Top-of-the-funnel content: the importance of prioritizing your content strategy

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April 28, 2023

Top-of-the-funnel content: the importance of prioritizing your content strategy

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☝️ The marketing funnel is widely known and understood marketing concept. This is a valid theory but it has its flaws, which can make it detrimental to your marketing strategy. If you want to stick with the basics, our 3 articles on BOFU, MOFU and TOFU content are enough. But if you want to explore this rabbit hole a bit deeper, you'd better read this article on the content marketing funnel.

In a perfect world, every business would be churning out content left, right, and center to cover all the stages of their sales funnel. 

Ideally, your content needs to cover all three layers of the funnel. Top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) content catches people's attention and draws them in, middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) content educates and informs, and bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content seals the deal. 

But in the real world, content is expensive to produce. Most businesses don’t have the resources to produce enough content to cover every stage of the sales funnel. At least, not all at once. 

They must choose, and most businesses choose to produce TOFU content first. 

They think the best strategy to get more customers is to focus on getting them through the door with top-of-the-funnel content (and also because ranking for those high-volume keywords pumps up their ego, let’s be honest). 

What they don’t realize is that this approach is more likely to halter their growth rather than accelerate it. 

Don’t make the same mistake. 

💡 The question with TOFU content isn’t “how should we do it” - that’s as easy as riding a bike downhill. The real question is, “when should we do it.”  

I’ll give you the answer to this question in this article. 

TL;DR

TOFU content is necessary. It gets people through the door. 

But it shouldn’t be the no.1 focus of your content strategy - especially if you’re just starting out. 

If you want to get the best possible ROI from your content marketing investment, prioritizing TOFU content isn’t the way to go. 

Focus on BOFU content first. BOFU content converts leads into customers by closing information gaps that prevent them from clicking the Buy Now button. It’ll bring you to your goal much faster than fluffy TOFU content.

I’ll assume you already know what TOFU content is

I’m not going to bore you with regurgitated definitions of the marketing funnel. If you’re reading this in the first place, you probably already know it. And if not, you can find that information anywhere else on the web. 

The internet is full of articles explaining what TOFU content is and what type of TOFU content you should produce. 

Here’s an example from Clickup’s blog. This article explains how to make a graph in Excel. Most people who read this post won’t subscribe to ClickUp. They probably won’t even care about what ClickUp is. But they’ll remember that Clickup is a great resource for Excel-related how-to guides.

I'm not here to talk about what TOFU content is or how to create it. As I said, there are plenty of resources out there for that.

Instead, I'm here to talk about when to produce TOFU content. 

When to produce TOFU content

Businesses spend resources on TOFU content too early

Many businesses fall into the trap of investing in TOFU content too early. Most of the time, it’s either because they want to rank for highly competitive keywords or compete with what their competitors are putting out. 

The truth is that producing top-of-the-funnel content too early can completely drain your content marketing budget and halter your growth. 

After all, unless you’re an established company with cash to burn, you must invest your marketing budget wisely. This means making tough choices and spending your resources on things that actually move the needle. 

⚠️ TOFU content doesn’t move the needle.

I’m not saying that you should stop creating TOFU content altogether. I’m saying that you should prioritize certain funnel stages when it comes to content creation. 

When it comes to conversions, prioritizing TOFU content is nowhere near as effective as prioritizing BOFU content (I’ll give you an example of this later). 

Top-of-funnel content doesn’t drive conversions

Many businesses invest heavily in top-of-the-funnel content because it targets keywords with the highest traffic potential. 

Sure, TOFU content will rank high in Google search for those competitive keywords (if done well), but it won’t drive conversions or revenue. 

It’ll drive visitors to your site, but they may not necessarily be interested in your products or services. They may just be interested in learning how to make a graph in Excel but not care about your excellent project management tool. 

👉 If you want to start growing fast, TOFU content isn’t the way. 

TOFU without BOFU is worthless

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t invest in TOFU content at all. But focusing solely on TOFU content without having solid BOFU content first is pointless. 

Let’s take an example here. 

Meet Bob - the owner of a SaaS business that sells a time-tracking software. His tool allows companies to track the time their remote employees spend on each task.

When Bob hires a content marketing agency to up his content marketing game, they suggest that he should produce content around “productivity at work.” Why? 

Well, first of all, because it’s a high-volume keyword and ranking for it will boost Bob’s ego. Plus, they say that Bob needs to educate his audience.

So, Bob decides to spend his entire content budget on producing content around productivity at work, which is top-of-the-funnel content. He manages to rank on the first page of Google for some of the TOFU keywords and get some traffic on his website. 

Where did Bob go wrong?  

  • He’s got traffic, but it’s not driving conversions. 
  • He didn’t invest anything in BOFU content, so people typing “time tracking software” in Google search can’t see his website. That’s lost traffic that could have turned into conversions. 
  • He’s burnt his entire budget on TOFU content that doesn’t drive conversions. So, now he has no budget left to invest in BOFU content that does. 

Bob made a mistake by putting all his eggs into the TOFU basket. He should have focused on the low-hanging fruit first. 

By creating BOFU content first, he would have captured people ready to convert. That way, he would have generated cash and grown his business. And with that extra cash in his pocket, he would have been able to invest in TOFU (and MOFU) content to cover all the stages of the marketing funnel. 

Bottom line? 

