So, you’ve defined your content marketing goals and identified the needs of your target audience. Now it’s time to start creating high-quality content to meet those needs at every stage of the buying journey — beginning with the top of the funnel.
Your top-of-funnel (TOFU) content should consist of blogs, videos, audio, websites, and social media content. The goal is to answer customer questions, educate them on their pain points, and provide them with useful solutions. Your focus at this stage should be on attracting your audience and helping them solve their problems with quality, valuable, and relevant information.
What does a good top-of-funnel blog post look like? Below, we’ve laid out a few examples of strong posts you can create to attract and educate your readers.
The easiest type of blog you can use to draw your audience into your marketing funnel is a how-to blog.
As the name suggests, how-to blogs teach your audience how to perform a task or solve a specific problem — think tutorial-style blogs. The best how-to blogs are detailed and informative, breaking down the topic into step-by-step instructions.
They're valuable, easy to read, and always include visuals of the process you're explaining so your readers can easily follow along. Here are some examples of how-to blogs.
This how-to blog by Reliablesoft is an excellent example of how to answer your audience’s most pressing questions at the top of the funnel.
In this easy-to-read and scannable guide, Reliablesoft provides simple answers to a topic its audience may consider daunting or complex. But the post doesn’t stop there — it goes a step further to offer actionable tips and resources (including Reliablesoft’s own paid course) to help readers get on their way.
In this detailed guide, WPBeginner demystifies a technical process by breaking it down into simple steps its readers can execute immediately without any technical knowledge.
Although not a web hosting company, WPBeginner is a valuable resource for WordPress web designers and DIY users.
If you’re a company providing a complex solution or product, you can use how-to guides to walk your audience through the process of using your product or service. For niche bloggers, use this top-of-funnel content to attract more readers to your blog and build authority.
This top-of-funnel content by conversion optimization company CXL is a prime example of how to attract, secure, and retain the attention and interest of B2B marketers looking for answers.
This valuable guide opens with a relatable scenario and uses a conversational style. It is packed with stats, graphs, charts, and references to confirm every claim and prove every point, which is critical for B2B audiences.
When they get into the meat and potatoes of their post, they include detailed examples and screenshots to help customers visualize the process of creating their own marketing automation strategy.
Hubspot undoubtedly makes some of the best how-to guides out there, and this post targeting digital marketers and business owners is no exception.
In this blog, Hubspot provides valuable strategies to help readers improve their digital presence and sustain growth, using helpful resources, videos, examples, and templates they can take away with them.
Remember that at the top of the funnel, your goal is to provide answers and possible solutions your audience can implement for free.
“Everything you need to know” content formats are long, curated, and scrollable guides covering a particular subject in detail. These comprehensive, expertly written blogs are effective for building trust and cementing your authority on a specific topic.
Because this kind of content aims to serve as a thorough and authoritative resource on the subject, it often generates a lot of shares and engagement when written properly.
At the end of your everything you need to know blog, your reader should be able to understand your topic thoroughly. You can also use this content format to address a trending issue or drive engagement and traffic during a particular season or event.
This blog from Owl Labs is a prime example of how you can leverage a trending issue with top-of-funnel content.
As the coronavirus pandemic affected normal working conditions, people searched for tools to help them maintain connectivity and productivity. The increased need for video conferencing tools gave rise to this timely post from Owl Labs, which details everything a user needs to know about setting up and using the Zoom video conferencing tool.
The blog includes links to download Zoom, subscription plans, and other resources to provide more information to the reader, including tips for getting the most out of the application.
This extensive everything you need to know guide from AdEspresso is an excellent example of how you can build authority, demonstrate expertise, and continually drive traffic with evergreen TOFU content.
It covers everything from the benefits of Facebook groups to how to create a Facebook group for your business and market it effectively. Clear, professional formatting makes the otherwise dense blog scannable and easy to read, and every section, point, and tip is supported by relevant images and screenshots to provide more context and clarity.
Notice how many shares this post has? That’s because AdEspresso has focused on creating a comprehensive resource that answers every question the reader might have about Facebook group marketing.
In this article, tech giant Qualcomm uses the Q&A content format to provide detailed answers to every question a regular reader might have about 5G technology.
This blog’s format is a great example of how you can expertly simplify a technical topic into bite-sized pieces of information that even a non-tech audience can understand.
Qualcomm strategically links to white papers, reports, use cases, and other resources that the reader can access for more details. Even better, the links below the header make it easy to navigate through the article.
Big Commerce uses a friendly and conversational writing style to teach its audience everything they need to know about building a successful B2B ecommerce business.
The quick links on the right side help readers navigate the lengthy post, while the bold sections, bullet points, and negative space make readability a breeze.
As they focus on educating, the company backs up every claim with data, stats, and additional resources to provide more value to their B2B audience.
Finally, towards the end of the post, they give examples of B2B ecommerce businesses using their platform to drive home their point and convince the reader to consider their solution.
