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How to Build the Top of the Inbound Marketing Funnel

Posted by Stacy Bouchard

May 26, 2015 4:00:00 PM

Build-the-top-of-inbound-marketing-funnelLead generation is a primary goal of every inbound marketing program and that journey begins at the top of funnel. If the top of the funnel isn’t healthy, then chances are the middle and bottom will suffer.

The top of the funnel or the attraction stage of the inbound methodology is an important step in the buyer’s journey for your prospects. And like many other things associated with inbound marketing, it all begins with buyer personas.

The first step in attracting prospects to the top of your funnel is clearly defining your buyer personas. We talk a lot about personas in this blog so I’ll spare you the details today. (You can get all of the details on creating buyer personas here.) A clear understanding of who you are trying to attract will help you do just that…attract them!

At the top of the funnel, content really is king. When your prospect is in this stage of the buyer’s journey, they may not even be sure they have a problem. The purpose of the content created for this stage should be educational…and there should be a lot of it. According to HubSpot, 75% of website visitors are in the research phase. Popular types of content that create awareness include:

  • Tip sheets
  • Checklists
  • Ebooks
  • Blog posts
  • White papers
  • How to videos
  • Webinars
  • Infographics

It’s not enough to just create this content. It is important that you make it easy for your prospects to engage with it. Here are two ways.

1. Calls-to-Action (CTAs) – CTAs are clickable buttons or graphics on your site where a visitor can click to gain access to your offer. It is important to create visually appealing, clear CTAs and include them throughout your site. The easier you make it for visitors to engage, the more they will. On Imagine’s homepage, we have eight calls to action. They range from buttons, like this one:

 

Screen_Shot_2015-05-26_at_12.56.44_PM.png

to graphics like these:

Screen_Shot_2015-05-26_at_12.57.52_PM.png

The key is to provide enough information so the prospect knows exactly what they are going to get. If they like it, hopefully they’ll keep coming back for more.

2. Social media – Social media can be a great way to attract your prospects. Twitter and LinkedIn are popular social networks with small to mid-size B2Bs. Your buyer personas will tell you which networks you should try. Blog posts, premium content and even trade show and conference news should all be promoted through social media. It is important that you interact with your audience to attract even more followers.

In addition to creating educational content, there are other ways to create awareness and a strong top for your funnel. These include:

Keyword strategy

Having a strong keyword strategy that includes long-tail keywords will attract the visitors to your site who are interested in the content you’ve created. For those who are not familiar with long-tail keywords, here’s HubSpot's less-than-100-word definition.

A long-tail keyword is a keyword phrase that contains at least three words (though some say two or more is considered long-tail).

Long-tail keywords are used to target niche demographics rather than mass audiences. In other words, they're more specific and often less competitive than generic keyword terms. Because of that, they provide both short-term and long-term benefits.

Since they're very specific, they allow you to rank highly in search results for popular topics relatively quickly while still gaining ground on head terms. Plus, they tend to attract highly qualified traffic that's more likely to convert to leads and customers.

The chart below (also from HubSpot) graphically explains the concept and demonstrates why long-tail keywords will help you build a strong funnel. 

Long-Tail-Keywords.png

Blogging

Having a blog is a key element of attracting prospects to the top of your funnel and I mentioned blog posts earlier as a type of content that can attract prospects. If you haven’t started blogging, now is the time. Every time you post to your blog, it adds another page that can be indexed by the search engines and found by a prospect. The search engines love new content. A blog allows you to provide fresh content on a regular basis. The more you blog, the more successful it will be. Consider these statistics from HubSpot:

  1. B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not.
  2. Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI.
  3. Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website.

PPC

One more option that can help build the top of your funnel is Pay-Per-Click advertising. Using your keyword strategy, you can build a PPC program to attract visitors to your site. Popular options for B2B marketers include LinkedIn ads and Google AdWords. These options can get expensive if not carefully managed. Learn more about PPC in this ebook from HubSpot.

The first step in the buyer’s journey for your buyer personas is essentially the top of the funnel for you. Make sure you’re doing what you can to attract your prospects and build a stronger funnel.

Free Download: How to Effectively Manage Inbound Leads