Middle-of-the-funnel content marketing
How to enter the middle stage of your sales funnel with the right content
So, you’ve built an online presence and your audience is familiar with both your brand and your content. What’s next? At this stage, you want to achieve two things. You want your audience to engage further with your brand and to develop a deeper interest in your product or service. It’s more important than ever to grab your potential buyers’ attention with unique and ambitious content that turns interested website visitors into paying customers.
In the first level of your sales funnel, the top-of-funnel (ToFU) stage, you wanted to attract website visitors and introduce them to your brand. You delivered educational or interactive content, you worked out a unique engagement strategy, or you hit the nail on the head with a successful podcast. Now, you are in the second level of your sales funnel, the middle-of-the-funnel (MoFu).
Before you can advance to the third level, bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu), the stage where your clients are purchasing, you need to convince them that your product or service is the best choice. And it’s not just brand awareness and recognition, or the products and services on offer that count. At this stage, your competitive position on the market is more important than ever.
Contrary to widespread claims, price is not the only thing that matters here – it’s your content that persuades the client to purchase your product/service, even if it’s at a higher price. The right content transfers knowledge and trust and offers incentives that highlight your unique selling point and leave your competition far behind.
But how do you get started? Let’s fill you in.
What is MoFu content marketing?
The middle-of-the-funnel stage is not just a fancy term. It’s a whole strategical concept that is key to your marketing plan. This stage can decide whether you win or lose a customer.
MoFu content marketing focuses on creating interest and fostering consideration within your target audience. At this stage, you are definitely trying to sell something, and you need to use every opportunity to do so.
Your content needs to have the following 5 key attributes to be convincing and competitive:
- Problem-solving & relieving
If you follow this advice, your content with thank you and give you something in return: leads. Leads are the first step in getting in touch with the client and following up with them on a regular basis, according to their needs.
How to nurture leads in MoFu content marketing
Defining the right lead
Leads are basically your clients’ data. Due to data protection, collecting data from your target group isn’t as easy as it used to be. The prospect must intentionally agree to provide your business with data.
Leads are also not a lead. There are different kind of quality measurements for lead generation. In content marketing, there are three important types:
- Information qualified lead (IQL)
- Marketing qualified lead (MQL)
- Sales qualified lead (SQL)
The information qualified lead (IQL) is often already achieved in the top-of-funnel stage. At this point, the prospect doesn’t necessarily need to know your brand to pass on their data in exchange for specific information, i.e. in form of a document or template download or a product catalogue. They might provide you with their e-mail, but it would be hard for you to define whether the potential customer is interested in your brand or willing to purchase at any point.
In the middle-of-funnel-stage, you would instead look for a marketing qualified lead (MQL). This lead is given to you because the prospect is actually interested in your marketing/brand.
Practical example: IQL
An IQL is interested in how you might solve a problem for which they have been researching a solution. They will decide to download material that includes information about your company’s product or service. Your marketing team can use this lead to identify the interests of the prospect and follow-up with them until the next stage of the funnel: the bottom-of-funnel. There, the MQL turns into sales qualified lead (SQL).
Generate the right lead
MoFu Content Marketing aims for MQLs – and not only to collect data that can be used for marketing purposes. MQLs are also useful for finding out more about your target group so you can offer personalised and tailored content that has added value not only for your sales team but also the customer. So, how do you get started?
- Create content that feeds into customers’ needs, builds trust and shows expertise.
- Utilise gated content: Set up a form that users must fill out before they can access content. Pick the information in a way that helps you to personalise your communication. You can generally qualify leads based on the following user data:
- Phone number
- Job title
The information you want to acquire also depends on your target audience. In a B2B environment, you want to find out about someone’s profession rather than their personal attributes. For B2C marketing, the client as a person is the focus.
- Promote new content opportunities: Give the customer the chance to follow up with your content activities. This will help you stay in touch with your client and monitor customer behaviour. The most common method is:
- E-mail subscription for newsletter or e-mail promotion
The right MoFu content format for the right leads
Now we know how to nurture and qualify leads – but how do we put this into practice? It’s time to define the right content format to attract these leads. Your prospects will only be willing to forward their data – in an informative or qualified way – if they find what they are looking for and if you can provide them with something that your competition is lacking.
