Creating content that resonates with B2B buyers from the start to the end of the inbound marketing funnel is key to success in today’s business world.
The marketing funnel is not a new concept but it is one that’s had to undergo a significant change with the advent of digital media. The way your customers and prospects seek and discover information has changed so the marketing funnel has had to adapt to match it.
Inbound marketing now pulls interested customers to your business with great content that shows how your products and services can resolve the issues they want solving. They are no longer interested in sales pitches - they want evidence of your claims from independent sources and they want to know that you can add value beyond just selling them the products.
So let’s look at the new funnel stages and what the content you’re providing needs to deliver at each stage to turn that initial interest into a sale.
The inbound marketing funnel stages
A study from HubSpot has identified the six mentality stages that your targets move through as they travel along the inbound marketing funnel towards making a purchase:
- Openness - targets are receptive to information about new solutions to solve their business pains.
- Realised Want or Need - the information they receive (a piece of content, word-of-mouth recommendation, for example) moves them to the wanting stage.
- Learning and education - now they do some research to find out what options are available to meet their needs.
- Seeking ideas and inspiration - next they look for the providers that are creating the biggest buzz around the subject and providing the best educational content.
- Research and vetting - here the shortlisted options are compared by price, reviews and recommendations to make the final purchase decision.
- Post-purchase evaluation and expansion - after they’ve bought, they decide whether the product or service delivers what they expected and may post a review and make their own word-of-mouth recommendations.
The study also revealed that from stages 1-5 between 72% and 79% of the information that influences purchase decision makers comes from websites. So the content you’ve got on yours, and what others are saying about you online, is key to ensuring that your business makes it all the way through the funnel with them. So what should the content you're providing deliver?
Creating B2B content for the inbound marketing funnel
A 2013 study by the CMO Council ‘How B2B Buyers Source, Value and Share Content’ revealed that the characteristics most valued in B2B content are:
- Breadth and depth of information (47%)
- Ease of access, understanding, and readability (44%)
- Originality of thinking and ideas (39%)
Keep in mind too that 48% of the survey respondents said the characteristic they like least in B2B content is when it’s blatantly self-serving and promotional.
So whether you’re creating blog articles, how-to guides, videos or customer case studies (all of which should have been identified and decided upon in your inbound marketing strategy’s content plan) to stand out at each stage of the funnel your content has to be delivering on these pre-requisites.
If it does, then you should see lots of targets entering the funnel as prospects and leaving it as customers. So your business meets its goals, maximises marketing ROI and drives continued profit growth.