Don't let your vanity call the shots when it comes to content strategy. Just because your competitors are producing TOFU content left and right doesn't mean you have to do the same. They may have more cash to burn.  

See what I’m getting at? 

In the first scenario, Bob will have to burn a lot of cash on TOFU and MOFU content before producing BOFU content - the only content that can drive conversions right away. Until then, he will have to rely on his sales team to close deals with the TOFU leads. 

In the second scenario, Bob would have started by capturing leads ready to convert with BOFU content. This would have helped him generate revenue right away. Then, he would have been able to invest in MOFU and TOFU content and address people at all stages of the funnel while building authority, loyalty, and trust.  

BOFU content has a higher ROI than TOFU content

BOFU content delivers a higher ROI than TOFU content. Why? Because of the search intent. The higher the intent, the higher the ROI. People with high search intent are ready to buy now.

Let’s go back to Bob. 

Bob thought it was a smart move to prioritize TOFU content like “How to increase employee productivity.” When someone types this phrase in the Google search bar, what do you think their search intent is? 

Google research for TOFU content

They’re likely just looking for a few tips to help them solve the problem of low employee productivity. They’re probably unaware they can solve this problem with a time-tracking software. 

The people performing this search have low buyer intent. They aren’t looking to buy. 

Imagine how much time, effort, and resources Bob needs to spend to nurture these leads so that maybe they become his customers one day. Sure, it can be done. But it’s not very resource-efficient, don’t you think? 

Now, let’s imagine that Bob decided to focus on BOFU topics instead, like “best time-tracking software for employees.” This query has a very high buyer intent. Whoever types this into the Google search bar is looking for the best time-tracking software to buy for their business. 

Google research for BOFU content vs TOFU

They’re willing to buy right now, so they’re more likely to convert than people who search for “how to increase employee productivity.”

Can you see why you should produce BOFU content first before you even start thinking about producing MOFU and TOFU content? 

You don’t NEED to educate buyers. Let others do it for you at first!

I know what you’re thinking. 

“But Laura, don’t I need to educate my audience?”

I’m not saying your audience doesn’t need to be educated. I’m saying that you don’t have to be the one to do it. 

Think about it. How many competitors do you have? I bet you're not alone in this game. Your business is swimming in the sea of similar products, where everyone is trying to be the biggest fish in the pond.

Since most businesses focus on creating TOFU content, your competitors surely already have educational articles on the topic. Let them do the heavy lifting! Let your potential customers learn from them and buy from you. 

Remember Bob? 

He’s producing tons of TOFU content. He’s educating his competitors’ customers! Since he positioned himself on the TOFU topics, people visit his website to learn and then go to his competitors to buy. 

Don’t be like Bob. 

I still think TOFU content is GREAT

Don’t get me wrong. 

I’m not against producing TOFU content. 

I actually think that TOFU content is great. All I’m saying is that it should be produced at the right time. 

TOFU content targets broad search terms

Did you know that 72% of B2B buyers start their journeys with a generic Google search? 

Your potential customers are out there looking for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. 

Creating TOFU content gives you the opportunity to provide them with the answers they’re looking for. 

The main purpose of TOFU content is to grab your readers' attention from the top of their search quest - right when they are searching for things like “what is X” or “X definition.” If you help them find the answers to those broad queries, they’ll likely come back to you for more answers. This will help you gain a competitive advantage in the SERPs. 

💡 In other words, creating TOFU content saves you from being left behind while your competitors rank on every query in your industry.

TOFU content increases brand awareness

If your name pops up at the top of the search results every time your potential customer searches for something related to your field, they'll eventually become familiar with your brand. 

💡 TOFU content puts your business on the industry map. It helps you make a name for yourself. Over time, TOFU content will help you build brand awareness.

People will start to recognize your name. And when they're finally ready to make a purchase, guess who'll be front and center in their minds? That's right - you!

TOFU content builds trust

Creating TOFU content is like serving a delicious appetizer at a dinner party. It warms up the tastebuds and gives your guests more faith in your culinary abilities. 

TOFU content serves your audience with a taste of your expertise. If you do it time and time again, eventually, they’ll begin to trust you. 

And trust is a crucial element in the decision-making process of every buyer. If they already trust you when they’re ready to buy, they’re more likely to buy from you. 

TOFU content gives assets to your sales team

The primary job of every TOFU content piece is to raise awareness on a specific topic. This gives your sales team a huge advantage. 

If your customers are already educated on the topic, your sales representatives won’t need to spend so much time educating them. By creating insightful content that answers their questions, you’ll have already done the heavy lifting of preparing your audience for a potential sale. 

So, your sales team will be able to spend more time actually selling. 

TOFU content has a positive effect on your website as a whole

Focusing solely on TOFU content won’t help you get new customers. But creating TOFU content as part of your content marketing strategy can positively impact your website as a whole. 

That’s because TOFU content is usually long-form content that targets broad, high-volume keywords. The more people search for those keywords, the more traffic you’ll attract to your site and the more recognizable of a name you’ll make for yourself. 

This kind of content naturally attracts a lot of backlinks. The more backlinks, the higher your site authority. And the higher your site authority, the better your chances of ranking higher in the SERPs. 

Laura Ballarin

I'm Account Manager at Scalecrush. You'll find me here talking about my no-nonsense approach to content marketing.

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