25 June 2024 |

How to create content for the funnel

By Tracey Wallace

Content is the lifeblood of an organization. After all, our lives are stories––and every decision we make is done based on the story we believe, that we tell ourselves. And content marketing is about telling one story to folks over and over and over again, so as to have them tell it to themselves. 

This means that you need content throughout your funnel––to drive traffic, to engage readers, to book demos, to convert prospects to paying customers, to sell the rest of your platform to existing customers, to even reduce churn.

Here is an example of a marketing funnel, and the content you can use at each stage:

  • Sessions: Publish high quality content across at least two of these types:
    • Performance content: Performance content is content written specifically for SEO. This doesn’t mean that this content shouldn’t be good, and high-quality. It is typically longer-form (though there are orgs testing out a different approach). Use tools like Ahrefs and Clearscope, and interview folks for this content, too––ideally at least three. Again, just because you want something to rank doesn’t mean it shouldn’t follow good editorial practices. In many cases, it should follow them far more closely. 
    • Campaign content: Campaign content is typically supported by a larger go-to-market motion than SEO alone. Content for campaigns usually includes lead gen assets (see the next stage), but also thought leadership, case studies, and my favorite: human interest customer stories. Compelling customer stories can get picked up by newsletters and are shared more on social media. They don’t have the SEO long-tail, but folks love them and they add balance to your publishing cadence. 
    • Brand content: This content includes pieces that more directly promote your product or brand. For instance, new product releases, news about new hires, etc. These can drive a ton of traffic from social, and even SEO. They are an important part of your content mix. 
  • Leads: Offer downloadables in various types:
    • A download of the exact same content but in PDF form: Folks don’t love reading long form content on the internet (Hurts your eyes!), and up to 20% of website visitors will download this content even if it is published 100% free on your site already. That 20% stat is from my own experience at BigCommerce and Klaviyo. Sounds simple, but you don’t need to get super creative here. Make the download look phenomenal. Put effort into the design and the reading experience. 
    • An executive summary download which is a shorter version of the content, pulling out the main points with key findings. This is the modern TL;DR and people *love* these, including your internal team (i.e. sales and performance!) 
    • A bonus item like a checklist or a new POV related to the topic, but not included in the article. 
    • Downloadables not publicly available elsewhere: These are bread and better B2B content marketing fodder, and you should use them––but I like to reserve them as often as possible for proprietary research. Remember, though, you still want to repurpose this content however you can. Don’t let a gate stop you from repurposing. 
  • MQLs: You should have folks in the funnel by now, so work with your lifecycle team to create a content lead > MQL stream:
    • Two to five emails long. A/B test this. 
    • All should include clear CTAs to MQL (whatever that is for you) 
    • All should focus on a specific piece of additional content, ideally a report, case studies, or an online tool that your company offers. This is a great place to reuse those human interest customer stories. Remember, these folks came in on content––give them more! 
  • SQL: This is the territory of your sales team, but even sales folks need content to talk to folks about!
    • Make sure you create an easy to navigate content repository where your entire company can go to pull the best content you offer in a variety of forms (PDFs, blogs, case studies, etc.). I made mine in Google Sheets. 
    • Include sales as part of content go-to-markets, so that they know what content is coming up and can use it to re-engage with the leads they are working. 
  • Opportunity: Sales owns this, and most of the content they use here will be sales enablement (one-pagers about features, competitors, etc.).
    • Case studies still matter here
    • As does trust building: Your content team’s work with high-profile folks can help sway prospect execs who are on the fence about various products. Don’t leave these people out of your content planning. Guest blogging is a great option. 
  • Revenue: You want to track which assets of yours help to drive revenue both in the form of:
    • Content lead > revenue: This is where a lead was generated first with content and later became a customer. What does this sales cycle look like? Is it faster or slower without content? Which content pieces drive the most revenue?  
    • Content-assist > revenue: This is where your content was used by other teams throughout the sales cycle to help close a deal. Same questions as above: What does this sales cycle look like? Is it faster or slower without content? Which content pieces drive the most revenue?