Industrial Content Marketing 101: Define Content for Your Sales Funnel
Every business has a unique sales funnel, defined by their buyers’ purchasing journey. Even though it’s called a “sales” funnel, it’s still essentially the job of every marketer to provide the fuel (or content) to move buyers further along the funnel to a sale.
The Internet has made it much easier for marketers to speak to customers at each stage of their buying journey; but especially in the industrial, B2B space, most marketers don’t feel they have a real understanding of the types of content that are most effective. When you don’t have a firm grasp on your customer personas and their buying journey, you end up putting out content that is not really what your prospects need to move further through the funnel.
In B2B, industrial sales, there are typically anywhere from 3 to 8 buying stages, depending on how broad or specific you want to get with your content – but we like to use AEDA – Awareness, Evaluation, Desire and Action. Each piece of content you create should meet a buyer’s need at one of these stages and cause them to move to the next stage of the funnel.
Awareness – at this point, the buyer is trying to solve a problem, get an answer, or meet a need. They’re looking for content that will qualify a list of options or companies to evaluate. The buyer becomes aware of your product or service and realizes it could meet his need. Since this is the top of the sales funnel, you want to cast a wide net with your content. You might use blogs, articles on trade media websites, banner advertising, LinkedIn posts and blogs, and other social media.
Evaluation – if someone is digesting your content at this stage of the funnel, it means you’ve captured their attention. The need for a purchase commitment creeps up as they’re evaluating their options. You’ve made the short list and the buyer learns more about your product or service. Good examples of content here are case studies, articles that compare your product to competitive products, videos that showcase your company, manufacturing processes, or products, and White Papers. It’s at this point of the funnel that you want to make asset content available to capture information about the buyer for the purpose of lead nurturing. We call any content that has a higher perceived value – something that an interested person would give their contact information for – asset content.
Desire – the buyer is becoming more convinced that your product or service is somehow superior to most of his other options. To create desire your content needs to be even more specific. You might use webinars or podcasts that feature your engineers explaining why your technology is superior to the competition. Many trade publications offer sponsored webinars or podcasts to advertisers. They do all the promotion and host the event, you just provide the subject matter expert and content. Another good type of content at this stage is video with customer testimonials, or that feature customers who saw a real benefit because of using your product. You can make sure your prospects see the content at this stage by using the email address you hopefully captured with your asset content – and sending targeted emails, encouraging them to view your content.
Action – the buyer becomes open to or actively seeks contact with a sales or technical representative from your company, who can give him more information and provide quotes. In a complex, industrial sale, the buyer will likely have two or more companies he contacts for a meeting or quote. You can encourage action by continuing direct email marketing. Offer a “lunch and learn” at the buyer’s facility with your technical team. If your pricing structure allows, offer a time sensitive discount or other favorable terms with a purchase. It is at this point that the right call to action and offer can sway the purchasing decision.
Of course, your funnel may look slightly different, depending on your industry, your sales processes, and pricing, and your business model. Taking the time to think this through and creating different types of content that will satisfy the buyers’ needs at each stage of the funnel, will help to ensure an insightful content marketing strategy. If you need help developing a content marketing strategy – or just need help creating content – give us call. We’d be happy to discuss your content marketing needs and provide whatever support you need to be successful!