“What the heck are TOFU offers”, you ask? “I Thought Tofu is Soybean Curd”, you say. It is. But, of course, we aren’t talking about adding soy products to your website. You need leads and conversions from your website, and classic “SEO” is only a part of the total picture. You need to leverage the power of the web marketing sales funnel as well.
Dude, Where’s My Leads?
If you want leads, good ones, you need to have more than just a website that you paid someone $500 to do “SEO” on. If you did, there is a good chance the person you hired actually talks like the title of this section. “Dude…”. I call this the “Pay & Pray” approach. So how do you start improving leads and conversions, and get away from “Pay and Pray” SEO?
The Web Marketing Sales Funnel
By using the web marketing sales funnel, starting with a healthy serving of TOFU! TOFU is an acronym for “Top of the Funnel” in a web marketing sales funnel that also includes MOFU (Middle of the Funnel) and BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel). The majority of any site’s visitors are “first contact” – the top of the sales funnel. This where you get new leads and build your email marketing lists.
- Top of the Funnel (TOFU)
85% of visitors
- Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)
10% of visitors – Visitors you already have in your database, or that have completed research elsewhere. PRO TIP: Find out where they completed that research! ADD A PAGE to address that research need they just told you about – a great opportunity for anew TOFU page!
- Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)
5% of visitors – People who are ready to buy, repeat customers. The “low hanging fruit”.
What offers do you give people at each stage of the funnel? Well, since we are “fishing” for leads, I’ll explain it with fishing metaphors:
TOFU – Hook that fish with : Free giveaways & educational content. E-books, whitepapers, guides, videos, “top 5” and “top 10” checklists.
MOFU – Reel the fish in with: Resources. Meatier “thought leader” content. This is where the lead nurturing come in – show them how good you are at what you do! Webinars, case studies, free samples, catalogs, FAQ sheets, spec sheets, brochures.
BOFU – Land that fish! A bit more salesy email marketing. Send a personalized email offering: Free trials, demos, assessments, consultations, estimates, coupons.
Give it Away, Give it Away Now
This is Flea, of the band Red Hot Chili Peppers. He gave away his shirt. You should give away something too.
Repeat after me – “I must give away my expertise”. So why e-books, and similar offers? Not only is it a way to get more leads, it builds TRUST and AUTHORITY for your business! People are using web search to look for answers, and if you can answer their most pressing questions, you may gain a new client.
It used to be that businesses guarded their knowledge very carefully, but that has changed. You MUST share that knowledge, and work to be seen as a thought-leader in your field. Not only in your customers eyes, but in Google’s “eyes” as well. Google is watching what you say and do online, and using it to gauge your website’s worthiness as a source of trusted information. Don’t believe me?
The Google E.A.T. Acronym
Google’s Quality Rater’s Manual v5.0 from March 31, 2014 was recently leaked. These are handbooks sent to Google contractors, who review websites and their pages for quality control. Rater feedback is taken into consideration before and after Google search algorithms are launched.
The bulk of the current 160-page document focuses on pillars behind the acronym E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trust). The handbook includes many examples of websites with positive reputations, appropriate expertise for their purposes and trustworthy site functionalities.
To really take advantage of your ebooks, put them on Amazon.com. All you need to do is acquire an ISBN # for a small fee – and you can learn how to do that here. See that? Now you are an AUTHOR! Google will notice, and they will warm up to you and your website.
Before we go further, we need to take a closer look at the next step in the funnel, MOFU, so we understand where our leads from TOFU offers will go next.
Authority Always Wins
This is John Mellencamp. He fought authority, and authority always won. So why not take that message to heart? Win by being an authority.
Now that you have hooked that TOFU lead, draw them into the funnel with offers that show you are a thought leader in your field. Effective MOFU offers include seminars, webinars, case studies, catalogs, FAQ sheets, spec sheets, and brochures – the perfect things to send to your new leads via targeted email campaigns.
Starting to see how this whole authority marketing thing works? Good! Embrace this idea fully and I will bet dollars to doughnuts that in time you will be glad you did, and your competitors will be wondering what the “edge” is that you suddenly seem to have.
Now back to your TOFU offers; the most common of which is an Ebook.
What Makes a Good E-book?
“But I’ve never made an e-book before”, you say. So what makes a good e-book? An enticing cover design. Authoritative content. Strategic placement of the offer on your website – above the “fold” (visible without scrolling), placement on your highest traffic pages (check your analytics). A great landing page with no distractions. A specific email marketing campaign for these TOFU leads – segmented, a good welcome message with no selling, a drip campaign, but DON’T SPAM. Last, but very important, Analytics to measure the program’s success. Let’s break down these E-book features one by one.
- An Enticing Cover Design
Your cover has to catch the site visitor’s eye QUICKLY! It also reflects on your business…remember, we want people to SHARE this content, so it needs to look professional. Make the content look good too – like your cover. Most e-books are PDF files, so there are plenty of graphical options to dress it up a bit.
- Authoritative Content
Hire a professional writer if needed. Make sure you speak to the TOFU audience – no selling, just good expert advice. Make sure your content is educational in nature. Podcasts are a great way to create this content. Transcripts from a one hour podcasting session can provide content for FOUR E-books. Remember – DON’T SELL! All we are trying to get is a new email address, and to build that E.A.T. juice!
- E-book Offer Placement
Where do we put these e-book offers? Above the fold on the HOME page if possible. Sidebars are perfect for this. Use good calls-to-action (CTAs) on your buttons and in your ads – i.e., “DOWNLOAD”, not “SUBMIT”. If possible, make the author of the e-book accessible to prospective clients by email, phone, or in-person. That goes a LONG way towards building trust!
- Effective E-book Landing Pages
The landing page is where your visitors will end up after clicking your CTA button. Here they will fill out a form to access the content/offer, and in the process provide you with that valuable TOFU lead! You want an effective landing page and form for your offer. Don’t put much of anything else on the page – sidebars with other offers, distracting images that don’t relate to the offer. DO use an image that DOES relate. Keep the form “above-the-fold” on the page. Use minimal form fields – just what you really need: Name & Email if possible. For example, don’t ask for work/home/mobile phone numbers. That said, it does depend on what info you need to gather to effectively follow the lead. This is what your analytics will tell you – especially if you actively A/B test things like form fields, form length, and form placement on the page. Consider even eliminating site navigation, except for maybe a “back” link or link to your Home page, so there is nothing to do on the page but submit the form. Include a testimonial if you have one that fits the subject. Once you have that TOFU lead, fire up the email marketing!
- E-Mail Marketing & TOFU Leads
Set up specific email marketing campaigns, strictly for TOFU these leads. Include MOFU offers like product demos, webinars, case studies, catalogs, FAQ sheets, spec sheets, and brochures. Don’t over-do it though – a thank you email right away, then a follow up in 3-7 days with a MOFU offer. Personalize your emails. Make the “from” email address a person instead of “email@example.com”, and “sign” it from that person if possible.
- Measuring TOFU Success
Set up Google Analytics Goals and Funnels to gauge program effectiveness and trouble-shoot bottlenecks in your funnel. I’ll show you the basics of that in a moment. A/B test elements of your offers: pages & placement, button CTAs, button/banner colors, form fields, and landing page designs. Set up CRM tracking (Salesforce etc.): TOFU leads->MOFU->BOFU->Customer!
Now that you have an E-book marketing strategy, let’s make sure you can track it and gauge its effectiveness. Don’t have Google Analytics? Get set up at analytics.google.com
Set up Google Analytics Goals
It is highly recommended to get help with this if you don’t know what you are doing. I”m going to run through it quickly, but if you search “setting up Google Analytics” online, you will find plenty of how-to info!
Step 1 – Go to Admin->Goals
Step 2 – click “New Goal”
Step 3 – Name your Goal and choose “destination” (a particular page URL).
Step 4 – Enter your offer page URL(s) and turn on the funnel. Step one is your landing page with the form where the visitor signs up to download your TOFU offer. Best practice is to have a separate “thank you” page and URL, such as www.mysite.com/offer/thank-you/, after a form is submitted, and make that the “goal” since that page will also contain the download link to your free content. Be sure to block this “thank you page” from being indexed by search engines (using robots.txt) so people can’t drop straight into it. Direct drop-ins to the page from a web search will skew your analytics because the visitor never actually submitted the form – the first step in the funnel – and would also mean the vistors can download your content without giving you their lead information. Last, click that “VERIFY” button to see if your goal setup will return results. This last step only works if your forms have been set up for a time so Google Analytics has data on which to to base its verification.
Google Analytics Goal Reporting
This is where to find your goal data once your funnel is working.
- You MUST have all three types of funnel offers on your website, but since ~85% of visitors to your site are not current customers, TOFU is the most important!
- Remember the Google Rater’s E.A.T. acronym: Expertise, Authority, Trust. LIVE IT!
- E-books are far less effective without: an attractive design, good website placement & an effective landing page (determined with A/B testing), a related email marketing campaign, and meaningful analytics.
Now you know what TOFU is, why it is important, how to use it, and how to track its effectiveness. Flea and John Mellencamp, and even the Google E.A.T. guy stuffing his face above, would be proud of you!