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Elevate Your Top‑of‑Funnel Marketing

Unlock the potential of top‑of‑funnel approaches to elevate your marketing game. From content marketing to SEO, learn how to attract and engage your target audience.

You should consider every part of the marketing and sales funnel as important. However, a marketing funnel requires an entrance, and that entrance is the top-of-funnel. You need leads and prospects, and it’s at the top of your marketing funnel you will gain those eyes on your brand, service, or product.

Top-of-funnel marketing has everything to do with that initial contact between a potential customer or client and your brand. This makes it the largest part of your marketing or sales funnel as it’s designed to reach people who may not even have any awareness of your business or offerings.

Fine-tuning your approach to top-of-funnel marketing will help you gain more leads, more interest, more reach, and a higher level of brand awareness. It’s tempting to place more focus on other parts of the marketing and sales funnel, but you’re doing your business a disservice if you neglect this important part of your marketing efforts.

Remember, this is the first step in the customer journey, so you must make sure it’s doing everything it can to attract the potential customers you need.

Understand the marketing funnel

You can break a marketing funnel down into three distinct parts:

Each of these parts serves an important function. You can use other criteria that add to these stages, but the three-stage model works best for most situations.

Top-of-funnel or the awareness stage

The top of the marketing funnel includes those marketing strategies designed to engage potential customers who may not have any awareness of your brand or offerings.

At the awareness stage, your strategy should consist of attracting people and showing them what you have to offer. Here you will create marketing materials that help introduce your brand or service to people during the awareness stage.

Middle-of-funnel or the consideration or interest stage

Once you’ve engaged a prospect, they will enter the middle of your marketing funnel. Prospects will inquire about your offerings or start to look around to see exactly what your services entail.

At this stage, you will strive to keep the lead’s interest and offer them marketing materials that might answer questions they have or solve pain points. Alternatively, potential customers may wait to see what else you offer them after initially choosing to follow you, sign up for your emails, subscribe to your channel, etc.

Bottom-of-funnel or the decision stage

The bottom of the funnel is where your leads decide to move forward with choosing your brand or offerings. You will provide the small nudges needed to convert your leads. For example, you may offer a free trial, show them what makes your offerings superior to competitors, or give them a discount.

Some other marketing funnel models will consist of four stages, such as with the AIDA marketing funnel model. Your sales funnel will usually begin in the middle or bottom of your marketing funnel. However, that’s not always the case and will depend on your own marketing and sales approach.

No matter the model, it’s easy to see that a marketing funnel cannot function properly without you paying close attention to your top-of-funnel marketing. If no one enters your marketing funnel from the top, then you’ll have few to no leads to usher through the rest of your funnel.

What are the benefits of investing in top-of-funnel marketing?

Top-of-funnel marketing comes with a large number of benefits, especially if you take full advantage of what you can learn at the top of your marketing funnel.

Even if a potential lead doesn’t move beyond the top of the funnel, you will still have gained important information you can utilize going forward. An investment in top-of-funnel marketing will give you a lot more than you may have even considered.

Boosts brand awareness

As the top-of-funnel literally represents the awareness stage, putting marketing dollars here can have a number of benefits. You will grab the attention of those who may not have known your brand or product existed.

If a potential lead moves on from the initial contact, they now know you exist and know what you offer. That awareness can come back to reward you later, especially if you start a retargeting campaign. Awareness of your brand creates a sense of authority and credibility.

Generates qualified leads

In marketing, quality over quantity wins the day. However, top-of-funnel marketing casts a wider net. Within that net, you will gain the qualified leads your business needs to grow. As you gather names, emails, and interest, you will see which of those leads represent the marketing qualified leads (MQLs) that hold the most potential.

Without that top-of-funnel introduction, you may never find the people who will most likely move through the rest of your marketing funnel. Those lukewarm or mostly uninterested leads you gather will also give you an opportunity to dig into what it is about your marketing efforts you can adjust to make your offerings more appealing to them.

In this way, you can use your top-of-funnel marketing to gain qualified leads and a means to turn lukewarm leads into qualified leads later.