A listicle blog is a series of tips, facts, examples, or quotations about topics that are important to your audience.
The fact that you can make a list out of any topic makes it one of the easiest forms of TOFU content to create. Also, the list format makes listicles easy to consume and fun to share. That said, it's good practice to always include some extra explanation or detail for every list item to make your content more beneficial to your audience.
If you're writing your first listicle, read our article on how to write a listicle.
Let's check out some examples of listicle blogs.
Although this list post from cybersecurity and anti-virus company Kaspersky is concise, it provides plenty of details on the topic and includes solutions that readers can implement on their own.
Additionally, the post centers on a critical issue, making it perfect for attracting the right audience into the company’s funnel.
Nick Schaferhoff of WebsiteSetup knows how to delight his audience with relatable, conversational blogs. Although it’s packed with detail, this particular listicle is no exception to Nick’s fun, down-to-earth writing style.
In his expansive article, he includes expert tips, examples, recommendations, and resources to help his readers achieve their goal of monetizing their website or blog. He also links to products, websites, platforms, and tools that will streamline and simplify readers’ website monetization process.
Note how he uses attractive infographics and even asks his readers to use them freely on their own websites. Then, of course, they’ll link back to his site, ultimately driving more traffic.
This listicle from Woorise is comprehensive while still being easy to read. It includes images and resources to help readers solve their lead generation problems.
From the beginning of the post, you can tell that Woorise understands its audience's pain point. Throughout the article, they focus on teaching readers how and why each recommended strategy works.
Looking for inspiration for your next listicle post? Take a page from Bindy’s book.
Their TOFU blog cuts to the chase from the start, including examples, videos, images, and pro tips to provide extensive value to the reader.
The post’s conversational style speaks directly to the readers, much like two friends having a discussion. This is a brilliant way to hold the reader's attention and spark engagement!
At the top of the funnel, one of your main goals is to show expertise and position yourself or your company as an authority within your niche. One great way to achieve this is by creating thought leadership posts.
You can use thought leadership content to share your knowledge and experience or demonstrate your company’s understanding of the marketplace in a way that stands out from the competition.
Thought leadership content can take the form of case studies, opinion articles, expert interviews, industry analysis, or even data storytelling.
By devoting an entire section of their website to thought leadership articles about cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and other growth-focused topics, IBM demonstrates its expertise and establishes its dominance in the IT industry.
The company uses their brightest talents to share insights into emerging technology, creating and promoting thought leaders within their company and industry. IBM’s thought leadership blog is an excellent example of how companies can put a spotlight on incredibly talented employees.
Rock content uses this case study to demonstrate its expertise in content marketing. By detailing their strategy and sharing their achievements, they strengthen their position as an authority in their field.
Deloitte is another example of a big company using an entire blog to demonstrate thought leadership. Through firsthand research and critical insights on financial topics, they help their audience make better financial decisions and strengthen their own position in the marketplace.
For instance, their article on digital trust is an authoritative resource on where and how company leaders can invest in digital trust to protect their data and safeguard their interests.
Instead of joining the bland technical content bandwagon, enterprise software company Nutanix uses its online magazine The Forecast to position itself as a thought leader within the enterprise cloud services market.
They curate and publish original ideas and news about emerging technologies, people, trends, and business patterns shaping their industry.
They also have a podcast and video section on their website where they explore some of the ideas introduced in their written content. The simple, conversational format of all their content assets makes it appealing to a wide range of audiences.
Benchmark reports work well at the top of the funnel because of their ability to stimulate interest in your organization, solution, or product.
When you offer a hypothesis on an issue that concerns your audience, then take the time to experiment, analyze, and draw data-backed conclusions that support the key point your organization is trying to prove, you attract attention from qualified leads.
In this example, Rival IQ uses its own software to carry out a social media industry benchmark report. The report is expansive, covering over 14 top industries. It answers their customer's questions as to why they should benchmark, thereby pointing the reader towards its benchmarking tool to move them further down their funnel.
Although this benchmark report from advertising company WordStream is gated, it works well for the top of the funnel and offers the added advantage of collecting customer emails.
The report includes insights into search advertising benchmarks for every industry to help the company’s audience understand how their campaign stacks up against the competition.
In this benchmark report, customer support automation company Verloop provides insight into how automation can help ecommerce companies meet their customers' demands, expectations, and habits.
They also lend their expertise to the future of customer support automation and outline how their automation solutions can help readers improve their operations.
Oribi’s benchmark reports focus on helping customers evaluate their company’s marketing efforts. For instance, the 2020 SaaS benchmark report provides insights into data-backed metrics for comparing your SaaS marketing efforts to the competition.
It also includes expert recommendations on how to improve your outcomes. In addition, the beautiful, professional layout, superb formatting, infographics, and clever use of negative space provide a fantastic user experience for the reader.
Now that you have a better handle on the different types of top-of-funnel content, use these examples as a guide to help you create quality blogs that benefit your audience and align with your overall content marketing strategy.
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