By Rebecca Smith, Senior Marketing Consultant for Heinz Marketing

The problem in many ABM strategies is a lack of variation in content to actually engage the right audience. Many marketers pigeonhole themselves into creating content for one sole purpose. Usually this purpose is one of two things: top of funnel, awareness-generating type content, or its bottom of the funnel, conversion-generating type content.

But what about the other parts of the funnel? Why do we as marketers fail to reach our audience at every stage of their buying journey? Here’s a couple of reasons, just to name a few:

Before we can implement a successful content strategy into our organization, we need to have the infrastructure to align our efforts with the overall efforts of the business. In many cases these days, that means aligning your content strategy with your ABM strategy. And when you think about it, without this alignment, your whole ABM strategy could go to waste.  A strong content marketing strategy in ABM will lead to a better experience for leads from marketing to sales.

Companies that take advantage of ABM are more tightly aligned which delivers greater revenue long-term. According to Bizible’s State of Pipeline Marketing Report in 2016 “marketers doing ABM are about 40% more likely to report alignment with their sales team compared to marketers not doing ABM.”  And, what better way to align your marketing and sales than by developing content that will hit your prospects at every stage of the funnel?

While we still talk about the traditional sales funnel, a lot of companies are talking about what they refer to as a ‘content marketing funnel’. Yes, this is all semantics here but distinguishing this from the get-go could be the missing link in your content strategy.

This past year, it was found that 88% of B2B marketers are using custom content marketing and 76% of marketers plan to produce more content. Yet still 65% of marketers are challenged with understanding which types of content are effective and which aren’t. If you don’t have a good understanding of your buyers to create great content the draw them in, how can you understand them enough to get them to buy from you? Number 1 this means you’re putting out content that potential buyers probably have no need for which leads to number 2, you are then likely selling to the wrong audience… It’s a vicious cycle.

Developing content doesn’t have to be this hard. It all starts with a solid understanding of the background info and a sharp strategy to get this under way. If you read the articles I mentioned you ‘must read’ above, you’ll see that you have to have an understanding of the buying committee and their influencers in order to develop content that will convert. It’s non-negotiable and, here’s why:

When it comes to this content marketing funnel, we’ve got more than just the top and the bottom. So many marketers ignore the middle of the funnel content but this section can be the most important as it bridges the gap from marketing to sales which generates stronger leads.

Top of Funnel – Discovery/Attraction

Your top of funnel content should be all about generating interest and brand recognition.  It’s likely your audience has never heard of your organization before so you want to start soft.  Think of your goal as learning in this phase; figure out what your audience wants and needs to learn more about, and then teach them those things.  If you’re doing this right, you’re building credibility for your brand already.

Here are a few content types that work well here, but are not limited to:

  • Blog posts
  • Webinars
  • Ebooks
  • Videos
  • Newsletters

Middle of Funnel – Consideration

At this stage, you can begin peppering in your solution so the buyer becomes more aware of how your solution will be integral in solving their abovementioned problems. This is not a hard sell though. They still might not trust you yet so keep the solution-talk slim and mentioned with careful consideration. This is your opportunity to distinguish yourself from your competitors and show your worth.

Here are a few content types that work well here, but are not limited to:

  • How-to’s/Frameworks
  • Tip Sheets
  • Demo videos
  • Data sheets

Bottom of Funnel – Conversion

You’ve found the pain, you’ve conquered their fear, you’ve gained their trust, they’re almost ready to buy from you…they just need the final push. This is the narrowest part of our funnel because you’ve done the hardest work yet. This is where your content, if done correctly, won’t even need a sales person to sell it. It should do the selling all on its own to convince them to pull the trigger. In other words, this content is highly valuable, but it is also the most over-used because many marketing and sales teams abuse this content and use it too far up in the funnel. Save it for when it counts.

Here are a few content types that work well here, but are not limited to:

  • Case studies
  • Testimonials
  • Reviews

With these above content types in mind, and the buying committee and target personas for your business, what content do you already have?  Pick a buying committee (maybe there’s only one), insert the personas, compile your current content for each persona and map into this grid.

abm-contentmktgfunnel-heinz

If you fill this in and you’re still missing a lot of holes, you have some brainstorming to do to get your content strategy in line with the objectives of your business if you want to better engage your influencers and decision-makers with interactive and educational content for every stage of the funnel.

Use great content to accelerate your pipeline and scale attribution from marketing to sales leader to a greater ROI.

It’s all starts with your content.

If you want to learn more about Account-Based Marketing and how content plays a role among many of the other key factors of an ABM approach, join Heinz Marketing for the Modern Marketer’s Workshop: ABM – From Action to Strategy and Results. Learn what it takes to orchestrate a meaningful ABM program.

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