Content marketing can be a complex process with several strategies and steps to consider throughout. Most marketers would probably agree that using messaging to boost sales is a beneficial choice, but it can be difficult to efficiently sell your brand without first understanding what content will appeal to your audience.
How can you visualize your content marketing efforts and help guide a prospective customer toward your products and services? The answer is a well-constructed B2B content marketing funnel.
Not only will this help you better communicate with prospects, but it will also create a foundation for your digital marketing efforts going forward. Let’s learn more about the content marketing funnel and how it can help you build a winning strategy.
What Is a Content Marketing Funnel?
A content marketing funnel is a model that helps a content marketer picture their customer’s journey when considering making a purchase. It gives industry professionals a clear understanding of the most impactful content to use at each funnel stage.
A customer will often go through the marketing funnel naturally, from discovering the brand to making the actual decision to buy a product or service. While this is an organic process, marketers can use it to send advantageous messaging to the customer at the most opportune moment.
The Importance of Using a Content Marketing Funnel
Implementing a mapped out content funnel isn’t just a fun team-bonding exercise for your company to complete — it’s an incredibly important step to take to elevate your content marketing efforts. While quality content is essential for growing your business, these assets may not actually benefit your business in the most effective way if they aren’t getting into the correct hands.
Here are the advantages of utilizing the content marketing funnel:
Visualize Your Team’s Efforts
Marketing can sometimes seem abstract, and it may be difficult to fully grasp the how and why behind what advertising teams are doing without having a way to look at everything from a bird’s eye view. Building a strong B2B content marketing funnel gives a content marketer a way to see and analyze their content with a clearer perspective. It also ensures that advertising teams are on the same page and using consistent content marketing tactics across the board.
Better Understand Your Target Audience
The end goal of a content marketing funnel is to better picture how your existing content can attract a potential customer. You’ll get to know your prospects by paying more attention to what stage of the buyer’s journey your audience is in and acknowledging what that means for their content needs. While this is beneficial for your bottom line, it also positively affects your readers, too. People want to feel seen and understood by the brands they shop at. By sending relevant content, you’ll ensure a prospect has a great experience with your company.
Attract New Traffic
Creating content with a focus on popular questions or keytopics being searched means you’ll likely reach prospects who aren’t familiar with your brand. Producing content that drives awareness and answers common queries can help direct people toward your brand and introduce a whole new set of readers to your organization.
Convert Interested Readers
Marketers know that you can’t leave people with zero direction. Every piece of content written should not only give the consumer helpful information, but it should also drive them to complete an action. By introducing content that includes strong CTAs in the decision-making stage of the marketing funnel, you’ll convert more people.
Receive Better ROI
It may go without saying, but when the right audience receives the most beneficial content assets for their current funnel stage, it will push them further through the sales pipeline, ultimately getting them to make a purchase. Content marketing is all about working smarter, not harder — utilizing existing messaging and optimizing it with a specific group of people in mind for improved performance.
Let’s look at the three stages of the content marketing funnel and discuss which content pieces are the most suitable for people to consume in each.
The 3 Stages of a B2B Content Marketing Funnel
Each stage of the funnel serves a specific and important purpose, such as attracting attention, generating high-quality leads, and closing conversions — so, it’s vital that you understand where one step ends and another begins.
There are three main main stages of a content funnel: top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel.
Stage 1: Top of the Funnel
This is the buyer journey’s starting point. It’s the most populated step and is where people are learning about your brand. Here, people aren’t ready to make a purchase and may be unfamiliar with your company, but they have a business need that they’re attempting to meet through their research.
The goal for marketers in this stage is to grab the reader’s attention with intriguing and high-level content, making them want to learn more about what benefits your product or service could offer.
According to Semrush, organic search is the most efficient channel for attracting traffic to your content at this point. To see how your organic search performs, you need to be able to measure the traffic using marketing metrics. Other important metrics to follow include:
- Social media engagement
- Organic search, referral, and total traffic
- Social media mentions from influencers and media professionals
- Website bounce rate
- Time spent on website
- Newsletter and social media subscriptions
Knowing that this stage is supposed to be focused on educating readers and turning a potential customer into a qualified lead, marketers should use these types of snackable and sensory content assets to garner people’s interest:
- Social posts
Stage 2: Middle of the Funnel
The number of engaged people lessens in the middle of the content marketing funnel. But, once people are in this step of the buyer’s journey, they’re more willing to interact and engage with your content if it interests them. This is thought of as the consideration stage of the sales funnel, meaning consumers are now aware of your brand but don’t yet have all the details needed to officially say yes to your product or service.
