Top-of-the-Funnel Marketing: How Does It Work?

Ed Pronley


May 26, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

two people going over a marketing plan on a white board

Learn what top-of-the-funnel marketing is and how you can use it to boost your content marketing campaign and capture your target audience. Like any business, it’s safe to assume you’re looking for ways to improve your brand awareness and sales. That’s always the end goal, but how exactly do you get there? Well, like as Julie Andrews once sang, a very good place to start is at the beginning. That’s where top-of-the-funnel marketing comes in. Top-of-the-funnel marketing attracts audience members to your business and starts them on their buyer’s journey. In this article, we discuss:

What Is Top-of-the-Funnel Marketing?

Image via Unsplash by Melanie Deziel

Top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) marketing refers to the first step of a marketing campaign that spreads a company’s brand awareness and informs people about its products and services. A marketing funnel is a metaphor for how buyers progress through a business’s marketing, eventually becoming more convinced to make a purchase the further down they travel. There are three main parts of the funnel: the top, the middle, and the bottom. At the bottom of the funnel, audiences make a final decision on whether they want to make a purchase.

Related: How To Create a Marketing Funnel With Examples

How Does Top-of-the-Funnel Marketing Work?

Image via SproutSocial

Imagine a physical funnel. The top is the widest part, catching a larger portion of the liquid, and directing it into a smaller space. The marketing funnel works in a similar way. The top of the funnel acts as a large, wide net, attempting to capture as many potential customers as possible. Most often, companies accomplish this by creating content that interests people and brings them to the businesses’ websites. Businesses use this content to provide information and value to their readers while informing them about their products and services.

And that’s the main goal of TOFU marketing: to give something of value to your audience. If you create content for the top of the funnel, purely for the sake of making a sale, it’s going to turn your audience away. It’s helpful to remember a simple rule of thumb that your readers will always ask themselves: “what’s in it for me?” The point of TOFU marketing is to bring readers in and then convert them into customers. It’s a balancing act of gaining their trust while simultaneously informing them about what your company has to offer.

Read more: Everything You Need To Know About Marketing Funnels

What Type of Content Should You Create for the Top of the Funnel?

Different types of content serve different purposes for top-of-the-funnel marketing that you can use, depending on your major marketing goals. Those types of content include:


Blogs are one of the most popular tools that businesses use for TOFU marketing. They’re often short-written articles that provide insight or information on a trending industry topic. That might include information on current industry events or company news, such as a newly released product or service. Blogs are popular because they keep people up to date on your company, as well as the industry you operate in.

For example, let’s say your company provides landscaping services. You might write a blog on a new type of mosquito repellent that scientists are researching. You might also write a blog on your thoughts on different garden designs and how you might’ve done them differently. Adding your own tone and voice to the blog helps to humanize your brand and show people your expertise in the field.

Educational Articles

Educational articles are very similar to blogs but are often longer. They’re also evergreen, which means they stay relevant for a longer period of time. After all, the powerhouse of the cell is probably going to be the mitochondria for the foreseeable future. Essentially, educational articles provide audiences with information that helps them solve a problem or challenge.

This type of content works well for the top of the funnel because when audiences like the information you provide, they often feel more inclined to share it with others. That helps to increase brand awareness and audience loyalty. Companies use these articles to increase their audience’s satisfaction. They then use effective calls to action to entice readers to engage with the company further. That might include reading more content, signing up for a newsletter, or even making a purchase.

White Papers

White papers are extensive documents that talk about a specific industry issue or challenge. It highlights the challenge and how it affects other people or businesses. Then, it provides possible insights into how people can solve it. Essentially, white papers are kind of like academic papers. They’re thorough, long, and often require a few read throughs to fully absorb the information. Because of that, they’re great for demonstrating a company’s expertise. Companies create white papers to show their audience that they know their industry and can help with any situation or problem. That makes them great tools for TOFU marketing.

People not only hang on to white papers as a possible reference tool, but they also tend to share them with their coworkers, friends, and family. That’s especially true if their friends or family work in the same industry. That means your white paper circulates to other people and businesses, spreading your brand’s image, expertise, and awareness. However, it’s important to note that white papers don’t often include information on a company’s products or services. Their focus is mainly on providing quality, helpful information and data.


eBooks are similar to white papers because they talk in-depth about a subject. But they often read a little less like an academic paper and more like a blog or education article. That makes it easier for businesses to make eBooks engaging and compelling to their audience. That includes strong, conversational writing, as well as interesting designs and graphics. Unlike white papers, it also gives companies a space to talk more about their products or services and entice people to interact with their company further.

