What is bottom-funnel content marketing?
Regardless of whether you’re a content marketing novice or have been in the game for over a decade, you’ll no doubt have heard the phrase ‘sales funnel’ mentioned in discussions of how to attract potential customers.
Also known by the aliases ‘conversion funnel’ and ‘marketing funnel’, this model has been around for as long as content marketers can remember, and understanding it is absolutely vital in attracting leads and turning them into sales. While each stage of the funneling process holds a certain mystique, it’s hard to argue that the final part isn’t the most challenging. This is the point where an interested prospect makes the decision to ‘convert’ and become a customer.
Of course, if bottom-of-the-funnel content marketing was easy to understand and perfect then every business would be making far more sales than they already are. Instead, working out what type of content will work best at this critical stage of the conversion process can be a real challenge, which we’ll explore in this article.
Part One: Defining bottom-funnel content marketing
Let’s start with a simple question: What is bottom-of-the-funnel marketing?
Put simply, the bottom of the funnel – or ‘BoFu’ – is where you’ll want to use specifically targeted content in order to convince prospects to take that all-important final leap and purchase your product or service. Or, as Moz puts it:
“The narrowest part of the funnel is the point of transaction (or conversion). At this point, we know that folks remaining in the funnel are interested in what we have to offer; we’re just trying to convince them we’re worth them pulling the trigger.”
Facilitating this final step from lead to conversion is the core objective of any BoFu strategy, and there are all sorts of different types of content that can come into play in order to achieve this.
However, before we go any further, it’s critical to consider how this final stage of the sales process ties in with the other stages of the marketing funnel. After all, there’s not much use having incredible content at the bottom if you haven’t already taken care of the equally important earlier parts of your potential customers’ experiences.
So let’s recap. The marketing funnel is effectively a journey, one that starts with awareness and ends with action.
At the start, we have top-funnel (ToFu) content, where you raise awareness of your business, increase visibility in search engines, and provide material that can be shared on social media. With ToFu content, it’s important not to sell your offering too hard, as that simply isn’t what your target audience is looking for. Instead, focus on lead generation by giving potential customers the information they need and position your organisation as a source of expertise that knows what it’s talking about.
From there, we move into the middle-of-the-funnel (yes, it’s called MoFu), which is where awareness turns into interest. Naturally, there’ll be some drop-off in the number of prospects who move into this next stage, which is what gives the funnel its shape and name. Mid-funnel content is where you start bridging the gap between talking about a problem and offering your business as a solution.
Only once a prospect has made their way through the top and middle of the funnel – and started to desire your product or service – can you start hitting them with some top-tier BoFu material to seal the deal.
Improving lead scoring with content can help you get a better return on your investment from both content creation and marketing automation. Here are 5 ways the right content can drive more effective lead scoring. https://t.co/StfdsnYeQ3 pic.twitter.com/L4tWXnTBzg
— Castleford (@castlefordmedia) June 8, 2018
Part Two: How to use bottom-funnel content
Now that we know what BoFu content is and how it ties into the funnel as a whole, it’s time to take a look at how to use this type of content within an overarching content marketing plan.
The best way to start is by crafting a specific content marketing strategy for the bottom of the funnel that ties in with your top and middle-funnel content, as well as your ultimate sales goals and audience interests. To create a strategy that ticks all of these boxes, there are a few key elements you’ll want to consider.
The most important of these is the product or service that you’re trying to get customers to buy. Great bottom-of-the-funnel content is closely aligned with the core benefits and unique selling points (USPs) of your organisation’s specific offering. That means creating a point of difference and challenging any negative assumptions that consumers may have. In essence, your strategy at the bottom of the funnel should be to drive home the real value of your business, with case studies, reviews and testimonials all great examples of BoFu content that achieves this goal.
In addition to showcasing value, a great bottom-funnel content strategy should include a streamlined sales process. This may not seem like ‘content’ in the same way that a testimonial for your product is, but it has just as big an impact on a prospect’s final decision.
Not every business will be looking for a prospect to directly buy a product online. For some, conversion may mean filling out a contact form or signing up for a demo.
A classic example of this is the final stage that a customer has to go through in order to purchase something. These conversion landing pages are an absolutely critical stage of your bottom-funnel content marketing, and you’ll want to make sure they are as simple and informative as possible.
One of the very best in the game when it comes to a streamlined conversion process is Amazon. The company’s sales pages have almost no words, and the text that you do see is brief and to the point. This eliminates any potential barriers to conversion and allows an audience of prospects to transform into customers, almost before they’ve realised it.
Of course, not every business will be looking for a prospect to directly buy a product online. For some, conversion may mean filling out a contact form or signing up for a demo. Regardless of the goal, your BoFu content should make it as easy as possible for a lead to turn into a conversion.
Finally, if you really want to go the extra mile with your bottom of the funnel content ideas, it’s vital to create material based on specific data. This means using whatever information you have about your consumers to tailor the final pitch of your sales team to their specific needs. The same rule applies for any piece of content from earlier in the marketing funnel that performed well. For example if you had a piece of content about a specific topic at the top of your funnel that led to a high amount of inquiries or newsletter sign-ups, it’s a great idea to create a landing page or ‘brag roll’ (list of reviews and achievements) that underlines your organisation’s expertise in that area and entices prospects to convert.
Content marketing can attract, engage and convert your audience at different stages of the buyer journey. But if you’ve never done content marketing where do you start? Here are 18 actionable tips for #contentmarketing beginners. https://t.co/jVSVxqsd82 pic.twitter.com/2btM6CQtqo — Castleford (@castlefordmedia) June 1, 2018
When to use bottom-funnel marketing
The next question we’ll need to tackle is: When should an organisation use bottom-funnel content marketing?
