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There’s no shortage of content marketing advice out there if you’re looking to build an audience.
Geometrically, it makes sense. The top of the funnel is bigger and wider than the bottom, so of course, it takes more work to fill it. Plus, there’s no point in working on the bottom of your funnel if there aren’t leads coming through the top of it.
But we focus on top-of-the-funnel marketing activities way more than we need to.
Remember, the whole point of generating traffic and leads is to nurture and convert them into customers. That means having a marketing strategy for every stage of the funnel and knowing when to focus on each.
We’re entering content marketing’s tween years as a popular marketing tactic, and our strategies need to adjust accordingly. Most of our businesses have been blogging and building an audience for a few years already.
We have content that generates leads and traffic. Now it’s time to build out the content for the rest of the customer experience. This is where your company’s content is likely falling short.
You might have a huge collection of past blog posts, webinars, and other audience-builders. But what content do you have to turn that audience into customers?
As a prospective customer learns more about you and progresses through your buyer’s journey, their needs will change. They’ll have different problems, questions, and interests. And you can (and should!) be using content to address all of it.
So in this post, you’ll find answers to all the questions you’ve ever wondered about content in the middle and end of your customer’s journey.
Before you get started creating a bunch of amazing MOFU and BOFU content, it can be helpful to work through a content mapping exercise. This helps you understand what types of items you already have and identify content gaps.
Luckily, here’s an easy-to-use spreadsheet that will help you sort the content you’ve already created and assign it to stages in your funnel.
Plus, you’ll also easily be able to see where the gaps in your content are so you can map new content to prevent those leaks. This content, in turn, will guide your audience all the way through the funnel.
Why do you need special content throughout the customer journey anyway? Won’t the same collection of blog posts, emails, and lead magnets serve everyone?
When someone finds your blog post, social media profile, or lead magnet, it’s because they’re interested in the topic at hand – not necessarily your business or product. Even if your product is perfect for them, you need to show them that. That’s where content for the rest of the sales funnel comes in.
Like CoSchedule’s own Emma explained on the AMP podcast, content in the middle and bottom of the sales funnel is all about connecting those dots:
But while coming up with content ideas for the top of the funnel can be easy, straightforward, and even fun, your strategy towards the bottom needs to be more precise. In moving someone from problem-aware to solution-aware, to product-aware, you need to be addressing the specific sales questions and concerns running through their head.
The goal of decision-stage content is to speed up the buying process and make it easier, both for your customer and your sales team.
We’ll talk more about content topics at the bottom of the funnel later in this post, but here’s a quick overview of how the buyer’s journey and its accompanying content changes:
As you can see, you start talking about your products and services more and more as you move through the customer journey. Bottom-funnel content is designed to sell, a lot more directly than many content marketers (including myself) are comfortable with. But what makes it work is a smart strategy that puts your decision-stage content in front of prospects interested in it.
Now that you understand the goals and relationship in play with decision-stage content, let’s talk about content topics. It might feel like an adjustment from the content strategy you’ve followed building out your TOFU base.
For example, most content marketing advice (rightfully) says to avoid hard promotion or frequent mentions of your product. At the top of the funnel, that’s great advice. But at the bottom of the funnel, you’re no longer trying to get a prospect to trust and remember your brand. You’re doing everything you can to get them to convert.
And if someone’s seriously considering your product, they want to talk about it. They want to learn how it compares to others. They want to better understand how it fits into their use case. They want to be able to say they’ve done their research once they buy.
Creating content about topics like the ideas below will help them do that:
It’s never been easier to comparison shop, so you should assume your prospects are considering your alternatives and competitors. Don’t hide from that fact, acknowledge it. Then create content that lets you own the comparison conversation. ClickUp has several examples of this, with in-depth comparison pages for several of their most well-known competitors.
As mentioned in the previous section, education is important at the bottom of the funnel. But it doesn’t just need to be in “education hubs” like free courses. You can teach and provide context around your products in any content format. That might be writing engaging product updates that both inform and entertain or product-focused tutorial posts.
In addition to in-depth success stories, explore other types of customer-related content as well. You can repurpose case studies into other formats, publish featured customer interviews or roundups, and more. Things like interviews and day-in-the-life stories from customers help contextualize case studies and your product.
Here’s an example from Urban Outfitters. The company’s video series, “Short Stories” follows influencers as they go about their daily lives.
Another great way to contextualize your product is with reports that discuss it in direct relation to the big picture of your industry. Unlike industry news-related content at the top of the funnel, this looks at trends directly through the lens of your products and their value propositions.
