In the Inbound Marketing world, there are three abbreviations that are key in our day to day lives: TOFU, MOFU and BOFU. Knowing exactly what each of these mean and how to use them in our campaigns is crucial to be able to offer users appropriate content, with the perfect timing.
As I will explain in this article, the TOFU, MOFU and BOFU are different phases through which the users travels in the Conversion Funnel, from the moment they begin to gain a potential interest in our brand to the moment they complete their purchase. Keep reading to find out more!
Let’s start at the beginning: the basics of the Conversion Funnel
In order to develop effective marketing strategies, we need to carefully analyze our products’ purchase cycles. This analysis begins by identifying our buyer persona, or in other words, the kind of users that is our “ideal client”.
From the moment they begin to feel a need related to our product until the moment that need is satisfied by purchasing our product, the user finds itself in a buyer journey. Each stage of this journey has unique characteristics, which are very important to keep in mind when personalizing our content marketing strategies.
The conversion funnel is a very visual and useful way to represent the different stages in this buyer journey. The call it a ‘funnel’ because each phase is “narrower” than the one before: not every user who feels a need related to our product will actually walk into our shop (whether physical or digital), and not everyone who walks in will walk out with a purchase.
This image of a funnel is crucial to be able to improve our results, helping us understand things from the user’s perspective. The first point here is that if we want to achieve an X number of conversions, we will need more users than X to come in contact with our brand. On the other hand, besides attracting more users into the first stages of our funnel, we can also increase conversions by optimizing our user retention throughout the different phases.
Now that we have this down pat, let’s take a closer look at each of the phases of the conversion funnel in Inbound Marketing.
1# TOFU: The first moment of contact
TOFU stands for Top of the Funnel, which is the first step in this journey. At this point, the user has detected a need they have and begins to research ways to satisfy it. Let’s imagine, for example, that our business is a Crossfit gym. In this phase, our buyer persona is considering doing more sports, and searches for answers to “how to get in shape” or “the most effective exercises”:
In this initial stage, we need to be creating content that answers our potential clients’ needs and questions as generally as possible, in order to attract large amounts of users. Keep in mind that at this point, their interest in you is still quite generic and they do not yet have any specific product in mind.
For this reason, in the TOFU phase of the conversion funnel, we should be creating generic content that answers their questions. For example:
- Lists such as “7 reasons to…” or “10 things you didn’t know about…”
- Tutorials and ‘how tos: “How to get in shape in 3 months”
- Ebooks on more generics topics such as your sector, trends or innovation.
- Checklists. One of the most attractive kinds of content, as it combines visual and written elements that appeals to something we all want: to cross things off lists!
- Infographics: An ideal resource to inspire our users and show them how to answer their need at a single glance. Infographics are highly shareable, allowing us to make the most of their viral qualities to attract a lot more people to our funnel.
Besides creating generic content for our blog and other places, here are three other strategies that work particularly well in attracting users to the TOFU:
- Display Advertising. We can use all the vast amounts of data we have on our users to show them highly personalized ads.
- Video campaigns on social media. Video is a kind of content that generates very high interaction levels and connects with the user on an emotional level. If you decide to use it, don’t miss out on the opportunity to launch live videos on social media.
- Content Ads and Native Advertising. A way to maximize your content’s efficiency and reach in a non-invasive way.
2# MOFU: Considering different options
Thanks to the content we showed them in the previous stage, the user now knows what it is they want: to sign up for Crossfit. For this reason, they have now moved down the funnel into the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) and is considering different options.
In this phase, you need to offer more specific content, in exchange for the user leaving you their data and becoming a lead. It is now essential that you nurture your relationship with them by offering them content that addresses their exact needs. For example:
- Interview experts, such as your Personal Trainers.
- Video demos of your product.
- FAQs or Frequently Asked Questions that can solve their potential objections and hesitations.
- Detailed guides and eBooks that position us as experts in the industry.
- Testimonials. Use your existing clients experiences that users will be able to identify with and that will make them consider your product as a winning option.
- Opinions and recommendations. Be careful: we highly recommend encouraging your existing users to leave their opinions, but make sure they are always genuine and honest.
In the MOFU, we can also use these promotion strategies to help clients along the funnel:
- Email marketing campaigns. Unbelievably far from becoming obsolete, email marketing continues to prove itself as one of the most effective formats of digital marketing. To get the best results, use A/B and A/B/C tests, changing one variable at a time until you find the winning combination. And of course, always keep an eye on your opening ratios and Click Through rates.
- Social ads. Over the past years, social ads have experienced and incredible evolution. There are increasingly more available formats and segmentation options, making them adaptable to pretty much any marketing need. In the MOFU, we recommend focusing on Lead Generation ads to increase your database.
- Retargeting: In this step, you should be taking your users’ behavior into account and using that information to personalize your ads and make the much more effective.
3# BOFU: sealing the deal
Last of all, we have reached the third and final stage in our conversion funnel: the BOFU, or Bottom of the Funnel. This is the narrowest part of the funnel, made up of all the users who have considered the available options and are still interested in what you have to offer. All that’s left is to seal the deal… and, of course, gain your client’s trust and loyalty to keep them coming back.
Here are the resources you can incorporate into your strategy to successfully finish of your funnel:
- Free trials and product samples and offers such as “money back guarantee if you are not 100% satisfied”.
- Discounts and offers.
- Highly specialized services, such as a personalized consultation. In our example, we could offer a free initial fitness evaluation.
For this phase, you can use these kinds of marketing efforts:
- User communities that increase trust and loyalty and take the purchasing experience to the next level.
- SEM: when the user is looking for a very specific product (or even for our brand), search engine marketing places us in a favored position with offers that answer their needs.
- Social Ads. In this phase of the conversion funnel, make the most of the potential of social ads with their “Lookalike Audience” targeting features. This tool lets you display your ads only to people with similar profiles to those you have already gotten to complete the conversion, increasing its efficiency.
Techniques to use throughout the whole funnel
Last but not least, I would like to mention some tools that will help you out in all phases of your inbound marketing strategy:
- Responsive design elements for mobile. In 2017, there is absolutely no excuse for your campaigns not to be adaptable for mobile devices! It is the online way you can be sure they can be viewed properly on any device, including smartphones and tablets. And if you really want to make the most of all the mobile potential out there, be sure to launch your app marketing strategy.
- Marketing Affiliation. This kind of marketing is based on the use of websites or companies (called affiliates) who become in charge of publishing their clients’ ads and promotions. The big advantage here is that they charge based on results, allowing you to perfectly control your investment to guarantee a positive ROI.