Improves engagement rates

Your top-of-funnel marketing content will increase engagement rates. As you attempt to attract qualified leads, you will create content that addresses issues and pain points that will help to increase not just interest in your offerings, but interest in the subject matter at hand.

Your marketing will present you as a credible expert to leads and potential leads. They will want to know what you have to say and what you think. Some may choose you for information over others because they trust your brand. This will all serve to increase engagement and reach.

Cost-effective marketing

Top-of-funnel marketing can often give you a cost-per-lead ratio that shows it’s a lot more cost-effective than many other types of marketing efforts. You can utilize many top-of-funnel marketing techniques at a minimal cost.

That said, it’s important that you optimize your top-of-funnel marketing strategies to gain the most benefit from them if you want to realize the maximum cost-effectiveness of these techniques. For example, ads that focus on awareness without a lot of heavy targeting will tend to cost a lot less than ads that strive to pinpoint a single type of potential lead.

When you look at the top-of-funnel marketing strategies further on, you will see just how you can leverage many of these strategies without overextending your marketing budget.

Provides long-term benefits

When you utilize top-of-funnel marketing strategies, you will realize long-term benefits beyond just the acquisition of leads. The exposure you garner through awareness campaigns contributes to long-term growth in several ways.

Just the awareness alone helps you to stay relevant to your audience. Over time, that awareness can lead to conversions all on its own.

Additionally, the content and materials you build up for top-of-funnel marketing will serve as lead magnets without you needing to do any additional work to attract people to them. You will have a library of assets at your disposal. This is especially true of evergreen content designed with SEO in mind.

Those qualified leads you gain will also still show up for the materials you produce, which can turn them into long-term leads for new products or services you may offer later.

And never forget the important data you will collect from your top-of-funnel marketing. All that valuable information will continue to help you grow your business more effectively from now into the future. With your analytics, you can improve your marketing funnel, your sales funnel, and your relationships, whether you’re pursuing B2C or B2B leads.

Top-of-funnel marketing strategies

So, what are some of these important top-of-funnel marketing strategies that can do so much for your brand or business?

In truth, there are a lot of them, and how you make use of them will vary depending on your goals. Nevertheless, having a lot to choose from allows you to test which may offer you the most benefit.

At the top of your marketing funnel, you will want to use tools that help with increasing awareness and list building. You will find there are quite a few ways to accomplish those goals at the top of your marketing funnel.

Content marketing

Content marketing includes many practices that center on making use of written and visual materials to attract leads. Because content marketing represents something of a catchall term, it’s better to look at some of the specific types of content marketing available.

Always bear in mind that content marketing requires a content strategy if you want to realize the full spectrum of benefits offered by this type of marketing. Some content marketing methods include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Social media posts

Even memes can work well for content marketing these days. Because there are so many ways to use content marketing, it’s important to align your content marketing efforts with the expectations of your audience.

As a top-of-funnel marketing method, content marketing can become an invaluable asset to your business and its goals. However, content marketing doesn’t work the same on all platforms, and some forms of content marketing aren’t suitable for all audiences.

That’s why it’s important you know your audience and produce the type of content that might appeal to them most, and on the platforms, they’re most likely to visit.


Blogging helps with building brand awareness and engagement. A blogging platform offers your brand an entire universe of potential content marketing potential. You can publish traditional blog posts, videos, and really anything else that falls under the content marketing umbrella.

However, with blogging, you must choose a good blogging platform, keep the blog up-to-date, and practice good SEO habits. In addition, blogging can tie into all your other marketing methods. There’s a lot you can do with a blog, especially one built on a scalable platform.

For example, the content you produce for your blog can also make for excellent social media posts that lead people back to the blog, where you have far more control over the top-of-funnel marketing you employ.

Social media content

As a top-of-funnel marketing approach, social media content can help raise awareness in several ways, and increase customer engagement as you grow your social media followings. In most cases, those leads you’re looking for are more than likely on one or more social media platforms.

Various marketing tools exist specifically for social media content marketing, and keeping people engaged on social media can have long-term benefits for your brand. Nevertheless, different social media platforms have wildly different ecosystems and require you to approach them in a way that will work best for your brand.

