B2B content marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to reach and engage a target audience. Most B2B businesses spend nearly 43% of their marketing budgets on content marketing, and the numbers are only predicted to increase in the coming period of time.
However, when it comes to content marketing effectively contributing to sales, most B2B companies struggle with the success of their strategy and attribution. This is where the importance of a content funnel comes into play to bring alignment across departments.
What is a Content Funnel?
Most B2B consumers do not purchase on a whim. They undergo several steps and evaluations before committing to a product or service. We refer to this as a buyer’s journey, and a content funnel is what fuels the need for information at each stage of this journey.
A content funnel ensures content creation that helps a B2B buyer discover and evaluate your product or service before deciding to engage with your business.
B2B marketing experts divide this content funnel into three main stages:
- TOFU (top of the funnel)
- MOFU (middle of the funnel)
- BOFU (bottom of the funnel)
Different Stages of the Content Funnel
It’s essential to understand that buyer intent is different at each stage; thus, the content will have different goals, and you’ll measure the success of content in different ways..
You can leverage your sales team since they are the ones who are in direct contact with customers. They understand your customers, demographic, buying intent, and what form of content they like the most.
1. Top of the Funnel
The first step of the B2B content funnel, TOFU (top of the funnel), is where the buyer’s journey begins. Most buyers, at this point, need to be made aware of their needs, are exploring the options available to them, don’t know about your business, or are passively seeking solutions to serve a business objective.
How can your sales team help?
Aligning with your sales team can help you identify your target audience’s unanswered questions and concerns. This tactic will help you create content that offers insights not provided by competitors, helping you establish topical authority.
At the awareness stage, you can produce different types of content, including:
- Educational webinars
- How-to guides
- Social media posts
According to a Semrush report, 72% of marketers believe that how-to guides are the most effective approach to draw readers in at the top of the content funnel. But this approach varies based on your target audience.
For example, MailChimp has an extensive marketing library that covers all the topics their target audience seeks:
2. Middle of the Funnel
Now your target audience is evaluating your product alongside other competitors in the market. So, your content needs to deep-dive into the topical authority you established at stage one. This is where you provide more insights and thoroughly explain your value proposition.
How can your sales team help?
Work with your sales team to identify the leads’ needs, preferences, and challenges. These insights can help create content tailored to match their needs.
The sales team can also help you understand any additional possibilities the prospect may be considering to solve their issue or the factors affecting their decision. You can produce content highlighting aspects of your B2B brand that make you stand out from your competitors.
You can create different types of content at the MOFU stage, which include:
- Landing pages
- Email marketing campaigns
- Product-related content
- Product overviews
Overall, MOFU success is measured by conversion rate and the number of leads that start to seek information about your B2B product or service.
Here’s an example of middle of the funnel content created by Omnisend to cater to the audience that is interested in the features they have to offer for marketing:
3. Bottom of the Funnel
The last stage of the content funnel is BOFU (bottom of the funnel), the point at which the traffic you lead into the funnel converts into a customer.
At this stage, your content needs to be designed to help prospects experience your value proposition.
How can your sales team help?
Work with your sales team to identify the points of concern for leads closer to converting. Take note of the proof of success they demand and how you can discuss their needs through different content formats.
Some of the content formats that work well at the BOFU stage include:
- Product demos
- Case studies
- Free trials
- Customer reviews and testimonials
- Success stories
- Share coupons and discounts
Here’s an example of how Shopify puts forward the value proposition of its ecommerce platform through case studies of the brands leveraging them:
How to Align Sales With Your Content Marketing Team
You might find it shocking that only 46% of marketers say their content marketing and sales teams are well-aligned.
Your content marketing team can identify what your target audience is searching for and even create content in different formats. But it is the insights of the sales team that helps them create content that your audience needs to make a purchase decision.
The sales team can help the content marketing team identify gaps in their strategy – in the form of blogs, case studies, product demos, email marketing, landing page, or even something as simple as the call-to-action.
Now marketing teams may not have access to or be comfortable looking into the CRM for these insights; but here’s how you can align with sales:
1. Conduct Monthly Meetings
Schedule monthly meetings with both the teams to keep them motivated and aligned.
In the meetings, both sales and content teams can discuss important questions like:
- What are the concerns, goals, and objectives of the target audience?
- What type of content resources are available in the team?
- What formats of content are required the most?
- How does the sales team intend to use the content?
- What features of your product or service are confusing?
- What are the differentiating factors that can be competitive advantages?
- What is the quality of leads coming through content marketing efforts?
2. Simplify Communication
Another way to ensure alignment between the two teams is to create channels and processes for seamless communication. This process may include setting up a CRM with shared access, weekly reports on marketing and sales performance, or integrations with tools like Slack to keep the teams in the loop.
For example, integrating the CRM with Slack can help notify teams of the leads that come through content pages. This way, the content teams can seek more feedback to double down on the content converting the most or follow up to see how the prospects process the information.
3. Schedule Call Shadowing
To achieve better results from your content marketing, your content and sales team must speak the same language. While the marketing team cannot be expected to attend all sales meetings and calls with prospects, a few of them can be scheduled to meet the purpose of alignment.
This involvement will make it easier for the content team to understand how the sales team explains your product and its value proposition.
4. Encourage Customer Interaction
The marketing team can also speak directly to the audience they’re addressing. This tactic includes taking interview calls of existing customers who have seen the product or service succeed.
Alternatively, content marketing teams should invest resources in efforts such as research and surveys. These methods can help them understand whom they’re addressing through content.
5. Map Content Funnel Wins
Instead of simply measuring the keywords your website ranks for, the traffic you drive to it, and the bounce and exit rates, start to note how your audience interacts with the content.
Look into your website analytics to see journey maps, how visitors move from one piece of content to another and how they engage with it. This analysis will also help identify which funnel stage content is the most enticing for your audience.
Marketing Strategy Meet Sales Campaigns
There are many businesses creating content every day. But to succeed at getting ROI from content, it’s essential to align your content marketing and sales efforts. That’s where the importance of implementing a content funnel helps your team.
About the Author
Vanhishikha Bhargava is the Founder of Contensify, a B2B SaaS Content Marketing Agency that works with startups and scale-ups to help them establish a sustainable organic presence and an inbound engine to fuel growth. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.