All businesses, no matter the size, face the same challenge: they need to sell their products or services.
It’s as simple idea, but it’s not easy. Businesses need customers to know they exist, they need to develop a connection and build trust, and they need to convince customers to make a purchase. The process of moving from a first connection to a conversion can be a complex journey.
In this article, we’ll focus on one way of thinking about the customer conversion process. And we’ll offer a variety of insights, metrics to measure, and tactics to use along the way.
What is a conversion funnel?
In business, a “conversion” is the desired action a business or marketer wants a potential customer to take. Typically, the action is making a purchase or starting a subscription.
Different models, known as “funnels,” show the customer journey from first contact with a business to a conversion. As discussed in our article about the marketing funnel, the shape of the funnel depicts the size of the target audience as they move toward a purchase decision.
As potential customers move through the funnel, the audience size decreases due to various reasons like disinterest, affordability, or competition. This funnel shape represents the narrowing down of the audience until only those who decide to convert remain.
ToFu, MoFu, BoFu: Conversion Funnel Analysis
Any conversion funnel, no matter the concept, can be simplified by breaking it into three parts:
- The Top of the Funnel (ToFu)
- The Middle of the Funnel (MoFu)
- The Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu)
Each of these parts has unique features and each has content marketing strategies that can increase their success in moving potential customers to the next step of your funnel.
In the next sections, we’ll look at the Top, Middle, and Bottom of the conversion funnel. We’ll explore different aspects of each stage of the funnel, including:
- The most effective marketing tactics
- The key content types to leverage
- The metrics that can help you measure effectiveness
Ready to go? Let’s start at the top of the funnel and work our way down.
Top of Funnel (ToFu)
The top of the conversion funnel is the stage where potential customers become aware of your product or brand. The goal with the top of your conversion funnel is to generate interest, capture attention, and initiate the customer journey. However, it’s not as simple as driving as many people as possible into your funnel.
The main ToFu challenge is attracting the right customers. Getting the wrong people at the top can decrease the chances of converting them later. The solution to this challenge is to conduct thorough audience research to make sure you’re targeting the right audience segment.
Top of Funnel Marketing Tactics
ToFu marketing tactics aim to attract and engage a broad audience in the early stages of their buyer's journey. They generate awareness, interest, and initial engagement.
Here are 3 of the most popular top of funnel marketing tactics:
- Digital PR—Building brand reputation and visibility through compelling content, engaging with online communities, and leveraging various digital media outlets to create a positive brand image and increase awareness.
- Search engine optimization (SEO)—Improving online visibility through search engine rankings via technical aspects of your website, link building, and keyword targeting.
- Paid Social Media & Influencer Marketing—Leveraging social media platforms and individuals who use those platforms to amplify your brand and generate engagement.
As an example, Dunkin’ Donuts partnered with Charlie Damelio who has over 151M followers on TikTok. Here’s a video of Damelio promoting Dunkin Donuts coffee.
These tactics help your business reach potential customers who were previously unaware or largely unfamiliar with your brand.
ToFu Content: Building the Top of Your Conversion Funnel
Top of the Funnel content is all about offering valuable content. Remember, at this point, your potential customers don’t know who you are, so focus on making a great first impression.
Instead of trying to “sell” something, be helpful in solving customer pain points for free. Help them get acquainted with your industry, find resources, and establish your business as a helpful leader willing to educate, support, and answer questions.
Some examples of top of the conversion funnel assets include:
- Blog Posts—Informative articles (optimized for SEO) attracting potential customers with valuable content & establishing brand credibility.
- Infographics—Visual graphics simplifying complex data to catch attention, increase brand visibility & awareness.
- E-books—In-depth content offering valuable insights & solutions, exchanged for contact info to nurture leads.
- Webinars & Podcasts—Engaging audio and video content showcasing expertise, building trust, and generating leads.
- Videos—Short, captivating content fostering emotional connection, driving interest, and expanding brand reach.
Demonstrate your understanding of potential customers’ pain points and your commitment to helping them using your specific expertise. For instance, Salesforce's LinkedIn post showcases their expertise in sales and service, highlights their knowledge of AI, and offers free data with a link for further information.
