Paid Media Specialist, 8+ Years Experience in Marketing Strategy & Data Analysis
November 14th, 2017
One of the cornerstones of both content marketing and inbound marketing is tracking not only how many people come to your site, but also what they do when they get there.
However, even with all this user data and analytics, we can’t properly segment, nurture, and engage this website traffic without a great top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) offer to tell us who this person is.
Creating desirable top-of-the-funnel offers is an art that embraces the oxymoron of generic but targeted mass marketing.
TOFU content focuses on common issues that your personas face. This content is purely educational and centers around helping your target audience – without explicitly promoting your own business.
These offers are all about creating a strong initial impression and relationship with your visitors, so much so that they will fill out a form telling you who they are and entering your marketing funnel.
Creating various top-of-the-funnel offers gives you the information (name, email address, company) you need to segment and nurture leads further down the funnel.
The great thing about top-of-the-funnel offers is that they don’t have to be complicated. You can easily turn content that you already have, like existing blog posts, into a valuable offer that your personas will want.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of a few examples of awesome top-of-the-funnel offers so that you can turn that web traffic into contacts that you can nurture, but first, here are a few ways you can approach creating top-of-the-funnel offers:
Different Types Of Top of the Funnel Offers
This is where you can get creative. The key to a great top-of-the-funnel offer is to identify your visitor’s pain points and interests and what types of content they want to have.
Does your persona prefer traditional long-form content like an eBook or whitepaper? If so, take one of your popular blog posts and make it into something more valuable for your audience. A simple PDF with a sleek, printable design could be all you need.
If your personas are more visual learners, you might go with something like a slide deck, video how-to series on Facebook Live, or offer video trainings on popular topics. Video is easily digested content that really isn’t as hard as it sounds to create. It’s amazing what you can do with just a smartphone.
You can also get creative with some interactive offers. Users LOVE these because they are personalized specifically to them and caters exactly to the problem they are facing. Offers like interactive quizzes, calculators, or even infographics are all great ways to show your users something specific to their needs, and they aren’t that hard to implement on your site.
If you’re a SaaS company, free trials (that don’t blindside a user with a charge at the end) are a great way to practice what you preach and get your users to fall in love with your service, even if they don’t end up purchasing right away.
At IMPACT, for example, we share an sample of the strategy we actually create for clients. Part of this strategy is called a lead magnet, which is a content offer given to a user in exchange for their email address. They simply sign up for your email list and then receive a link to download the ebook free. This simple TOFU offer is incredibly effective, and can generate thousands of leads for your company.
Okay, so now that you’ve got an idea as to what top-of-the-funnel offer you want to create, here is a list of some great companies doing it right:
If you’re not familiar with it, Drift is an application that lets you live chat with your web visitors.
For their top-of-the-funnel offer, they use a free trial. This is effective because of its direct path to setup. They ask for your email address (that’s it) and you can start using Drift on your site. It’s super straightforward and gets rid of all the extra “fluff” that you typically see on SaaS websites.
So why is this different from other free trials? The difference is that it is incredibly simple. You don’t have to put in your credit card information with the fear of getting charged after a month’s use, and you just upgrade when you feel the free version isn’t enough anymore.
Low friction = High conversions and more people entering your funnel to be nurtured.
Next, our friends at The Sales Lion offer training, consulting, educational workshops, and keynote speeches for businesses, brands, and agencies around the globe.
For their lead magnet, they offer over a hundred pages of free content and inbound marketing tips, all backed up by social proof. It offers everything a marketer needs to kickstart and inbound or content marketing campaign, and how to do it right. It’s simple and is exactly what a company is looking for when learning about inbound marketing. This offer is also great because it aligns perfectly with the company’s services.
It gets visitors excited about revamping content marketing for their companies, especially if they don’t have a large focus on it right now and makes it sound less intimidating in the process.
Now this offer, from IMPACT client, Enthusem, is a bit of a curveball. Instead of offering up a piece of content or a trial, Enthusem gives visitors a chance to calculate what their return would be from investing in their software.
Enthusem is a great program that lets your company send hyper-personalized mailers to your prospects, with custom codes that they use to convert on your site. One of the biggest hesitations people have about using this tool, however, is that direct mail has the stigma of being exponentially more expensive than email.
This offer stops that objection dead in its tracks. It proves the high return of direct mail makes the upfront costs worth it and in turn, makes Enthusem worth it.
Mixergy sells interviews and courses featuring top entrepreneurs and in this offer they give a series of nine of these directly into your inbox.
This offer works because it capitalizes on the power of a video offer AND a free trial. Users get the advice from the industry professionals that they were looking for and test out Mixergy at the same time. The call-to-action boasts big name entrepreneurs and with just an email address, you get instant access, directly to your inbox.
Not to mention the gorgeous design. That button just calls out to you doesn’t it?
The actual content is awesome too. Andrew Warner, for instance, is an incredible entrepreneur who has developed some extremely successful companies, so he knows the exact questions to ask when conducting these interviews.
Immaculate design meets great data here. Owl Labs interactive infographic on “The State Of Remote Work” is a great example of thinking outside-of-the-box.
Owl Labs, another IMPACT client, develops webcams with 360 degree viewing technology, catering to offices with remote employees.
This offer is unique for a couple reasons. First off, it’s animated, where you can watch the numbers climb and the bar graphs… well… bar. It shows a ton of valuable data on how remote employees work, how they are more productive, and the overhead savings that remote work offers.
All this data is insightful for anyone interested in implementing remote work at their company, and shows it in an elegantly designed infographic.
Second is that they offer a much easier to read data sheet in exchange for, you guessed it, your email. Because who wants to do all that scrolling when trying to sell to your bosses that you want to work from home?
Groupon is no new kid on the block and that’s with good reason. It is a major brand reaching millions of consumers every month, with a huge email database.
On their site, Groupon has a very clear pop-up offer for discounts when a user converts. (I’m not sure why they think I live anywhere near Wichita, but you get the point.)
The offer works because it’s personalized based on your location and offers customers deals from their own area. It’s also incentivized with an offer for further savings for filling out the simple form on the page.
Now, there is a lot of back and forth going on about these exit-intent pop-up style forms, but the bottom line is that they work. Groupon has had the same strategy for years so it must be doing something for them.
Moz’s TOFU offers addresses a concern that many local businesses have – “Am I being found?” By clicking the call-to-action and entering your information, you get a personalized score telling you how well your company is optimized for being found locally. This offer is great because it is personal and aligns perfectly with the BOFU offer alongside it.
This is probably the Holy Grail of top-of-the-funnel offers.
With Website Grader, HubSpot gives marketers free advice on how to improve many aspects of their websites and in turn, has encouraged millions to bring their website presence to the next level.
Since it was launched in 2006, this top-of-the-funnel offer has graded over 4 million websites – most of which ended up being from unique contacts.
Now, this offer did take a ton of talented development, requiring a lot of time and resources that a lot of companies might not have to replicate, but the value here is to have something different that may be unmatched in your market.
It’s personalized, immensely valuable, and of course, provides HubSpot with a lot of information they can use to identify and qualify possible prospects.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and take risks with your top-of-the-funnel offers. There is no limit as to how many TOFU offers you can create (in fact, you should have several for different journeys and personas), so think outside-of-the-box. Whether you are offering a free trial or answering a commonly asked question in the form of an eBook, your TOFU content serves as one of the first steps when creating relationships with your personas.
Even if it takes a couple offers before you hit your content creating stride, this process will have the greatest possible impact on your customer relationships, as well as the greatest possible lift in your overall conversions.