Why you need full a funnel content marketing program
To make your content marketing work effectively, companies need to engage and educate their buyers at every stage of the buying journey. It’s no longer enough to focus on only top of the funnel content that gets buyers interested and helps to generate leads.
To make content work, companies need to execute on a full funnel content plan that engages buyers at each step of the buying process. That means developing and distributing content that is timely, relevant, and interesting to the buyer at the beginning, middle, and end of the funnel.
Full Funnel: What is it?
Once upon a time, most content marketing focused on lead gen and getting buyers interested in the early stage of the buying cycle. For example, by offering gated content on a landing page with a guide download, companies generated leads and hopefully got the sales process moving.
Over the past several years, however, content marketing had moved from a niche channel to the leading channel in a lot of verticals and B2B marketing. Buyers today are more sophisticated and, more times than not, want to self-educate throughout the process. By offering full cycle content, you’re creating content for each key stage of the journey, from start to finish.
As your salespeople know all too well, generating a lead and getting through an initial sales call is just the start. As your prospects begin to compare your company to the competitor and look at all benefits, drawbacks, and risks of moving forward, quality content can help move things forwarded.
Top of the Funnel
For most companies, Top of the Funnel refers to lead generation and awareness building. Sometimes, your buyer is still unfamiliar with your company or service. Other times, they know what you do, but need to dive into the details and determine if there is potentially a good fit.
Most buyers will start on your website and, often times, then move onto your blog. They are first and foremost interested in how your product or service works, but also very interested in determining if you can solve their specific business problem. For that reason, Top of the Funnel content is often framed as in a problem > solution context, highlighting industry pain points and delivering a compelling story about how your company can alleviate then.
Because Top of the Funnels are not there to buy – but learn – it’s best to focus on educating, not selling. In this stage, focus on product benefits, features, and positioning your company as a viable choice. To generate traffic and drive buyers to your landing page, focus on outbound channels like email, social, and PPC.
Middle of the Funnel
When your buyer moves from lead to opportunity (although every company has their own terminology), they have reached the Middle of the Funnel. Typically, sale and marketing teams are now focused on lead nurturing and relationship building. Their goal is to building interest and moving the opportunity into strong opportunity.
Middle of the Funnel buyers are often looking at specific aspects of your service while also running high level cost benefit analysis. Your content strategy needs to address these issues, which often means offering more complete case study analysis, white papers, or other education resources.
As Middle of the Funnel start to follow you on social media or read your blog, it’s important that you consistently publish quality content that is targeted at their specific needs. Yes, buyers want solutions, but just actively and consistently publishing content can help set you apart from the competition and keep your prospects engaged.
Sometimes, your buyers just kind of hang around. They’re still interested, but they are not quite convinced and don’t feel urgency to make a move. In such cases, Middle of the Funnel content plays an important role by keeping your buyers in the loop and focused your company – not the competition – until they are ready to buy.
Bottom of the Funnel
When you’ve arrived at the Bottom of the Funnel, your team is focused on closing the deal. At this point, companies are focused on overcoming specific roadblocks and beating out competitive offers. Your sales team, and the content that supports them, needs to help you win.
One of the ways to do that is to deliver content that builds trust in your company, team, and your ability to deliver what you promise. It’s a good idea to have one or several stellar customer stories or testimonials. The better your current customers can vouch for you via your content, the more effective you Bottom of the Funnel content will be.
But there are a host of other considerations to keep in mind. Typically – and this is particularly true when it comes to technology – multiple people from different departments will need to buy into the final decision. Because of that, it’s important to create content that helps to minimize the perceived risk of your product. Happy customers, unmatched support, and deep experience onboarding new customers are all winning ingredients. Sure, your sales team can promise these things, but the right content can help support sales as they close the deal.
Turn Customers into Happy, Loyal Customers.
One big mistake I see companies make is not putting enough resources into current customer engagement and management. Unless you have a product your customers simply can’t live without, you need to stay in touch with them and build the relationship over time. From upsell opportunities to referrals to user generated content, your current customers are pay a huge role in your next round of growth.
Try to deliver at least a few pieces of content a month to current customers by email, social, and other channels. Customer engagement is one of the best ways you can spend your marketing dollars because you have a direct, captive audience to speak to.