making a purchase. Frequency refers to the average number of times each member reached actually sees your message.

Minimum frequency varies greatly based on the characteristics of the market. For some products, mere exposure is enough to drive purchase. Impulse buying fits into this category and purchase may result from simply seeing the product displayed at the checkout lane. Most products require more effort to drive a purchase and the more complex the product, the harder it is to convey its benefits over the competition, the more frequently you must reach buyers before they make a decision in your favor. Various experts report frequency minimums to achieve a purchase vary between 3 and 20, although that wide variance isn’t surprising as consumers and markets differ widely. The efficiency of your message also impacts this minimum frequency since those exposed to your message must recall prior messages received to count as part of your frequency count. That’s where integrated marketing communications come in to ensure your message multiplies across campaigns and channels.

Marketing channels

Marketing channels also impact top of funnel marketing. First, you must promote your brand in channels rich in your target market. Next, you must match your messaging with the promotional platform and the type of prospect you can reach in that channel. For instance, on social platforms, native advertising outperforms most other types of promotion as a tool to impact top of funnel marketing outcomes. Similarly, recall across different channels is different, especially when you consider how each platform assesses frequency, which may mean the prospect was exposed to the message but doesn’t mean they saw the message. A person who leaves the room during a commercial is an example of someone exposed to the message who never saw it.

How to improve top of funnel marketing

Address a real need

First and foremost, you need to make sure your product actually addresses a need and does it better, at least for some segment of the market, than competitors. I’ve said before on this site that people don’t buy products, they buy solutions, so the key to all marketing (not just top of funnel marketing) is to solve a consumer problem that some consumers don’t find solved with existing products. The larger the number of consumers that believe this way, the higher your market potential.

If you can show potential customers how your product makes their lives easier, they will consider your brand. For example, targeting people who want to make a second income may respond to social media ads that state “How to start forex trading.” By matching your messaging to a real market need you fill the top of your marketing funnel.

Get out there to increase your visibility

One of the best ways to get your brand name out there is to get involved in the community. This could mean sponsoring a local sports team, donating to a charity, or even just setting up a booth at a community event. When people see your company investing in making the world around them a better place, not only are more likely to remember your brand but to form favorable opinions of your company for supporting their values. Plus, community involvement is a great way to build up some good PR for your company. Increasingly, consumers, especially younger consumers, are belief-driven consumers who make purchase decisions based on company values, as you can see below.

corporate social responsibility
Image courtesy of Customer Insight Group

Similarly, you might seek out opportunities to speak at events to expose more consumers to who you are as a leader and a company. Find events in your community or reach other to podcasters, bloggers, and colleagues for opportunities to share. Don’t make these presentations too promotional or you’ll see opportunities quickly dry up. Instead, focus on providing value to your audience so you get invited back.

Use social media

Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to businesses today. Not only is it a great way to connect with potential customers, but it’s also incredibly cost-effective. Make sure that your company has a strong social media presence and that you regularly post engaging content on each platform. Below, you can see some content marketing ideas that help reach your goals at various stages in the marketing funnel.

Maintain a content marketing calendar to ensure you stay on top of your content needs so you post content on a consistent basis according to norms within the industry. For instance, posting to Facebook/ Instagram once a day and Twitter 5 to 7 times a day increases your results.

Social media marketing also means using influencers, those users with highly engaged followers. These influencers not only help spread your message but add their own brand to yours; making it more appealing to their followers.

Make it memorable

You need to make sure that your brand name is easy to remember. If it’s something that people can’t easily pronounce or spell, they are much less likely to remember it. Think about some of the most successful brands out there. Chances are, their names are short and sweet, and easy to remember. That’s no coincidence. Make sure that your brand name is simple and easy to remember, and you’ll be well on your way to increasing brand awareness.

The same goes for your marketing efforts. Stand out from the competition and create messaging that people remember. Think back and I’m sure you recall some commercial jingles from when you were a kid. For me, one that stands out is the jingle from Oscar Meyers, which is how I learned to spell B-O-L-O-G-N-A. It’s hard to make your marketing memorable. I once conducted a study using my marketing research class. We asked consumers to recall an ad they’d seen recently for a particular class of products. We found that they often scrambled two or more commercial messages together until the message was nonsense and attributed the message to the wrong brand. Don’t do that.

Gain reviews from existing customers

One way to help influence prospective customers is by rewarding customers for taking the time to write reviews of your product. Sharing these endorsements in your marketing channels helps you reach more prospective customers while, at the same time, helping to convince those already exposed to your message of the benefits available by making a purchase. When customers feel like their opinion is valued, they will be much more likely to leave a review. Plus, positive reviews can do wonders for your brand awareness.

Encourage your customers to leave reviews by offering them a discount on their next purchase or a freebie for taking the time to write about their experience.

Provide superior customer experiences

As a business, you should always seek ways to improve your customer service. Nothing damages a brand as fast or travels as far as negative word of mouth.

Conclusion

In conclusion, increasing brand awareness is essential for any business that wants to be successful. By following the tips outlined in this blog post, you can start to see a real difference in the visibility of your brand.

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