The Mid-Funnel Is the New Content Marketing Battleground. Here’s How to Own It.

Estimated reading time: 28 minute(s)

Guest blogger Shawn Forno is a writer, editor, and content strategist with over a decade of experience in digital marketing. Here he shares insights and tactics to help you master what’s arguably the most important—and most overlooked—stage of the modern buyer’s journey: the mid-funnel.

Buyers, especially B2B buyers, don’t make purchasing decisions the way they used to. Thanks to peer reviews, social influencers, case studies, brand comparisons, and readily available industry-specific information, fewer leads are entering the sales funnel through traditional marketing channels. Today’s buyers are more self-sufficient and savvy than ever. So why are you still creating content that only focuses on raising awareness? It’s time to stop only making content that gets clicks and start crafting strategic content that converts.

The future of content is the mid-funnel. Luckily, mid-funnel content is easier to make—and more effective—than you think. Below are four of the most effective types of mid-funnel content that your buyers actually want, and why middle of the funnel content might just be the secret ingredient to increased growth. But first…

What Exactly is “Mid-Funnel” Content?

The classic sales and marketing funnel typically consists of three stages:

  • Top of Funnel: Awareness. Do buyers in your niche know who you are and what you do?
  • Mid Funnel: Research & Evaluation. Are buyers able to learn more and about your business and your unique value proposition when they perform comparison research about your niche or industry?
  • Bottom Funnel: Purchasing Decision. Do you have a clear value proposition in your niche (industry leader, best price) and/or do you provide a clear, simple path to purchase?

In the past, buyers entered the top of this sales funnel thanks to marketing and traditional advertising. Some of these leads continued to the mid-funnel where sales teams educated and qualified them. Finally, some of these prospects became clients. But that’s not how it works anymore.

“Full Funnel” Marketing

According to Forrester research, nearly two-thirds of the buyer’s journey happens before customers ever interact with your sales team. That means buyers are educating themselves on what they need and how much they’ll pay for it. And if you’re unprepared for informed buyers, that gap is going to reflect poorly on your sales. People expect you to have answers, and they expect them to be readily available online.

Think about it. The internet is full of detailed, specific information. For instance, you’re reading about mid-funnel content marketing right now, and you’re likely reading this on your phone. While waiting for an elevator. Or eating a sandwich. That’s the norm now, but on-demand niche content at your fingertips isn’t how content marketing worked 20 years ago. And that shift is why the traditional buyer’s journey has changed so dramatically.

The middle of the sales funnel—not the top—is today’s new competitive marketing battleground. And that’s a good thing—if you know how to create the right kind of content. Here are the four best types of mid-funnel content that convert.

4 Best Types of Mid-Funnel Content

Mid-Funnel Content Type #1
Buyer Guides and Comparison Shopping

The middle of the sales funnel is all about researching and evaluating products and brands before making a purchasing decision. So it’s no surprise that buyer’s guides and side-by-side product comparisons are the most popular and effective type of mid-funnel content. At this stage most buyers know they need a product. They just don’t know which product to get.

Mid-funnel leads are focused on features, price, value, and reviews. They want to know how competitors stack up against each other. So tell them why you’re the best. You can’t hide from the competition in the mid-funnel. So embrace it.

How To Create Better Buyer’s Guides

Optimize your mid-funnel content for valuable search terms based on how people search. Use
heading with terms that include:

  • Best
  • Highest-rated
  • Affordable
  • Quality
  • And more

Show key features, value propositions, distinctions, and side-by-side comparisons of your product with competitors. If you can, show prices for each product and how they stack up against the competition. It’s not only helpful content aimed at clear buyer intent, it’s a great way to jump prospects into the bottom funnel by showing them what they’ll get when they buy from you.

Buyer’s guides are also a great way to pre-empt questions and concerns before the final decision so that the prospects who click through from your CTA are ready to purchase. When you set the stage for comparison shopping you’re in control. You get to highlight your strengths and their weaknesses. Obviously, authenticity and honesty are crucial, but if customer service is where you shine, by all means highlight your 24/7 online customer support line. If you provide a lifetime warranty, compare that against your competitor’s offering. And if you have the lowest prices in town, the most 5-star reviews, or decades of experience, it’s ok to toot your own horn.

You’re probably not the only company in your field, and that’s ok. Embrace the competition and create mid-funnel content that converts.

Mid-Funnel Content Type #2
Case Studies & Client Success Stories

One of the most effective ways to turn leads into buyers is by sharing success stories from your clients. Case studies—with actual numbers—show buyers what your product can actually do. Real world examples always go further than ad copy.

