Image source: Vecteezy
As a B2B marketer, you’ve probably been following the classic line in content creation as we know it: Top of Funnel, Middle of Funnel, Bottom of Funnel, post sales.
According to a 2019 study by the Content Marketing Institute, B2B marketers, regardless of the size of their organization, said half the content they produce is for audiences in the early stages of the customer journey.
Image source: Content Marketing Institute
However, there's a slight problem here: you don’t have the luxury that a B2C brand has in terms of keyword volumes. Depending on your niche you may have a relatively small number of searchers that need your product. And they must find you quickly, or you’re in big trouble. So for B2B marketers in particular, a tweak may be in order.
B2B marketers spend a lot of time promoting brand awareness and generating traffic and leads. However, the plain truth is that the path to purchase is not always as straightforward as the classic sales funnel portrays.
Not everyone starts from top of the funnel queries such as “What is keyword research?” Not in the least, B2B prospects.
You wouldn’t expect the head of marketing in a B2B establishment to search for “What is a marketing funnel.” But you could expect them to search for “How to identify the best marketing funnel tools.”
So long as this remains the case, if you continue to spend resources on writing top of the funnel content, rather than focusing further down, you’ll probably be missing out on leads and opportunities.
Here are two reasons why B2B marketers should consider skipping top of the funnel content.
1. Top of the funnel content is becoming impossible to rank for
That may, of course, be overstating it slightly. But it is the case that ranking for top of the funnel content is very difficult, indeed near to impossible now.
Take, for example, the term “content marketing definition”. Years ago when it wasn’t yet a very popular term, the Content Marketing Institute gave what remains to date the simplest and clearest definition of the term "content marketing".
Thousands of brands quoted it and linked back to it. Today it ranks as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd organic result on Google for a search on “Content Marketing Definition”, as well as being heavily present in the People also ask section, providing the first 3 answers here.
The Content Marketing Institute have cleverly built on their high level of authority here, meaning that new content they produce is also likely to rank well.
If yours is a brand that sells something relating to content marketing, you don’t stand much of a chance against a giant like this.
The same thing goes for many niches today. You have to move down to the middle of the funnel if you’re to be found at all.
2. B2B buyers aren’t looking for it
If you are trying to sell something to a B2B buyer, you’ll be dealing with higher level executives. A person in such a role wouldn’t be a complete novice, they’d already have a level of expertise in the area.
So, you wouldn’t expect a B2B buyer not to know if there is a solution to a problem they want to solve, or not to be already familiar with the names of brands that might provide the solution.
For one reason or another though, they might want to check what’s available, or find a how-to, or look for new data confirming or denying their line of thought. And queries like that happen not to fall into top of the funnel content.
If I search for "how to start a sports blog", I already know what a sports blog is. I’m looking for more information about how I need to go about this.
A piece of content that defines what a sports blog is will be of no use to me, and that’s not what I’ll be looking for. My interest is in actionable detail, which comes further down the funnel.
And that’s the level of awareness you should expect from a B2B prospect, every single time.
So, what should you do instead?
If you’ve read up to this point, the answer should be obvious: focus more on middle of the funnel content.
This means content which provides a solution to your prospect’s problem or pain point - which could be your product.
This kind of content can take many forms, including:
- Data: to confirm whether or not they are thinking along the right lines
- Comparison or vs. blog posts: offering savings or a product with more features
- A how-to guide: teaching your prospect a better or easier way to do something
- Case study: how other people have solved this problem, with a method which can be applied
There are plenty more kinds of content you can use. These types of posts help your prospects find you easily and also allow you to present your product to them as the ultimate solution to their problem.
Plus, they are often easier to rank for than top of the funnel content.
Top of the funnel content is still useful and effective in its primary goal, which is to create awareness and generate leads. You will still have people coming into your industry who are just learning the ropes, and this kind of content will reach them and make them familiar with your brand.
So you shouldn’t discard this entirely, just consider rebalancing your focus.
The next stage of the funnel is where you have more concrete opportunities to turn leads into sales, targeting people who are already knowledgeable and demonstrating that your product is the solution they need.
You can move a lot faster in forging lasting and profitable relationships by creating more middle of the funnel content from the outset.