ToFu, MoFu, BoFu — no, they’re not trendy menu items or new-age workout methods but abbreviations for the stages of the customer journey (also called the “buyer’s journey” or the “sales funnel”). And as marketing professionals know, guiding customers through the sales funnel takes more than enticing language or an attractive discount — it takes mindful strategy at each stage.
Building a successful sales funnel starts with putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Without first understanding who your customer is, exactly what they want, and when to deliver crucial information, growing your search visibility will be nearly impossible.
So how do you clarify the modern customer journey and obtain measurable results in an online landscape that’s inundated with competition and scrutinized by tech-savvy customers? The answer lies in SEO.
SEO: Your Sales Funnel Secret
On an emotional level, SEO helps connect you to prospective customers on their terms, putting you in the position of a trusted confidant rather than someone simply pushing a product. This dynamic is essential for developing and furthering your relationship with customers, eventually getting them to convert.
On a technical level, search-optimized content is the vehicle that helps boost your rankings so you can make that aforementioned connection with prospective customers — all in a measurable format. Plus, SEO doesn’t have to be at odds with your inbound marketing efforts — they can work together to deliver stellar results.
Putting it all together: The language-processing skills of search engines have become highly sophisticated, making search-optimized content an adaptable, effective solution to reach customers at each stage in the buyer’s journey. Understanding the search intent at each stage of the sales funnel allows you to craft targeted, compelling content that gives prospective customers exactly what they need, when they need it.
Let’s break down the sales funnel from ToFu to BoFu and look at how SEO helps you reach the right people at the right time, driving traffic to your site and establishing high-impact results.
What Is ToFu?
ToFu at a Glance
- Most diverse audience
- General topics
- Furthest away from conversion
- Primary goals: repetitive messaging and accurate audience targeting
ToFu stands for Top of Funnel, or the awareness stage of the sales funnel.
Search intent here is purely informational. Customers in this stage likely don’t yet know your brand exists or that they need your products or services. At this point, they’re aware a problem exists but aren’t aware of any solutions.
Thus, ToFu content should educate. Since you and a new prospective customer have just met, avoid pushing a sales pitch right from the start. Conversion rates are lowest here anyway, so save the persuasion for later. Instead, satisfy their curiosity by answering their questions.
For example, let’s say someone just got a new puppy. It’s their first time owning a dog, and they want to ensure the food they give their new furry friend is relatively healthy. This person might head to Google and search “what is healthy dog food?”
They might find an informative blog on beneficial dog food ingredients and those they should stay away from, like too many processed grains.
Alternatively, someone looking to move to Los Angeles might start out with a search like “move to Los Angeles.”
How To Find ToFu Topics Through Keyword Research
ToFu marketing is all about raising brand awareness. As a result, ToFu topics should focus on education, identification of pain points, or enlightenment about a new interest.
Keyword research can help you discover precisely what users are searching for at this stage and the specific language they’re using. Keyword research tools like Ahrefs and Semrush are useful for narrowing down which keywords to optimize for based on search volume and keyword difficulty.
Let’s say you have an online shop that sells canning supplies. To bring in individuals curious about canning their own preserves, you might first run keyword research on “preserves” as a seed term.
This looks like a great term to build content around, but it’s very broad. To find more specific keywords, we can look at the questions featuring “preserves” under ‘Keyword ideas,’ or click on ‘Matching terms’ in the side menu to find more possible keywords.
I want to create instructions for making preserves, so I’m going to narrow down the list of keywords containing “preserves” by expanding the ‘Include’ menu and adding “how to.”
Click ‘Show results’ to get a new list of keywords.
These keywords are high volume and have relatively low keyword difficulty. I’m going to click on ‘how to make fig preserves’ to see who else is ranking for this keyword. When I scroll down to the SERP overview, I can see what page one of Google looks like.
Ahrefs shows how many backlinks each SERP has, estimated traffic, and even the number of keywords each result ranks for. Since I want to create a keyword theme and rank for as many keywords as possible for my fig post, I’m going to click on the keyword number for the first result.
Now I have some semantically related terms to include in my post!
If you don’t have Ahrefs or another paid tool, don’t worry. You can also use Google’s Autosuggest or Google Related Searches to generate additional topic ideas with more keywords to rank for and to continue building your domain authority with helpful, relevant, linkable content.
Creating ToFu Content
Now you know what ToFu content is, but what does it look like? Here are some common ToFu content formats:
- Overview blog posts (Everything You Need To Know About Email Automation)
- Short how-to videos (How To Brew Coffee Correctly)
- Infographics (Get More Likes On Your Instagram Posts)
- Social media posts or ads
- Influencer partnerships
- Quizzes or surveys (Which Couch Textile Is Right For You?)
