Strategic content marketing prioritizes and aligns content creation and publishing to the realistic buying cycle of website visitors. Historically, when using content with substance for marketing, outbound marketers have prioritized content development backward by producing mostly self-serving sales content and brochures with little thought to creating helpful, shareable content.
Not all content is created equal. Each piece should speak to one of the three types of content consumers while mirroring the sales funnel in production prioritization – top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU) and bottom of the funnel (BOFU).
“T” is for Top Not Bottom
TOFU content consumers represent the vast majority of website visitors and have no intention of buying anything at first. They work toward solving problems themselves and pursue content that empowers them to do so. According to HubSpot, 96 percent of first-time website visitors aren’t interested in buying. These are the content consumers that make up the TOFU and typically consume blog posts, articles, ebooks, guides, and how-tos.
“M” is for Middle
Content consumers who reside in the MOFU may have an inkling that a brand or company might be able to provide products and/or services that will help them solve their problems and be willing to pay for it. However, they’re not sure, need to learn more and hover in the interest to evaluation stages of the buying process. MOFU consumers want webinars, case studies, free samples, catalogs, FAQ sheets, spec sheets and brochures.
“B” is for Bottom Not Top
BOFU content consumers are interested in solving problems, too; but their problems center on the need for specific information or incentive to do business. While small in number, BOFU visitors want to consume pages containing free trials, demos, assessments, consultations, estimates, quotes, and coupons. The contact us page on a website is a commonly used BOFU page.
People only go to the Internet for two reasons: to solve a problem and/or to be entertained, quickly. Most brands are in the business of solving problems, so it’s important to identify the problems experienced by the personas that represent current and future customer bases and communicate solutions to them. Divide each persona into its respective funnel position and create content for all three levels.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that the most effective content marketing plan focuses on the buying cycle of potential customers. This means somewhere between 90 and 96 percent of the branded content created should be in the form of blog posts or helpful web pages to generate traffic. The next area of focus should be on advanced content like whitepapers, ebooks, and other advanced content (TOFU content) to generate leads from the blog traffic. MOFU content for generating prospects–and BOFU content for generating sales and qualified leads–should follow in the production prioritization and represent only a small portion of total content created.
Where most brands and companies fall short is that their content production and publication is out of alignment with the funnel. Most prioritize from the bottom up instead of the top down. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to convert someone to a customer efficiently that way. Don’t flip the funnel with content marketing – that’s an outbound marketing tradition.
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