Top of Funnel Marketing: 8 Simple Tips for Making an Impact on Early-Stage Leads

By Ray O’Donnell

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Consumer behavior breakdowns show that, in 2024, the buyer's journey is more complex than ever. Shoppers are turning to new channels to discover and research solutions to fix their pain points. They're also taking longer to think through their purchasing decisions, with impulse purchases declining 48% in 2023 due to high inflation rates.

So, what does this mean for businesses trying to reach and convert new customers? The data shows the importance of investing in top-of-funnel marketing and making a positive impression on early-stage leads.

The great news is that this is relatively easy to do — as long as you follow good marketing practices. So, if you're looking to impress your ToFu leads, here are eight simple tips on how to wow them and get them to consider your brand for their next purchase.

Prioritize Helpful Information over Sales

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when targeting early-stage leads is to put too much (aggressive) sales pressure on them.

Behavioral research shows that forceful sales techniques inevitably lead to a lower chance of converting customers. They also deteriorate brand trust, which is a huge loss, considering that 81% of consumers consider brand credibility when choosing what solutions to invest in.

The good news is that doing away with pushy marketing strategies doesn't mean you can't effectively nudge awareness-stage buyers toward the lower stages of the sales funnel. It just means that you need to know how to do this right.

One excellent strategy for winning over early-stage customers is to prioritize helpful information and value in your marketing tactics. By empowering your prospects with relevant and educational information, you won't just demonstrate expertise. You'll also earn your potential customers' trust and convince them they can trust your brand to put their needs before profits.

For instance, if you check out the Transparent Labs Best Pre-Workout guide, you'll see that it's an extensive resource that prioritizes quality information over conversions. Of course, the article still contains CTAs and links to their key pages like all their pre-workout supplements. However, these are not the primary focus of the resource, which makes it a great example of a convincing awareness-stage piece of content.

Source: transparentlabs.com

Create a Simple, Low-Stakes Quote Process

In addition to product information, price also plays a role in helping consumers determine whether to buy. Consumers consider value before deciding on a solution; plus, more than 80% will turn to price-comparison websites to ensure they get the best deal on their chosen products.

What does this mean for awareness-stage marketing? Well, it shows how essential it is to make it easy for your target audience to get a quote on your solutions — especially if prices aren't directly communicated on your product/pricing pages.

One ToFu marketing tactic you can implement to ensure your prospects don't equate the process of requesting a quote to commit to a purchase is to design a low-stakes quote process.

For example, if you check out Shop Solar, you'll notice that the homepage features an attention-grabbing Quick Quote CTA. This leads web visitors to a simple quiz that asks them to specify their needs and preferences and provide an email or phone number. And it guarantees personalized product and service recommendations supplied by a team of solar energy experts. 

This site feature makes it worthwhile for consumers to get in touch with the brand. Plus, it works equally well in all stages of the sales funnel — from top to bottom.

Source: shopsolarkits.com

Illustrate a Variety of Social Proof

Almost all consumers consider social proof before buying. Research from Power Reviews found that 99.5% of people research their online purchases at least sometimes. So, if you're trying to grab the attention of early-stage shoppers, you need to prepare for the fact that they'll base their purchase decisions on your brand's online reputation. 

For this reason, when targeting ToFu buyers, it's not a bad idea to present them with lots of testimonials showing the superiority of your solutions. You can utilize social proof in many ways to get consumers to consider investing in your products. 

For example, using high ratings to point out your product's quality — as done on the Miro homepage — can be an excellent way to use social proof on your website.

Source: miro.com

Another excellent way to establish brand credibility is to feature positive testimonials or UGC on your website and social media pages. For instance, the Muuto Instagram profile features a variety of customer and content creator-submitted images, making it easy for the brand to show how its products stand out in different interiors.

Source: instagram.com

Lastly, don't underestimate the sheer power of numbers. Sometimes, just the fact that you have a large number of social media followers — like the Sokisahtel Facebook profile — will be enough to convince your awareness-stage prospects to consider investing in your products.

Naturally, to get this type of social proof to work in your favor, you must first invest in building a community on your chosen social networks. That means producing high-quality social media content, publishing frequently and consistently, and doing your best to continually engage with your followers so they don't lose interest in your brand and products.

Source: sokisahtel.net

Build Smart Influencer Partnerships

While we're on the subject of using social proof to delight awareness-stage consumers, don't forget that collaborating with influencers could be one of the most effective ways for you to raise awareness about your brand and solutions. Plus, it's also an excellent method to establish brand trust and inspire conversions.

But, in 2024, building successful influencer partnerships isn't just about collaborating with a random influencer with a large number of followers. Instead, it's all about that person's influence in your industry and the credibility they could add to your brand's voice.

