The term “marketing funnel” has become a hot buzzword in recent years, but the truth of the matter is, it’s not a new concept. When I was in
college 20 years ago, my marketing professors and marketing textbooks referred to the concept as a pyramid where every marketing effort moves customers up the pyramid until they ultimately buy. A marketing funnel explains the same concept, but instead of climbing up the pyramid with people dropping off along the way, people move down the marketing funnel with only the “best” customers making it through to the bottom of the marketing funnel.
The marketing funnel term has evolved to have not only a strategic meaning (as described in the previous paragraph) but also a tactical meaning. Marketers build content marketing funnels using specific content offerings to move targeted customers through the buying cycle. The marketing funnel is divided into three parts: top of funnel (TOFU), middle of funnel (MOFU), and bottom of funnel (BOFU). Let’s take a closer look at each.
1. Top of Funnel (TOFU)
At the top of the funnel is everyone who isn’t close to ready to buy yet. For example, new prospects are at the top of the funnel. Your goal at the top of a content marketing funnel is to create a lead magnet that will attract a large number of leads into the top of the funnel.
Offering a free ebook is a great way to generate leads through content marketing at the top of the funnel. Here’s how it could work:
1. Offer a free ebook to visitors on your website who provide their email addresses.
2. Using an email automation tool such as MailChimp or Infusionsoft, instantly send an email message with the free ebook to the lead.
Now, you have the lead’s email address, and you can follow up with them with more useful content to try to push them further down the funnel.
Customers at the bottom of the funnel are much more likely to buy, so a content marketing funnel should be built with a specific end goal purchase in mind. In other words, when the email campaign for the content marketing funnel is over, customers at the bottom of the funnel should be ready to buy a specific product or service.
2. Middle of Funnel (MOFU)
Your next step in a content marketing funnel is to move people from the top of the funnel to the middle of the funnel. Using the email marketing campaign in the Top of Funnel section above, you could offer at least two free bonus items and automatically send those bonuses to leads through two separate email messages sent at a timed interval. For example, you could send the first bonus one or two days after the ebook download message is sent and the second bonus one or two days after that.
The goal is to start building a relationship and trust with prospects by giving them more useful content. You’re building a comfort level between your brand and the prospect. However, a couple of freebies aren’t enough to push someone to the middle of the funnel. You have to give them more.
Offering a free webinar is great way to start pushing leads into the middle of the funnel. For example, a new email campaign could promote a webinar that is a natural extension of the free ebook and bonus items. People who attend the webinar are clearly getting more interested in your business and brand and what you have to offer. They’re moving to the middle of the marketing funnel!
The key to success at this point is avoiding the mistake of giving too much away. Remember, your goal is to get people to buy a specific, higher priced item at the bottom of the funnel, so your webinar should offer just enough that the audience gets extremely interested and wants more. You can give them the “more” at the end of the webinar when you promote the ultimate product or service you’re trying to sell.
3. Bottom of Funnel (BOFU)
When you promote the ultimate product or service you’re trying to sell in your content marketing funnel, your job isn’t over. It takes a bit more effort to move some people from the middle of the funnel to the bottom. You’ll need to create an email campaign for everyone who attends your webinar that offers more useful bonuses and content and reminds them about the product or service you’re trying to sell.
Communicate with them every couple of days for at least the first week after the webinar and then touch base again each week with more targeted, useful information that will make them considering buying your product or service. If they haven’t purchased within a month (or two at the most), it’s unlikely that they will. You’ve moved people as far through this content marketing funnel as you can.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t convince them to buy through a different content marketing funnel. The trick is finding the right mix of content to effectively move the largest number of your best customers through the funnel to make a purchase. This requires a lot of testing so don’t worry if you don’t get the results you want after your first content marketing funnel comes to an end. Review the results and build a better funnel next time! Eventually, you’ll get your content marketing funnels running like well-oiled machines.