TLDR: Creating the right content for each stage of the funnel is essential for successful lead generation and the customer journey. Here’s what we’ve learned at Media Shower about effective content funnels:
- To maximize content effectiveness, marketers should tailor their content to the appropriate stage of the funnel.
- For instance, how-to guides perform best at the top and middle of a funnel, while product overviews and customer success stories work best at the bottom.
- By tailoring content to each stage of the funnel, marketers can ensure they’re providing customers with relevant and valuable information that will guide them through their buying journey.
So What? B2B content marketing funnels engage targeted customers with the right content at the right time to build trust, and to influence buying decisions.
What Is a B2B Content Marketing Funnel?
Content marketing funnels nurture prospects through the sales process and convert them into paying customers. They comprise a series of stages, each with its own set of content pieces that guide prospects from awareness to purchase.
By providing relevant information at each stage in the funnel, B2B marketers can effectively guide prospects through the sales process while also building trust and loyalty. A well-designed marketing funnel helps you increase conversions and generate more revenue.
7 Reasons to Create a B2B Content Marketing Funnel
“71% of B2B marketers say content marketing is more important to their organizations in the last year.” – Content Marketing Institute
The B2B content marketing funnel is a powerful tool for businesses to attract potential consumers, nurture them, and convert them into loyal customers.
Here are some of the reasons why you should create a B2B content marketing funnel:
- To better understand your target audience
- To create targeted content
- To optimize the customer journey
- To create measurable metrics for your campaigns
- To track customer engagement
- To build relationships with potential customers
- To increase organic SEO
Plus, thinking in terms of a content marketing funnel makes it easier to plan your content calendar.
The 4 Stages of a Content Marketing Funnel
“AIDA” is an acronym for “Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.”
To maximize the impact of content, you must understand your target audience, then create content that speaks to their needs at each stage of the customer journey.
“87% of marketers rely on content throughout different stages of the customer journey, while half of them find it challenging to encourage audiences to move to the next funnel stage.” – Search Engine Journal
The AIDA model helps in understanding the customer journey and creating appropriate funnel content at each stage of the process:
Content that drives brand awareness is the first step in reaching customers. Explain your company, products, and values. This “top of funnel” content engages potential customers and builds emotional connections.
For example, use content like video interviews, whitepapers, customer success stories, testimonials, infographics, and checklists at the awareness stage to introduce prospects to your brand.
Possibly take them on a “backstage” tour of your company, or introduce them to an overview of your product. Awareness content can even be feel-good, like a video of your latest employee gathering. (Assuming everyone felt good.)
In the interest stage, you provide more detailed information about your product or service through blogs, videos, and social media posts. This encourages potential customers to explore further.
For example, you might invest in “how-to” articles or videos that show how your product or service solves a problem your customers are likely to have.
Other types of “Interest” content include case studies, industry studies, ebooks, or even a product overview to help drive further interest.
Now that you have started a flame of interest, you stoke it into a fire of desire. In this stage, you “nurture” the prospective customer with a steady stream of content explaining how your product or service solves a real need.
Sales sheets and nurture emails are classic desire-stage content pieces, sent out every few days or weeks, ideally combined with one-on-one followups from sales reps. (Sales reps can use desire-stage content in their followups as well.)
Finally, the action stage is where you “make the sale.” This is content that should get the customer to take action, even if it’s just filling out a form or requesting a demo.
Landing pages are the classic action-stage content. Email offers (discounts, limited-time offers, or free trials) are also powerful late-stage content pieces to drive conversion.
According to Zippia, 72% of customers will share a positive customer experience with 6 or more people.
Tips on Creating a B2B Content Marketing Funnel
- Align your call to action (CTA)
By aligning your CTA with the B2B sales funnel stages, you can make sure customers stay engaged throughout their experiences. For example, an “awareness” stage call to action might be “Sign up for newsletter,” while a mid-stage CTA might be “Request a demo.”
