How do you market your products or services? Unfortunately, a large number of business owners are under the impression that merely advertising a product is enough to generate sales. The reality is quite different.
In fact, only 50% of qualified leads that you receive are ready to buy. Unless you sell chewing gum, it’s human nature to want to “kick the tires” before making a buying decision. Successful marketers know that you need to nurture them through this process, known as the customer journey sales funnel.
How can you use this funnel to grow your business, and why is it important? What do ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu content mean? Read on to learn why you can’t afford to ignore these content types.
An introduction to the customer journey sales funnel
The AIDA model
In 1898, early advertising and marketing pioneer Elias St. Elmo Lewis advocated for a science-backed approach to marketing. In an anonymous magazine column published that year, he outlined a specific formula that marketers should use to serve as the foundation for their advertising activities.
Known as the AIDA model (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action), this new “customer journey sales funnel’ framework established a hierarchy of four stages based on how potential customers decide to make purchases.
He likened the customer decision-making process to a funnel. When it comes to spending on discretionary or higher-priced products or services (as opposed to essential daily items like groceries, for example), he determined that while a large number of people may be interested, most are unlikely to “jump in” right away and buy it; that, in fact, they need to have their buying decision nurtured.
Here are the four stages of the marketing funnel that Lewis understood potential buyers to take on their journey towards making a final buying decision.
Stage 1: Attention
How do you first become aware of a problem that can be solved by a particular product or service? This is the first stage: attention.
Attention is the part of the funnel where you either catch the attention of someone with a problem they know they already have…:
“Do you suffer from….”
“Are you tired of…”
…or help potential buyers realize that they have a problem but they may be unaware of it:
“Has this ever happened to you…?”
“Did you know that…?”
Stage 2: Interest
Once you’ve captured their attention and made them aware of their problem, the next step is to build their interest. But before they buy, they’ll want to learn more. How exactly does the product or service help them? What does it cost? Essentially, the interest stage is all about showing the customer how they will benefit from your solution and allowing that kernel of interest to percolate.
Stage 3: Desire
Awareness and interest alone, however, are rarely enough. You have to keep the fires going, providing more and more information to turn that heightened level of interest to an actual desire to buy. At this stage, the buyer has already made up their mind, and just needs to be spurred into action.
Stage 4: Action
Even though the customer may be ready to buy, you need to make it easier for them. Inviting them to take action is the last step, and is usually a simple matter of creating a simple call to action (“buy now!”), or by adding an extra layer of incentive through coupons, promos, etc.
The modern buyer journey: ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu content
While AIDA is considered to be a foundational marketing strategy and is still widely taught in marketing courses, some critics see it as either outdated or overly broad.
Today, most marketers typically use a refined version of the buyer’s journey, one that marries specific types of marketing content with the stages of the decision making process. It collapses the four AIDA stages of the funnel into three: Top of the funnel (“ToFu”), middle of the funnel (“MoFu”), and bottom of the funnel (“BoFu”).
Marketers create these three types of content to help nurture the potential customer along the funnel, from the beginning (awareness), through their consideration process, to sparking a final desire to buy.
Examples of ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu content
ToFu: Top of the funnel – Awareness
The top of the sales funnel is designed to capture the attention of a broad audience, piquing the interest of potential customers while filtering out those who wouldn’t be likely to buy your product or service.
ToFu content is usually of a “general interest” variety on a particular subject, and it serves to introduce you to buyers. Marketers commonly write blogs to create ToFu interest. Recognizing that a “hard sell” approach is unlikely to work out of the gate, ToFu rewards interest by providing information the target audience will find useful, without making them feel like you’re trying to sell them anything.
Let’s imagine you sell high-ticket B2B products like network storage devices geared towards SMBs. At this point, you’ll know who your buyer is — likely either an IT department head, a CTO, or someone else with a similar position able to make this type of buying decision. At this stage, you’d create ToFu general content geared towards the interests of your potential buyers purely because they find it interesting.
Examples of ToFu content:
ToFu content should also educate your website visitors and alert them to a problem they may or may not know they have. Your goal at this stage, however, is to both satisfy their curiosity while building trust in you as an authority. It’s also an excellent opportunity to link towards — and guide the readers towards — MoFu content, the next step of the journey.
