How to Choose Content for Top-Funnel Lead Generation
For many B2B marketing teams, generating top-funnel and marketing qualified leads through content promotion is a vital part of their marketing strategy. And while most companies understand the benefits of lead nurturing and the difference between a top- and bottom-funnel leads, a lesser known piece of the puzzle is how much of an impact the type of content has on the quality of the lead generated, and knowing exactly which stage a lead or prospect is in.
Defining the Funnels: Top, Middle, and Bottom
A top-funnel lead, is a prospect who provides their contact information in exchange for something such as a piece of content (i.e. an eBook, webinar, whitepaper, research, etc.). This means the person has some interest in the topic of your content, and is likely interested in things related to that topic, which ideally would be more content from you and eventually your product or service.
Middle-Funnel: These are prospects who have already been engaging with your brand, either through your content, your site, an event, etc. Maybe they’ve downloaded three of your whitepapers, or attended 2 webinars, or have visited your site more than 5 times in the past two weeks, or something along those lines. These folks know your brand and are expressing a high-level of interest around the topics your brand has a voice on. However, they haven’t “raised their hand” to signal that they are a clear sales-ready prospect. Rather, they’re investing time into their research still, and could very well be evaluating multiple options.
Bottom-Funnel: These are the smallest group of folks who have clearly expressed interest in your product/service, and could potentially be a client in the near-future. Either they’ve requested a demo, asked for product-specific info, invited multiple team members in to evaluate, etc. Once a person reaches this level, this is where your sales team can really take over and engage in a qualified conversation.
The question then becomes, how do you first generate, then guide, a lead through your funnel so they can be educated and informed by the time an opportunity arises for your sales team?
It All Starts With Content
While content syndication or content promotion seems simple to master, the companies that are truly successful with content are investing time not only in making sure the creative and copy in their content is appealing and coherent, but that it is focused specifically on the problem(s) their company solves, rather than just their industry or a vague topic.
Let’s say you’re selling social media software to small businesses (think mom and pop shops) that helps these businesses get more out of Twitter to drive new and repeat business. Which piece of content do you think would do better, in terms of attracting a lead which would more likely to convert to a sales opportunity at some point?
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The answer is of course B. It’s not the A will not provide any value, or that it won’t attract potential customers, it’s that A is too vague. Anyone who has an interest in marketing or social media could download A. But with B, its market is much more narrow. You’re weeding out the folks who may have no need at all for your product, because they either are not a small business owner / do not work for a small business, and because they are not indicating that they have an issue they’d like to solve.
With B, you can reasonably expect most people who read it either own or work for a small business, they have a Twitter account, and they understand the value of monitoring Twitter to not only drive new business but to increase customer loyalty as well, which is exactly what our example company’s product does.
Understanding the difference between a top, middle and bottom-funnel lead is crucial; what’s just as crucial is setting yourself up for success by aligning your content and promotion strategy with your core offering.
While creating more broadly appealing content is not a bad strategy at all, it’s just not something you should invest as much money in promoting as you should with a more defined piece. Both serve their purposes, whether it’s for thought leadership, lead generation or nurturing.
Next up, we’ll provide some advice into how to turn a top-funnel lead in a middle funnel lead.