Anyone working in marketing today is probably aware of the importance of creating content. Thanks to the growth of content marketing over the last decade or so companies in every field are rushing to produce content they believe will drive revenue and improve their brand awareness among their target audience.
Unfortunately, many content marketers don’t get it right. They direct an internal resource or outside contractor to churn out a set number of content pieces about pre-arranged topics on a monthly or quarterly basis. Robert Rose, chief strategy officer at the Content Marketing Institute’s Content Advisory consultancy, has spoken about this issue before, calling it the “vending machine” approach to content creation.
As Rose points out, not only does this approach not scale, it positions content as nothing more than a to-do list for the marketing department. A better approach is to first understand the goals and objectives behind each piece of content pertaining to different stages of your sales funnel. From there, you can create content in a way that aligns smoothly with your funnel and provides tangible value for your audience.
How do you go about doing that? It’ll be slightly different for everyone depending on your specific target audience and the funnel for which you’re creating content. Below, we dive into a few tips that any marketer can apply to B2B content creation.
Revisit Personas and Funnel Steps
Before you start churning out content assets, it’s essential to take a step back and go over the fundamentals of your funnel. Begin the process by going over your buyer persona, which according to HubSpot best practices, should include information like:
- Demographics including age, income, location, etc.
- Communication preferences that indicate how they like to receive information and engage with potential vendors
- Goals for both their personal and professional lives
- Biggest challenges particularly as it relates to the product or service being marketed
As you (ideally, along with your primary content creators) review this information, remember to spend time considering whether or not anything is outdated or inaccurate. This is a great time to update your personas and make your marketing efforts more effective.
Beyond that, you should also look at each step in your funnel to see how people inside it go from a stranger unaware of your brand’s existence to the conversion action you desire. This process will also unlock a vital source of ideas for content and make it much easier to align each piece with your funnel.
Here’s an example: let’s say visiting a landing page is an important step in the funnel for which you want to create effective content. By drawing on the existing content, language, and media on the landing page, you’ll have a starting point for content you want to map to that funnel segment.
Experiment With Different Channels
One of the double-edged swords of modern digital marketing is the array of different kinds of media we can use to reach an audience. The most common formats are e-mail, social media, blog posts, and videos. Clever marketers can develop an endless variety of themes and formats within just these four channels.
If you haven’t already, you need to work on aligning your different marketing channels with each stage of your funnel. These insights will be key for understanding what type of content to produce for different segments of your audience.
Here’s another concrete example: you typically use video advertisements on social media networks to attract people to your brand and make them aware of your offering. This is a standard way marketers use video content for the top of their funnels.If you haven’t already, you need to work on aligning your different marketing channels with each stage of your funnel Click To Tweet
But what if, instead of only using video for social media ads, you also incorporated video at the later stages of your funnel? Maybe you publish a video interview with a satisfied client in which they discuss some of the most significant benefits of your offering and why it worked. In this case, you’d use video for your funnel’s middle segment.
It’s impossible to definitively say which combination will work best for your funnel and audience. Remember to measure and track the data so you can compare how each channel works for each segment of your funnel.
Add a Personal Touch
It’s wonderful to understand your sales funnel as a progression of different steps and know what kind of content will work best for prospects at each one. But to maximize your content’s effectiveness, you must find a way to express an understanding of what your target audience is going through.
Take a look at this excerpt from a landing page for Drift, a conversational marketing tool focused on interactions via chatbot and messenger platforms:
From the very first word of the copy, they ask the reader to envision how their work situation could be made better by using Drift. Sure, the message may not be as effective for people who don’t manage a sales team daily. But because the team responsible for marketing Drift has a deep understanding of their target audience, they can add this personal touch that speaks directly to the goals or challenges of their ideal prospect.
It’s vital to incorporate these kinds of highly-specific messages in your content, no matter what stage of the funnel you intend. If you don’t feel confident enough in your audience’s understanding to add these personal touches, revisit the first step in this post to deepen your knowledge.
Solicit Real Feedback
Our final piece of advice for mapping content to different funnel stages is straightforward but not always easy: ask a real person! One of the most common mistakes we see in the prospects and clients we work with is the “bubble effect.” A team of marketers gathers (virtually or in-person) to figure out the needs and challenges of an audience without any input from real people in that audience.
This approach is okay in the earliest stages of your marketing or when resources like time and money are drastically limited. However, you shouldn’t run a content marketing campaign for an extended period without getting input from the target audience. Whether you receive that input from a formal survey, a casual in-person meeting, or a quick video call, it’s critical to integrate it into your content creation efforts as soon as possible.
Final Thoughts on Mapping Content Creation to Your Funnel
Content creation as a strategy for digital marketers probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. However, the format of that content and how you create it will change. The best-performing content marketers will be the ones who can closely match their content with the specific challenges of their audience – in a time-sensitive fashion, presented via a format that fits their lifestyle.
Are you looking to get some expert insights into how you can do a better job of matching content to different parts of your sales funnel? Click here to fill out a quick questionnaire and see if you might be a fit to work with our team at FunnelEnvy.