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Once you have your audience’s attention at the top of your digital marketing funnel through channels like social media and blogging, it’s time to deliver mid funnel content that offers them a deeper level of information and education.
What is Mid Funnel Marketing?
A digital marketing funnel is designed to deliver people a sequence of content that draws them in and leads them through several stages (pieces of content) toward an end goal, like a purchase, newsletter sign up, or other type of conversion.
Goals of each stage of the content marketing funnel:
Top of funnel: Create general awareness for your brand, and educate your audience on the problem(s) it solves for them
Mid funnel: Rearticulate the problem you solve, and educate your audience on the way you solve it
Bottom of funnel: Prove to you audience that your brand is the ideal solution to that problem with further education designed to articulate value and deter reservations
While top of funnel marketing content is designed to garner someone’s initial interest by catching their attention on social media, a digital ad, or organic search, mid funnel marketing is the next content stage.
With mid funnel marketing tactics acting as the critical educational bridge between initial awareness and conversion, it is important that the content you create for this marketing funnel stage is designed to provide maximum value.
Here are examples of mid funnel marketing content you can create to educate your audience and prove that your brand and its products and services are ready to provide them value:
Whitepapers are an in-depth piece of content that can be used to educate more serious prospects and members of your audience who have progressed to the middle of your content marketing funnel. Whitepapers go beyond the depth and subject matter detail typically offered by a blog post, and tend to be filled with useful stats, insights, and knowledge for people to consume. A well written whitepaper can be used to help convince people of your brand’s authority in your industry, and build their confidence in your brand as they consider your products and services.
Ideas for Whitepaper topics:
Customer case study: case studies about other customers who have found success with your products is a powerful marketing tool to deliver to someone at the mid funnel educational phase of your marketing funnel. Talk about the problems customers face, and how your product/ services solved them. If you don’t have specific examples, write up use cases for what you think an ideal customer success story would look like using your company’s products.
Industry insights and trends: whitepapers that explain industry trends provide valuable information for readers, and position your company as a thought leader. Breakdown how your industry is solving problems, explain how new technologies are influencing companies in your niche, and collect data and insights to back your POV. An example of an industry trends whitepaper for the retail industry would be publishing a whitepaper about the impact e-commerce is having on retailers, and statistics about the shift companies are making toward e-commerce.
List of helpful resources: collect useful resources and create a repository of them for a whitepaper that provides tons of value for your audience. An example of this for a company in the marketing industry would be to create a whitepaper that lists the best design software, providing a review for each and highlighting key benefits and features.
FAQs: creating a list of frequently asked questions about your products or in your industry, and answering them provides a repository of knowledge for readers.
How-to guide: education is one of the best types of value you can offer your audience, and it becomes even more critical at the mid funnel stage as readers consider products and services. Teaching people how to do something step-by-step like how to use software, how to create / build a website, or how to resolve SEO issues on a website are examples of how-to style content for the marketing industry that can be mirrored by businesses in other industries.
Known as ‘skyscraper content,’ long form blog posts seek to create an expansive collection of information about a topic. This goes beyond the typical 500 word length (look up stat) commonly found for blog posts. The benefits of this strategy are better SEO, higher value for the reader because of the amount of information they present, and the opportunity to cross promote other content and marketing assets by embedding or linking them in the blog post.
Benefits of Long Form Blog Content:
SEO: Given that long form blog posts are well, long, they offer a big opportunity for placing keywords around the subject matter the blog covers. A long form blog post’s multiple sections, large volume of text, and high image and video count all represent places where keywords can be included to help your post rank for the subject you are covering.
Engagement: The length of top performing blog posts has been trending toward longer content for several years. HubSpot’s research found that in 2019, the top 50 most-read blog posts averaged a length around 2,300 words. A similar study on blog post length analyzed the amount of shares that blog posts of different lengths receive on social media, and revealed social sharing volume was the highest for posts over 3,000 words. With this data in mind, adding longer blog posts to your content marketing mix is a mid funnel strategy proven to deliver audience engagement.
Cross promotion: As mentioned above, long form blog posts offer plenty of real estate for including other marketing assets you’ve created and repurposing them. Sift through your existing images, videos, infographics, and other content to see what makes sense to add value to your long form piece. This strategy of cross promoting your other content will increase the value your reader receives from your long form piece, increase exposure for other content you’ve invested in creating, and boost SEO by creating links between your other web pages and blogs.
Steps for creating long form blog posts, and following the ‘skyscraper’ strategy:
Find a subject that you either know enough about to write an in depth piece on, or conduct research to build that knowledge base.
Look for other examples of web pages and blog posts that have already been written on that topic.
Come up with a keyword strategy that designates the list of keywords you want this post to be associated with.
Using that keyword list and your references on the topic, seek to write a piece that goes more in depth on the subject matter than any of the pre-existing content. This can be accomplished by being more in depth in explaining the topic, including how-to content to help others better understand and execute on the subject (like this list), and gather and link to other helpful resources throughout the post.
