One of the biggest struggles that I see with marketers today is the ability to mobilize content for nurture. It’s important to include relevant calls-to-action in nurture emails that offer helpful content geared to a specific funnel stage. After all, you can have sexy logic that adds and removes prospects or customers from nurture as dictated by their funnel stage information, but if the message isn’t relevant and the content isn’t compelling – your nurturing will be ineffective.
If you’re a fashionista like me, you equate preparing content for nurture like selecting an outfit for a particular occasion. Would you wear a sexy black cocktail dress to a doctor’s appointment?
Would you wear a bathing suit to church?
Selecting the right content for the right occasion and stage in the buying process is no different. You want to make sure your content aligns with your prospect’s current disposition as dictated by your funnel stages. Because all demand funnels are different, I’m going to group funnel stages into three key areas and show you the pieces of a content wardrobe that work best for each occasion:
I. Top of the Funnel (and above it)
Your eager, non-committal researchers sit at the top of the funnel and above/outside it. They want broad, sweeping thought-leadership that’s versatile, lean, concise, and easy to consume. Like a favorite pair of jeans that can be dressed up or dressed down, the best content to show them will satisfy a variety of educational needs and address a wide variety of industry-specific pain points.
The Favorite Pair of Jeans
Examples of terrific top-of-the-funnel content that will generate interest and awareness, pull in new inquiries, and nurture existing ones:
- Cute or funny industry-centric info graphics
Top funnel and inbound marketing assets have made a substantial migration toward the visual. You can’t travel very far into the web for professional or personal browsing without being bombarded with pictures supported by short, funny, or poignant phrases. They make a quick impression and can pique the interest of your top-funnel nibblers.
- Industry-specific research and commentary (examples: data-sheets, FAQ sheets, short white papers, recorded or live webinar panels/panel discussions
Your prospects are way too early in the buying process to narrow their research to your product or service. They gravitate toward content that speaks to their industry. In addition, they want to hear about what others like them are doing, or what they should be concerned about.
Mid-funnel content is like the three-piece suit of your content wardrobe. The universe is becoming smaller for these prospects and their requirements are getting more specific. Isolate content assets that are more specific to their situation. Supplement their intensive research with some product-specific content and speak directly to their pain points with key advantages that align with your product or service’s value propositions.
The Three-Piece Suit
Examples of effective mid-funnel content to support decision-making:
- Live or recorded webinar focusing on your product or service (no demos yet, though!)
Give yourself an opportunity to show prospects how your solution directly addresses their key pain with a customer-centric webinar. This is not a product demo! A customer-centric webinar is all about building credibility by demonstrating that you understand what a prospect is looking for. A demo is about explaining the features and benefits of your product.
- Short client/customer testimonials through social media or other channels
If a prospect is engaged with your social media properties, they’re already familiar with your product or service. Social media is an excellent way to let other clients share their positive testimonials without you touting the features and benefits of your product. You can create the same effect by developing some of your own written or video client testimonials and offering them in a mid-funnel nurture.
III. Bottom of the Funnel
Never forget to accessorize! Content offered during the later stages of the buying process supports the dialogue that a prospect is already having with a member of your organization’s sales team. In most traditional scenarios, marketing will no longer own the lead. Just as the perfect belt, bracelet, or pair of suspenders enhances an outfit, your duty as a marketer is to reinforce, enhance, and support the sales conversation by providing easy ways for your prospect to research specific features and benefits of your product and service. Bottom funnel content can’t stand on its own! It’s specific to a highly targeted sales situation. This is your opportunity to talk about you.
Belts, Bags, and Accessories
Content to enhance the sales conversation at the bottom of the funnel:
- Live or recorded product demos
This speaks for itself. The ability to “show, don’t tell” when it comes to a product or service can equip a decision-maker with the experiential information he or she needs during the later stages of the funnel.
- Competitor cost comparisons and/or ROI calculators
In price sensitive markets, showing savings or competitive pricing over key industry competitors can be a compelling supplement to an ongoing sales conversation.
- Customer success stories with your product or service
A formalized story of a client or customer’s success with your product during the later funnel stages can be very effective. In later funnel stages, prospects are inclined to dedicate more time to consuming content. This is a terrific opportunity for a customer story that explains the journey from vendor selection to implementation and success.
Before You Head to the Mall
Finally, if you’re going to go shopping — make sure you know what you need! A content mapping exercise is a great way to expose gaps in your content wardrobe. You may find that you’re heavy on thought leadership and industry research, but you lack the specific tools or demos for effective mid-to-bottom funnel nurturing. List all of your assets and group them by nurture funnel stage; this will give you valuable insight into where to spend time and effort creating effective content for specific nurturing objectives.
Ashley Paris is Senior Consultant, Strategic Services, at DemandGen. A dynamic communicator who believes in the power of marketing automation, business process innovation, and data-driven marketing, Ashley is an Eloqua and Salesforce power user, and a Marketo certified business consultant. With her extensive knowledge and experience in such key areas as lead acquisition and scoring, demand funnel strategy and definition, nurturing and content strategy, and workflow automation, Ashley helps clients generate a solid return on marketing investment.