How to Create Better Case Studies

Follow up with your clients a few weeks after purchase. It depends on your industry, but six weeks is usually enough time for them to have implemented your product or service. Ask how they’ve been using your product, and if they have any questions or concerns. Then ask if they’d like to be featured in a case study about the impact of the product on their business. The key here is to keep the spotlight on your client’s success with the product without asking them to do any additional work.

If they say they’re interested, provide your client with a quick questionnaire template. Work with your sales team to make one that addresses the most common questions they get from leads.

Examples include:

  • How has this product increased growth?
  • How has this product increased efficiency?
  • Would you recommend this product for large/small teams?
  • Would you recommend this product for X industries? (include space for full responses so you can create quotes and recommendations on your site)

Specific numbers are always best (24% spike in leads / 13% increase in sales in just 2 weeks), but if numbers are hard to come by ask for quotes from project leaders. Once you put together the case study, be sure to amplify and share this content with your clients on social media. You’d be surprised how much companies like to share news about themselves.

Case studies require a little more legwork to create than a standard blog post, but they provide a significant, evergreen boost to mid-funnel content. And they’re an awesome resource for your sales and outreach teams to use for years to come.

Mid-Funnel Content Type #3:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

It’s shocking how few companies provide an FAQ section on their website. FAQs are some of the easiest content to produce and provide one of the clearest and most efficient paths to conversion on your site.

How to Create Better FAQs

First, ask your sales and customer care teams which questions they receive the most. The best FAQ sections are generated from outside the company, so don’t be afraid to find the areas where you’re struggling. If you don’t address these questions, you’ll never improve.

After that, reach out to existing leads and ask them point blank if they have any questions. Buyers, like everyone else, like having their voice heard.

Finally, use Google “Related Search Queries” to drill into core keywords and search terms that relate to your niche. When you type a search term into Google, you’ll usually find a list of four or five additional related dropdown questions below the top search results. Expand each of these questions, tracking each query. These are questions that Google has selected as the most frequent and the most related to your core niche. That’s free research from the largest search
engine in the world. Use it.

When you create your FAQ, use internal links, table of contents, and keep questions related and in sequential order as best as you can. Tweak and track which questions get the most clicks and views, and iterate and you can make your FAQ page one of your biggest converting landing pages on your entire site.

Mid-Funnel Content Type #4:
Email Newsletters: Personal Mid-Funnel Content

Newsletters are amazing. They let you have first-name, one-on-one connections with motivated buyers in specific demographics, locations, and stages of the buyer’s journey. For instance, you can create content for abandoned online shopping carts and returning visitors. You can craft welcome newsletters for people that visited a specific landing page or downloaded a free product sample. And you get to have this interaction in their inbox. That’s the best kind of mid-funnel content there is!

Obviously, email newsletters only work when people opt-in to your list (it’s 2018—don’t spam), but if someone gives you their email, they’re asking to learn more about you. The right mix and frequency of mid-funnel newsletter content can convert leads at all stages of the sales funnel better than practically any other marketing. And at a fraction of the cost.

How to Create Better Newsletters

  • Always make subscribers opt-in
  • Provide value with offers, discounts, or relevant industry news and information
  • Keep it timely
  • Publish on a schedule (weekly, monthly, or daily as long as it’s consistent)
  • Master the subject headline. A bad headline is a deal breaker.
  • STOP USING ALL CAPS
  • Use images strategically
  • Link to full length mid-funnel articles (like case studies, comparison and buyer’s guides, and in-depth FAQ pages) to keep the conversation happening on your site

Why is the Mid-Funnel So Important?

Top of the funnel blog posts, SEO, social media, and ads are still great tools for raising awareness, but if you want to capture more qualified leads that are closer to becoming actual buyers it’s time to focus on the most important (and most neglected) stage of the buyer’s
journey—the middle of the funnel.

The key to growth isn’t just awareness—it’s content that meets buyers where they are in the journey. Create better mid-funnel content, like case studies, buyer’s guides, and FAQs, and convert more buyers when they’re ready to purchase.

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Paul Rosevear

What do you get when you combine the soul of a musician with the mind of a writer? Copy that sings. And for the last decade, that’s precisely what Paul has delivered for global brands, bootstrap startups, and everything in between. When he’s not hard at work crafting top-notch communications, you can find Paul hanging with his wife and two young daughters, singing and playing guitar for The Vice Rags, or roaming the streets in search of the nearest slice of pizza.

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