While Salesforce products have AI integrations, they avoid being too “salesy” at this point. Instead, they offer value. Remember, customers are seeking answers and insights. They’re not necessarily ready to make a purchase.
Top of the Funnel Metrics
To measure the success of your ToFu marketing strategy, set a strategy for gathering conversion funnel analytics. By gathering data, you can better understand what ToFu strategies are working and which aren’t. Then, double down on the winning tactics and make adjustments to less successful tactics.
Here are 5 useful funnel metrics to help you measure the impact of your strategy:
- Unique visitors—The number of distinct visitors to a website gauging overall reach
- Click-through-rate on ToFu content—Percentage of clicks on Top of Funnel content, measuring audience interest
- Social media engagement—Total likes, comments, shares, and interactions, showing channel interaction
- Downloads—Number of content downloads, reflecting lead interest and engagement
- Brand mentions and PR coverage—Instances where the brand is mentioned in media or press, indicating visibility and reputation
If you’re looking to get data on these metrics for competitors, Semrush’s Traffic Analytics tool is a great place to start. We offer an example analysis in the last section of this article.
Middle of Funnel (MoFu)
The middle of the conversion funnel is where potential leads become more deeply engaged. The goal with the MoFu stage is to nurture and guide leads toward becoming qualified customers. The focus is on growing their interest and educating them about the value of your offerings.
The challenge with the middle of the funnel is finding the right balance between the frequency and relevance of your communications to keep potential customers engaged without overwhelming them.
Middle of Funnel Marketing Tactics
MoFu marketing tactics are designed to nurture leads, build relationships, and guide potential customers further along the buyer journey. Tactics in the middle of the funnel tend to be less about broad awareness and more about direct engagement.
Here are 4 effective MOFU marketing tactics:
- Targeted email marketing campaigns—Sending personalized emails to specific segments, guiding prospects from awareness to consideration.
- Classes or workshops—Hosting classes to engage potential customers. By providing valuable insights and solving challenges, these events establish authority, build trust, and guide attendees towards a purchase.
- Interactive content (free tools, calculators, assessments, quizzes)—Offering interactive tools that provide personalized results and individual needs to enhance engagement, educate users, and nudge them closer to conversion.
- Demos and free trials—Providing hands-on experience with products or services. Demos showcase features and benefits, while free trials allow users to test the offering's value. Both tactics reduce hesitations, foster trust, and encourage conversion by showing real value and usability.
For example, nerdwallet.com offers a free mortgage calculator, along with mortgage rate comparisons from banks. This interactive content helps move potential customers closer to conversion.
MoFu Content: Building the Middle of Your Conversion Funnel
Middle of funnel content focuses on nurturing leads, building relationships, and educating potential customers who have shown an initial interest.
Here are some well-suited types of content for the MoFu stage:
- Drip emails to various audience segments—Targeted email series delivering valuable content to nurture leads, guiding them towards consideration and evaluation.
- Product demo videos—Visual presentations showcasing product features and benefits, engaging leads in the evaluation stage and driving purchase intent.
- White papers and research reports—In-depth content providing industry insights and data, building trust and authority among leads in the consideration stage.
- Product comparison guides—Content comparing products or services, helping leads in the evaluation stage make informed decisions and choose the best fit.
- Online classes—Educational sessions offering valuable knowledge and skills, engaging leads in the consideration stage and positioning the brand as an expert resource.
Here’s a product demo from Sephora showcasing their tinted moisturizers:
Remember, the content in the MOFU stage is focused on deepening relationships, providing value, and cultivating leads. It helps leads better understand your offerings, address their pain points, and move them closer to the bottom of the funnel.
Middle of the Funnel Metrics
Mid-funnel metrics focus on nurturing relationships and encouraging ongoing engagement from potential customers.
Here are some MoFu metrics to measure:
- Email campaign engagement rates—Percentage of recipients opening emails, measuring engagement and interest in mid-funnel content.
