The buyer’s journey maps the stages a potential customer goes through to make a purchase, each of which comes with unique marketing goals and strategies that are best suited to meet them. This is also known as a sales funnel.
Out of these, the middle of the funnel (MOFU), also called the “consideration” or “interest/decision” stage focuses on identifying quality leads and nurturing them into a conversion.
There are many approaches you can take to achieve that goal and establish a successful MOFU strategy. But few are as effective as using optimized inbound marketing content to that end!
So today, we are taking a closer look at this stage of your conversion process and giving you a few tools and perspectives that will help you improve your results at this stage!
Inbound marketing in a nutshell
At its core, inbound marketing is a business methodology designed to attract customers by providing them with valuable content and personalized experiences. It aims at attracting quality leads and creating meaningful connections with them by solving their existing problems while empowering them to reach their goals.
Many aspects of digital marketing weave into inbound content strategies - SEO, landing page optimization, social media engagement. Still, few can have as dramatic an effect as optimized content, given that a great inbound marketing piece can attract, engage, and delight your prospects at the same time!
This sort of versatility can be a game-changer in the middle of the funnel!
By tailoring and providing relevant content to your audience, not only will you gain exposure and authority in your niche, you also get to nurture customer trust and form long-term relationships that go past a single interaction, purchase, or subscription.
So, let’s take a closer look at how to go about using inbound content to your advantage during the middle of a conversion funnel.
Accurate customer personas are vital!
To create content that’s tailored to your target audience, you first need to identify the people that make up this audience and pinpoint their specific problems and needs. The best way to do so is to compile that information to create a research-based profile that represents them: a customer persona.
These profiles should reflect a realistic description of a person who represents a segment of your customer base. Used right, they will help you deliver the right kind of content through the appropriate channels to the right people at the best possible time.
This might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be!
Here are some essential data points you’ll want to include when putting together your customer personas, as they will have the most impact on informing your content strategy:
- Demographics: Basic info like age, gender, occupation, location, education, family, hobbies, social media use, and so on. These tell you who your customers are.
- Values, ambitions, and motivations: What are the goals the customer wants to achieve? Who do they want to be? What drives them? These tell you what the ideal approach could be.
- Pain points and challenges: What are the problems that they need solutions to? What are they struggling with in relation to their goals? What questions do they need answered? These tell you where to focus and what information to prioritize.
- Objections to your product: Do they have any concerns regarding your product or service? What is the reason behind that concern? These tell you what pitfalls to avoid and how to circumvent them.
Once you find the common characteristics between the people that make up your target audience segment, group them, and you’ll have the basis of your unique customer persona.
From then on, each time you need to decide on your strategy or the content you are producing for it, reference back to these profiles. As long as you ensure that what you are trying to do makes sense in terms of these key characteristics representing your audience, you'll be on the right track.
Adapt your content to your audience
On the client’s side, the consideration stage is all about education. Potential customers at this stage are actively looking for information around a problem or need, like potential solutions or relevant businesses.
By creating and offering them targeted content - often designed to teach them about the benefits they can derive from your offer - you dramatically increase your chances of motivating them to action, like a subscription, page visit, or lead conversion.
But with so many different options out there, how can you be sure you’re selecting the right medium to deliver your message?
Well, there are some tried-and-tested content options that are particularly great for the middle of the funnel. For simplicity and ease, we’ll be classifying them today into two broader categories: written content and audiovisual content.
Written content comprises pieces you’re probably already familiar with, such as informative blog articles, social media posts, white papers, how-to guides, ebooks, and any other form of in-depth written material.
All these forms of content allow you to discuss key topics to differing degrees of detail and nuance, and can also help you position your company as authoritative, an expert at what it does.
But the truth is that written content has its limitations, especially in today’s short-attention-spans digital market. Yes, a whitepaper or free ebook can perform exceedingly well for a specialized or already invested audience. However, it will hold much less appeal to attract new audiences.
Audiovisual content, on the other hand, tends to cast a much wider net without sacrificing specificity or targetability. Video content, in particular, can do that exceedingly well while still telling a memorable story that also humanizes your brand.
Some of the most effective types of video for the middle of the funnel include the following:
Live webinars offer a valuable opportunity to present your expertise and connect with your prospects, as they allow you to have a two-way conversation in which they can ask questions and clear any doubts they might have about your offer.
An effective webinar for the MOFU should focus on how your solution can help your potential customers to gain their trust.
Testimonials provide social proof of your product or service's superiority and position your business as the right choice. This goes a long way in convincing prospects of your value and encouraging them to move onto the next stage of the journey.
Tutorials/How-to videos guide viewers through the exact process of solving a problem or accomplishing a goal and show how your business can help. Moreover, tutorials can help you explain and demonstrate the best practices for using your product or service to achieve their objectives.
Explainers illustrate to your viewers what you’re offering them, how they can benefit from that, and why they should choose you through relatable storytelling and engaging animation.
When all’s said and done, you should be using your customer personas to help you decide the type of content that would most appeal to the type of people you are trying to attract, and then craft said content around the type of info they’ll be looking for during the consideration stage.
Delivery can make or break your MOFU strategy
Once you have exceptional and tailored content, you still have to deliver that content in a way that effectively and efficiently reaches its intended audience. The best piece of content in the world will do little for your brand if people don't see it.
Naturally, choosing a set of channels that will work for you, your audience, and the type of content you're sharing is vital for the whole thing to work out in the end.
When it comes to digital marketing, there are two content delivery categories you need to concern yourself with: organic and paid. Each of these has its value and drawbacks:
Organic channels don’t require any big outlay to get started, so they’re perfect if you’re on a budget. It’s a cost-effective option as you can share your content freely.
The main downside of organic channels is that it takes time and patience to build your online presence and audience. As authority and credibility have to grow over time, it could take a long while before you start seeing the fruits of your hard work.
The most popular organic channels include search engines like Google, company blogs and websites, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms.
Paid channels are those where your company pays for content promotion.
Paid channels offer a more stable and controlled way of reaching your target audience because they ensure that your content is being seen by people that match the criteria you have established for your customer persona. Used right, paid channels can generate immediate results and allow your content strategy to start producing results more quickly.
Popular paid distribution channels include pay-per-click advertising on search engines, like Google Ads, paid social media ads, influencer marketing, and online events.
An ideal content distribution strategy will use a combination of both organic and paid channels to increase lead generation. However, whether you choose one channel or a combined approach, just make sure that the platform matches the preferred consumption format of your audience, so you put your money and efforts where your audience is most likely to be.
Most people looking to improve their digital marketing results nowadays turn to content marketing as a reliable answer for good reasons! But if you’ve read this far, you know there’s more to it than an “if you build it, they will come!” type of approach.
The middle of the funnel, in particular, presents a lot of challenges and nuance to consider, as it is where most of your competition will probably be focusing the bulk of their attention. It’s a key point which will influence their next actions - move forward with your solution or keep looking.
So, take your time and build an efficient strategy. One which is developed around accurate customer persona profiles, powered by fully tailored content your audience will love, and delivered effectively and efficiently.
Take care of those three pillars to a successful MOFU content marketing strategy, and you’ll reap the benefits.