Where one platform may give you results from sharing videos, another may require more text than anything else. You can leverage social media as an excellent top-of-funnel approach, but don’t post content blindly. Know what works and what doesn’t work for each platform, then build your strategies accordingly.

Video marketing

Video works very well for lead generation. You may have noticed just how much content online has veered toward video over the years. Whether you’re posting long videos, short videos, or just video clips, you can use them at every stage of your marketing funnel, starting from the top. Use video to:

  • Tell a story
  • Give visual examples
  • Show a quick overview
  • Highlight your brand or brand message

There’s no end to what you can do with video marketing. Even better, your videos can go wherever you want them to go. For example, you can post videos to just about every social media platform or embed them in your blog.

Paid advertising

While many top-of-funnel strategies have non-paid aspects that can allow you to start using them immediately, there’s really no substitute for paid advertising. Paid advertisements can help you gain leads quickly while also giving your relevant metrics you can track to make your marketing more efficient.

Various types of paid advertising exist, and many of them will work well as a top-of-funnel marketing strategy. A paid search or pay-per-click ad can allow you to better engage your target audience.

Since you’re trying to raise awareness, these ads can help answer a question someone may need to be answered. You can tune your early paid advertising efforts to the goal of presenting an answer that curious potential customers may click through to learn more.

Paid advertising includes various types of top-of-funnel strategies you can use.

Display ads

Display ads can consist of images and videos, which sets them apart from many other types of traditional paid ads. The reach of these types of ads can encompass websites, social media, videos, and just about anywhere else where advertisements show up. That broad reach makes them ideal for top-of-funnel marketing, as the goal is to create awareness.

Paid social media ads

You can use paid social media to boost your brand’s reach on social media platforms. Each platform offers a paid advertising model that you can take advantage of, and those models offer an excellent way for you to show your brand, build engagement, and increase your organic social media reach. Just make sure you spend advertising dollars on platforms your target audience frequents.

Public relations

One top-of-funnel marketing method that you shouldn’t overlook is the use of public relations to get the word out about your brand or offering. Creating public relations campaigns involves making sure relevant media outlets know about and will share information about your brand.

PR grants a brand a high level of credibility, but it isn’t always easy to implement. You will need to identify and engage those bloggers, journalists, and media platforms that might have an interest in your brand. You can hire PR specialists for this purpose, but you can also do some things on your own.

Press releases

A press release is an official statement released to the media about something new or notable concerning a company or brand. Press releases move through news and media outlets and raise awareness in the process.

You can send a press release to platforms dedicated to these types of messages as well as directly to media outlets you would like to establish a relationship with.

Media relations

As a subset of public relations, media relations can help a brand raise awareness in several ways that don’t involve directly addressing potential customers. By engaging the news media, you will have a third party working in your favor to move potential leads to the top of your marketing funnel. Some examples of this can include:

  • Commenting or guest posting on an industry trade blog
  • Giving interviews about your brand or offering
  • Engaging with influencers who can spread word of your brand or business
  • Speaking at events or conferences

Media relations offer many options to increase awareness. A major benefit comes from the fact that many media outlets will have audiences of their own that they will push your marketing message to.

And these aren’t the only top-of-funnel marketing strategies available to you. Once you find the strategies that work best for your goals, you can optimize them to produce better results.

A top-of-funnel marketing strategy can make the rest of your funnel work that much more efficiently, so it’s a good idea to put some effort into crafting a marketing strategy that can make full use of the more open nature at the top of your marketing funnel.

It’s all about attracting the right audience

You want to attract the right audience, and top-of-funnel marketing can help you achieve those goals. While you’re pulling in interested parties, you will also increase your brand’s reputation and reach in the process. Through top-of-funnel marketing, you will gain the insights to make the entirety of your marketing funnel work more efficiently for your brand.

Top-of-funnel marketing requires a set of tools and a knowledge base that aren’t always all found in a single place. Mailchimp offers a vast array of marketing tools and information to facilitate all your marketing efforts, including those necessary to make your top-of-funnel marketing truly work for your business.

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