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Sean Hargrave
Sean Hargrave 25 March 2020

Coping with Coronavirus Part 2: Tailoring Content to Each Stage of the Sales Funnel

In part two of our “Coping with Coronavirus” series, senior marketers reveal lead generation success comes from crafting content which answers concerns prospects will have as they move from the top, to the middle and then the end of the sales funnel.

The spring conferences that have been cancelled across the world are traditionally a sure-fire way of putting potential leads into the top of the sales funnel. Marketing teams typically then focus on pushing contacts made in Q1 and Q2 towards the sharper end of the funnel, so they might be ready to commit when conference season lands again in the autumn.  

So, what now? In part one of this “coping with coronavirus” series, senior marketers at martech vendors told us how they are switching to filling up the top of the funnel through webinars and then ramping up content marketing.

It begs the question: what sort of content works best to introduce potential leads to the top of the funnel? Subsequently, what type of content is best suited to reaching out and aiding their progress through to the middle and, finally, the bottom of the pipeline?

The recent Strategic Guide to Lead Conversion, produced by London Research in partnership with Demand Exchange, found this is exactly the type of question successful marketers are already asking. It revealed that 81% of lead generation leaders produce different types of content to suit the different stages of the buying cycle. ‘Mainstream’ companies were only half as likely to build content around where a prospect is in their funnel.

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Target changing pain points

So, success comes from finding the right type of content and then applying it to prospects to help them work their way through wherever they are in a sales funnel. For Christelle Fraysse, CMO at CRM software company Workbooks, this means going beyond just emailing people and putting up social media posts, because everybody is doing that. Potential customers are feeling bombarded.

Instead, she argues, marketers need to think of content that identifies the pain points to get people in at the top of the funnel and then tell them why your solution is the right answer in the middle of the funnel. At the conversion end, it’s all about reassurance and a more one-to-one conversation.

“At the top of the funnel, where you’re identifying pain points, white papers, newsletters, ebooks, blogs and thought leadership are all great,” she says.

“In the middle, where you want to show you know what the answers are likely to be, we find focused white papers and webinars are very useful with some personalised email campaigns too.

“Nearer conversion, we move to case studies and true one-to-one emails. We let those case studies come alive by getting people who are close to signing to chat with existing companies on small-group webinars. We have a selection of clients who are willing to come online and answer questions.”

Throughout this process, Fraysse’s guiding principle is for content to avoid being too generic but rather focused on how it can be helpful in addressing questions a lead is likely to have at each stage of the sales funnel.

This is backed up by The State of B2B Lead Generation report, produced by London Research in partnership with ON24. More than three in four marketers revealed they find white papers and research reports ‘quite’ or ‘very useful’ for generating leads. Nearly nine in ten, 86%, found the same for case studies. 

Be specific, then go one-to-one

One point to bear in mind, according to Laura McHenry, Senior Director of Marketing for EMEA at Tealium, is that many companies are sitting on content they were expecting to present at events which are now cancelled. Arranging webinars is an obvious way to get that content working hard while conferences are closed down, but there are a lot of companies doing the same thing. “Death by webinar” could become an issue.

“Everyone’s going to be missing out on hundreds of leads from events this spring so you need great content that works well for SEO,” she says.

“We’re all going to need to ramp up paid search activity as well and make sure landing pages are as engaging as possible to get people in at the top of the funnel. The content has to be targeted; you can’t just blast out generic content to everyone. This isn’t a time to cut and paste content from a webinar, you’ve got to really look at where people are in the funnel and make sure you’ve got the content there to support them.

“This is a time where sales and marketing need to work together better than at any time before. After marketing has pushed people from the middle to the bottom of the funnel, work with the really strong key prospects on truly bespoke, personal emails which put together content that addresses their individual concerns and helps get them over the line.”

Senior marketers are agreed, then, that lead generation success comes from producing and marketing content which becomes more granular and targeted as prospects are eased through the sales funnel. Rather like a conversation in real life, the mood shifts from general introductions to more detail before becoming personal.

How these messages are put out into the market, which channels work best for which type of content and each stage of the funnel will be the subject of our next article in the ‘Coping with Coronavirus’ series.

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