Mid-funnel content doesn’t get the fanfare it deserves. Maybe that’s because it’s a little harder to measure. The metrics are clear for the top-of-funnel stuff (shares, page views) and for the bottom-of-funnel content (conversions), but all of those newsletters, guides and whitepapers in the middle of your marketing funnel are equally essential.
However, just because a step is critical doesn’t mean marketers are actually doing it. Research by B2B Marketing company NetLine found that that 92 percent of content created was top-funnel, leaving only six percent for mid-funnel and two percent for bottom-funnel in the IT industry.
If you can create awesome mid-funnel content, chances are you will be heads and shoulders above your competitors. To get you and your marketing team started down the road to creating best-in-class mid-funnel content, we’ve turned our spotlight onto five companies that excel in this very discipline.
Follow their examples to learn how the best marketers turn interested followers into warm leads.
Zendesk’s Video Content
One of the clearest examples of mid-funnel content in video form is Zendesk. Their top-funnel content features funny videos about terrible customer service and explainer animations about the company, while the mid-funnel content takes a step deeper — without losing the engaging nature of the brand.
The team at Skeleton Productions, who have an excellent guide to using video across all stages of a content funnel, highlight how Zendesk uses video as mid-funnel content to speak to audiences who already recognize the brand, but want to know why it’s worth their time.
Entrepreneur Vera K. Fischer writes that customers don’t want high-level awareness messaging once they pass the top of the funnel. They’re ready for more detailed information. In the case of Zendesk, the company builds trust with its culture-centric mid-funnel content that reviews its philosophies and goals, preparing customers for the highly technical bottom funnel content that closes the deal.
Denamico’s Revamped Client Newsletter
In 2015, the marketing team at Denamico was struggling with one of its client’s newsletters. They couldn’t segment the list as they wanted, and that meant many recipients were getting redundant emails or different messages than they needed. The client’s sales funnel was thus leaking everywhere.
Denamico’s solution was to create four segments in the client’s audience with targeted content for each:
- Top-of-funnel audiences saw a CTA for an eBook download.
- Mid-funnel audiences saw an invite to an event, webinar or workshop.
- Bottom-of-funnel audiences saw an invite for an in-person consultation.
- Existing customers saw a standard greeting with either a client appreciation message or a referral request.
Through this targeted content, newsletter open rates increased by 43 percent and CTR increased by 89 percent. Plus, with better funnel targeting, Denamico was able to see customers move past the top of the funnel — where many had leaked before — and prepare them for the middle of the funnel events or bottom funnel sales pitches.
Not every brand has to follow this exact approach, but Denamico highlights the industry move away from demographic segmentation. For example, Bobby Babak Masjedi at Connexity has nine better alternative methods of audience segmentation. Any of these could be used to help you meet your audience with a more relevant message and move qualified prospects along your funnel for more effective leads.
Castleford Content Marketing’s Meta-Mid-Funnel Blog Post
Often, marketers create mid-funnel content without realizing it. Instead of goal-based content creation, they’re focused on filling their editorial calendars or generating sales. With that in mind, they would take a normally mid-funnel topic and try to make it a closer piece, or make it too high-level to do any good.
So recently, the agency Castleford Content Marketing, in a moment of self-awareness, set out to create mid-funnel content to demonstrate to its clients exactly what that is and why it’s important.
“This isn’t a top-of-the-funnel piece, designed to make people aware of content marketing as a whole,” they write. “This also isn’t a bottom-of-the-funnel piece, so we’re not going to include a list of testimonials from happy clients either. Instead, we’re doing exactly what good middle-of-the-funnel content should do — providing value by answering a question that’s more complex than … and illustrating how we can help.”
The body of the article does a great job of answering the 5Ws and H of mid-funnel content. The message is deeper and more involved than any other part of the sales funnel, giving readers time to really understand the message and connect with the brand.
“Content marketing talks directly to those who are already aware of your organisation,” the team at Nichemarket writes. “It convinces them that you know what you’re talking about and that your services would be a valuable investment.”
After reading Castleford’s piece, a potential customer will have a clear understanding of mid-funnel content because they’ve seen it in action, experienced how it builds trusts and can begin to envision how it meets their own audience’s needs.
Vircom’s Why Spammers Spam Whitepaper
More than a decade ago, Vircom, a Montreal-based anti-spam software developer, published a whitepaper called Why Spammers Spam. Even though this mid-funnel content was geared toward a B2B audience, the whitepaper was downloaded more than 2,200 times and generated major media coverage. In fact, Vicom says it generated 21 sales worth $96,500 from the whitepaper (which cost $1,700 to create).
Gordon Graham, known as The Whitepaper Guy, covered the publication of this whitepaper and spoke to Vircom about why the company thought it was such a success. Vircom’s biggest lesson learned? Don’t make the whitepaper a hard sales pitch.
“The term ‘whitepaper’ has become synonymous with a 24-page brochure on a product,” Vircom’s market analyst says. Audiences immediately grow bored and tune out because the nitty-gritty product details are meant for the bottom of the funnel, not the middle part where people just want to learn more about your brand and services.
The team at Nectafy explains that this is a common problem with content marketing. In their experience, too often they come across middle-of-funnel content that is either
- too generic (i.e. it tries to speak to everyone at once),
- too self-promotional or
- too ambitious about showing people how to solve their pain points with the company’s offers.
Vircom’s whitepaper worked because it didn’t fall into those traps. Instead, it was genuine and well-researched, which is why it generated results.
AdEspresso’s Social Proof Ebook
In 2016, AdEspresso, published an ebook called The Ultimate Guide to Social Proof Marketing.
Then, AdEspresso’s Pawel Grabowski pulled back the curtain on how the company created and marketed that ebook. It was deceptively easy: Grabowski had written extensively on the subject of social proof earlier that year, creating at least three blog posts on various niche subjects and guides pertaining to it.
These articles alone might have been top-funnel traffic drivers or even mid-funnel explanations on their own. But he combined them all into an amended ebook to create a particularly useful resource for customers in the middle or even near the bottom of the funnel.
As a result, AdEspresso now has an in-depth guide to demonstrating social proof that speaks to the more sophisticated levels of product awareness of its mid-funnel audience. And in doing so, this positions AdEspresso as an informative and advanced social asset in any marketer’s arsenal.
Creating Amazing Mid-Funnel Content Takes Practice
If you don’t have outstanding mid-funnel content now, you don’t need to panic, but you should take steps to improve your content strategies to generate mid-funnel assets.
“Content creation does not need to be a linear process,” inbound marketer Katie Schieder from Arc Intermedia writes at BuzzSumo. “If you already have a great bottom of the funnel piece of content, then work backwards. If you have a blog post that generates a lot of traffic but has a high bounce rate, think of ways you can expand on the topics discussed in that post.”
Mid-funnel content is essential for brands and their sales processes. Without it, your leads will lack the information they need to buy, and your sales team will struggle to vet qualified buyers. Mid-funnel content provides information to both parties, which ultimately translates into a smoother buying process.