Top of the Funnel Marketing: 7 Digital Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

 

Sales don’t just happen. Nobody starts out buying your product. They start out by realizing that your business exists. Oftentimes, they do this unintentionally.

Joe is surfing the web looking for an answer. If your company is an expert on the particular subject, an article of yours may appear in the SERPs and Joe might just click on it. Other times, Bill may notice your brand via social media, when one of his friends retweets a tweet by your company, or he stumbles across your Instagram profile. (PS. the latter is way more likely to happen).

The point is, nothing in the top of the funnel is about direct selling. It’s a long term strategy to continuously bring people to your website and let them know you exist in the least intrusive way possible.

 

Top of the Funnel Marketing
Thanks HubSpot.

 

Below I outline 7 well-known digital marketing strategies for small businesses used in the top of the funnel. Remember that many, if not most, of the people in the top of the funnel will not buy from you. That’s okay.

We are using this to create a powerful online presence and generate leads that will eventually buy in the future. It allows you and your company to develop the status of a thought leader in your niche. The longer you stick around and consistently engage in top of the funnel marketing, the more future customers you’ll generate in the long run.

(I’m not discounting the rest of the funnel, it’s important as well. I mean, that’s where the actual sales come in. I’m simply suggesting that to close more deals lower down the funnel, it’s best to get as many leads as possible, within your niche, at the top of the funnel).

The top of the funnel entails relationship building and establishing trust so that people feel comfortable with your company’s offerings when they are ready to buy in the future. 

 

Social media marketing

Social media, you should be here. There’s a whole obsession with social media that continues to expand. Should you spend your time developing a social media strategy, content calendar, and more?

One of the ongoing difficulties regarding social media marketing is tracking ROI. As if it’s not difficult enough to curate, create, and schedule content, how do we know if all this effort is affecting our bottom line? This marketing strategy proves to be very difficult for small businesses.

My suggestion is to first try out potential social networks, stick with the one(s) that work best, and start using the power of analytics to guide you in your ROI hunt.

For example, you can create UTM parameters for your URL’s. Once you have added the UTM parameters using Google’s Campaign URL Builder, you’ll be able to track people when they click the URL’s.

Google's campaign URL Builder

 

If you’re looking for something even more comprehensive, use a SaaS like Simply Measured to analyze your social efforts. However, this will be an expensive option for small businesses.

If you are simply wondering how many people have clicked on a particular link, just use a link shortener like Bitly. One trick here is to add a “+” to the end of a Bitly URL to see how many clicks it received. This works for any Bitly url: 

Bitly Tweet with link

 

Bitly link click analytics

Social media marketing can be a black hole. Focus on what works and ignore what doesn’t. Use scheduling and automation when possible but don’t sacrifice your brands voice for the sake of time.

 

Cold emailing

I can assure you it’s not dead yet. Creating a new company blog? Launching a new product? Hosting an event? But no one knows about it?

Reach out. Simply get a hold of people that may be interested and provide them with some value. In order to get this blog off the ground in the first month, I emailed a whole lot of people that I have never spoken to before. In order to launch my first physical product online I DM’d hundreds of people. In order to write a killer roundup posts, I contacted tons of influencers. And I tried my best to give them some value before asking for anything in return.

Yes, you will get denied and ignored. However, if you actually have something that will benefit them, why not reach out and give it a shot?

It’s what I plan on doing for this article…

Contests

People have always wanted free things, and they always will. If you know where your target market hangs out, get in front of them with a contest promotion. Gather their email, or Facebook profile, or have them share the contest with friends to build awareness. Giving your email away for the chance of getting something free is totally worth it. Also, depending on the prize, it won’t cost you very much at all to run the contest.

Think about what other companies have done. Do they advertise the contest on social, use influencer marketing, leverage their existing network, etc.? Check out the story on how Harry’s launched using a giveaway that fed upon itself to achieve a viral effect.

 

Harry's launch landing page
Courtesy of Kickofflabs

 

Content marketing

Long term strategy for growth almost always includes content marketing. Customers are in the awareness stage. They’re trying to solve problems and you can help. Yes, they may not buy a product now (or even sign up for your newsletter) but if you provide them with the answers and value they are looking for, the chances of them coming back are better. 

In a simple sense, you become a knowledge center for people in your niche. And we all know more value=more traffic=more conversions=more money. That path may seem long, but content marketing isn’t for making a sale tomorrow, it’s for developing relationships and generating future sales.

If you are in it for the long haul, start creating content now. Push it out in various forms such as articles, videos, eBooks, podcasts, and more. Look at what content types perform best and start optimizing them with SEO, professional design, more in-depth info (ex. Research/data), and better specification for your niche, as you develop a better understanding of your audience.

Also try different channels for sharing content, like republishing to Medium, guest-blogging, and Quora.

The more valuable content you can afford to put out, the better.

 

Email opt-ins

The money is in the list, right? If you don’t have a system of collecting emails on your website, it’s time to figure it out. You should be collecting emails as much as possible. If you currently have an email opt-in form, figure out how you can make it better. What piece of value could you possibly provide that people in your target audience would give up their email for?

If you have awesome physical products, run a contest like we mentioned before. However, if you sell services, give away the pertinent information people are looking for in the form of PDF’s, EBooks, and more. The more you can give away, the better chances of collecting emails and building an initial customer base. These are the first people you have an opportunity to sell to. It worked for me. 

 

Jeff Bullas landing page call to action
How could you not click on this CTA from Jeff Bullas?

 

Webinars

This is a strategy I have not personally tried, but am considering in the future. Have you seen something like this on Facebook and been tempted to click on it? I mean it’s free, why not?

 

Facebook Webinar advertisement

 

Webinars are more popular than ever and I see ads for them on Facebook and Instagram nearly every time I log on. The quick surge in webinars as a means of collecting emails and making a product pitch hints to the fact that they may be working well. As I mentioned, I can’t personally vouch for their effectiveness, but if Neil Patel is using them, they’re probably a profitable marketing strategy to look into.

 

Online Advertisements

And lastly, there is simply advertising your products and services, and driving customers to your website. Although I have dabbled a bit in online ads with Google Adwords, Facebook ads, and even Instagram ads, I’m no expert. It’s something I intend to look into more as I grow the online presence of IgniteMyCompany.

One of the main points here is that advertising online can be very effective compared to traditional forms of media advertising, like print advertising. You can target specific niches and find lookalike audiences to find new people in your target market. However, there is no set it and forget it system. Ads are something that will be constantly monitored and tweaked so that they can be optimized for generating a positive ROI.

 

 

For small businesses, these digital marketing strategies can be effective, if implemented correctly. Test them out, pick the options that work best, and then optimize them. I’ll be sure to write more in-depth articles pertaining to each strategy. But feel free to read up on the options that appear best for you. I promise there’s great books for each one, I’ve merely scratched the surface here.

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Henry Foster

Henry Foster has built massive social followings, started and sold a tiny ecommerce business, and writes about social media and content marketing. If he isn’t currently working on a project, he’s most likely brainstorming the next.


Henry Foster

Henry Foster has built massive social followings, started and sold a tiny ecommerce business, and writes about social media and content marketing. If he isn’t currently working on a project, he’s most likely brainstorming the next.