Top of Funnel (TOFU) Marketing

What is Top of Funnel (TOFU) Marketing?

B2B SaaS marketing teams use different strategies, tactics, and messaging when marketing to prospects at various stages of the sales/marketing funnel.

Top of Funnel (TOFU) marketing activities are intended to broadly target potential customers in the earliest stages of the B2B sales cycle with informative, helpful, and insightful content that educates them and addresses their immediate problems or pain points. 

Effective TOFU marketing aims to position your brand as an expert or authority in your industry, build trust with your future customers, and increase market awareness about your brand, products, services, and the problems you solve.


TOFU vs MOFU vs BOFU Marketing – What’s the Difference?

The terms Top of Funnel (TOFU), Middle of Funnel (MOFU), and Bottom of Funnel (BOFU) can be mapped to three stages of a simplified customer journey or sales/marketing funnel:

  1. Top of Funnel → Awareness Stage
  2. Middle of Funnel → Evaluation Stage
  3. Bottom of Funnel → Purchasing Stage

By understanding the pain points, needs, goals, and decision-making process of customers at each stage in the customer journey, marketers can deliver the right content and experiences, through the right channels, at the right time to efficiently move prospects through the funnel and maximize customer generation.


Stage One: Awareness

Prospects in the “Awareness” stage are at the top of the sales/marketing funnel. These prospects may have a problem that can be solved by your product or service, but they aren’t yet aware that your company exists. At this point, prospects are essentially doing research to better define their problems and discover potential solutions.

TOFU marketing aims to introduce your company to as many high-quality prospects as possible by creating educational, informative, and insightful content that answers their questions and addresses pain points that align with your products and services. Marketers can target prospects near the top of the funnel with paid advertising, infographics, or videos, as well as SEO-optimized informational content like blog posts, research reports, ebooks, and white papers.

Prospects at the top of the funnel aren’t ready to purchase just yet, so the goal of TOFU marketing should be to increase awareness of your brand, position your company as an authority, and start generating leads that can be nurtured and developed by your sales team. 


Stage Two: Evaluation

Prospects in the “Evaluation” stage are in the middle of the sales/marketing funnel. These prospects have clearly defined the problem they’re trying to solve and are actively seeking a solution in the marketplace. They know that your company exists, but they’re still learning more about your solution and exploring alternatives.

MOFU marketing aims to educate prospective customers on the products and services you provide, positioning your brand as the ideal solution to the customer’s problems. MOFU marketing often includes things like podcasts, webinars, videos, and solution guides that provide deeper insight into using your product or services to achieve specific outcomes.

Prospects in the middle of the funnel may be days, weeks, or months away from making a purchasing decision. To optimize revenue generation, these prospects must be carefully nurtured while marketers monitor their engagement and intent to purchase on a one-to-one basis.


Stage Three: Purchasing

Prospects in the “Purchasing” stage are at the bottom of the sales/marketing funnel. These prospects have identified their problem, researched solutions in detail, and they’re ready to buy.

The only question left is whose solution they will choose – yours, or your competitors?

BOFU marketing aims to convert prospects into customers by convincing them to choose your solution and do business with you instead of your competitors. This may be achieved with the help of case studies, testimonials, live product demos, and free trial experiences that demonstrate why your solution is the best option for prospects and increase your BOFU conversions.

Effective marketing at each stage of the journey requires SaaS marketers to understand the goals and transformations their customers are hoping to achieve as they progress through the buying process. 


How Does Top of Funnel (TOFU) Marketing Work?

In Top of Funnel (TOFU) marketing, the goal is to maximize brand awareness by generating a large number of impressions from potential customers who have no history of interacting with your brand. 

The most common options include:

  • Organic Search Marketing – Your brand can create and publish SEO-optimized content (e.g. blogs, articles, white papers, etc.) that speak directly to the problems and pain points experienced by your target market.
  • PPC Advertising – Your brand can reach TOFU prospects directly with paid digital advertisements targeting prospects who ask questions related to your industry or the products/services that you offer.
  • Social Media – You can leverage social media to connect directly with engaged audience members, answer their questions, and increase your perceived expertise, trustworthiness, and authority in the market.

Unlike MOFU and BOFU marketing, TOFU marketing is usually non-branded and minimizes self-promotion in favor of providing the best possible customer experience. Calls to action in TOFU marketing content often invite the prospect to attend a webinar or register for lead nurturing email where they’ll start receiving MOFU marketing content.


What Does Top of Funnel (TOFU) Marketing Accomplish?

Create Brand Awareness

TOFU marketing introduces prospects to your brand for the first time and makes a good first impression, increasing the likelihood of a future purchase.


Build Trust

TOFU marketing builds trust with your future customers by positioning your brand as a help, trustworthy authority in your market or industry vertical.


Educate Prospects

TOFU marketing provides your prospects with education, giving them the tools they need to understand your solution and how you can help address their biggest challenges and pain points.


Generate Leads

TOFU marketing generates leads for your business, encouraging your most qualified prospects to move ahead in the purchasing journey, connect with your sales team, and eventually become your customers.

Modern Marketers Replace Funnels with Data-Driven RevOps

Terms like TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU represent an out-dated concept of the sales/marketing funnel. While marketers still need to drive brand awareness and generate leads, we now understand the sales/marketing funnel to be complex and nonlinear, with many touch points across multiple channels before a sale ever takes place.

At Directive, we use advanced marketing attribution as part of our Customer Generation methodology to correlate engagement with specific marketing touchpoints and downstream conversion rates for our B2B SaaS clients. In doing so, we can identify which types of content (across all stages of the customer journey) play the greatest role in driving revenue – and focus our efforts on replicating that success at scale.

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