This helps the top of the funnel strategy by directing people to the business’s website. That’s because eBooks are digital documents that allow companies to easily include links to their website or other pieces of content they create. You might even consider placing eBooks your company has created behind a gate. Gated content means that visitors to your website have to provide something, usually their email address, in exchange for access to the content you’re offering. Different from a pay wall, gated content is a mutually beneficial exchange. To be successful, though, gated content must be enticing enough for the user to take action.


Businesses use newsletters in both their top-of-the-funnel and middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) marketing. That’s because they’re an excellent source of building brand awareness and continuing to convince your audience of your company’s benefits. Looking at the former, newsletters allow businesses to send their thoughts, knowledge, and expertise straight to people’s inboxes. That allows their marketing efforts to feel more human and personal. If the newsletter provides insightful or interesting information, audiences can also easily forward or share that newsletter with others. That helps to spread your content to other inboxes as well.

Next to that, newsletters allow you to include links and calls to action that can convert your target audience into customers. You can use these opportunities to direct people to your website or share other pieces of TOFU content with them, like blogs, articles, and white papers. If you want to see a great example of this, sign up for CopyPress‘ newsletter. We deliver quality content marketing knowledge straight to your inbox, so you can stay up to date on all the latest content creation and syndication strategies.

“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”

Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo

How To Perform Top-of-the-Funnel Marketing

Here’s a list of steps to help you perform your own top-of-the-funnel marketing strategy:

1. Understand Your Target Audience

Though this first step might be obvious to some, it’s one of the most crucial parts of any content marketing campaign. That’s because, in order to attract people to your brand and catch them in the funnel, you need to ensure the content is compelling and serves the needs of your audience. Audience members don’t often care about a piece of online content unless it gives them some sort of value.

To help with this, it’s good to remember the question mentioned earlier that readers will ask themselves: “what’s in it for me?” If someone clicks on a blog, article, or eBook, they expect to be entertained, informed, or both. They want to learn a solution to their problem or discover something new. If you write a piece of content that immediately starts talking about your products or services, it’s going to turn people away.

So, try to think about what your audience wants from your content. As you craft it, see how you can provide value to the reader’s life and why they might stop to read your blog, article, or white paper.

2. Create Compelling Content

Once you know what your audience expects from you, of course, the next step is to deliver it. That means developing consistent, compelling content that attracts your audience to your site. Without quality content, the top of the funnel doesn’t really work. It’s the wide net that allows you to capture your audience and bring them through the rest of the funnel. The more high-quality content you create, the larger your net.

It’s also important to make sure the content is conversational. Making your content more conversational helps to increase its readability, allowing anyone of any education level to read it with ease. That helps you case a wide net as well, allowing anyone and everyone to understand and absorb the information. But that’s often easier said than done. Creating quality, compelling content on a consistent basis often requires a large team of writers, editors, and quality assurance (QA) specialists who can create content in your brand’s tone and style.

One of the better scenarios is that you’ll need to hire a few freelancers to help you create content, albeit, a little inconsistently. The worst-case scenario is using your company’s time and resources to hire a brand new marketing team. But there’s another option: CopyPressCopyPress has a team of expert writers, editors, and QA specialists who know how to attract your target audience while crafting content in your brand’s voice and style. Schedule a call with us today to see how we can boost your content marketing campaign.

3. Develop Key Landing Pages

Landing pages are pages on your website that you direct people to through your content. They’re where you want your audience to “land” and convince them to either explore your website further or make a purchase. Essentially, it’s the transitional phase of the funnel. It’s what brings them from the top of the funnel to the middle of the funnel. It’s helpful to develop landing pages in a similar way to your content. You want them to be approachable and engaging.

Though it’s good to use these pages to talk more about your company, the last thing you want to do is weigh them down with heavy, incomprehensible jargon. Jargon and fancy industry terms often turn people away. What you really want to focus on is the reader. Why might they be interested in your products or services? Once again, we come to the question: “what’s in it for me?” You want to relate to your reader’s problems and issues. The more they feel like you understand them, the more likely they’ll be to make a purchase or use your services.

4. Understand the Rest of the Funnel

Though the top of the funnel is important, it’s not the end all be all. You want your top-of-the-funnel strategy to fit in with the rest of the funnel and your business’s main goals. You might create excellent, compelling content, but what then? What happens once you bring people to your landing pages and entice them? How do you plan to finish bringing them through the rest of the funnel and make a sale? These are questions you need to ask yourself in order to make the best use of your TOFU marketing campaign.

But if you’re not sure where to begin, try starting with a call to CopyPress. We have the resources, expertise, and knowledge to deliver quality content your business can use to boost its online presence and sales. But we’re more than just a content mill. We work side-by-side with our clients and provide them with their own client success manager to ensure our work is meeting their needs and fitting within their funnel, every step of the way. Schedule a call with us today to see how we can help with your content marketing campaign.

Author Image - Ed Pronley
Ed Pronley

CopyPress writer

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