December 13, 2021 | Sean Foo
The Big Picture: Generating leads for your brand is just the beginning of your content efforts. In order to make your audience view your product as the solution they need, you’ll require middle of the funnel content to build desire!
Generating leads is the easy part. However, if they aren’t consistently converting to paying customers or worse – leaving your marketing funnel, you have neglected something critical.
While you might have initially won over your audience, adding value and building a relationship is essential before you go asking for their money!
You have to provide information and content to your audience to get them aware of your solution and what it has to offer.
I don’t mean just a simple show and tell on your product page – but a specific journey that generates red hot demand for your product.
That’s where the middle of the funnel (MOFU) content comes into play.
It’s a series of steps employing specific content formats that build desire for your solution, turning someone who somewhat knows what you might be selling into a prospect certain that what you have is what they need.
In order to generate demand for your product, you first need to understand what your readers are thinking at each stage of your marketing funnel.
At the top of the funnel (TOFU), your potential customer just wants answers to a particular question or problem they have.
Your content’s goal here is simple – to provide the reader with quality information to solve their challenge. Do it right while adding enough value and they become a lead.
At the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), it’s about building trust, making a convincing offer and removing doubts to push for the sale.
When it comes to content in the middle of the funnel, it’s about nurturing the relationship with your audience and here, you have three goals to accomplish:
MOFU content is about generating demand for your product or service from your list of leads. You already have formed a relationship with your TOFU content, now is the time to show the real value of your solution.
Your middle of the funnel audience will likely be a mixture of new leads picked up from your TOFU content as well as current leads that are somewhere along the ‘hot and cold’ spectrum of converting.
This is where creating educational and targeted content in the middle of the funnel is so important to get them to learn more about your solution and understand how it fulfills their needs.
Ideally, your MOFU content flow is like a tree with many branching paths the further you go down the marketing funnel.
Different audiences will desire different types of content, which you must deliver to push the interaction forward.
Someone new to the middle funnel will require an introduction to your solution and how it works.
However, someone who is already aware will probably need to understand how your solution will help solve challenges for a particular challenge they face or in the niche they are in.
That is why MOFU content works so well with marketing automation such as email responders that allows you to lead your reader down a predetermined path that directs them to different ‘content journeys’ or ‘content rooms’ depending on how they interact with your emails.
A subscriber who clicks and downloads your ebook on sales probably is more interested in how your solution works in the context of sales and should be served more content (blog posts, solution briefs, product pages) that is relevant.
While your MOFU content is about providing key information to help support the buyer’s research, it has to be persuasive while building an emotional connection with your readers.
Let’s say you are selling a video editing software, a key challenge your audience faces is how to monetize their content & earn revenue.
An effective MOFU content chain that builds desire can look like:
A) An email to introduce a series of blog posts of different ways to monetize their content channel.
B) An ebook that dives deep into how to maximize their revenue on their platform (Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc)
C) A relevant customer story to build a connection with the reader
A good MOFU content sequence helps you to slowly warm up your audience in a way that matters to them without being pushy. It’s welcomed and well received!
So what types and formats of content work best to nurture your audience? We have you covered!
Having a variety of content types and formats is essential, especially in the MOFU where keeping your audience engaged and interested is key.
The best MOFU content flow chains together a variety of various content types to fit the situation.
Need an instructional deep-dive on a complicated topic? A webinar is a good approach to take.
Seeking to build an emotional connection with your reader? A customer story would be the perfect tool.
When you want to explore a topic deeper and leave your reader with a guide they can take offline, ebooks are your best bet to add value while framing your brand as a subject matter expert.
Sometimes there is only so much depth a blog post can showcase and if you are throwing out a big net to capture a mass audience, writing a post of more than 3,000 words is a risky move.
An ebook helps to really take your reader through a single topic and expand upon it without worrying about losing your reader’s attention.
In fact, when used correctly, an ebook allows you to:
Close’s playbook on remote sales is a perfect example of the right way to utilize ebooks to nurture readers and to intelligently segment your audience even further.
Hopping onto the shift towards remote selling thanks to the global pandemic, the ebook takes the reader through 100 pages across 6 chapters on how to build their remote sales team from scratch.
Throughout the content, Close gently sprinkles elements of their sales platform and weaves in their features when it is relevant and suitable to the narrative.
This is crucial as you don’t want to miss an opportunity to build awareness of what your product can do for your reader, especially in the context of addressing a specific problem they are keen to solve!
Not only are you helping your reader solve their immediate problem, but you’re also subtly assisting them on their evaluation process of your product or service.