To create ToFu content, you’ll need to know your target audience’s demographics and what gets their attention. Use the keywords you discovered in your topic research phase. Doing so will help it get in front of the people you’re trying to reach as they begin looking for solutions to their problems.
Blogs are an easy way to begin building your rankings. Start with an effective blog template to make the process even easier.
What Is MoFu?
MoFu at a Glance
- Targeted audience that fits a buyer persona
- Potential leads
- Primary goal: build on existing customer relationships
MoFu stands for Middle of Funnel. Also known as the consideration stage, prospective customers are looking for more detailed information about potential solutions. They’re learning about different brands and are considering the pros and cons of different offerings. This search intent is called “commercial investigation.”
Now that your brand has shown up on their radar, you’ll want to earn prospective customers’ trust by demonstrating your expertise and your solution’s value. What important qualities does your solution have? What sets it apart from competitors?
Let’s check in on our first-time dog owner. They’re intrigued by the idea of grain-free dog food for their new puppy. Now they’re looking for more specific information on grain-free dog food, such as general affordability. They might search, “is grain-free dog food expensive.”
Affordable grain-free dog food brands can use this as an opportunity to further educate dog owners on the benefits of grain-free dog food — not only for their pet’s wellbeing but for household budgets too.
While customers in this stage are one step closer to making a decision, they’re still technically researching and aren’t quite ready to commit. Be wary of pushing a sales pitch too early, and instead, offer up information that empowers prospective customers to make an informed decision.
How To Find MoFu Topics Through Keyword Research
With the same tools you used to find ToFu topics, you can also find MoFu topics. Keywords in this phase will be less question-focused. You’ll see more specific search queries here, often with long-tail keywords.
So instead of “move to Los Angeles,” someone in the MoFu stage might search “apartments for rent silver lake Los Angeles.” Or, for our canning supplies company, we might dig into “best preserving agents” or “tips for preserving figs.”
Creating MoFu Content
Again, use the specific long-tail keywords you found in your topic research to fuel your MoFu content. Instead of a blog about what it’s like to move to Los Angeles or what makes healthy dog food, you’ll venture into specifics like the benefits and affordability of various Los Angeles neighborhoods or a step-by-step guide to choosing the best grain-free dog food.
MoFu content often takes these forms:
- Buyer’s guides (The Ultimate Coffee Maker Buying Guide)
- Long-form videos (Setting up a New YouTube Channel Step-by-Step)
- Email newsletters
- Ebooks (Moving the Needle With a Content Marketing Strategy)
- Checklists (First-Time Home Buyer’s Checklist)
- In-depth blog posts (Breaking Down Freelance Finances From Invoicing to Taxes)
Calls-to-action are important here, so make the next steps you want your audience to take crystal clear.
What Is BoFu?
BoFu at a Glance
- Narrowest audience
- Ready to convert
- Qualified leads
- Primary goal: Guide leads to purchase
You’ve probably guessed that BoFu stands for Bottom of Funnel. People in this stage are almost ready to convert. They just need a few more reassurances and/or incentives before committing. Searches at this point are heavily branded, with the intent being either transactional or navigational, as people look for price comparisons or brand-specific content such as reviews.
This is when you get to come in with that sales pitch. Encourage conversion, but continue to offer value. Remind potential customers of those risk-reducing incentives (such as reliable customer support or quality warranties) and how your solution meets their specific, unique needs. Eliminate any purchasing obstacles so the buying process is smooth and seamless. You want to stand out from competitors and make customers feel confident in choosing your business.
Our first-time dog owner might search for “best affordable grain-free dog food.” They’ve decided grain-free is the route to go, and they’ve got a specific budget in mind with some key ingredients they’d like their dog food to have. The same goes for someone who knows they want to live in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. They might search “best rental companies Silver Lake Los Angeles” or “apartment reviews Silverlake Los Angeles.”
These individuals are more likely to fill out a form or schedule a consultation with your sales team.
Popular BoFu Content for Lead Generation
Content still matters at the bottom of the sales funnel, and it’s essential that you further demonstrate your understanding of the customer’s problem. Customers at this stage rely on:
- Product features and comparisons
- Webinars (‘10 Proven Ways to Generate More Leads in 2023’)
- Demo videos
- Case studies
- Customer testimonials or user-generated content
- Coupons or giveaways
Optimize Your Content To Drive Traffic
Understanding ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu is just the beginning. To start moving people through the sales pipeline effectively, you’ll need to optimize your content. Optimizing all existing and future content on your site improves its chances of ranking well in SERPs, which brings visitors to your web pages..
Supercharge Your Content Creation With an SEO Partner
Getting measurable results begins with meeting prospective customers in search, and the right SEO partner can help get you there with an SEO strategy built for your unique business needs.