This isn’t always an easy one to answer, as not every strategy (or business model) lends itself to the same types of content at the end of the sales process, We’ll get to businesses that may not need a lot of bottom-of-the-funnel content in a moment, but first let’s look at the biggest mistake that businesses make with their BoFu strategies – trying to complete a sale before the customer is ready.
Think of the marketing funnel as a metaphor for trying on a pair of shoes in a shop. The first thing you want to do is have a look around, consider the options, and decide if there’s anything you like. This is the top of the funnel, and if an over-eager employee starts to hassle you and push a sale, you’ll probably get fed up and leave. Once you’ve found a pair that you’re interested in however, you’ve hit the middle of the funnel. At this stage, a great salesperson will drop in a few lines to start turning your interest into desire. “Those heels go really well with your jacket.” “That pair is actually half price this weekend.” And so on.
Again, pushing too hard while you’re still deciding how much you like the shoes can be an easy way to ruin the sale. But if you like them and are ready to convert, a simple “shall I hold these at the counter?” can be enough to tip things over the edge and get the job done.
This is obviously a simplified example, but the lesson is that bottom-funnel content marketing doesn’t need to be complex if a prospect has been guided through the right steps beforehand. It can be as simple as a well-thought-out call-to-action that plainly presents your primary goal (in this case, a shoe purchase) and makes it easy for a potential customer to complete their end of the bargain.
When not to use bottom-funnel marketing
On the other side of the coin, there are some situations where BoFu content isn’t necessary, or at least, not in the same way as it might be on an ecommerce website.
One example of this could be a software company that makes a fantastic product, but doesn’t sell it directly to their audience. Instead, a network of retailers takes care of that part of the process. Does this company need bottom-of-the-funnel content?
The answer depends on this organisation’s goals. If all it wants to do is raise awareness via content marketing and get more people interested in their product, the top two stages of the funnel – and shareability on social media in particular – is where it should focus their energies, perhaps with a smaller BoFu strategy that gets people to sign up for a newsletter keeping them informed about software updates.
How to measure bottom-funnel results
Finally, we need to touch on the metrics associated with BoFu content marketing, and how to track and use the results of this type of content.
Bottom-funnel content’s impact is relatively easy to measure. Essentially, you just need to know how often BoFu content is leading to the completion of your goal – regardless of whether that’s a purchase, filling out a form, or anything else.
Once you’ve accessed this information via a platform like Google Analytics, it’s relatively simple to use it to improve your overall strategy at the bottom of the funnel. Is there a conversion landing page for a particular product that is performing better than the rest of your site? If so, you can compare that page and it’s associated bottom-funnel content to the underperforming products and work out what the differences are.
Part three: Examples of bottom-funnel content
After looking at what bottom-funnel content is and how to use it, we’ve now arrived at the fun stuff – examples!
While bottom-funnel content that supports conversion landing pages and calls-to-action can take all sorts of different forms in terms of the specific material covered, there are a few delivery methods that are tried, tested, and have been proven to work well at the final stage of a prospect’s journey to completion.
Without further ado, let’s dive into what these types of content look like at the bottom of the funnel, and why they work.
— Castleford (@castlefordmedia) June 5, 2018
Case studies, whitepapers and eBooks
Case studies, whitepapers and eBooks are longer pieces of content that can be used at various stages of the funnel. While most often deployed in the middle of the sales process, to link a problem with your business’ solution, they can also be used as highly-effective pieces of BoFu content.
The reason case studies work at the bottom of the funnel is that they can explicitly highlight the core USPs and value of your business’ product, with the help of some hard numbers. Even better, if you have a range of case studies that are slanted towards different industries, your sales team can use these to provide prospects with a tailored conversion process that links even more specifically with their unique challenges and needs. Another strategy worth considering is using high value content as a lead magnet – a piece of valuable content that a customer can access by completing a ‘micro conversion’ such as signing up for a newsletter or demo.
Webinars and video demos
One of the very best ways to take prospects from interest to desire, and eventually action, is with a webinar or demo. This type of online video content is a chance to really pitch your product, and to directly engage with a prospect.
A big part of why webinars work at the bottom of the sales funnel is their sense of intimacy. For your potential customers, it feels as though they are engaging with your business on a more active level. In addition, including a Q&A component gives you an opportunity to assuage any doubts and answer any final questions that may be hindering conversion.
Certain types of blog posts
It’s often thought that blog posts sit at or near the top of the funnel, but this isn’t always the case. There are a few types of blog post that can directly affect conversion by providing actionable advice or giving you a chance to, yet again, reinforce your product’s value.
Examples of BoFu blog pieces include interviews with satisfied customers or key members of your team, tutorials that explain the intricacies of a product, and ‘how to choose’ articles that lay out the differences between your business’ offerings and outline which is best for certain types of prospect.
Drip email campaigns
Over recent years, improvements in automation have made sending out drip email campaigns that target only interested customers easier than ever before.
These campaigns work by keeping your product at the front of a potential customer’s mind, reminding them that they haven’t yet converted and continually reinforcing value. Of course, it’s important to be aware that these emails can become grating if they’re too frequent or too salesy, so make sure to strike the right tone and provide a friendly nudge rather than an aggressive shove.
And there we have it! The marketing funnel doesn’t have to be a scary idea, and the bottom of it is an area that the right content marketing strategy can substantially improve.
Most importantly, it’s crucial to remember that, like all things inbound marketing, it’s vital to tailor your strategy to the specifics of your business. This will ensure you’re not stumbling around in the dark depths of the marketing funnel, but approaching it with a plan. No matter what goals you’re trying to achieve, or who you’re trying to reach, experienced content marketers will be able to come up with a strategy that fits the bill.