But that’s not all, because the content of the book is so valuable, they also chopped it up into 6 separate guides in a blog post format to rake in some SEO and ranking benefits.
With an ebook, you can also repurpose it using the content cluster strategy to create additional content for your website instead of just making it a one-off event.
Webinars are the bread and butter of MOFU content and it’s easy to see why.
They are powerful tools that help you get in front of your audience and cover topics in an engaging format that is particularly helpful for instructional guides.
Unlike a blog post or an ebook, webinars are hosted by real human beings, allowing you to build real-life trust and authority with your audience.
From a Q&A session and a step-by-step journey to storytelling and expert interviews, webinars are very flexible in nature and can be utilized to educate, nurture and impress your audience.
The video format is so welcomed by audiences that over 54% of consumers hope to see more video content from a brand or business that they support!
Intercom, for example, has a whole library of webinars dedicated to teaching their audience a variety of topics that include:
Their webinars are regularly hosted by not just their core team, but also conducted by industry experts and veterans lending their expertise to make the session highly credible and valuable.
Remember, a webinar isn’t just an outlet to directly solve your audience’s challenges (although you must), it is also a golden opportunity to showcase your brand’s personality and credibility at the same time!
While blog posts are mostly associated with TOFU content with a purpose to drive traffic and generate leads, it is a highly effective content format for the mid-funnel.
Instead of targeting broad topics or keywords, middle of the funnel blog posts are focused on plugging those informational gaps that your reader has about how your solution can help them and their specific situation.
Thankfully, coming out with topics is actually rather simple to brainstorm and they all need not be about your solution either.
Simply, ask yourself or get together with your sales and marketing teams to think about:
Salesforce, for example, understands the power of using the humble blog post to engage their audiences while helping them take baby steps towards seeing their platform as a viable solution.
Their original research post on meeting fatigue is a great engagement piece for their audiences by covering a topic that matters to them – excessive meetings and their effects.
One of the most common questions potential customers have, especially if your solution is complex, is what exactly you have to offer.
Salesforce understands this and intelligently wrote a blog post to bring readers through, in a simple to understand journey of what Salesforce actually does and what they have to offer to the reader.
The article itself is a content hub that directs readers to other features of the Salesforce platform, turning the piece into a jump-off point for potential customers to learn more about the specifics of what Salesforce has to offer.
We all have seen the regular once-a-week email newsletter to keep subscribers engaged and top of mind.
Yes, it’s effective but it doesn’t do much to create demand for your product – it’s just as useful as a microphone broadcasting your new content updates.
Effective email marketing has to go beyond this.
What we are talking about is an intentional sequence of emails that nurture your readers from being just slightly aware of your product to a potential customer that is one step away from clicking the free-trial or ‘buy now’ button.
A good automated email sequence will:
Epidemic Sound, a royalty-free soundtrack service, gets their email subscribers through a free trial, but the end goal is to convert them into paying customers.
While they do broadcast the latest happenings and content updates on their blog like any old regular newsletter, the magic happens a few emails later.
While this survey might seem like just another opinion farm, it actually is a tool to segment active audiences who participate and those who aren’t engaged enough to bother.
To better showcase the value of their service, Epidemic also regularly sends out emails that present the best features of their solution.
In this case, they promote the sound effects library, inviting their free-trial users to give it a try and browse through their collections to experience the value Epidemic can offer.
Email sequences are fast becoming the bread and butter of MOFU content and are the primary way to connect 1 on 1 with your audience.
When it comes to going in-depth into a topic in an authoritative way, whitepapers and solution briefs are perhaps the best-suited tools to get the job done.
Jam-packed with information, whitepapers can come in the forms of:
Compared to an ebook, a whitepaper is usually much more in-depth and technical and either contains a wealth of statistics. Very often a whitepaper will be filled with charts, tables and other visual data to showcase facts in a highly digestible format.
Including original research, opinions, or insights from thought leaders is essential to build authority and credibility for the whitepaper.
Xero’s whitepaper on accounting technology is a perfect piece of MOFU content that combines all three approaches (report + guide + solution background) into a solid 13-pager.
Not only does the whitepaper demystify what accounting technology is, but it also puts the reader (and their business) in the front seat of the conversation by highlighting scenarios and situations that matter to the average business owner.
Complex ideas are explained visually, making it easy for readers to understand without the need for hundreds of words – keeping engagement high.
The entire whitepaper is not just educational, it is a slick and subtle sales pitch for Xero’s platform with a final call to action to get started on a free trial.
While a whitepaper is a reliable go-to tactic for many B2B brands, sometimes a lighter approach is better – by telling a story.
