By Gillian Arthur, Consultant and Strategic Writer, Mainstay
In our last blog Aligning Content to Your Buyer Journey, we emphasized how successful content marketing requires strategic planning to successfully target your buyers when they are in the top, middle, and bottom stages of the sales funnel. In this blog, the first of our Content Fit for Purpose series, we’re focusing exclusively on top of the funnel content, offering insight into what content assets are most valuable at this stage and how to utilize them before moving onto content that’s better suited for the middle – or “consideration” – stage of the sales funnel.
Using top of funnel content to increase visibility
It’s no surprise that nearly half (47%) of all B2B content marketing efforts go toward early-stage or top of the funnel content, according to Content Marketing Institute (CMI). Getting your buyers’ attention is hard. Not everyone reads or even clicks on the majority of what they see online, which is why posting once and crossing your fingers someone will engage with your content isn’t feasible. It often takes time and multiple touches before most prospects will take action.
The top of the funnel is where you should be focused on casting a wider net to create greater visibility of your company by leveraging content types that will get your company seen by prospects. This includes search-optimized blogs, social media posts and infographics. Compared to the middle or bottom stages, buyers at this stage aren’t necessarily ready to convert yet. For this reason, the top of the funnel stage is all about creating awareness.
This phase has a lot to do with establishing credibility. Top of the funnel content is an opportunity for businesses to ‘state your case but not blow your horn.’ Content at this stage can help you see who is viewing and engaging with your content so you can confirm you are speaking to their needs and challenges. Generating brand awareness and increasing visibility will help increase traffic and ultimately, lead to greater relevance among your target audiences.
Content types that generate awareness
Now that you know what to aim for at this stage, let’s look at some content types that will help you get there. To increase awareness and brand visibility, try incorporating the following formats into your content marketing strategy:
- Search optimized blog articles: In 2018, CMI reported that blogs are 73% effective at moving potential customers to the next stage. Blogs will not only drive awareness of your brand and generate traffic over time (remember, search visibility = brand visibility!), but also help establish your credibility by speaking on topics and solutions that your buyers are interested in. Optimizing your blogs for search engines is an excellent way to ensure you get information to the audience that’s most interested in your content. It’s also worth mentioning that blogs are one of the most popular types of content at this stage for a reason.
- Social media posts: Social media posts have the potential for generating high visibility, especially if the content offers tips or opinions that provide insight or unique viewpoints. An added advantage to using social media is that algorithms can push relevant content to the top of users’ social streams, increasing the likelihood of visibility and awareness within your target audience. For example, 45% of marketers in Hootsuite’s 2020 Social Media Report cited “drive conversions” as a key business outcome for social in 2021 (Keep in mind however, that high visibility on social media platforms, including hash tag searches and LinkedIn groups, doesn’t always equate to higher website traffic).
- Infographics: Visual and practical in nature, infographics are often more visually appealing to buyers and can offer the upper-hand against text-only based content since they are more scannable and easier to consume. Because infographics can easily be shared, they can also attract links, increase engagement, and drive press mentions. Infographics are in fact the fifth most popular content type, with 57% of B2B marketers creating or using infographics in the last 12 months, according to CMI’s 2022 B2B Content Marketing Insights.
- Video: Video engages audiences like no other content. Video content can communicate solution or service messaging – quickly, easily, and effectively to drive engagement and interaction. Because of its effectiveness, video remains popular among B2B marketers. In fact, the HubSpot State of Marketing Report found that video is the number one format marketers used in their content strategy in 2021, and Wyzowl found that 87% of video marketers say video has increased traffic to their website.
Over the years, Mainstay has partnered with leading organizations like Oracle, AWS, Cisco, CloudBees, Salesforce, and others to help create top of funnel content to generate brand awareness. Here are just a few examples from AWS, Oracle, and Zag. See more of our work in our online portfolio here.
Stay tuned for our next Content Fit for Purpose blogs where we address effective use of content types for the middle of the funnel and bottom of the funnel. If you need help creating content that will drive awareness for your organization, reach out to Mainstay.