Navigating the Sales Funnel: Creating Content for All Stages of the Buying Process

sales-funnel-buying-stages-digital-impact-agency

We’re all familiar with our sales funnels.  We know we have businesses or individuals at different stages of the buying process.  They fall into roughly three categories:

  1. Looking for general information, likely related to a problem
  2. Has identified a need and is looking for a solution
  3. Looking to get that solution from your company

About 50% of your leads aren’t ready to buy, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t interested.  Here’s where inbound marketing with content comes in.  Content falls into three segments that correspond to our three buyer groups. Those segments are top, middle and bottom of the funnel content, or ToFu, MoFu and BoFu. Let’s discuss what each of these are and how you can leverage them to capture more leads and grow your business.

Top of the Funnel (ToFu) Content

Top of the Funnel content is introductory content.  It’s for those folks who are looking for general information.  This might be someone who typed a query in a search bar, such as “how to fix a leaky faucet” or “best types of mulch for home gardens” or “how to generate more leads.”  These people are looking for some answers.  They don’t want to read a ton of salesy copy or about how great such-and-such company is. They are really looking for some context for their problem and potential fixes. Types of ToFu content include:

    • Blog articles
    • EBooks
    • Free whitepapers
    • Tip sheets
    • Checklists
    • Guides
    • Videos
    • Kits (combination of the above)

For more valuable content, ask for something of value in return, namely an email address.  This ensures that you can send them lead nurturing emails to move them down the sales funnel.  Keep in mind that you can ask for more specific information (company name, company size, biggest problem, etc.) when you offer more value (e.g., you offer a 50 page eBook vs. a tip sheet).

Middle of the Funnel (MoFu) Content

That first stage is an initial research stage.  Those in the middle of the funnel have identified the problem, are identifying needs and realize they might need a solution similar to what you offer.

This stage is vital. In talking to different companies, most seem to encounter issues in the MoFu stage.  They can reel prospects in and close qualified leads, but they lose people that fall in that middle of the funnel section.  It’s like their own little Bermuda Triangle where half their leads go to disappear.  The issue is commonly a lack of MoFu content, specifically lead nurturing.  Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s identify some types of MoFu content. It includes pieces such as:

    • Case studies
    • Free webinars
    • Free samples
    • Product spec sheets
    • Emails
    • Catalogs

Now, how do you move leads down the sales funnel?  Remember how you got email addresses from those whitepaper and eBook downloads?  Continue to offer content of value (like those webinars) in exchange for an email address and other information, and set up lead nurturing emails to alert these people of new content they might find helpful.  These lead nurturing emails are meant to keep a stream of communication with people who have indicated they are interested by giving you their email or opting in to receive emails from you. Basically, you want to remain on their radar and establish your company as their go-to resource.

Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu) Content

When your leads have reached the bottom of the funnel, it’s closing time.  They know their problem, have identified their needs and have identified your company as having a solution to those needs.  It’s time for an in-depth discussion – this is the time to talk product and pricing. Appropriate BoFu content includes:

    • Free trials and demos
    • Free consultations
    • Quotes or estimates

As a last clarification, I like to think about our three content segments in another way:

  1. ToFu: shaped around general industry information
  2. MoFu: a mix of industry and company information (how you’ve fixed problems like theirs)
  3. BoFu: shaped around your company information (discussion time; talk solutions and pricing)

Keep Content Consumer-centric

The best way to create content that attracts qualified leads is to make sure it answers their questions.  Before publishing a piece of content, ask yourself what your readers will get out of it, what perception does it give of your company and will they want to return for more.  If your content is helpful and informative, people will want to establish a relationship with your business.

About the Author

Katrice Svanda is the Director of Business Development and Founder of Digital Impact Agency, an interactive media and inbound marketing agency.

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