Battle for your attention is at an all-time high. Social media posts are flying around your phone like hotcakes. Omni-channel (or multi-channel) marketing tactics are on hyperdrive. Marketing technology is evolving at a faster rate than marketers can review and recommend. On average, it takes 10-15 touch points to get someone to respond, which could be as important as a request for a meeting or as a simple “Like” check on a post. Holding onto mindshare is tough.
What is Top of Funnel?
Let’s take a quick step back before I continue with my memo. “Top of funnel” is considered the “awareness stage” of your marketing funnel. This is where consumers and companies are searching for answers to their pain points. They may or not be ready to buy, but they’re looking for answers, or at the very least, people experiencing the same challenges. Typically, the marketing tactics revolve around content, content and more content in the form of social media, paid media or blog posts.
Whether you’re a small business/startup or a large corporation, getting top-of-funnel awareness is key to finding a new audience or keeping your foot on the gas with your existing audience.
Top-of-funnel success requires various content pieces sent at the right time to the right audience with the answer to the right pain points. They don’t want the digital brochure or the product-first article. They want a personal connection or an empathetic anecdote that will get them to raise their hand and say, “Yep, I’ve been in those same shoes.”
You believe me, but you need reasons. Let’s look at some numbers as to why getting your top-of-funnel strategy right is important:
71% of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search. (Google)
B2B researchers do 12 searches on average prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site. (Google)
55% of B2B buyers say they search for product/vendor information on social media. (InsideView)
59% of buyers prefer to do research online instead of interacting with a sales rep because the rep pushes a sales agenda rather than helps solve a problem. (Forrester)
71% of B2B buyers who see personal value will purchase a product. (CEB)
Spread the Brand without Spreading your Budget
You’ve heard the phrase, “Everyone is a marketer,” which can cause angst among your marketing department. I am sure many of you have received those 11th-hour changes from a member of the C-level or have had someone in a different department tell you the email you sent didn’t show up well on an iPhone 5s. Well, in the context of this article, you want this. There’s no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen.
The ultimate goal is that everyone (a) buys into their functional role and (b) sees value in their contributions within their own networks.
The blueprint to Top of Funnel success
In order to have top-of-funnel success, your marketing machine must be working on all cylinders, which means you must have roles for all of your players. For example, as the main conductor of this orchestra, soliciting appropriate buy-in is extremely important for you, as is giving visibility into results to show others that their efforts are contributing to tangible leads, proposals and sales. The key to a successful strategy is ensuring everyone understands that their role will differ depending on their function, but you all have the same goal of expanding your reach organically.
So, how do you actually do it? Here’s how to construct a top-of-funnel plan with meaning.
Ground Zero – [Marketing function]
This is where the repetition and program management are key
Marketing campaigns must be ongoing in email and social media
A content calendar must be present with a distribution plan
Overall awareness should be broken down into air cover (company awareness) and targeted awareness (vertical / regional / product awareness)
Keep your eye on the sales funnel for new blog topics, testimonials, closed/won business case studies and trends
Identify your thought leaders, evangelists and influencers
Utilize marketing technology on your website to capture interest (chat bot, pop-ups, email subscriptions)
Employ the 4-1-1 social media posting strategy [courtesy of CMI]
First line of defense – [Leadership and customer-facing teams]
Create thought leadership campaigns (for a few experts) to highlight experience
Look to internal data to create an index or trend studies
Make video a key way to bring a personal touch to telling their story
Keep your eye on associations and partnerships within this group to expand your reach
Make sure all parties are following your social media properties and sharing content on their personal networks
Periphery – [Non-customer facing internal teams and Company Evangelists]
Make sure all parties are following and sharing content with their seal of approval
Survey them periodically for ideas, topics and campaigns (typically, they have great ideas)
Launch a referral program to find likely prospects
Create guest blogging spots
Above all, show them results
Getting started is always the hardest part, but working on top-of-funnel initiatives is the perfect time to communicate the value of marketing while involving everyone in expanding your company’s reach. Without a solid top-of-funnel plan, everyone will be working harder to acquire new leads into the funnel. Plus, your sales team will thank you for the keeping them busy!
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We are a Cleveland-based marketing consulting firm helping companies in highly-competitive industries acquire more qualified leads faster through “action-oriented” marketing strategies. Our goals are to better align marketing to your business goals, shorten the sales cycle with more qualified leads and increase awareness through an effective integrated marketing approach.
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