MoFu: Middle of the funnel – Consideration
The middle of the funnel is where product interest is nurtured. After you’ve attracted an initial audience through ToFu content, the next step is to deliver MoFu content that delivers more solution-oriented and targeted information designed to help potential buyers consider making a purchase.
The MoFu stage is where you introduce a more sales-focused message. You’ve already grabbed their attention, and you’ve provided content that has started to build trust and established you as an authority. Now you’ll introduce content that brings home the message that “we understand your problem, and here are the many ways we can help to solve it.”
Examples of MoFu content:
- In-depth eBooks
- Case studies
- White papers
BoFu: Bottom of the funnel – Desire
After you’ve captured the attention of people who could be interested in your product or services with ToFu content and then generated interest in it via MoFu content, the remaining audience is now at the bottom of the funnel. They’ve already likely made the decision to buy at this point; it’s merely up to you to finish the job of convincing them.
In fact, BoFu content doesn’t need to involve much actual content. It’s simply the time to reinforce their buying choice and to allay any concerns or last-minute hesitations they may have.
Examples of BoFu content:
- Calls to action (CTAs)
- Promo codes
- Free trials
- Sales videos
How to use a ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu content strategy to grow your business
An effective content strategy is a cornerstone of any inbound marketing plan. In a nutshell, it means creating content that follows the ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu hierarchy and is an essential way to generate both leads and sales.
A content strategist will work with you to identify your potential audience, and then come up with a framework for a collection of content (written and video) that is designed to promote awareness, consideration, and desire.
Let’s examine how you can use these three content types for B2B lead generation and online (eCommerce) sales.
ToFu, MoFu, BoFu for B2B lead nurturing
Let’s take the earlier example of a business that manufactures and sells network storage devices for SMBs. As we’ve mentioned earlier, very few people (unless they are desperate) are likely to hear about this type of expensive device and immediately want to buy it. They may know they need to upgrade their IT hardware, but they likely either don’t have the immediate authority to purchase, or they need to go through an acquisition process.
This is where understanding the buyer journey comes in. If you take the time to put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes, you’ll know that they have a need but also that they need more information before they are able to buy. This type of understanding is known as identifying pain points.
To attract and nurture this type of customer, a B2B lead generation funnel might look something like this:
- Using ToFu content like blogs, infographics, and eBooks to deliver timely information that your target audience will find interesting or useful. For example, a blog post on “The top 10 challenges faced by IT professionals” will put you on their radar.
- After attracting their awareness, deliver more in-depth MoFu information that helps to soothe their pain points. An example would be a case study on how you helped one IT manager save their company thousands of dollars and improve efficiency with your network storage solutions.
- Use BoFu content to address their concerns, and invite them to contact you for a no-cost consultation — a genuinely qualified lead that may very well result in a sale.
ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu eCommerce sales funnel
Unlike high-ticket products or services requiring leads to be followed up by a sales team, the goal of eCommerce operators is to entice someone to hit the “buy” button. While the end result will be slightly different, a sound strategy using ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu client is still essential.
Here’s how a sales funnel might look for an eCommerce website:
- Use ToFu content like blogs, articles, infographics, listicles, etc to attract the interest of people within your niche. For instance, if your online store sells kayaks, then you can generate blog posts around that particular area of interest. Articles about “The top 10 best places to Kayak” or “The ultimate guide to kayaking” are examples of content that will attract your potential buyers.
- MoFu content like “kayaking tips” videos, or in-depth kayak buyers guide eBooks will generate deeper interest among the audience, helping them to make a choice on which new model to buy.
- Finally, BoFu content that outlines promotions, discounts, specials, delivery options, guarantees, as well as your company’s mission statement followed by a clear call to action will help to seal the deal and hopefully lead to sales.
A successful marketing strategy starts with effective ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu content
Whether you’re trying to generate leads or to convert website visitors into buyers, a content strategy that uses ToFu content to gain awareness, MoFu content to build interest, and BoFu content that instills a desire to take action is an effective way to help your business meet your revenue goals.
If you’re looking to improve your sales performance, the SEO and content strategy experts at Miromind can help. With over 12 years of experience helping companies around the world reach their potential, our team of marketing experts will work with you to get you there. Contact us today to learn what we can do for you.