Is your marketing funnel leading to sufficient inbound conversions? If not, the top of the funnel is the best place to start looking for opportunities to improve. Simply put, the more successful the top of your marketing funnel is, the better your results will be.
8 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Funnel
Before you can hope to begin converting more customers, your marketing funnel needs to attract more leads. That said, the mistake a lot of marketers make is thinking the goal with lead generation is to always increase the number of prospects you can add to the top of your funnel. Often, that’s literally the only metric being used to measure this extremely important part of the entire process. This is a costly error. Instead, you want to focus on the quality of the leads you’re attracting, as well. In fact, depending on your current marketing funnel, the following tips may actually decreaseyour number of overall leads you regularly see. However, implementing this advice will greatly improve the quality of your leads, which will mean spending less of your budget trying to convert prospects that will never become customers. Ultimately, you’ll save money and improve your overall conversion rate.
1. Keep Top-of-Funnel Content Broad but NotToo Broad
Content at the top of the funnel has a very specific job: raise awareness and interest. Now is not the time to drill down into the specifics of a niche category. There is definitely a time to do that, but if you do so too early, your marketing funnel is going to lack an adequate number of leads. As we just touched on, your goal isn’t to cast the widest net possible, either. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but think about the ultimate goal of your funnel. What product or service do you hope to sell? More importantly, what is its benefit? For example, let’s say you sell a nutrition supplement aimed at people who are getting older and worrying about their health declining. Your supplement contains an impressive amount of vitamins and minerals, but what’s the ultimate benefit? It’s keeping the person healthy as they age, which means letting them enjoy a longer, happier life. The content at the top of your funnel should alsospeak to this audience. What else would people who want a longer, happier life be interested in? They’d probably like to learn more about what their diets should consist of and what kinds of exercises they should be doing on a regular basis. They may be interested in reading about real-life examples of people who turned their health around and lived long, happy lives after doing so. What you wouldn’t want to do is talk about how anyone– whether they’re in their 20s, 30s, 40s, etc. – can improve their health. You wouldn’t want to create content around financial considerations to make as you get older, either. Would someof your audience find this information compelling? Of course! But it’s far too broad and risks clogging your marketing funnel with prospects who will quickly realize they’re not interested in what you have to offer. So, again, when it comes to topics for your top-of-funnel content, think about subject matter that provides benefits similar to that of your product or service.
2. Your Content Must Be Actionable
Creating actionable content is absolutely critical. Content isn’t just about wooing your audience with topics they find relevant. It’s not even just about proving your authority to them – e.g. “We really understand this topic.” It’s essential you are also communicating to your audience that your company will make their lives easier, whatever that means to them. If we use the above example, it means showing people how they can immediately do things that will improve their health as they age. You’re showing them the exercises they can do or the meals they can start making. It’s the difference between telling your audience, “You need to get more healthy fats in your diet” and showing them:
Where to get those healthy fats from
How much they should be getting every day
Recipes for making delicious meals that contain healthy fats
In short, when the reader is done with your content, they shouldn’t have any questions about how to proceed to achieve the benefits they want. The only exception to this rule would be case studies, which are incredibly powerful pieces of content but don’t offer the same opportunity for step-by-step directions. Nonetheless, if you provide enough details, a case study can serve as a template for your readers. It canshow them the steps someone else took in a way that they can replicate to achieve similar results. In other words, at the top of your marketing funnel, case studies can’t be about how a client benefited from using yourproduct/service (more on this next). How is that kind of case study going to help them? It’s far too early to try converting them and that kind of content isn’t going to feature actionable advice. So if you want to use case studies, include lots of details. Providing actionable advice won’t just bring leads back again and again, either. It will bring the right leads back again and again. These are clearly people who want to take action, not just those who are interested in learning more about the topic.
3. Stay Away from Branded Content
At the heart of content marketing is the idea that everyone loves free information, so it’s a fantastic way to attract prospects to your company. Despite this, many businesses can’t resist the temptation to use branded content at the top of their marketing funnels. This is content that prominently features their brand. The perfect example of this is TV advertising. You’ll never see one that offers free, actionable advice and nothing else. It always features a product or service for you to buy. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work well at the top of your marketing funnel. If you offer five extremely helpful tips and one of them has to do with spending money on your company, the entire post looks questionable. Likewise, if you create a post that supports a certain practice/methodology only to conclude the piece by telling your audience that your company can help with this, the preceding information will be called into question. So at this stage of your funnel, you mustuse unbiased, non-branded content.