What kind of formats are used in the MoFu stage?
- Promotional/comparative content
- Educational/explanatory content
- Audiovisual content
The choice of your format also depends on your product or service. If you offer a more complex B2B product that requires explanation and tutorials, you might want to go with audiovisual content instead of presenting manuals with high volume of pages.
However, it does pay off to offer an expert editorial in form of an e-book as an addition. If you are selling a unique B2C product, it is recommended to wrap it around promotional content that highlights the advantages and unique selling points of your product or service. As we can see, the format is not only dependent on the product but also on the audience we are presenting it to.
The right Mofu content format for the right audience
MoFu content formats for B2B audience
If you are selling a B2B product, the best choice is a B2B content format. This format can be one of the three mentioned format types but has to include certain features adapted to the needs of your B2B audience.
What do you need to consider when producing MoFu B2B content?
- B2B MoFu content must be very qualitative. The consumers already know what they want and have enough options on the market.
- B2B MoFu content must be verified to be interesting for a B2B client. The sources must be reliable and comparable.
- B2B MoFu content is data-driven and often based on a case study. Data needs to be unique and very descriptive.
- B2B MoFu content must convince users with in-depth information and a personalised marketing approach.
- B2B MoFu content should animate the customer to choose your brand as part of a concrete buying decision. That means, the content can now be product-focused and promotional.
Examples of B2B MoFu content
Educational & explanatory content
A case study is a classic MoFu B2B content format. Usually, the case study targets the exact interests of the target group, thanks to trustworthy, verified information based on fact or testimonials. As a result, we see a double promotional effect – first, providing in-depth knowledge and second, verifying this information and recommending it within an indirect referral strategy of experts that have been engaging with your product or service.
Practical example: Case study
A case study is an opportunity to provide in-depth knowledge on research your company did. It shows expertise and builds trust. You might want to involve a former client that serves as a case for your research. This has two advantages: First, your partner serves as a testimonial as they show that your product/service helped them in the past. The more well-known your partner is, the more trust will be built with your client. Second, the prospect has the chance to compare due to a concrete example from the practice. This might give you a competitive advantage.
Audiovisual content is especially useful for B2B content marketing strategies in the MoFu stage. Having already piqued interest, you can transfer a lot of knowledge and expertise to your audience by offering them visual and audio material about your product and service.
Practical example: Webinar
You sell IT software. Your prospective client is already interested in its features. That means you can create several webinars with well-known experts to talk about your product and its application. You point out several problems the user might have and prove your product can solve all of them and even optimise the process. A webinar also offers the chance for the user to ask direct questions and get in touch with a contact person. That strengthens trust and engagement and can be the deciding step in a client’s purchase.
Key factors of successful B2B webinars:
- The topic should be informative and explanatory, related to your product and useful for purchasing the product.
- A series based on one specific topic surrounding your service – which builds trust but also affirms the customer in their buying decision.
- There are many webinars out there – you have to offer different topics and messages from others and present unique findings.
- Invite clients and guests to your webinar that address the topic with the aid of expert knowledge and your product. Be subtle while offering solutions. In the B2B sector, expertise comes before selling skills.
MoFu content formats for B2C audience
For a B2C audience, the right format plays a huge role. Content should be promotional and comparative rather than in-depth or data driven, and fast solutions are appreciated just as much as clear answers. The B2C sector is very competitive and, in the MoFu stage, where your prospective customers are deciding whether or not to go for your product, you should pull out all the stops when it comes to content. Audiovisual content can be very helpful, if presented in the right way.
What do you need to consider whilst producing MoFu B2C content?
- In the B2C sector, MoFu content should be relevant, unique and catchy.
- MoFu content has to be informative with a strong focus on competitive comparison. Content can be very promotional and will ideally offer incentives.
- MoFu B2C content has to be very concrete in its explanations. The client is now interested in your product and wants fast solutions.
- MoFu content can be data-driven, provided the data has a positive, promotional effect on your product.
- MoFu content shouldn’t be too heavy and lengthy but rather offer concrete solutions for how the customer’s problem can be solved quickly and easily with your product or service.