- Landing page engagement metrics—Data on visitor interactions (clicks, scrolls), evaluating content relevance and persuasiveness.
- Click-through-rate on MoFu content—Percentage of clicks on Middle of Funnel content, showing interest in deeper engagement.
- Conversion rates for mid-funnel offers (Demos, trials, classes)—Percentage of leads completing desired actions (e.g., demos, trials, classes), assessing mid-funnel content effectiveness in driving conversions.
Bottom of Funnel (BoFu)
The Bottom of the conversion funnel is where potential customers become ready to make a purchase decision. The primary goal of the BoFu stage is to convert potential customers into actual customers.
As any business owner knows, it’s never as easy as asking potential customers to click “buy.” There are several challenges at this stage of the funnel, including pricing, alternatives, and customer concerns about efficacy or support.
All of these potential issues can be solved with the right information and resources at the right time. Right resource, right time. This is the key for the BoFu stage.
Bottom of Funnel Marketing Tactics
BoFu marketing tactics are designed to turn potential customers into paying customers and brand advocates. You do this by creating confidence, clarity, and a sense of urgency that will encourage potential customers to make that final purchase decision.
3 effective BoFu tactics include:
- Limited time offers and discounts—Urgent and exclusive deals to prompt immediate action from prospects, driving conversions and purchases at the bottom of the funnel.
- Live demos—Real-time presentations showcasing product benefits, addressing final queries, and persuading prospects to make informed purchase decisions.
- Onboarding and customer success resources—Dedicated support and educational materials to ensure smooth customer adoption, satisfaction, and long-term loyalty post-purchase.
- Customer success stories—Inspiring narratives from satisfied customers who have achieved remarkable outcomes through your product or service.
Here’s a look at a pricing page from mailchimp.com. Notice they highlight different plans with different pricing and features. They also offer a questionnaire to help potential customers select the right plan for their needs.
BoFu Content: Building the Bottom of Your Conversion Funnel
BoFu content should help build customers confidence that your product is the right one for them and that now is the right time to buy.
Here are some common types of BoFu content:
- Coupons and Discount Codes—Incentives like pop-ups, emails, or text messages offering reduced prices, encouraging immediate purchase at the bottom of the funnel.
- FAQ Pages and Buyer Guides—Detailed resources answering final queries and providing valuable information to drive purchase decisions.
- Customer Support and Demo Request Forms—Places for prospects to seek assistance and schedule product demos, fostering engagement and conversions.
- Competitor Comparison Guides—Content that highlights product advantages, guiding prospects to choose the brand over competitors and finalize their purchase.
- Use cases (highlighting client successes)—Compelling scenarios that vividly depict how your product or service has been employed to overcome challenges and achieve outstanding outcomes.
Here’s a buyers guide video from REI explaining the process for picking the correct hammock and setting it up for use.
With BoFu content, speak directly to the value of your products, how they solve customer pain points, why your offerings are better than competitors, and why now is the time to buy. This is the stage where it’s appropriate to push the sale.
Bottom of the Funnel Metrics
Here are a few key BoFu metrics to track:
- Purchase Conversions—Number of prospects who completed a desired action (e.g., made a purchase) at the bottom of the marketing funnel, indicating successful conversions.
- Customer Acquisition Cost—Total expenses to acquire a new customer, assessing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of marketing efforts.
- Conversion-to-Lead Ratio—Percentage of leads that converted into customers, gauging the quality and performance of the bottom funnel content.
- Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)—Revenue generated per advertising dollar spent, indicating the profitability of ad campaigns at the bottom of the funnel.
- Customer Retention Rate—Percentage of retained customers over a specific period, measuring brand loyalty and post-purchase satisfaction.
Uncovering weaknesses here can help you look back across your entire funnel to streamline your processes and become more effective in
Competitor Conversion Funnel Analysis: Learning From Your Competitors’ Conversion Funnels
Now that we’ve covered the tactics, content, and metrics involved in managing every stage of your business’s conversion funnel, let’s do an example analysis of a funnel built by another business. This kind of analysis can reveal the most impactful strategies your competitors use to convert your market’s customers.
