Are you creating great content and seeing no return? Are you baffled because your content performs great on social and generates a lot of traffic to your site, but results in high bounce rates and low conversion rates?
Your problem may not be your content or the way you are promoting it. Your problem may be a lack of middle of the funnel content. If your site doesn’t bridge the gap between introductory content and decision stage content, how do you expect your audience to make that leap?
I’m sure you have great content and your products / services page is superb, but none of that matters to your audience. Your audience thinks in one mode, and that mode is ‘what can you do for me today?’ Therefore, you need to provide valuable, educational content at every stage of the funnel. You’ve grabbed the attention of your audience, now you need to keep it. Let me provide an example from my own life.
Working Out While Working Through the Funnel
Do you exercise at home? Have you ever burned a few calories with Jane Fonda or found yourself sweating to the oldies with Richard Simmons? Maybe you’ve hit your max with Jillian Michaels? My personal favorite at-home trainer is Shaun T. He created the Insanity and T25 workouts, which I highly recommend. It’s a great, full body workout. The best part is I can do it in my own home, on my schedule.
I will admit, I have not always been a fan of at-home exercise tapes, DVD’s or streaming services. As a college athlete and lifelong gym enthusiast, I thought working out at home in front of your TV was a laughable form of exercise – particularly for someone in their twenties. What changed my mind? Middle of the funnel content.
As we all know, the hardest part about working out is actually getting to the gym. We all lead busy lives. At the end of a long day it can be a struggle to stay awake for primetime, let alone have the energy to workout. And waking up an hour early to workout? I don’t think so. This is the predicament I found myself in a few months ago. I shared this problem with a few of my colleagues, in the hopes of finding a solution. They suggested I ‘make more time for myself’ or ‘go running at my local park.’ No. I am not a magician so I can’t wave a magic wand to ‘make more time’ appear, and I have watched enough Law & Order to know that running alone in the park is how you get murdered.
I began searching for ways to supplement my weekly workout. After combing through countless nutritional guides and articles about exercising from your desk chair, I found a five-minute ab routine by Shaun T. It was a free instructional video and it fit my needs perfectly. The download didn’t even require a form fill.
I started to use the video on a regular basis, sometimes multiple times a day. It was quality content. As I found myself using the video more and going to the gym less, I wondered if I should purchase a subscription to the full workout package. At this point, I was still skeptical.
Could I really cancel my gym membership and make a purchase decision based only on five short minutes of content? No, but before I completely ruled it out I wanted do some research.
Logically the first place I went for information was Shaun T’s website shauntfitness.com. The website was simple but the content offerings were robust. The site featured two membership options: free and premium. The free membership included workouts and weekly fitness challenges, and the premium membership included workouts, weekly fitness challenges, a training camp, nutritional guide, and access to their community.
Before signing up for either membership, I decided to look at the associated social media pages. I was pleasantly surprised. Their Twitter and Instagram feeds, instead of ads, featured encouraging quotes and tips to help people on their journey to health and happiness. Their Facebook page featured the same encouraging content as well as weekly, and sometimes daily, workout videos that ranged from five to twenty-five minutes in length and covered a wide variety of exercises.
I decided to sign up for the free membership and incorporate the workouts into my daily routine. Unlike other subscription services, I did not find myself bombarded by emails to upgrade my membership. I only received quality, relevant content.
After roughly thirty days of using the free membership and Facebook videos (not to mention the five-minute ab routine), I made the decision to cancel my gym membership and subscribe to Shaun T’s premium membership.
Middle of the Funnel Content Influenced My Purchase Decision
So what made this all possible? Middle of the funnel content.
I was originally attracted to the Shaun T brand by the five-minute ab video (top of the funnel content), but even after repeated use I had no intention of making a purchase. It wasn’t until I discovered the free membership and additional videos (middle of the funnel content) that I was persuaded to make a purchase.
Companies sometimes forget the important role middle of the funnel content plays in the buyers’ journey. Just because a visitor is on a blog post or landing page does not mean that buyer is ready to make a purchase decision.
How to Make Middle of the Funnel Content a Priority
Companies need to always provide value and education to their audience, from the time they attract a prospect at the top of the funnel, to the moment they make the decision to become a customer, and at every touchpoint in-between.
Middle of the funnel content can sometimes be hard to identify. Below are some tips to help you make sure you are bridging the gap for your audience and not asking them to jump to conclusions.
These are the three places I most commonly see companies forget about middle of the funnel content.
In the experience I described above, I provided my email address to receive a free membership to an online video library of at-home workouts. I thought the content offer was a fair exchange for my email address. I also appreciated that they did not clutter my inbox with incentives to upgrade my membership.
This experience could have been improved if they asked what muscle groups I wanted to work on or what exercises I was interested in learning more about, and then tailoring the content to those interests. If I was only interested in discovering new ways to tone my core, but instead received a series of videos on squats and arms, I could have been deterred and unsubscribed.
Similarly, you should create email campaigns and workflows that follow your customer’s interest and nurture them from lead to customer.
Tip: Next time you create an email campaign, ask yourself: is this person ready to buy after opening this email, or does he or she need more information?
Blogs are the voice of your company. They are typically a semi-casual form of communication between you and your audience, allowing you to provide education on a product or service, comment on a hot button issue, assuage concerns or misconceptions, or highlight ways in which you provide value to your customers. Yes, blogs are wonderful – but they rarely influence a final purchase decision.
Blogs are typically TOFU content and should be treated as such. Why? Because even a beautifully written, education-rich blog post can result in a bounce, if it ends with a call-to-action asking the reader to buy now.
Tip: Try to create a spider web of content. I’m not saying trap your audience, on the contrary I’m suggesting that each blog post should be written with the intention of expanding on the topics discussed in additional posts or pieces of content (tools, ebooks, worksheets, etc.)
For example, if you work for a fashion merchandiser and you write a blog about the three hottest fashion trends this season, your next three blogs should expand upon each of those trends in more detail. Once a visitor has read both pieces of content, that visitor will be better educated on the topic and thus in a better position to make a purchase decision.
Companies commonly forget that in most cases one post by an influencer is not enough to persuade a purchase decision. Influencer marketing is a two-step process.
Influencer Content + Relevant On-Site Content = New Lead
Influencer content is the first step to educating a new visitor about your brand. You need to nurture that new visitor and provide content related to the original post that grabbed his or her attention. Introducing a new prospect to your brand then immediately asking that person to buy is too aggressive. You need middle of the funnel content to bridge the gap and educate your audience.
Tip: Ask yourself these questions each time you create or manage influencer content:
- How does this piece of content relate back to my brand and my product / service offering?
- Do I have a piece of middle of the funnel content to link back to?
- Do I need to create a piece of middle of the funnel content to link back to?
- If new visitors consume the influencer content AND the on-site middle of the funnel content, will they understand the products / services my company provides and how they can provide value to their life?
- Did I educate my audience with this content?
- Did I provide value with this content?
Create a Strategy that Includes Middle of the Funnel Content
Now that you understand the importance of middle of the funnel content, begin to strategize.
Content creation does not need to be a linear process. If you already have a great bottom of the funnel piece of content (case study, demo video, customer testimonial), 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.
Content strategy is like a choose your own adventure game – it doesn’t make much sense if you introduce the hero then talk about how she saved the kingdom with no information in-between.
Have fun with it! You will inevitably go down roads that lead to success, as well as some dead ends. Develop content, learn from your mistakes, and always create a path that includes the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel content.