As the Content Marketing Manager at EverString, I work very closely with the Content Queen, Dayna Rothman, to make sure we fill our content funnel from top-to-bottom with quality content.
A lot of people ask me why I create content and how it impacts the bottom line of the company. Let me break that down for those that are curious. As we all know well at this point, the buyer is now self-educating. This means modern sales cycles are longer and sales teams have less control. This is where content marketers come in. We get to be on the front lines of providing content that builds trust in a brand, establishes a company as a thought leader in a space, and provides crucial context for the product in an often crowded space.
Now that we’re all on board with why we do what we do, let’s get into how we do what we do—guide the buyer through the sales funnel.
But First…Buyer Personas
Step one is to build out your buyer personas. This is essential for a successful content strategy and a positive relationship between your sales and marketing teams. Marketo defines buyer personas as “a representation of your ideal customer”. Personas are developed based on the different audiences you address, often narrowed down by customer demographics and behavior. Work with your sales and demand generation teams to build personas that are informed by your team’s understanding of their motivations and pain points. But that’s only the beginning–don’t go too long without employing a predictive marketing solution. A predictive marketing solution can help you further define your audience and target accounts through data models and customer behavioral signals. With this level of understanding, you can create highly personalized content for each of your data-informed target accounts.
Once you have that covered, you’re ready to create some content to fill your funnel.
Let’s go through the types of content you should offer at each stage of the buyer journey. I’ll give you a hint: it’s like dating.
TOFU: Top-of-Funnel (not the Japanese bean curd you might eat on your first date.)
Top-of-funnel content is the first date. You’re not meeting the parents. This is the 30min Philz Coffee encounter, or after-work cocktails. This person is at the very beginning of the buying journey, she’s aware of your product or service, but is not ready to buy. Your job is to charm her enough to land the second date.
In reality, this person is someone that is likely not officially in your database. She is not quite a lead yet, because she hasn’t had any meaningful engagement with the brand—she’s just checking out your blog or has downloaded a TOFU ebook. She hasn’t made contact with a member of your team.
You should be providing her with broad educational content at this stage. Here is where you can talk about your space in general, where it’s headed, and provide fun and entertaining assets to make that good first impression.
A great example of this is EverString’s Who is Your Marketing Spirit Celebrity? quiz. It’s a fun way to engage customers, with no commitments on their end…yet. Think about how to entertain your audience by playing into their human side. Your audience isn’t just a bunch of decision makers! They’re people, just like you, who appreciate a little light humor in their workday.
MOFU: Middle-of-Funnel (not mumu–like your sweet grandmother wears and what you hopefully won’t wear on a date.)
If you think your buyer is ready for middle-of-the funnel content, that means he has shown quantifiable signs that he is interested in your brand or product. That may mean that he has downloaded a detailed comparison guide between you and your competitors, or an ebook about how to create a business case within his organization for your product. Any way you slice it, this person is showing behavior that indicates true buying intent. Your goal here is to convince him that your product is the right fit for his team and his business.
Do that by continuing to offer educational content, but unlike TOFU content, you can talk more closely about your product or service. This is the point in the relationship when you are ready to take him out to your favorite restaurant in the city. You can open up and tell him a little bit more about yourself and expect a positive response. Your data says he’s into you—if only real-life dating had such a thing…
A great example of MOFU content is our 6 Costs of Delaying Predictive Marketing ebook. This piece of content explains the 6 big costs you should be aware of if you choose to wait to implement predictive and how predictive can help alleviate those costs. We wrote this to address the members of our audience that have been thinking about predictive marketing, but aren’t quite sure about it yet. We wanted to talk to them about some of the key pain points our solution helps to alleviate.
BOFU: Bottom-of-Funnel (BOFU? Yes, BOFU. OK, can’t think of a way to fit dating into this term.)
Bottom-of-funnel content is very exciting. This means you’re creating content for your sales leads that are seriously considering converting to a customer. In our dating analogy, you’ve been going out for a while and you’ve both been thinking about putting terms on the relationship. It’s getting serious.
Don’t blow it by not going in with a smooth approach—she’s not totally onboard yet. This is where you get to pull out all the stops and lay your cards on the table. Your content for BOFU leads is very specific to your product or service. This where you can bring out the pricing guide, feature-specific content, customer testimonials, and case studies.
Now that you have a good idea about how to court your customers with content, go ahead and build your ideal content combination for maximum conversions. Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all drip marketing campaign. You cannot connect with your audience without creating targeted content for each of your buyer personas. If you’re not connecting with your customers, you’re not closing. Be there to guide your customers through the buyer journey with the right amount of content at each stage. Get crafting!