You have probably heard the phrase “Content is King” and with all the emails and social media marketing is pushing out, you need to have targeted, high quality content in order to get prospects to engage. While that is true, not all marketing content is created equal. Potential customers come to your company’s website at various stages of their buying process and it is important to deliver relevant content at each stage. Additionally, this content needs to talk to the individual based on their persona (or role) in the process. The key is designing your website and more specifically your homepage, to make this navigation seamless and quick. This will be a topic of a future blog post.

The way I like to think of it is your website and your sales and marketing engagement model needs to ensure your prospects receive the right content at the right time based on their persona and their stage in the buying process.  Together all of this will create a frictionless process where the prospect has what they need when they need it to make a decision as seamlessly and as rapidly as possible.

Many companies struggle with the bandwidth to create quality content and the few pieces they do create get used for everything and given to everyone. A more successful content strategy will segment the content into three categories: Top-of-Funnel (ToF), Middle-Funnel-Marketing (MFM) and Bottom-of-Funnel (BoF).

ToF: Top of Funnel

At the very top of your sales funnel you should be attempting to attract the largest possible audience of leads who have an interest in solving problems that can be addressed by your product or service. They may or may not be aware of your company or product at this point. You should deliberately try NOT to filter out traffic at this point and instead generate curiosity and interest that will make your prospects want to learn more. It is also important that you DO NOT attempt to do any selling of your product or service during the ToF stage and instead try to educate your prospects in a way that earns you the right to communicate with them further. Common ToF content are things like blog posts, top 10 lists and infographics. The Call-to-Action (CTA) should intend to move prospects to the next stage of the funnel. The top of the sales funnel is filled with prospects who are looking for information. They want to be educated. The main thing you want to establish for your organization is credibility. Become a trusted source of information.

MFM: Mid Funnel Marketing

Once a lead converts on one or more CTAs from the ToF content, they will progress into the MFM stage. This is a crucial stage where you are evolving from education and relationship building to a more fully qualified lead. That is not to say that education stops completely, but the focus of the education starts to be more about positioning your product or service as a potential solution for their pain based on their persona. The best content you can deliver at this stage helps to position your product or service as solving the pain of a similar customer that targets the point of view of the reader’s persona. Examples include case studies, white papers and customer testimonials that convey a pain point and how your company solved that customer problem with your solution. You continue to build credibility in this stage, but it is now in the context of your solution in addition to broader thought leadership within an industry. If all goes according to plan in this stage your prospect is getting ready to choose a product to solve their pain. This is where the next stage of content marketing comes into play.

BoF: Bottom of Funnel

You started by building a large collection of people interested in your product or service and you continued to engage with them as they learn more specifics about your solution to their pain. Now it is time to support the decision process and help close the sale by instilling confidence in the prospect that your company has the solution that will work best for them. BoF marketing can again leverage case studies, but these examples should be less focused on the solution and more on the long term ROI and benefit to the business. The goal in this stage should be to move the prospect to a free trial or a Proof of Concept (PoC) where they can see your product or service working in their environment. In both cases your prospect is making a significant investment in time and resources to learn how your product or service works for THEM in THEIR environment. Most companies won’t agree to engage in a free trial unless they are fully qualified and very serious about buying your solution.

It is important that you segment your content into the three buckets of ToF, MFM and BoF and then further define personas so that you can use your marketing engine to deliver the appropriate content at the right time and with messaging specific to the persona for each project. This is where a marketing automation solution can help you build targeted nurture streams that operate based on rules you define to deliver content. This may sound simple, but it is actually quite complicated. You should step back and consider your overall content and lead nurturing strategy so that you can proactively develop an optimal engagement process for your prospects. I can tell you that this process will definitely be worth the time that you invest. Contact us for more information on content marketing and how to optimize your lead nurturing.

For more on creating high value MQLs see our previous blog post: