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What is the Content Marketing Funnel? 

One of the biggest problems with standard content marketing is that the content produced often does not align with the business’s objectives. In most situations, this is directly due to content being poorly positioned in relation to the stage of a customer’s buying journey, and the compounding effects of this include but are not limited to low customer acquisition and retention rates. 

Content marketing is all about providing the right people with suitable types of information, targeted in such a way that leads to customer conversion with the most efficient use of a marketing budget. To do this, it’s critical to understand the content marketing funnel: the art of using different language and tactics depending on your target audience and where they are in their purchasing process. 

This concept works for all types of businesses, regardless of size and industry, and comes down to how they conduct their content marketing. This article will help you to understand the difference between top, middle, and bottom-of-the-funnel marketing and when you should use them to their most significant effect. 

What is the Content Marketing Funnel? 

The content marketing funnel works to and for the primary objective of content marketing: create content for audiences that will lead to them becoming paying customers. The funnel relates to a strategy of creating different types of content that target customers in different stages of their purchasing journey, ultimately ‘funneling’ them down the channel until it leads to conversion. Most marketers will break down this funnel into three stages: top-of-the-funnel, middle-of-the-funnel, and bottom-of-the-funnel. Each is distinct in its purpose, utility, and execution, but they are critical to content marketing success. 

What is Top-of-the-Funnel Marketing? 

The first stage is the top-of-the-funnel, being the most inclusive. Top-of-the-funnel marketing is primarily used to generate interest within your business’s field or industry, including creating awareness for the problem that your company can solve. In many ways, this is the start of a customer’s journey - they may not have heard of your company, product, or service, and they may not know there is a problem affecting them that needs solving. 

Importance and Strategy for Top-of-the-Funnel Marketing

Top-of-the-funnel content is a broad net to create as many potential interested customers as possible. The top-of-the-funnel strategy is about gaining an audience’s interest, usually through education, relevancy, driving traffic, and building trust. Content produced for top-of-the-funnel should include broad and general information, such as blog posts titled ‘What is…’ to capture potential customers only beginning to investigate a concept or problem. Other top-of-the-funnel content might include guides, checklists, and other introductory topics. 

The top-of-the-funnel stage is vital to draw in a potential audience and inform them about your company, product, and service as a solution to a new problem. 

What is Middle-of-the-Funnel Marketing? 

The second stage of the content marketing funnel is called the middle of the funnel. It is for customers who understand a particular problem or desire an industry’s product or service but don’t know where to find it. At this stage, users research specific brands, compare them, and seek proof that the product or service is trustworthy, matches their needs, and is good value for money.

Importance and Strategy for Middle-of-the-Funnel Marketing

Middle-of-the-funnel content is essential to help potential customers get to know your company specifically and lead them to discern that you’re the one to fulfill their desires. The strategy for this type of content should be all about building trust. Your potential customers should understand why your company is the best choice and know your business’s unique selling point. 

To successfully create middle-of-the-funnel content, consider producing articles and videos that position your brand against competitors, build trust, showcase completed works, highlight use cases, and lean into search terms such as ‘the best…’ or ‘X vs. Y product.’ This is also a great time to use other types of content beyond blogs, such as email and social media marketing, paid advertising, and user-generated content. 

What is Bottom-of-the-Funnel Marketing? 

The final stage of the content marketing funnel is bottom-of-the-funnel. In this stage, customers are informed of the problem, understand their options, and are ready to purchase. Content marketing at this stage should be focused on encouraging potential customers to buy from you and buy as soon as possible. 

Importance and Strategy for Bottom-of-the-Funnel Marketing

Bottom-of-the-funnel marketing is crucial because you will target customers who are the most likely to purchase. In many cases, these customers are ready to purchase but may not know where and when to do it. This is where sales, the fruit of all your marketing efforts, can be realized, so it’s critical to do this effectively. 

Also known as the conversion funnel, your content should focus on closing the sale by providing an offer they cannot refuse. Consider creating content that makes their life easier (the buying process quicker and simpler), delivers value, builds loyalty, and even encourages them to buy immediately. Buy-now incentives and unique offers combined with the demonstration of expert knowledge on a subject all work well to drive the sale home. And while you never want to overdo it, a call to action within your content can be a key part of success. 

Top vs. Middle vs. Bottom of the Funnel: Which is best? 

So, out of all this different content, which is the best? What should you invest your all-important marketing budget into? The answer is somewhat nuanced: depending on the type of company you run and the majority of your audience, the importance of each funnel may vary.

For example, a company focusing on residential energy upgrades should have a balanced mix to inform and properly funnel everyday customers toward their product. On the other hand, a business-to-business payment software company will be dealing with customers who are likely already informed of this type of software but just need to know which one to use, wherein they will likely prioritize middle—and bottom-of-the-funnel content.

All in all, it’s critical to be aware that each of the three stages in the content marketing funnel is very important in its own way. None of the three should be ignored, but leaning into one over the other may be strategically beneficial. For this reason, it’s usually wise to consult digital marketing experts to optimize your content marketing journey.

If you have more questions on the content marketing funnel or are keen to learn more about how your company can benefit from professional marketing services, contact the team at Beyond Blue Media today.

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