And this is where the next middle of the funnel content type comes in.
The power of storytelling shouldn’t be underestimated.
It helps to hook in your readers, help them relate to the characters and form an emotional bond with your brand – but what type of stories are best told?
Customer stories of course!
A customer story blurs the lines between a case study and a blog post where valuable information is given without any intentional selling. The key here is to harmonize both the story and lessons being taught while subtly weaving in your solution as an enabler.
A simple customer story can be one about how a kid adopted a dog from a shelter and grew up together for over 10 years with subtle mentions or visuals of dog food XYZ at strategic moments.
For B2B, it’s the same formula:
Essentially, if all mentions of your brand or product were to be removed, will your reader still learn something valuable from the customer story?
Ideally, you want your reader to go “Hey, this situation is similar to me and from what I’ve learned, I think I can solve my problem!”
ConvertKit, an email marketing SaaS platform, crafts stories that focus on the struggles and challenges of their customers – specifically creatives looking to build a business around their craft.
The story goes through the motivations, journey and the big hurdles each of their customers faced when they first started out.
When it comes to weaving in how ConvertKit’s solution fits into the story, they leave it to the customer themselves to highlight the importance of the central challenge ConvertKit helps to solve – building an email list.
The power of a customer story doesn’t lie in the hard numbers of benefits the customer enjoys (although it is still written inside), but a narrative flow that immerses the reader into the story itself.
And at the end of the customer story, the reader gains actionable advice plus a tangible awareness that your solution is key in making it happen.
When your potential customer is in consideration mode, chances are, they are also getting information from your competitors.
It could be them actively seeking out the details or getting fed content by your competitors (psst, you’re not the only brand doing content marketing).
This is likely to be near the end of your content nurturing sequence, just before your prospect moves down the funnel to the final stage – decision.
Solution comparison content doesn’t have to be complex, it can be as simple as a blog post or a single comparison page on your website!
The key here is to showcase three critical aspects of your solution:
Twist’s comparison page, for example, takes on a tough competitor in their productivity space – Slack.
Knowing that their potential customers will most likely encounter Slack as an alternative or THE solution to get, Twist builds a compelling case on why they are superior by specifically highlighting and going deep into the features that Slack’s users often complain about.
They flesh out the drawbacks of continuing with Slack and counters with how their solution addresses each drawback.
Like most good comparison pages, they also include a table where they summarize in a nutshell why their solution is the better choice.
Solution comparison pages are tough work that requires not just good investigative skills, but you’ll probably need to interview customers of your competitor to find out their complaints about the current solution.
So choose your battles wisely!
While you might have university flashbacks hearing the term, an online course is one of the most powerful MOFU content that cements your brand as an expert that delivers tremendous value.
However, because it is much more intensive than a webinar and needs to be carefully planned out, online courses are usually reserved for brands that are already established and flushed with big content budgets.
However, if you can pull it off, an online course allows you to:
Ahrefs, an SEO SaaS tool, has an entire library of online courses dedicated to helping their audience level up their SEO and blogging skills.
Each lesson is split into bite-sized 5 minute or less video lessons that allow viewers to learn at their own pace.
While most of their courses are free, their certification course is cleverly locked away behind a wall where viewers will need to at least hop onto a trial to take the course!
Creating the right formats of content is important, but implementing them with automation, especially in your email sequences, is essential.
The last thing you want to do is to send a customer story to a new subscriber or do a blast promotion of a niche ebook but piss off half of your list – leading to potential customers unsubscribing!
In order to feed the correct audience segment with the right content, you need a way to assign values to people who interact and engage with your content.
The easiest to start is by lead scoring the engagement of your email sequences.
For example, if a subscriber interacts with over 5 of your emails, you can increase the type of MOFU content to include webinars and online courses.
If a subscriber regularly interacts with your email content, you can then assign a higher score to them, allowing you to automatically feed them solution comparison pages as well as customer stories to warm them up even further.
There are a variety of email marketing platforms with lead scoring abilities such as ActiveCampaign and MailChimp that can get the job done.
Just like the middle child of the family, MOFU content is often overlooked but is essential to bridging the gap between awareness and decision.
In a world of increasingly longer sales cycles where customers have a world of options to choose from, it’s your MOFU content that will help accelerate buying intent and start the ball rolling the moment a lead is captured.
We hope this guide will help you craft the best MOFU content possible and if you need more inspiration, here’s 18 winning content examples across the marketing funnel to learn more!
Also check out our content marketing strategy master guide to help you build and refine your content strategy, especially if you are in the SaaS business!
If you need help developing your content, we can help!
Get in touch with us here and let’s work together.