The exact B2B purchase process varies a bit by buyer and by industry, but the general path that people take to reach a purchase decision is fairly straightforward. At the top of the funnel, the awareness stage, prospects are searching for potential solutions to their problems. Next, in the middle of the funnel, they’re considering whether your product or service is a good fit. Finally, at the bottom of the funnel, they’re ready to make a purchase decision.
Buyers’ needs change as they move down the funnel, and so should the content you generate for each stage. Here's what you need to know about getting the B2B content marketing sales funnel right.
Top of the Funnel (TOFU) Content
At this stage, people are searching for a solution to a problem. To find these solutions, many people turn to search engines and other places where they can do entry-level research for answers. Potential buyers are becoming aware of your company or your products and services and how you can solve their problems.
1. Write Blogs - Your content in this stage needs to attract traffic to your website, where you can then convert visitors into leads. The first type of content to create for this stage is blog posts. With unlimited opportunity to include keywords and helpful information, blogs are a perfect place to capture organic search traffic.
2. Share Graphics on Social Media - Reaching out on social media to make new connections is often necessary at this stage, and compelling, attention-getting images and videos are the best way to get the job done. From photos to charts to infographics, when relevant images are paired with text, people retain 65 percent more information compared to text alone.
3. Focus On the Buyer - When creating content for the top of the funnel, remember to continuously stay connected with your buyer's needs and stay away from the hard sell. Focus on delivering solutions, additional resources, data, and expert opinions and insight.
4. Create Valuable Content Offers - To move B2B buyers down to the middle of the funnel, you'll need targeted landing pages with valuable offers for which prospects will trade for their contact information (aka - convert into a lead). These offers typically include long-form content like whitepapers and ebooks.
Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) Content
At this point, your prospects have a pretty good idea of your products and services, and they're ready to dig in and find out about all that you have to offer. People will be comparing different solutions, weighing pros and cons, and determining whether these solutions are the right fit for their specific applications.
1. Let Your Prospects Know They’re in the Right Place - Your content at this stage needs to help both you and the potential buyer determine whether your solutions are the right ones. It also needs to demonstrate that you're an expert at what you do and that your company is trustworthy.
In-depth guides, webinars, video or written Q&A sessions, whitepapers, and case studies are all examples of middle-of-the-funnel content that's designed to reassure prospects that they're in the right place.
2. Or, Let Them Know It’s Not a Good Match - In the same way MOFU content lets the right prospects know they’re getting warmer, it also helps the wrong prospects know that you aren’t what they’re looking for. This is important because you don't want your prospects to end up with buyer's remorse at the end of the process, which can be damaging to your reputation. You also don't want to waste your time or the time of anyone who isn't a good fit.
3. Use Automation to Personalize The Buyer’s Journey - Personal attention is crucial, however at this stage, you can automate much of this process with an email drip campaign. The key to getting it right is to segment your audience properly, match up emailed content with where the lead initially converted, and time your messages correctly so they arrive steadily without becoming intrusive. The result: You give your prospects the feeling of personal attention, and no one on your team has to spend a lot of time creating individual emails.
Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) Content
Up to 60 percent of B2B buyers travel through the top and middle of the funnel without ever making direct contact with a company and signaling that they're interested in a purchase. When prospects do arrive here, however, they are primed to buy.
1. Remove Any Remaining Roadblocks. At this stage, all that's left is for prospects to decide whether they will purchase from you or someone else. Your content here needs to remove any remaining roadblocks and give that last nudge to your prospect to make the leap.
2. Get Hands-On For B2B Product-Based Offerings. The best types of content here aren't always going to be as copy heavy or as educational as the previous stages of the funnel. Rather, more hands-on offers like equipment trials and software demos help close the deal.
3. Show How Your B2B Services Have Helped Others. If your company has more service-based offerings, the types of content that are effective at closing the deal include case studies, product literature, and in-depth reviews and testimonials from customers in similar industries who have made your solutions work.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Talk Your Company Up. At this point, it's OK to stray from being strictly informative and dive into a bit of promotion. Tell your prospects why it would be a mistake to choose anyone other than you, and make the decision easier by providing some side-by-side comparisons with your competition. If you have current offers and promotions, now’s the time to mention them.
Mastering the B2B Content Marketing Sales Funnel
Jumping out at a new website visitor with a flashy offer and the opportunity to BUY NOW might help you close a few deals, but B2B buyers tend to take a little longer than that to make a decision. Plus, nearly 73 percent of online buyers are frustrated with content that doesn't match up with their interests.
While your offers may occasionally match up with a visitor’s interest, they’re more satisfied — and therefore more likely to choose you — when your content is tailored to where they are in the buyer's journey.