Content marketing strategies for the top, middle and bottom of the funnel

Autopilot in Content marketing on 4th of Dec 2018
Content Marketing Strategies

Content Marketing Strategies

When you hear marketers referring to TOFU, MOFU and BOFU, they’re not throwing insults or talking about food. In fact, they’re talking about the top, middle and bottom of the funnel content. A marketers role is to create content for every stage of the customer’s journey and persuade them to move through the sales funnel and make a purchase.

No two customer journeys are the same, and it’s rare that a customer will buy at first glance. Just think how often an anonymous visitor comes to your website and within seconds buys a product. If it were that simple, we wouldn’t need content marketers.

Even when leads are qualified, most are still not convinced that they need to make an immediate purchase. 50% of qualified leads are not ready to buy (Gleanster Research), and nearly 80% of leads never convert into sales (MarketingSherpa).

A lack of understanding regarding what content to create for each stage of the marketing funnel is a common cause of poor lead performance. 65% of marketers admit that they’re unsure of what content is best used at each stage of the customer journey (B2B Content Marketing report by Content Marketing Institute).

To help align your content marketing team with the customer journey, we’ve broken down top, middle and bottom of the funnel content with strategies that aim to nurture and convert.

What is top of the funnel content?

Top of the funnel content targets an audience who are at the awareness stage of their journey (those who have yet to engage with your brand). It’s at this stage that you create and distribute educational content that is useful for customers. This type of content focuses less on a company’s products and services and more on the needs and wants of the customer. Top of the funnel content includes blog articles, infographics and how-to videos.

Top of the funnel content strategies

Did you know that over 80% of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase (AdWeek)? Before a customer visits your website, they’re conducting a Google Search and browsing various products and articles. Before a customer is at the stage of marking a purchase, you need to position your brand as an educator and create top of the funnel content with a focus on quality and consistency of output.

Blog articles are the most common form of top of the funnel content. Each article must answer a specific customer question, pain point or need, all with a call-to-action that encourages a reader to subscribe, trial or buy.

For example, this very blog you’re reading is part of a top of the funnel content strategy. The blog contains a host of written content with accompanying images and videos to enhance a customer’s reading experience. The idea of this content is to attract a wide audience of potential leads, which filter out into conversion opportunities.

To attract a larger group of readers, we’ve broken our blog into six categories: growth hacking, marketing automation, email marketing, content marketing, lead management and product and integrations. These categories allow readers to browse for content that responds to their needs.

What is middle of the funnel content?

The stage of the funnel where a customer has identified a problem and is looking for a solution. A customer might already be aware of your brand and may have even interacted with your website. Middle of the funnel content, is high value and gated content that give leads the final push towards conversion. This content includes case studies, eBooks, whitepapers and more.

Middle of the funnel content strategies

At this stage, leads are still not qualified, and it takes a final push to strengthen their status. Create content that continues to educate your leads but also positions your company as providing an immediate solution to their challenges.

Evaluate your top of the funnel blog articles and find a way to produce high-value content that focuses on answering one specific question. When answering a question, ensure that it ties directly into your product or service.

For example, at Autopilot we offer our customers (and non-customers) access to a Templates Library. This library provides a range of free customer journeys for companies to incorporate into their marketing strategy. We’ve transformed some of our customer’s best marketing strategies into templates and have integrated those templates into case studies.

Here’s an example of our case study on Effin Amazing, which explores our product: Templates Library, and weaves it into a middle of the funnel content strategy: the case study.

This strategy transforms your regular blog articles into content that provides leads with a direct solution to their problem and pushes them down the sales cycle and hopefully, into the next stage: bottom of the funnel.

What is bottom of the funnel content?

This is content that persuades prospects to make a purchase or take a specific action. At this stage of the funnel, a customer becomes a buyer. At the bottom of the funnel, content is created that accelerates deals, instills brand confidence and positions your brand above competitors. The delivery of bottom of the funnel content is actionable, assertive and is typically given to a sales team to directly market products or services.

Bottom of the funnel content strategies

Now, your leads are qualified, and they’re ready to make a purchase. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re going to buy your product or service. They still may very well choose a product from your competitor. So how do you create content that will instill confidence and persuade them to purchase from you? The answer is: create an effective bottom of the funnel content strategy and combine it with your sales strategy.

According to The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing report, people get 60% of the way through a buying process before they’re ready to speak to sales. Accordingly, only prompting leads to talk with sales or initiating contact from sales too early is an ineffective conversion tactic. It takes two to tango, so give your leads something to read through and someone to speak to.

At Autopilot, to give leads who are still weighing up their options the final push, we created a Make the Switch comparison landing page. We know who our competitors are and we know what makes us better. So, we created a comparison page on each of our competitors to highlight our best features. On each of these pages, we offer leads a 30-day free trial. This prompts them to review our product against our competitors and test our product with no strings attached.

Your bottom of the funnel content strategy is all about giving your customers the final nudge towards a sale. It’s essential to add more action items to your content, language and delivery and link your marketing strategy directly with your sales tactics.

For a further deep dive into the marketing funnel and to take these strategies to the next level read: The marketing funnel explained from top to bottom.

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