The goal for marketers in this section of the funnel is to deliver more in-depth information and detailed assets to extend the prospects’ understanding of the organization.
Marketers should track these marketing metrics when looking at middle of the funnel content:
- Website conversion rate
- Number of site leads
- Number of site visitors
- Time on webpage
- Social shares
- Bounce rate
- Number of payments
To provide your target audience with an insightful experience and build on what they already know about your organization, marketers should deliver downloadable and educational content to a prospect, including
- Research reports
- Webinar summaries
- White papers
Stage 3: Bottom of the Funnel
The third and final stage is the bottom of the funnel. This step is meant to help position your company as the leading option and a superior choice compared to competitors. The content you send your target audience in this stage should build trust in your products and services, accelerate the purchase decision, and ensure a lasting relationship.
The key objective for this last stage is to answer questions about product-specific inquiries and provide statistics and performance results regarding your organization’s offerings.
To ensure your marketing team is on the right track with bottom of the funnel content, look at these marketing metrics:
- Conversion rates
- Number of payments
This is the final research that people will complete before exiting the sales funnel completely. It’s important you guide them to the end of the marketing funnel by giving them the exact product and performance-specific facts they’re searching for, by means of:
- Case studies
- Success stories
- Use cases
- Project profiles
- Customer stories
- Product information
Visualizing the content marketing funnel step by step can help you discover any content gaps along the customer journey. For example, if a brand has a large collection of available content aimed at buyers in the awareness stage but fewer assets in the decision stage, the company would benefit from shifting their efforts to create more bottom-funnel content.
Thinking Beyond the Funnel
Once people have gone through the funnel and have bought a product or service from your company, it’s now your responsibility to keep them engaged. But, how can you do this efficiently without seeming desperate?
Retention is extremely important because it’s more expensive to acquire customers than it is to keep them. Here are some popular content types for keeping existing customers happy:
- Newsletters: According to Hubspot, 93% of B2B marketers use email marketing to distribute content, and an email newsletter can be a personable way to communicate with your audience.
- Podcasts: Although a podcast is technically a form of top of funnel content, this interactive asset is also a great way to continue engaging with your customers even after they make a purchase.
- eBooks: Even if existing customers aren’t currently shopping for your company’s offerings, you can continue to be a thought leader and provide interesting assets for people to read. This will help you stay top of mind to people for when they are ready to shop.
How To Get Started
Your B2B content marketing funnel is ready to be built, but how do you actually start mapping out your content and sending the right messaging to your audience? The best place to start is looking at what content pieces you already have for each of the three stages. Ask yourself these questions to guide you through this process:
- How does this asset assist my target audience?
- At which point in the buyer’s journey would my reader find this the most beneficial?
- What sections of the funnel have plenty of content, and which stages have gaps?
- What types of assets would be the most impactful to fill these holes?
After organizing your existing content, you’ll be better able to serve your target audience and boost your bottom line in the long run.
Still need some assistance with your content funnel? Here are some general tips and tricks to help:
Use Compelling Top of the Funnel Content
People’s first interaction with your brand will most likely be with awareness-focused assets. Make their impression a positive one by solving their problems and answering their questions. They want to know how you’re going to help them, so give them a glimpse of what a partnership with your organization could look like.
To accomplish this:
- Be open and authentic about your company.
- Provide a solution to the main issues related to the topic.
- Briefly mention your products or services, but don’t include a full brand pitch.
- Incorporate other beneficial resources for people to check out.
Give Your Audience a Free Resource
After you’ve gotten your audience past the first stage, draw them deeper into the funnel by delivering a helpful, free asset. This could be an extensive research report or an interesting webinar — anything that will highlight the positive aspects of your business and help move them further along the decision-making process.
Use CONTENTgine for Your Content Marketing Strategy
No content funnel is complete without the help of experts. CONTENTgine is a content-based marketing platform that delivers first-party data and content syndication analytics to better inform marketers’ decisions surrounding their content. Rather than guessing what your target audience is interested in, our platform tells you exactly what pieces they’re reading. With this information, you can determine what stage of the content marketing funnel they’re in and suggest assets for them to read and deepen their research.
Want to make educated content decisions and send the right messaging to your audience at the most beneficial moment? Get started with CONTENTgine today.