Optimize your blog post for the keywords you’ve selected. Follow this blog post SEO checklist from SEMrush to ensure you’ve optimized headings, subheadings, alt tags and file names for images and videos, and followed other best practices.
Add a call to action (CTA) that helps your long form piece move people further down your content marketing funnel. This might be a newsletter sign up button to enroll them in an email campaign, a link to an online store, or links to other pieces of content.
Promote your long form blog post across your marketing channels. Share it on social media, link it in email newsletters, feature it on your website, and include it anywhere else where you can reach your audience.
Tips and best practices for writing long-form content:
Email newsletters can play a key role for both top of funnel and mid funnel marketing tactics. At the top of the funnel, newsletters are great for contributing to top of funnel awareness by providing broad overviews of your company and its products, services, and latest news.
The value of email newsletters at the mid funnel stage is the ability to deliver specific content to email subscribers based on what top of funnel content or other mid funnel content they’ve seen. This is done by creating segmented email contact lists based on the industry the contact is in, what product they’ve shown interest in, or how you captured their email signup in the first place (i.e. website landing page signup form, social media sign up form, etc.). Below are the basic steps you can follow to set up segmented email lists, and leading platforms and resources for doing so:
Basic steps to a solid email marketing strategy:
Set up your subscriber lead capture funnel using lead capture tools: Leverage contact forms, gated content that requires people to enter an email address to access it (the whitepapers discussed above are a good example of this), and social promotion for your newsletter to encourage signups.
Use an email platform like MailChimp or HubSpot to set up your email lists: To start, you might only want one email list to keep things simple. This would mean people who fill out a form on your website and people who find your list on social media and sign up all go to the same list.
Segment your email lists (optional): Alternatively, if you have specific products you want to create newsletter content for, you can segment your list. An example of this would be a blog that covers several different topics, like finance and business advice. In that case, you could set up a separate email subscriber list for each of those topics in your email newsletter platform. Platforms like MailChimp and HubSpot then allow you to set up separate lead capture tools for each list, meaning each list would have its own unique sign up forms that funnel to the specific list to segment your audience.
Establish content structure for your newsletter: With your email list(s) setup, it’s time to develop your newsletter content marketing strategy. Determining what sections you want to have in your newsletters and keeping it consistent will allow subscribers to know what to expect when they receive one. An example would be having the same branded header and intro for every newsletter, then a section on company/product news and updates, and then a list of resources as the last section. This order is up to you and should be structured in a way that best promotes the content you want to deliver to subscribers to keep them moving through your content funnel toward a conversion.
Cross promote other marketing content: Email is a great place to promote other marketing content, and to resurface it at a critical content marketing funnel stage where your audience already has some information about who you are and what you do. Including links to blog posts, how-to content, videos, infographics, and other assets will elevate the value of your emails, and encourage people to keep consuming your content and moving toward a conversion.
Create a branded email newsletter template: Most email content platforms have built-in design tools and pre-existing templates to help you design your newsletter. Creating a consistently branded newsletter will both help your subscribers get used to a look and feel that they associate with your content, and also make it faster for you to create new content.
Determine email content schedule: Once you have your newsletter created, it’s time to determine the cadence at which you will deliver them to subscribers. If you are sticking to one subscriber list, examples of a schedule might be a monthly or weekly newsletter. If you have separate lists, you can create a strategy for an automated email drip campaign that delivers emails to your separate lists based on 1. Which list they belong to and 2. What actions they’ve taken with your other newsletters and other content using a tool like HubSpot that can track that info. An example of an automated email drip campaign schedule would be:
A subscriber signs up for your newsletter on the finance page mentioned above on your blog.
They are entered into the first content funnel stage for your finance list and automatically receive your first email (an intro/ welcome email)
After completing a certain action like opening one of your finance emails, or looking at a specific landing page or blog post (this info is tracked in HubSpot), that triggers them to receive a different email that directs them further down your content funnel. Ex. emailing them a link to a product landing page.
Promote your newsletter through other marketing channels: With your emails templatized, branded, and lead capture and content automation in place, it’s time to grow your subscriber lists:
Promote your email newsletter on social media. The platforms mentioned above enable you to publish a sign up form (basically a landing page) to capture subscribers that can be shared across social media channels.
Embed sign up forms on popular / relevant landing pages. Putting a sign up form at the bottom of blog posts, landing pages, and popular pages like your homepage will help to capture subscribers to build your list.
Add an email opt in at the point of sale. Whether you are a brick and mortar business, or an ecommerce website, you can capture email subscribers when customers check out. For in person stores, this can be done using square or other digital payment platforms where users put in an email address during the checkout process. This same strategy applies to online sales, as it’s very common to see a checkbox during the purchase process asking you whether or not you’d like to sign up to receive emails from the merchant.