4. Focus on Building Your Following on Social Media
There are a lot of ways you can populate the top of your marketing funnel. Traditionally, two of the most reliable options were through SEO and paid advertising. Those still work. However, social media has a lot of potential for filling your funnel with qualified prospects, too. Best of all, it’s extremely affordable and, once you’ve built up your following, its growth will be incredibly easy to sustain. All you’ll need to do is continue to create and publish great content. Of course, successful social media marketing will take a lot of work at the beginning. The first thing you need to do is discover which platform your market prefers. If you’re a B2B company, you’ll probably do best on LinkedIn. If you have a younger following, your social media users are on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t take our word for it, though. Do some research to make sure you’re posting where you have the best chance of being seen by the leads you want. Next, look at what your competitors are doing. With any luck, they won’t have much of a following. At the same time, if they do, that’s good news, too. You can review what’s working for them and craft a similar strategy. Then, create lots of content and publish it regularly. Don’t just post a link to it once, though. Some of your followers may miss it. One really easy way to do this is with a social media tool called Edgar. It will allow you to schedule posts for Facebook and Twitter so the process is automated. Better still, when the predetermined time arrives to publish another post, it will just go back through your library and share old content all over again, increasing its exposure and ROI.
5. Look for Opportunities to Collaborate
Other companies can be one of your biggest assetsfor finding qualified leads to popular your marketing funnel. This is especially true on social media. You probably follow certain people or company pages because someone else shares one of their posts or otherwise put them on your timeline. Look for other social media users that have similar audiences and then reach out to them and see if there’s an opportunity to create content together. Again, let’s use our earlier example. You wouldn’t want to collaborate with other supplement companies targeting the same market, but what about a company that makes fitness equipment for that crowd? You could interview them about how people in your demographic can stay in shape as they get older. Now you have an actionablepiece of content, but you also have the beginning of a potentially prosperous relationship. If nothing else, that company is going to share this post with theirfollowing – one that’s relevant to your company. A lot of those people are going to see what you have to offer and, just like that, you’ve attracted new leads. This type of collaboration can be great for building impressive backlinks for your site, as well. You’ll be providing one to the company, of course, but they may also decide to highlight the interview on their site, too. If nothing else, offer to provide them with an interview in exchange and you’ll receive a beneficial backlink that will boost your site’s ranking and improve its exposure to prospects.
6. Publish Posts on Authority Sites
This is a similar method to the one listed above, but the big difference here is that this isn’t a collaborative effort. Instead, you’re taking a more traditional approach to backlinking by finding opportunities to guest post on relevant sites. This is a tremendous way to attract quality leads who will eventually convert because these prospects are already showing interest in your industry. They’re clearly in the awareness phase as they are actively reading posts on authority sites that exist to educate them on the topic. Imagine what it would do for the hypothetical company we’ve used in this article if they were able to guest post on the AARP website or that of another major authority. Just like with building your following on social media, this method is going to take a lot of work. Don’t start by trying to guest post on the biggest sites in your industry. Consider starting a bit smaller to show the editors of larger sites you know how to create relevant, actionable content – not just a thinly-veiled advertisement for your product or service.
7. Test, Test, and Test Some More
The top of your marketing funnel will either make or break your company. If you attract quality prospects, you’ll save money on the rest of the funnel and stand a better chance of turning them into customers. If you don’t attract quality prospects, you’ll have a tough time staying in business for long. That’s why you should be continuouslytesting this section of your marketing funnel with an eye for how to improve. Some have even argued that testing is all that separates successful marketers from the rest of the pack. So test everything from your content (including the titles you use) to your social media posts to the demographics you target and everything else. One helpful insight could easily lead to a marked increase in leads.
Put Your Focus on the Top of Your Marketing Funnel
While your company’s entire marketing funnel is essential, the amount of success you have with attracting high-quality leads will directly impact how well you’re able to convert them into actual customers. Far too many companies become comfortable with their lead-generation numbers and focus solely on what they can do at the end of their marketing funnel to increase their conversion rates. Don’t make this mistake. Use the steps we’ve provided above to create content that will attract and engage the right kinds of leads and you’ll find that your conversion rates automatically improve as a result.