To do this, we’ll pretend we’re marketers for a company in the Apparel & Fashion industry. Using Semrush .Trends, we’ll identify a domain with a strong funnel and gather data that can reveal various successful aspects of their conversion funnel.
1. Identify the Companies in Your Market Converting the Most Customers
The goal of the conversion funnel is to generate conversions, so when looking for inspiration for your own conversion funnel strategy, it’s best to analyze successful businesses.
Using Semrush’s Market Explorer tool, we analyzed the Apparel & Fashion industry using the All Domains report. The tool gathered data for 1,000 top domains in the industry, and we filtered by Purchase Conversion to see which domain had the highest rate.
Here, we discovered zennioptical.com has an unusually high Purchase Conversion of 6.62%. Let’s dig in and see what strategies they’re using to achieve this number.
2. Research Competitor Audiences to Understand their Targeting and Segmentation
Before looking specifically at their funnel strategies, it helps to understand what the competitor’s audience looks like. This will make it easier to understand how their marketing assets are targeted toward various audience segments.
You can use One2Target to do audience research on up to 5 competitors within your market. Here’s a look at Zennioptical.com’s audience’s demographic and socioeconomic breakdown.
It looks like zennioptical.com’s audience is majority female aged 25-34. They live in households of 3-4 people (families), have a low income, work full time, and have a highschool diploma or college degree.
With this information about their audience, we’ll be able to better assess their marketing assets to understand how their funnel works. It will also give us a better understanding of how we might improve our own funnel moving forward.
3. Unpack What Traffic Channels Competitors Use Attract, Engage, and Convert Potential Customers
Let’s look at zennnioptical.com’s traffic acquisition strategy. To do this, we can use the Traffic Analytics tool. Inside the Traffic Journey Report, we looked at the total traffic breakdown. We deselected direct traffic to see what other channels the business is using to drive traffic.
Here, we can see Organic Search and Referral are strong channels for Zennioptical.com. Looking at the results over time, it looks like their referral strategy has seen a boost since December of last year. They’re driving a lot of traffic into their funnel with this channel.
With this data, we could use other Semrush reports and tools to dig deeper into their backlink strategy or look more closely at their SEO strategy to get ideas for our own.
4. Discover How Competitors Deepen Engagement and Close Sales with Promos
Using the Traffic Analytics Top Pages report we can see which pages zennioptical.com is promoting through their Email, paid search, and paid social channels. Filtering by Email to bring the pages receiving the most email traffic to the top, we found this page highlighting glasses under $30.
On this middle-of-the-funnel page, there are a few features meant to increase customer engagement and help them move toward the bottom of the funnel.
The filters on the left hand of the screen make perusing styles simple, the “Favorites” option available with the heart icon makes building your custom favorites list easy, and the “Virtual Try-On” button allows potential customers see how the glasses look before moving to the bottom of the funnel and making a purchase.
5. Monitor Your Rivals’ Online Marketing Activity to Pinpoint Strategy Shifts
Monitoring your rivals’ marketing activity online can provide insights into how they’re attracting potential customers and how they’re engaging with them once they’re inside their conversion funnel.
Semrush’s EyeOn tool provides simple 24/7 monitoring of your rivals’ new pages, blog posts, Google Search Ads, and social media activity. Here’s a look at some new pages recently added to zennioptical.com.
Here, we discover a recently launched landing page promoting an influencer campaign with actress and singer, Kiki Palmer.
Without needing to dig through hundreds or thousands of pages on the Zenioptical.com website, EyeOn makes it simple to pinpoint new influencer campaigns and stay ahead of the brands evolving conversion funnel strategy.
Conclusion: Optimizing your ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu Strategy
The process of building and optimizing your conversion funnel is always a work in progress. As markets shift and customer behavior changes, you’ll need to stay engaged with your funnel, continue testing key metrics, and keep making upgrades to your tactics and content.
With this in mind, the outline of tactics, content, and metrics offered in this article, alongside the ability to analyze competitor funnels, provide everything you need to start reaching potential customers and moving them toward a sale.