Landing pages are one of the most crucial types of mid funnel marketing content because they are built to lead site visitors toward some kind of call to action that moves them further down the marketing funnel. Quality landing pages take site visitors from the general awareness stage to the consideration stage, and then on to the point of sale or lead conversion. This is accomplished through a combination of re-articulating the problem your solution solves, and explaining the benefits your solution offers in solving that problem.
The content you can use to deliver this problem and solution narrative can be a combination of content marketing strategies like how-to video content, well written lists of benefits and features, and graphics and photography. The goal here is to best tell the story of the “why” behind your solution (the problem you solve)
Best order and content to include in a landing page:
Heading that presents the main idea the landing page is about
Section that explains the problem your product, service, or company solves
List of benefits that explains how your product, service, or company solves that problem
List of features that offers more nuanced details about how your product, service, or company solves that problem
Call to action (CTA) that prompts readers to take an action that accomplishes the goal of the landing page. Ex. capture an email address for lead, capture an email address for a newsletter sign up, or link to a product listing on an ecommerce store where the site visitor could make a purchase
Tips and best practices for creating website landing pages:
Webinars give you a platform to deliver key insights about your company, products, and industry in your own words. Webinars can be produced with levels of complexity ranging from scheduling and promoting a live webinar featuring multiple people, to something as simple as live-streaming a solo webinar on Instagram or pre-recording a webinar and posting it on YouTube.
Follow these steps to create your own webinar to engage your audience in the middle of your marketing funnel:
Select a topic: Pick a topic that will benefit your audience, and further educate them on your industry, your company, or your products and services.
Determine the webinar format: there are multiple formats you can have for a webinar depending on how many participants you have and how you want the content to flow:
Single speaker: this is the most flexible format, and it only requires you recording yourself or another spokesperson. This can be done live, or prerecorded.
Interview style: this would require two people, with one person running a Q&A and the other in the position of the thought leader answering them. This format is useful if you want to bring an industry into your webinar to ask them questions and provide their insight to your audience.
Moderated panel discussion: this is the most complex webinar format to create, as it requires multiple speakers (typically 2-3) and a moderator to manage the discussion.
Select a platform to host your webinar on:
Instagram Live: this is a simple tool to host a live interview or single speaker webinar on because it simply requires using built in live-streaming functionality on the Instagram app.
YouTube: the same goes for YouTube. You can either livestream your webinar using the platform, or pre-recorded video and upload it to YouTube after the fact if your webinar isn’t going to be live.
Zoom: Zoom is a flexible platform for hosting webinars because it’s easy to have participants call in from different locations, and it has features for moderating the discussion like muting attendees, a live chat for fielding questions from the audience, and screen share for showing visual content like supporting videos and presentations.
Webinar hosting platforms: for the most professional webinars, or webinars where you plan to have a large number of attendees, webinar hosting platforms offer more advanced features. These features include signup features, reminders to encourage people to attend, built in polls and virtual whiteboards for interactivity, and analytics to ensure engagement. Examples of these platforms include ClickMeeting and EverWebinar.
Promote your webinar: whether you choose to livestream or prerecord, promotion is going to be a critical component of pulling off a successful webinar. For live webinars, promotion should take place in the lead up to the webinar. For pre-recorded webinars, you should distribute the recording throughout your marketing channels and repurpose it as video content on platforms like YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
Considering that customer education and demonstrating thought leadership are key goals for mid funnel content, you want to look for ways to provide valuable resources that can accomplish them.
Adding a resource page to your website that offers visitors free educational content is a way to further educate leads about your company, products, and industry, while reinforcing your brand’s position as a thought leader they can trust. It also gives you the opportunity to cross promote and aggregate the other mid funnel content outlined above into one source that can be shared with leads, or discovered through search and content marketing at this stage in the customer journey.
Try including these ideas in your resources webpage:
FAQs: Similar to an FAQs whitepaper, a list of frequently asked questions about your industry, company, and products can go on a resources web page.
Tutorial content: Links to video tutorials and how-to blog posts will allow you to repurpose educational blog content and add it to your repository of customer resources.
Video: Embed or link out to recorded webinars, product tutorials, interviews, event recordings, and any other video content you have created and use your resource page to aggregate it.
Third party content: Your resources web page doesn’t have to be limited to content created by you. Including links to 3rd party tools, industry reports, tutorial content, and anything else that you think your audience will genuinely find helpful is good to include among the resources you provide to leads.
Ebooks and white papers: Including links to download your white papers and ebooks will add more rich content to your resources web page and make it a powerful repository for guiding leads further down your marketing funnel.
The mid funnel stage of a digital marketing funnel is one of the most critical stages where you need to capitalize on the hard earned audience attention you’ve received by getting someone this far along in the first place. Follow these tips and mid funnel marketing tactics to create engaging content that leads to better conversions for your own brand and business.