Examples of B2C MoFu content
Promotional & comparative content
In the MoFu stage, you can and should promote your product more aggressively than in the ToFu stage. Your client is already in the middle of your sales funnel and wants to make a decision soon. The only factor holding them back now is the competition.
Therefore, your content needs to show that your product or service is much better than the competition and back this with several proven facts. Your content needs to reflect knowledge but also justify why the prospect should turn into a client.
Practical example: Checklists and tutorials
Checklists are a form of content that show the customer the best way to do something. If you are offering an internet contract, for example, you might do a checklist that helps the customer to understand that they should switch their current internet provider.
E.g.: “Is your internet connection suitable for remote work?” In this article, you would compare different offers and give reasons as to why your product is more suitable for doing remote work than the products of other suppliers. You can generate a direct lead here if you place a CTA button with a direct sales contact. Another idea for a CTA would be a product page that supplies further information on your promotional content.
Written guides about products or services can be very lengthy. B2C audiences appreciate speedy solutions that are best marketed with audio-visual incentives. A good demo video explains everything the client needs to know to convince them of a purchase.
Practical example: Demo videos
You are a beauty product retailer launching a new make-up product. Your client knows you already but are still in a decision process whilst scrolling your ToFu content. Now it is a good time to show a demo video. The demo video allows your audience to see how the product looks in real life and shares instruction with them on how to use it in the daily beauty routine. Ideally, you hire an influencer that demonstrates the application, increasing additional trust in your brand and your product.
Key factors of successful B2C demo video
- An easy explanation with testimonials, virtual tours, or side-by-side in-use comparisons can encourage the client to choose your product over the competition.
- The more appealing the video or tutorial, the higher the chance that the client will trust your brand and remember it when making their buying decision.
MoFu content marketing for B2C and B2B audience
Specialising in one funnel is a good choice if you are only working towards one KPI. If you are still in the stage of positioning yourself on the market, you could aim for a set of KPIs that you can identify within different marketing funnels. MoFu content can be easily combined with elements of other funnel stages, such as ToFu.
ToFu content KPIs
- Brand awareness, engagement, traffic
- Showing the user who you are and where you would like to go with them
MoFu content KPIs
- Showing the user that you are the right choice for this purchase
Example: Personal School of Development’s personality test
Brush up your interactive ToFu content with a lead generation form.
The Personal Development school would like to collect leads to spread their course offer. They offer a free personality test that provides personalised results in exchange for a lead. The tool can be easily found on the internet and fosters engagement, characteristic of the ToFu stage.
By giving away personal data to receive personalised results, the user directly switches to the middle of funnel stage. After taking the quiz, the company can follow up with the customer and provide course offers.
Example: Hubspot’s Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing 2021
Offer an asset linkbuilding page with lead generation download.
Hubspot’s guide provides insider knowledge about content marketing. This guide is suitable for current content experts and ones who came across it in the SERPs. What’s special about this page is that includes both a summary of the downloadable asset, which is suitable for prospects who are already in the sales funnel, and also very basic insights about what content marketing is and how you can practise it in your professional life. The page contains shareable videos and infographics and is thus also suitable for prospects that never engaged with your brand or product/service.
This is a very efficient way to target a broader audience. The more information and assets you share, the more in-depth and convincing your content is.
How to measure success in MoFu content marketing?
As middle-of the-funnel content closes the gap between considering and purchasing, it is especially important in this stage to measure your KPIs regularly and track your success. A suitable tool for tracking in the MoFu stage is Google Analytics or the Google Search Console (GSC). The following KPIs are crucial for your success and have to be measured on a permanent basis:
- E-mail sign-ups (form fill out)
- Asset downloads
- Webinar participants
- Bounce rate, exit rate, click-through-rate (CTR)
- Social signals, referral traffic
So, now you’ve created the right content for the right audience and you’re already seeing the first sign-ups from your prospects. Now what?
In order to turn your prospects into dedicated buyers, you are missing one stage of your sales funnel – the bottom-of-funnel content marketing stage begins! Personalised e-mail follow-ups, promotions or events can put you right on target with your customer’s needs.
From consideration to purchase – what is the best strategy? Find out in our next piece, about successful bottom-of-funnel content marketing!