We give major props to the HubSpots of the world for coining the term “inbound marketing” and emphasizing the importance of content. They helped us all realize that content can bring in new audiences and play a starring role in both sales and marketing. But, as important as these developments were, the idea of inbound and using content to attract new audiences sells content short. The truth is, it should be used throughout the entire buyer journey — not just at the front end. Here’s more about why the later stages of the journey deserve just as much thoughtful content as the top of your funnel does.
Once You Bring Them, You Can’t Stop
When Uberflip first started, we were really in demand to help companies create a resource center or a better blog. After all, those were seen as being central to the experience someone would have when they arrived at an organization’s website. So the thinking was that you use optimized content that aligns with your SEO strategy to bring them. If you build it, they will come… right?
Well, yes, that’s correct. But once you’ve gotten them to you, your marketing is far from done. The time frame in which inbound was getting hot was also the time frame in which marketers believed their main responsibility was generating marketing qualified leads (MQLs). In order to do so, they wanted to use content to get those leads into the top of the funnel. But, we all know now that this thinking is flawed.
MQLs are essentially vanity metrics that don’t really indicate much about how effective marketing really is. Similarly, failing to support buyers through the entire journey with relevant content is like using a promotion to get someone to your restaurant, and then leaving them sitting at the table with no server, no menu and no food. You can’t ignore or abandon them once they come to you.
Personalizing Through the Funnel
We know better now. Account-based marketing (ABM) and lead quality have replaced the MQL volume-centric model of yesteryear, thankfully. Today, sales and marketing must work together to deliver a deeply personalized journey across every stage of the funnel. I’m talking top to middle, middle to bottom and then into their journey as an actual paying customer. It can’t stop.
It’s also worth noting that the content you provide needs to get even more personalized as the journey goes on. Consider this: Gartner predicts that, by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels. So, what is guiding the bulk of your buyers if salespeople are only getting the chance to engage the remaining 20% of the time?
Of course, the answer is content. But it can’t just be general pieces of content that fail to engage. It has to be relevant and personalized in order to be valuable. How does this actually look in real life? To a buyer, it feels like the page you’re being sent to was actually built for you.
It should be no different than logging into Netflix and seeing custom-tailored show recommendations or logging into Spotify and seeing a playlist that was made for you. Everything on your content should show the buyer that you know them — from their logo to their industry to their name — their pain points and the best way to solve their challenges.
Can You Solve Their Problem?
And this is really the heart of the matter. Marketers know they need to personalize their content, but a survey we conducted showed that the majority (51%) do this by using a merge field to include the recipient’s name. That’s it. The same survey revealed that buyers don’t care about whether their name is slapped at the top of an email; what they want is content that demonstrates a solution to an existing problem.
As you go further along the journey, the buyer has invested even more time into your brand and needs this assurance all the more. So, recognize that the bottom of the funnel is where you need to go deep and show you can solve your buyers’ problems. This helps create the one-to-one experiences that inform and convert, resulting in trusting customers who feel seen and known by you.
Using content in the top of the funnel to attract new audiences is still a great tactic and useful tool. But, it can’t be used at the expense of content later in the funnel. To be effective, you must strategically use content in every stage of the buyer journey, even once someone has become an actual customer. Only then will your buyers and customers feel truly supported, nurtured and helped — which is the real goal of all of this, anyway.