Making content matter along the sales funnel

Recently we hired a new digital marketing manager named Mark, a PhD from Stanford who has brought with him not only a keen intellect, but also a wit and sense of humor that makes working with him fun, engaging and enlightening. When he joined, we spoke about what to do to create a truly impactful digital presence.

We discussed the value of social media in deciding which channels would provide the maximum results with our target audience. The website got top billing on our “must fix” list, and we also agreed that Google AdWords and retargeting were good places to invest some marketing budget. Our current results were benchmarked, the KPI’s set…and off we went – executing our new digital strategy.

It all seems so simple when put into a single paragraph. And it really is…this is not rocket science – or Artificial Intelligence. There is so much written about how to create and execute an effective digital strategy – the tactics are known – the list is extensive. The hard part is determining what to say and when to say it. CONTENT is the challenge. The effectiveness of any marketing strategy is the “stuff” you do to ensure that your voice is heard; not that your story makes your audience takes notice, but that they stand up and actively engage with you. The key is the content strategy – defining the right mix of created and curated content, and defining what content should go where – and when in the prospect lifecycle.

So let’s consider leads and their lifecycle. Today’s buyers are informed. Although it varies greatly with product complexity and market maturity, today’s buyers might be anywhere from 60 to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out to a vendor ready to buy. Owning a much bigger piece of the lead-to-revenue journey is marketing’s job. We need to engage the customer through as much of this buying cycle as possible, focusing on delivering the right content at the right time during this lead-to-cash process. So, how do you start?

No, this is not a new Japanese restaurant, but Top of Funnel to Bottom of Funnel. It is an important way to think about your content strategy as it relates to where your buyer is along the purchasing cycle.

At TOFU there is a need to educate your buyers. Your content should be a mix of created and curated content. This is when your audience is researching and seeking knowledge. It is important to consider content that will educate, engage and enlighten them. Consider curated content about the industry, trends or statistics while creating thought provoking but easy-to-read white papers, eBooks, or infographics. The intent is to become their authority, their mentor, and their teacher – someone they can trust.

The middle of the funnel is time to start to introducing your offerings. The content should be original so that it can help your buyer differentiate your product from the competition. You can also use curated content here, but focus on third-party content that puts you in good standing. You want the prospective buyer to understand that not only can you be trusted, but that you are also offering a solution that is compelling and meets their needs. Consider using product webinars, product case studies, press releases, blogs, demo videos, buying guides, ROI calculators, etc. Just keep it crisp and digestible. Don’t overwhelm your future customers with tech jargon that may confuse them.

Once you reach BOFU, your sales team has completed their selling. But it is still important that the buyer has the information they need to make the final decision. You need to prove that you deserve the business. It is time to show how your customers feel about your offering through more customer success stories, videos, industry analyst feedback, more press, or even free trials.

The sales funnel is universal for any brand or business that is looking to sell products or services. Consider developing a marketing culture that positions your brand with content that is consistent with buyer needs depending on where they are along their purchasing journey. The results may surprise you.

– Pat

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