For example, recent research from Edelman shows that the most credible brand spokespeople include experts and scientists. So, if you want to get the most out of your influencer marketing tactics, do your best to align your brand with trustworthy industry voices.

If you check out the DJI YouTube channel, you'll notice it's populated with videos made by professional videographers. For instance, in the example below, Andras Ra, a hyperlapse video maker, explains his workflow and the ways he uses DJI products to create. This is an excellent way for the brand to associate itself with expert voices in its industry.

Position Your Value Prop in Measurable Terms

When making promises — especially to consumers in the early stages of the buyer's journey — the worst thing you can do is be vague. Because, at the end of the day, no one wants to invest their hard-earned money in a solution that only works partially. Instead, they want a guarantee that their investment will pay off.

For this reason, one of the best marketing tips for making a positive first impression on your potential customers is to position your value proposition in measurable terms.

If you check out this Going page, you'll notice that the brand uses a very specific promise — the opportunity for members to save $550, on average, when booking flights — to get people to sign up for its service. This is a fantastic strategy, and not just because saving $550 on a flight means getting a great deal. More importantly, it is a super-specific, measurable claim that sets up people's expectations and encourages them to create a direct connection between what Going offers and the value they can anticipate.

Source: going.com

If you decide to use this tactic in your ToFu marketing efforts, do your best not to overpromise. Sure, that may initially boost conversions. However, it will also inevitably lead to unmet customer expectations, low customer satisfaction rates, and a dent in your brand's reputation.

Make Use of Explainer Videos If Your Product Is Complex

The simple truth about marketing to early-stage leads is that unless they understand precisely what your solution does and how that's relevant to their needs, they won't give it a second thought. For this reason, you must take the time to explain what your brand can do for potential customers.

The easiest way to do this — especially when you've got a limited time frame before your prospects' attention runs out — is to use video.

According to research, explainer videos do a marvelous job of clarifying the value of complex products. In 2023, Wyzowl found that 88% of brands managed to increase product understanding by employing video. And even more importantly, 91% of buyers have chosen to watch a video to learn about a brand's products and services.

So, if you're looking for ways to make a positive impact on awareness-stage leads and help them understand the potential offered by your solutions, consider investing in video marketing. It doesn't have to be anything too complex. As long as it shows what your solution does and how that matters to your customers, it's a great way to delight your future customers. Just check out how beautifully Ecosia does it on its homepage.

Source: ecosia.org

Create Evergreen Interactive Tools

Sometimes, the best way to engage awareness stage customers and instantly funnel them toward the lower stages of the buyer's journey is to present them with hyper-relevant, personalized information on how to solve a pain point. The traditional way to do this would be to invest in informative, long-form, evergreen content. However, if you want to make your marketing strategies more user-friendly (and more likely to result in a sale), consider adding interactive content to your roster.

Interactive tools are twice as likely to generate a conversion. They can also attract 500% more views, which is an unmissable opportunity for brands trying to maximize their reach.

The best way to create interactive resources is to study your target audience's pain points. Then, produce quizzes or calculators that will help them solve those pain points and, ideally, point them in the direction of some of your products that can help them achieve their goals.

A great example of a brand using awareness-stage interactive content to delight prospects comes from Aveda. This business allows web visitors to take a hair quiz which gives them an accurate hair profile. On top of that, the brand also builds a customized routine (along with product recommendations) to help prospects take better care of their luscious locks.

Source: aveda.com

Integrate Your Blog with Social Media Channels

Lastly, as you work to make an impact on early-stage leads, remember what we mentioned at the beginning of this article. People don't always start their buying journeys on search engines. 

In fact, as more and more consumers start their shopping journeys on social media, you need to do your best to integrate your content marketing strategy with the social media channels your target audience populates.

The great news is that this doesn't need to be time or resource-intensive. In most cases, something as simple as repurposing your existing posts for social media will be more than enough to guarantee your brand is discoverable on a wide variety of platforms.

So, if you're looking to maximize the effectiveness of your ToFu marketing tactics, explore opportunities to turn existing blogs into snackable social media content. For example, check out how Yazio does it on TikTok. As it already creates content for its app (which requires visuals), this brand's marketing team decided to utilize these photos on TikTok, creating "Easy and delicious recipes to try this week"-types of posts that are guaranteed to attract follower attention and get more people to check out the brand's content in the app.

Source: tiktok.com

In Closing

Investing in awareness-stage marketing holds so much promise, and not just because it can allow you to attract new customers. More importantly, it can help you establish your brand's reputation in a way that will drive conversions, generate exposure via happy customers, and position your business as an industry leader. If you play your cards right and work to provide your clients with an exceptional customer experience, this initial delight will also translate into long-term brand loyalty. Ultimately, that's what will allow your business to grow (and continue growing) well into the future.

 

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