For example, because API-driven “headless commerce” is a big part of BigCommerce’s positioning and messaging, the company’s full embracing of the trend helps it to stand out among e-commerce platforms that are slower to change. So writing about the role and importance of APIs, a core feature of headless commerce, is exactly what a future customer wants to know.
Now that you’ve decided on some content topics for the bottom of your sales funnel, it’s time to think about what format they’re best presented in. This is another area where the top and bottom funnel content should differ.
While you want lead generation content to be as easily discoverable and findable, like search-optimized blog posts and landing pages, you’ll have different goals once you’ve started a relationship with a prospect.
Once someone’s already moving through your sales funnel, they’ve found your website and joined your email list. While blog posts and landing pages work here too, SEO and lead gen can be lower priorities for the content you’re creating now.
New priorities that fit the current relationship status take their place. For example, depending on how your customer shops, offline access may be an important trait of your bottom-of-the-funnel content. Or maybe establishing a personal relationship is a problem, in which case video might be your best solution.
Here are a few content formats that work well throughout your funnel:
First, you have the trusty PDF download. Whether that’s a product brochure or educational ebook, a PDF is a simple and easily accessible content format that can be used for almost anything.
PDF formatted content is especially strategic for any type of content you want your prospect to share with someone. If you want them to send your ebook to coworkers or tell their boss about the brochure at their next department meeting, a PDF makes that easy for them. They can email, they can print, they can access it on any device.
PDFs are also useful when you have multiple departments using the contents, for example, your sales or support team. They can easily be incorporated into other types of communication, like emails, free courses, and webinars.
Another great type of content to create for the bottom of your sales funnel is webinars and video training courses. While webinars are popular audience and list building tactics, they might be even more powerful closer to the sale.
When your prospective customers can see your team on video, it helps build a closer relationship with your business. The interactive format is great for addressing questions and pain-points right before a conversion. And video is often the easiest way to show different use cases for your product.
For example, Mention uses webinars to demonstrate how to accomplish different types of projects, demonstrating the company’s software as they teach. This lets interested leads see tangible examples of the customer experience.
Case studies and success stories are another type of content that can work anywhere but is most powerful at the bottom of the sales funnel. When someone is deciding whether or not to go ahead and buy from you, examples and case studies are some of the most powerful tools in your content arsenal.
Customer success stories combine the engaging elements of storytelling with the persuasiveness of data and proof. Together, they help on-the-fence buyers envision themselves as a customer and show them what they’ll be able to do.
A company that always does this well is Zapier, who frequently highlights customer stories and interesting case studies by focusing on the time saved and money made by customers, tapping into their value proposition.
The final type of content that tends to be perfect for the bottom of the funnel is free courses and other more in-depth educational resources. CoSchedule Academy’s free courses are a perfect example of this.
When you’re educating prospects at the decision stage, it makes sense to discuss your products more than you would in top-of-funnel content, when your audience might not even know what you sell yet.
Here, they’re looking for help and education that will help them make a decision. Use that opportunity to show them the bigger picture of life as your customer, like CoSchedule’s course on blog management.
This Kajabi course is another great example: the platform helps creators build and launch their own courses, so this offering creates an ideal customer, someone who’s ready to use their product but feels overwhelmed about taking the leap into solopreneurship.
Finally, let’s talk about measurement for decision-stage content. This is one of the places where the differences between top- and bottom-funnel content are most important.
Your everyday content performance metrics, like traffic or subscribers, won’t tell you whether your decision-stage content is working, so you need separate key performance indicators and goals for each stage.
Since bottom-funnel content is closest to the sale, you obviously want to track analytics around the conversion. Depending on what you sell, that might include:
Which metrics you track might also depend on your tech setup and what type of attribution models they follow. There are lots of options and none of them are wrong, so start with what’s easy and effective for you to track. Eventually, you can get more detailed with your reporting.
As for which tools to track success with, you have lots of options that make it easy to get the data you need. Tools like Hotjar offer ways to measure your funnel onsite, connections between your email marketing and sales platforms can calculate how your emails convert, and analytics tools like these exist for every channel you’re using in your funnel strategy.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of bottom-of-the-funnel content, run through your content catalog quickly in your head. How much decision-stage material do you have?
If you’re like most marketers, your content skews towards the awareness stage. That’s a fine start. But now you have what you need to create content that follows your prospect through to their buying decision.
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