- Integrate the funnel stage into your content roadmap (content calendar)
Create a column in your content calendar and label it “Funnel stage.” Each piece of content should be assigned to one of the four stages, which lets you see at a glance that you’re hitting all stages equally. See our piece on How to Create a Content Marketing Plan (with Free Downloadable Template).
- Integrate into your content brief
Each piece of content on your calendar should be built into a content brief. This brief provides a roadmap for content creators to follow. Include the funnel stage in your brief, so your content creators can be sure to tailor it to the right audience at the right time.
- Align the tone with the stage of the funnel
For example, at the top of the funnel, you need content that will attract potential customers and introduce them to your brand. It can be higher-level, introductory, and possibly lighthearted. Mid-funnel content introduces more detailed information about your product or service. It digs into the details of why your solution is superior, perhaps with ROI and competitor comparisons.Finally, at the bottom of the funnel, you should focus on convincing readers why they should choose you over competitors. Focus on driving action now.
- Optimize your customer experience
Don’t forget your post-purchase content! This is where many companies fail, but these are in some ways the most important pieces of content, as they will leave a lasting impression on your new customer.Put care into your follow-up emails, onboarding experiences, intro guides, explainers, and your help and support messaging. Build loyalty and get those referrals!
TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU
Another way of slicing the funnel is in three stages: top of funnel (TOFU), middle of funnel (MOFU), and bottom of funnel (BOFU).
The AIDA and the TOFU methodologies are similar; use the one that you like best.
The content most effective in the TOFU is blogs, infographics, and social media updates. Since most people don’t know you at this stage, they’ve probably done Google searches and found you organically (or found you through a paid ad or social post).
Content that provides helpful information allows people to learn more about your product or service, enabling them to make informed decisions. Per a survey by SemRush, “72% of the survey participants described how-to guides as an absolute leader at the top of the marketing funnel.”
It was also found that organic searches were the most efficient means of locating products or services. This gives a great case for the value of content marketing no matter which channels you decide to use, whether they be blog posts, social media posts, videos, or influencer marketing.
Middle of Funnel Content
The middle of the funnel (MoFu) is where prospects are further educated and nurtured. It’s a no-man’s land because it takes about 84 days to move from this stage to the bottom of the funnel. This is why it’s important to create a steady drumbeat of content that reinforces the value of your product or service.
MoFu content should be educational and provide enough information for prospects to make choices. Ideally this content can be personalized for each prospect, depending on their pain points. Content should focus on addressing common problems, answering frequently asked questions, and providing solutions that will help them move closer towards making a purchase.
If you’re in the MoFu nurturing phase, 43% of respondents in the previous survey say a customer success story or testimonial is the top choice, with email marketing being the best channel to reach your customer at this stage.
Bottom of Funnel Content
Bottom-of-funnel (BoFu) content is for customers ready to make a purchase. This provides the remaining data or reassurance your customer needs to complete the sale. BoFu content can take many forms, from landing pages and comparison charts to detailed how-to guides and FAQs. Product overviews and customer reviews are the content that shines here at 51% and 49%, according to marketer feedback from the survey.
Summary: Media Shower Recommendations
Based on our experience with hundreds of customers on their marketing funnels, we recommend:
- Creating content that’s tailored to each stage of the buyer’s journey (whether you use the AIDA or TOFU method is up to you);
- Delivering a steady drumbeat of content (newsletters, nurture campaigns, social media posts) that move your prospects down the funnel;
- Using irresistible Calls To Action that drive users into the next phase of the funnel;
- Repurposing existing content into different formats (for example, a case study can be used differently at different stages of the funnel);
- Using analytics to measure how prospects are moving through the funnel, identifying bottlenecks, and improving your content in those sections.
Media Shower provides comprehensive recommendations for creating effective B2B content marketing funnels that will help you reach your goals. Contact us or subscribe to the Media Shower newsletter for more tips and best practices for your content.