Your team has built the landing page, set up a conversion process and tested it, and made sure that everything is working properly. Finally, you have reached the exciting moment when you can start driving traffic. Sometime after this point, maybe a few days later, you look at your analytics and find that no one is visiting your page.
You have a top of funnel problem.
Let’s look at what this means, how you can identify the symptoms of a top of the funnel problem, and what your team can do to address issues before they impact your department goals – we will even give you a secret weapon to boost your department’s results at the top of the funnel.
Digital marketing is often visualized as a funnel. The top of the funnel is where you first reach out to your audience and start interacting with them. The top of the funnel is also the first place you can identify problems with how your company is interacting with prospects, and leads. The bottom of the funnel is where you convert these people into clients.
Why you should care about the top of your funnel
The goal of any top of the funnel marketing strategy is to increase the number of people brought into your funnel, so that the later stages of your conversion process have a larger number of potential clients to work with.
You can calculate your conversion rate by dividing the percentage of conversions at the bottom of the funnel (BOFU) by the total number of the people at the top of the funnel (TOFU). The result gives you your conversion rate percentage.
If your conversion rate stays the same, bringing more people into the top of the funnel will increase the number of clients you have at the bottom of the funnel. You might be able to tweak your client journey to improve the conversion rate of your funnel, but one of the easiest ways to increase the people at the BOFU is to increase the number of people coming in at your TOFU.
Symptoms of trouble
Top of the funnel problems are a scary idea for many marketers. It’s like having a beautiful department store filled with amazing products and no one coming in.
It is important to note that you might not see conclusive proof that you have a top of funnel problem until it’s too late. Being a CMO is a bit like being a doctor, you need to look at symptoms and use your experience to diagnose the root cause of an issue.
Here are five symptoms that can indicate a TOFU problem:
- Decreasing traffic to your website: Problems at the TOFU can be a symptom (or a cause) of issues with your brand reach.
- Decrease in engagement numbers with social channels: If people don’t want to talk to you, they probably won’t want to visit your website.
- Decrease in referrals: Nothing makes a marketer happier than a client who promotes your company or products to their friends, but if your funnel is unfriendly, word of mouth might not be enough to convert.
- Increasing paid media costs: Advertising systems like AdWords rate the quality of your ad and how long people stay on your website. If your funnel drives away visitors instead of welcoming them, it can lead to higher ad costs and a higher cost per lead/conversion.
- Departures exceed arrivals: In most businesses, it is not unusual to have some departures in the middle of the funnel – leeks are common – but if your arrivals do not exceed your exits, fewer people will make it to the end of your funnel.
Luckily, there are tools your team can use to fix a broken top of the funnel.
The tools of TOFU
There are a number of tools that can be used as part of a top of the funnel marketing strategy. In general, these tools help you increase your brand reach and amplify your message so that it reaches more people. These tools are:
- Earned media: Often part of the TOFU social media strategy, earned media are the unsolicited discussions about your brand that happen without any effort on your part. Using your TOFU social media strategy, you can monitor comments, shares, and retweets to see what content resonates with your audience. Keep an eye on influencers especially, because who is sharing your content matters as much as what they share.
- Paid media: This is the coverage that you pay for. It can be ads through AdWords, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (or any social media channel); promoted content on social channels; or advertorials. AdWords and social media advertising systems offer great tools to assess the effectiveness of paid media, making it a key part of any TOFU social media strategy. Pay attention to measures such as reach, frequency, click-through rate, cost per click, and cost per lead/conversion to assess performance of your TOFU marketing tools and efforts.
- Owned media: These are your media properties which include your website, existing social media platform profiles, your email marketing list and your past and future PR efforts.
Put together, these tools make up the basics of the marketing triangle.
Evaluating and fixing your funnel (and your secret weapon)
Are you wondering how to evaluate and fix the top of your funnel? Here are some questions you can ask your team that will get them pointed in the right direction.
- Asses the attractiveness of your content in order to generate traffic and lure in prospects:
- Is it shareworthy?
- Would you share it on social media yourself?
- Is it quality?
- Would someone else read this?
- Is it aimed at your buyer personas?
- Is it shareworthy?
- Impact both paid and earned media by increasing brand reach:
- Who are your brand ambassadors?
- Do your customers talk about you? How can you get them to share more?
- Do organizations you partner with engage with you online?
- Who is your target?
- Is your message going in front of the right would-be consumers?
- Are you encouraging engagement?
- Who are your brand ambassadors?
Your secret weapon as a CMO is your staff
Employees are commonly neglected as brand ambassadors, and this is a shocking waste of potential. Each of your employees has an audience on social media; friends and relatives view them as an authority in their field. However, their day-to-day duties might not involve talking about the company on social media, and they may be discouraged from doing so. You have the authority to change that.
Collectively, your employees can have an audience much larger than that of your brand. Do they share your messages online? Your marketing staff knows the brand message, and they can have an amazing impact on the performance numbers of your entire department. This is what’s known as employee advocacy. If you want a demonstration of how this can work for you, let us know.
How do you measure success?
Marketing can be a bit challenging to measure at times. While you have a staff to handle the implementation of various tactics, you still have to quantify whether or not brand reach increased or if the number of people coming in at TOFU was improved.
Here are a few measurements to quantify the success of your funnel:
- Traffic to the website
- Number of interactions on your social media channels
- Comments on posts both on your site and off
- Click throughs from ads, emails, and posts on and off your site
- Quality score (and costs) on various ad platforms
- Cost per lead and cost per conversion
- Referral traffic
If these metrics move in the right direction, then your work at the top of the funnel has put you on the right path for success.
Fill your funnel
Many marketers can spend their entire careers tweaking the various stages of a funnel, trying to “plug leaks” and maximize conversion rates.
The truth of the matter is a strong top of the funnel is a foundation you can build the best marketing plans on. It doesn’t matter how good the conversion rate of your marketing funnel is if no one enters it. On the opposite side, filling your funnel and creating a strong TOFU can create a higher client base, even if your conversion rate is in need of a bit of repair.