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What is the Content Marketing Funnel? A Guide for Business Leaders

Learn more about the content marketing funnel and how to create bottom, middle and top of funnel content in this guide.

Successful content marketing strategies employ the use of a content marketing sales funnel. It is an approach to content creation, lead nurturing, and lead conversion that focuses on the needs of potential customers no matter where they are in the process. From potential leads just learning about your company to long-time customers you are working to retain, the content funnel requires building a content strategy that reaches your target audience.

Creating content is a process that is constantly evolving. Whether you are a small business owner or part of the marketing team in a large enterprise, learning the true power of a solid content marketing strategy is essential to the growth of your business. Content funnel marketing guides your customer journey, providing educational content through social media posts and customer success stories. You control what potential customers learn about your business and have the ability to nurture the buyer's journey when you understand the components of a content marketing funnel.

The social media content you share will be designed to attract potential customers, nurture the leads, and hopefully convert into a sale. The top-of-funnel content will allow potential buyers to become aware of your brand. More in-depth content will be used to nurture the aware buyer, sharing more specific information about why customers choose your business. Social media content is powerful, and once you have a strategic marketing plan that follows a content marketing sales funnel, you can start seeing exponential growth in your company. Keep reading below to learn how to create an effective content marketing funnel that converts leads.

What is a content marketing funnel?

A content marketing funnel is a strategy. It is a plan to deliver relevant content to potential customers based on their behavior. Generally made up of three main stages, a content marketing sales funnel is designed to attract customers, teach them more about your brand, convert them to a sale, and retain them. There isn't a set line between stages within your content funnel, but it is a way to stay organized and reach your target audience every step of the way.

What are the levels of the content marketing funnel?

In general, there are three levels of the content marketing funnel. The top-of-funnel, or TOFU, is the first stage where potential customers gain brand awareness. The middle-of-funnel, MOFU, is the stage where potential buyers are engaging with your company and deciding why you might be their best choice. The bottom-of-funnel, or BOFU, is where the customer journey is coming to a resolution, and the goal is to convert to a purchase.

Top-of-funnel (TOFU)

The top-of-funnel is the first level and is where you create top-of-funnel content that brings in potential buyers. This is how you introduce your brand to a wide audience, trying to bring as much brand awareness as you can. This is your chance to make a strong first impression, and your focus should be on creating content that is engaging, interesting, and gets people to want to learn more about what you have to offer.

Middle-of-funnel (MOFU)

The middle-of-the-funnel level is the stage where potential buyers are considering your brand and trying to learn more about you as a business. They might be reading customer success stories, reviewing social media posts, or reading comparison guides about your business's products or services. Your goal here is to educate customers about your products or services so that they can make the right decision to choose you as their company to work with.

Bottom-of-funnel (BOFU)

The bottom-of-the-funnel level is the end stage or final decision-making stage. This is where you work with customers who are ready to make a decision but don't know what step to take next. Your goal here is to convert a buyer that is ready to become a paying customer. Understand that customers might go through the content funnel within minutes or take weeks to make a final decision. Your job is to identify where the customer is in the process and to nurture them with targeted content.

How to create content for the stages of the content marketing funnel

Your content strategy includes different content depending on what stage of the content marketing funnel you are targeting at the time. Content creation should be consistent, increase brand awareness, and be informative. You want to show yourself as a leader in your industry and give customers a chance to learn more about how you do business. This is a methodical approach and one that will reach customers no matter where they are along the sales funnel.

Top-of-funnel (TOFU) content

Your TOFU content brings in customers because it is eye-catching, engaging, and gets people to want to learn more about what you have to offer. This is SEO-optimized content in the form of blog posts, infographics, paid ads, Ebooks, landing pages, checklists, and quizzes.

Creating content at this stage means figuring out what works to help you land on search engine result pages and attract customers. You want to know why customers are engaging with your brand, so you can keep doing it. Blog posts will show your expertise and brand voice, while infographics are an easy way to provide eye-catching content in an easy-to-digest form. Paid ads can help boost traffic to your website, while Ebooks give customers a good glimpse at what they expect from your company.

Your top-of-funnel content has to be interesting and different enough that your customers keep exploring further to learn more. Clarify what you have to offer, and make your content engaging enough that buyers will want to learn more about you.

Middle-of-funnel (MOFU) content

Your MOFU content is where you get to explain in depth what your company is about and the services or products you provide. MOFU content contains both social media content, such as Instagram posts and Tweets, as well as longer-format pieces, such as information-dense blog posts. Further, MOFU content includes how-to guides, case studies to show customer success stories, webinars, video tutorials, Email newsletters, or comparison guides.

How-to guides are informative guides on how to solve a problem that involves your industry, similar to video tutorials but in written format. Email newsletters keep your customer up to date with regular email notifications.

Middle-of-the-funnel content is your chance to show that you are a leader in your industry, as your content will prove this to buyers. Be clear about what you know and why you are the best choice for the customer. When you can show your depth of knowledge in a digestible way, you are more likely to convert to sales.

Bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) content

Bottom-of-funnel content will share customer success stories to show real outcomes of working with your company. Customer reviews are used to provide evidence of what it's like to hire you for services or products. Product descriptions are detail-oriented pieces of information that will describe exactly what the customer can expect with a purchase. As the bottom stage of the funnel, BOFU content is straightforward and similar to sales material that gets leads to convert.

Create a successful content marketing funnel

Your content marketing funnel is multi-faceted and involves creating a content plan that can meet your customer needs no matter where they are along the content marketing sales funnel. Mailchimp's tools and services help you stay organized throughout the process, giving you the ability to categorize potential leads in order to nurture the lead where they are at. Your content will be driven by keyword and content research, giving you the best chance at making it to front-page searches using solid SEO strategies.

When you use software like Mailchimp, you have the ability to schedule your content for a more streamlined approach. Your marketing strategy will be able to bring in potential leads, nurture those leads down the content funnel, and convert your leads into sales when you are able to entice customers into making a purchase. Understand that there's a difference between top-of-funnel content, the middle stage, and the bottom, and you will have an easier time creating the content you need to be successful.

Your customers will find you through organic searches or paid ads online. Once this occurs, your top-of-funnel content must be engaging enough that your customers want to learn more. This is done using interactive quizzes, easy-to-understand infographics, and short pieces of information. Entice potential buyers to learn more about your company and then focus on what comes next. You want to provide enough incentive for buyers to move on to the next stage when they are ready. Focus on your content marketing funnel, and you will have the growth you want in business.

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