How to Fill Your Content Funnel
Creating new and interesting content is always a challenge for B2B businesses, but it's also always worth the effort. Truly great content helps your target audience understand who you are, what you do, and the value your product offers.
Whether through a Facebook ad or a simple Google search, content is often a potential customer's first interaction with your brand. In fact, 94 percent of business buyers do some form of online research before making a purchase, according to a study by Accenture. If your content stands out from the rest, it can be a huge influence on whether or not someone decides to buy your product.
However, very few people will read one blog post and immediately buy. That's why you need content that takes your buyers on a journey, bringing them closer and closer to making a decision with each post they read. Great content guides the buyer through the entire marketing funnel, from awareness to interest to consideration to purchase.
But how do you create content for each stage of the funnel? How do you write content that converts buyers and pushes them to the next stage? And how can content help your sales team close a deal? Here's how to create a content strategy that works for every stage of the marketing funnel.
Start with the Top of the Funnel
In order to draw in new potential customers, you have to catch their eye with interesting and relevant content promoted on the channels they frequent most. Top-of-the-funnel content tends to be more general interest and focused on common business challenges facing your industry, offering useful advice and tactical solutions aimed at helping the reader. The best top of the funnel content not only talks about these problems, but helps buyers connect their business challenges directly to your company's basic value proposition -- showing buyers that your product is a possible solution to their problems.
Another common top-of-the-funnel tactic is thought leadership content, such as interviews with prominent executives in your industry. This type of content is great because it helps educate and inform your readers, while also associating your brand with industry-leading names. Thought leadership content is often the only way to catch the eye of an executive-level buyer, and can help increase likelihood that a prospect moves on to the next stage in the funnel. By combining general, useful content with thought leadership content, you can push buyers easily to the next stage of the funnel.
It's of course not enough to produce a few blog posts and call it a content strategy. Today's B2B buyers review an average of 10.4 sources in a buying situation and almost 70% of buyers have increased the amount of content used to research and evaluate their purchases, according to DemandGen. This means that you have to create in-depth, persuasive and data-backed content to offer prospects during the interest and consideration stages of the funnel. Depending on your industry, this content could be a step-by-step guide to solving a common business problem, or a technical whitepaper.
This phase is also where many brands will offer a valuable content download in exchange for a buyer's email. This is your standard inbound lead -- someone who has indicated they're interested in your product through active engagement. However, be cautious if you're asking for an email in exchange for content. You absolutely have to offer a valuable piece of content, or else your potential buyer will be annoyed and let down, rather than engaged. Ideally, this content download will convince and convert your buyer to the final stage of the process just in time to interact with sales.
Time to Convert
This is by far the most difficult step in the content funnel -- and the most important. The content you produce to convince prospects to make a commitment to buy your product has to be in-depth, research-backed, and offer concrete evidence of ROI. The best content for this stage of the marketing funnel is often a customer case study or an independent study by an analyst firm. This type of content shows social proof that your product is valued in your industry as well as compelling, fact-based evidence that your product provides value. However, the challenge is to find and craft the best possible message for this stage that will actually help the sales team close a deal.
Content at the bottom of the funnel is often most accurately describes as sales enablement content. The best content at this stage of the buyer's journey takes weight off of your sales team, handing them prospects that are informed and ready to make a purchase decision. With the right content at the bottom of the funnel to support the sales team, closing a new deal should be significantly easier and faster than a completely cold sales process.
By creating the right content that draws in new readers, converts them to interested prospects, and helps sales close the deal, you can drive real marketing results for your B2B business. Learn how to create content that works for each stage of the marketing funnel.