Even if you’ve just entered the content and inbound marketing game, you already know the roles well-placed CTAs and content play. Specific content types work better in specific stages of the sales funnel.
It can be tricky figuring out what content goes best with the different stages of the funnel, especially if you’re just starting with content writing. Offering eBooks is obviously great for customers who are in the middle of their customer journey (a.k.a. at the MOFU stage). But can you offer eBooks at the beginning of the customer journey (the TOFU stage), as well? Yes, yes you can.
So what’s the best way to create your content marketing strategy? Start with understanding the nuances of the conversion funnel and its three different stages – TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU.
We’re going to help you by presenting the key differences and facts about TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU content.
What are the Three Sales Funnel Stages?
If you’re unaccustomed to content marketing but are simultaneously a J. R. R. Tolkien geek, these terms may sound like names of honorable dwarf warriors from The Hobbit. Or they may just sound like acronyms for insults. But what TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU stand for is the buyer’s journey. All three stages coexist for the goal of nurturing leads that lead to conversion.
They represent the three phases of the sales funnel:
- TOFU stands for Top of the Funnel
- MOFU stands for Middle of the Funnel
- BOFU stands for Bottom of the Funnel
In today’s world that’s more content-centric than ever, you will benefit from knowing what kind of funnel content to create. And, you’ll benefit from knowing at which moment of the buyer journey to reveal it to the potential customer.
That is where TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU enter the picture. Your potential customers usually go from the top of the funnel, where they just develop an awareness of your products and services, and (ideally) move down to the bottom of the funnel where they make buying decisions. In that process, search query behavior changes, so you are right to assume that SEO (search engine optimization) is very much connected to the sales funnel.
Thus, if you don’t optimize for each funnel stage, you aren’t reaching your full potential and you are risking a high bounce rate – visitors may move to a competitor before arriving at the next stage.
Understanding which type of content is best for which sales funnel stage is the key for unlocking your full SEO potential, attracting and retaining customers, and increasing marketing ROI.
Key Differences Between TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU Content
Before we dive into each stage individually, we will present their key characteristics:
- TOFU: Awareness (attracting visitors and encouraging sharing)
- MOFU: Consideration (getting leads to take action)
- BOFU: Decision (nurturing interests to lead to sale)
Now, let’s check out each stage in detail.
1. TOFU: Top of the Funnel
At the top of the marketing funnel, we have the awareness stage. The aim here is to attract relevant traffic through a large pool of potential leads.
With TOFU content, you bring awareness to a particular topic and answer the target audience’s questions and needs. The essential thing to note is that there’s no sales tie-in just yet. The audience just isn’t ready for it yet. That’s going to happen at the MOFU stage.
TOFU requires content that includes a call to action (CTA) that leads prospects to conversion opportunities. Once you get them there, you enter the MOFU stage, and you should offer other valuable content that will motivate leads to provide you with their contact information.
There are other prime examples of TOFU content, not all of them in the form of blog posts:
- Introductory blog articles: Perform keyword research to create a basis for an introductory blog post that doesn’t have a sales pitch, just explanatory information about a buyer’s pain point.
- Social media posts with links to content: Know what social media platforms your potential customers use and concentrate on those.
- Introductory videos: TOFU videos are short and don’t offer solutions, they just address the problem.
- E-books/whitepapers: TOFU content that gives you a chance to dive deeper into the problem the potential customer has.
- Quizzes: What easier way to learn about a buyer than by asking them about their pain points?
After you attract a healthy number of leads, it’s time to make them consider your offer through a content type that’s well-targeted.
2. MOFU: Middle of the Funnel
With the MOFU stage comes consideration. It’s a tricky part of the sales funnel because a vast scope of interesting leads didn’t totally qualify yet.
While you should still aim to educate your leads, you should also begin to position yourself as the solution to their challenges. This is where you should provide buyers with gated offers and smart content. That way, you are further shaping the information to your prospect’s interests, and you’re building authority. The most often distributed MOFU content is email marketing content, also called lead nurturing. Here are some other MOFU content examples:
- Advanced eBooks: These eBooks are much more involved and are in greater detail than the eBooks from the TOFU stage.
- Email drips: Flow of nurturing emails that give the purchaser targeted content.
- In-depth Blogs: These blogs provide answers to specific questions people may have about your product.
- Case studies: Find companies that had success with similar products and services to yours. Demonstrate their benefits through case studies to help customers realize the value you offer.
- Webinars: Webinars are great because they offer both education and training on a topic.
- White papers: A great and detailed way to convince leads that your offered solution is the best one.
3. BOFU: Bottom of the Funnel
During the initial TOFU stage, you’ve attracted leads. In the MOFU stage, you continued to engage with them. Then, the BOFU stage kicks in. It’s the most important one because you’re going straight for the sale. Welcome to the decision stage – the last and closing stage of a buyer’s journey.
At this point, we are past the education stage. You need to adopt a more product-focused and consultative approach. Your potential buyers are already familiar with you and may even engage one-on-one. You will benefit from starting a dialogue to qualify interested leads and create a sense of urgency. Their decision either has been made or is being made. By offering incentives like discount codes, you can further nudge them towards a decision.
When it comes to SEO, some believe that content is not the most important factor of this stage. Google found that 60% of users contact businesses directly from the search results.
When it comes to BOFU keyword research, this is a case of straightforward branded and product-related search queries people type in when they’re ready to make a purchasing decision. Your only job is to figure out how buyers at this stage search for your business and pair those keywords with a conversion-aimed page.
Some examples of BOFU content are:
- Free personalized assessments, consultations, or evaluations: These give you even more insight into individual buyers’ unique situations. That way, you can give personalized answers and advice to potential buyers and let them know how exactly your solution can resolve the challenge they’re facing.
- Trial offers: What better way to make a buying decision than to try out the offer? Everyone loves freebies or at least tryouts that don’t involve big commitments.
- Customer references and testimonials: Offer real-life examples of how your service or product gave value to others.
- Product demos: Another way to let prospective buyers see the value you’re offering. Be it via video or other on-site content, showcasing features and connecting them to your product’s benefits is a great show-and-tell way to stand out from competitors.
- Product comparisons: Speaking of competitors, if you clearly and successfully pit your products and services against the competition, you will set your brand apart from others better, and have a higher chance of converting qualified leads.
You’re not just creating content for the sake of it. All of your types of content should have clearly-defined goals. And after you create and publish them you should track them to spot places that require updates and improvement.
Since you now know the main content types related to TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU content, you can start checking out your last month’s performance and comparing it to the current one. That way, you will see which one outperforms the other. Try to figure out which content stood out and performed well. Such a move will help you re-create your content marketing strategy, advance your SEO efforts, and attract and retain customers.