Unfortunately, even the worst clichés become clichés because there’s a grain of truth in there. So, begrudgingly, I’ll say it: Content is King. (Ugh, yes, it’s true, but it also remains the most “ask me about crypto” axiom we have in B2B marketing… which is saying a lot.)
We all agree that content is important. But even organizations that have gone all-in on a content strategy can find themselves with some serious gaps in their content.
And it’s not a lack of content. It’s a lack of the right content. When you sit down to create a journey that moves your prospect down your funnel, you realize you have a million pieces that work perfectly in the top of your funnel… and you’re reusing the same two or three content pieces for the middle and bottom of your funnel.
Why do these parts tend to get neglected, even when we know content is your gender-neutral monarch of choice?
Top of the funnel content is sexy. Write a great headline? Watch those CLICKS come in. Design a cool infographic that someone can post to LinkedIn and feel both smart and on-trend? Here come some SHARES. Develop a cool quiz that lets people determine which SaaS product their significant other is most like? Get ready for some PAGEVIEWS.
Top of the funnel content gets you some great vanity metrics that look wonderful in your monthly reporting. But it is incredibly hard to convince your payroll provider to send out this month’s checks on the strength of your engagement. (Also, if your org is still exclusively obsessed with vanity metrics… we should talk.)
Bottom of the funnel content might not be as fun to make as top of the funnel content, but it does bring a pretty clear motivation: CashRegisterNoise.mp3. Once you’ve successfully moved a prospect to the bottom of your funnel, it’s just about moving them to hand-raise and get in contact with someone on the sales team who can close. That’s not an easy task, by any means, but if your funnel is working well enough, you frankly don’t need a ton of options at this stage in your content strategy. Find a couple of assets that work, and stick with them.
You may have noticed that I ever-so-deftly skirted around the middle of the funnel.
That’s because it’s hard. No dopamine hits from vanity metrics, no direct results in sales. Nonetheless, your middle of funnel content has the important job of ferrying buyers from that initial dazzle of attraction to the point where they’re ready to have a conversation.
So what does that middle of the funnel content look like?
1. It’s valuable to your target audience.
One reason creating content for the middle of the funnel is especially tricky is because the version of your prospect who’s ready to read that content isn’t the same person who clicked on your top of the funnel stuff. You’ve made them smarter; you’ve made them more interested; you’ve already introduced yourself. Middle of the funnel content needs to be more tightly focused and it needs to offer information that’s more valuable.
2. It answers the real questions they have.
This leads to another reason why companies often have less middle of the funnel content than they need—they’re afraid to give too much information away too early. But this is the stage of the buyer’s journey where you’re trying to answer the questions your prospects have. That does mean you’re going to have to give them answers. Traditionally, these conversations may have happened with the sales team, but as the buyer’s journey transforms to a more online-focused experience, your content needs to pick up some of that slack.
3. It speaks to who they are.
By the time your prospect gets to this stage in their journey we’re past the point of creating “one size fits all” content. You should start mixing in content aimed at the different members of your prospect’s buying group. The person who’s going to be using your product or services daily likely has different questions than the person who’s going to sign the purchase order. Make sure you’re creating content for both of those people— and anyone else who might be a part of the purchasing decision.
How to create middle of the funnel content.
There’s a very simple secret to making great content for this stage of the buyer’s journey: all you need to do is tap into your in-house MOFU experts, also known as your sales team. The questions prospects ask your sales team during their process are what drive your middle of the funnel content. Every time they’ve been on a phone call where the prospect says something along the lines of “I saw on your website that XYZ… but what about 123?,” that’s a strong indicator of what your middle of the funnel should look like.
Here’s how to get the most out of this valuable in-house resource:
- Ask your sales team to walk you through their typical sales conversation. Pay attention to what buyers already know when they come in, and what they want to know to move forward. This can give you an idea of what content and messaging is needed all along the journey and help you discover messages or assets that may be missing at the top or bottom of the funnel as well.
- Leverage the questions your sales team is getting.If your sales team is getting the same questions often, see if you have content that answers those, and make that content more prominent in your messaging. If you don’t have it, make it. That content educates the prospect. It saves your sales team the conversation. It moves them further down the funnel. It helps convert them to sales.
- Create the content your sales team wishes existed.Ask your sales team what resources they’d like to be able to send to prospects. Create those for the sales team first, and then figure out how to create the middle of the funnel version. That version may have a few less details, but answering those questions is what the middle of the funnel has always been about.
The Iron Horse insight.
Creating middle of the funnel content can require some real attention from SMEs, pushing past the 101-level knowledge that your writers can pull together with intuition and a solid Google search. Middle of the funnel content takes longer, it’s more technical, it’s just harder to do.
It’s also what turns your prospects from “people who’ve seen your blog” to “people who are interested and invested in what you offer.” It’s absolutely worth it.