TOFU Can Be Delicious! Why “Top of the Funnel” Marketing Matters

What have you done for the top of your marketing (TOFU) funnel lately?

If you’re not familiar with TOFU as it relates to your inbound marketing strategy, let’s do a quick recap. Imagine your marketing funnel, which takes the shape of a tornado. At the very bottom of this funnel is your ideal customer, who has been sifted through the marketing process and emerged as a brand-loyal and happy consumer.

Each stage of the funnel works to eliminate spammers, random visitors, and non ideal customers from your marketing strategy. For example, your newsletter may contain some very industry specific information, and thus uninterested parties will unfollow. Marketers spend much of their time working through the middle of the funnel to find qualified leads and ignore the rest.

This brings us back to TOFU.

Marketing to the top of the sales funnel is often brushed away as a pointless effort. You may not see the value in producing content outside of your industry or not aimed at your ideal customer. The problem with this logic is that without collecting people at the top, visitors can’t start the sifting process down the funnel.

TOFU content can inform, entertain, or answer a specific question. According to marketing firm Impulse Creative, 85% of website visitors fall into this category. The content doesn’t need to be extremely specific or directed at your ideal persona: it just needs to be something that people  want to click on. Once there, they will now have the option of participating in your marketing funnel, or to simply click off your site. It’s just important to have them there and do your best work to keep them there with great content.

But who are these anonymous 85%? And how do you know what they want?

TOFU visitors are “Learners.”

Browsers are using search engine sites to help them answer a specific question that they face. They aren’t looking to buy something, close a deal, find a lifelong business partner, or become brand loyal to the website they click on. They simply want an answer, and they used the search engine to find you. Inbound marketing refers to these visitors as “Learners.”

If you want to appeal to Learners, you will need to work on TOFU content that is general, helpful, and pleasing to the eye. Using high-quality graphics, eye-catching headlines, and informative (never sales-y!) content are all ways to attract and keep them on your page.

Here are some examples.

Let’s say you run a carpet cleaning company, and you want to bring tons of visitors to your website using TOFU. If you want to attract Learners, you may want to create blog content like “how to remove red wine stains from carpet,” or “how to get rid of grease spots.” You may even run a feature about the top ten cleaning products for different lengths of carpet, or go crazy with a post about the most beautiful rugs throughout history. A good TOFU strategy encourages people to want more content, and thus keep your website in the top of their mind as they consider how worn and stained their own carpets are at home.

Your TOFU content could also veer outside of your industry. What about a tour of historical castles with restored furniture? The concept of restoration and preservation is in line with your company goals, and could draw in people interested in that similar subject. At our presentation design firm, we sometimes create infographics on how to make certain recipes. It’s not going to gain us an immediate lead, but it does bring people to our site and keep them clicking. For a TOFU strategy, that’s all that matters.

Start your TOFU strategy today.

Don’t feel anxious to create content that is not handcrafted for your ideal customer. Push yourself to spend today writing down at least five different TOFU blog or content ideas. What if you designed a few inspirational quotes to post on your Twitter? How about a blog series about frequently asked questions in your industry? What about a fun list of the best things to do in your headquarter’s home town?

Make your content fun, make it educational, and above all: go out there and just make some content happen.

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