Content levels: Why it’s important to get it right
By Lydia Nicoll
When it comes to content marketing, there are a ton of different types of content you can be leveraging to attract and convert potential customers. But it’s important to be strategic about what content you’re using at which stage of the buyer’s journey, and for which audience. Have I lost you? Keep reading as we break down the best content to use and when to use it.
When talking about content, we can talk about top level, mid level, and bottom level content. Each has a pretty specific purpose.
- Top level content helps users become acquainted with you and your brand, creating brand awareness. Top level content’s main purpose it to get a brand on people’s radar, so that they may become interested in learning more.
- Mid level content delves a little bit deeper. It’s intended for audiences who are maybe already acquainted with your brand, or have potentially already interacted with you by following a social page, or looked at your website. Mid level content can help potential customers who are in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, and who may be comparing and contrasting several brands or products.
- Bottom level content is the full monty. It’s for those who are ready to make purchases or sign on the dotted line. This kind of content provides more of the total picture, and helps in the decision phase of the buyer’s journey.
It’s also important to remember that these forms of content not only differ depending on where a customer is in their buyer’s journey, but also that content is going to be different for B2B versus B2C businesses. We’ll discuss content that works best for each, though depending on your ideal buyer persona, there can be some overlap.
Now that we’ve covered that, let’s get into actual forms of content.
Blogs are a content marketing staple. They’re useful because they can show the knowledge and expertise you and your company possess, to add credibility to your brand. They can be helpful for potential customers in educating themselves, or can be used to create trust for your brand through transparency. Blogs can be used for all kinds of audiences, but we’d argue they’re especially useful in B2B situations.
Infographics can be fun and interesting, to downright helpful. Depending on your audience, you can play with a formula for a great compelling infographic that works for you. Similar to blogs, infographics are typically top level content because they don’t yet introduce customers to your products, necessarily. The goal is to provide content that is useful or shareable – or both! – to get your name and your image out there.
Similar to infographics, flowcharts are a one page graphic. Flowcharts up the engagement level by requiring the user to answer simple questions to arrive at a conclusion. Flowcharts can be funny, useful, or enlightening, but either way they offer a great level of interaction.
We talked recently about how the hottest device in content marketing these days is video. With attention spans at an all time low, videos capture and draw consumers in. It’s a lot easier to get a point across or drive a message home within the first few seconds of a video than it is in a blog post. Video is highly shareable as well, and can serve as conversation starters. When needing to boost brand awareness and top level engagement, video is one of the best ways to do so, and that goes for both B2B and B2C audiences.
Memes work great in the B2C space because of their humor and easy ability to be shared. A good meme has people talking about it for a long time, and can leave a lasting impression. Consider using memes in a self-deprecating way, or in a funny way to promote specific products. If a potential customer has never seen or heard of you before, they could be compelled to find out if you have more great content, or what your company is all about.
Email Marketing is a fantastic way to get in front of any B2B or B2C audience who have already interacted with you. These middle of the funnel consumers have already signed up for promotional materials, or given you their email address for a download or more information. Take advantage of this position. Evaluate what forms they’ve filled out previously, and target them with relevant content to get them to come back and close a deal.
Particularly in the B2B sector, potential customers in the middle of the funnel phase are looking for more information to help them make a buying decision. FAQ pages are a great way to quickly give a customer the information they are looking for. It’s important to consider that if a potential customer has a real question, and can’t find the answer through you, there will be a competitor close by to give them what they are looking for.
For B2B opportunities, ebooks are a great way to grab attention, provide useful content, and generate leads for you to follow up on. Make ebooks helpful, and about relevant information that can benefit a business who is looking to become a client. If you make your ebooks gated content, as in a user must provide contact information before downloading, you have a way of gaining information for your sales team to follow up with.
Customers or potential customers who are in the middle of their buyer’s journey are most likely comparing and contrasting several options for purchase. A great way to sway a potential B2B or B2C customer in your favor is by providing testimonials from other current customers. Word-of-mouth can often be the best form of marketing, and testimonials are a close cousin. Consumers want to shop, or do business with a brand they can trust, and who they know is a good investment. Testimonials, including product reviews, help potential customers know that they will get a great product or service.
Once a customer has moved past the consideration stage and is ready to make a purchase, a great way to close the deal is by providing offers. These often come in the form of a free trial or consultation. Working best for B2B companies, free trials of a product or service gives potential customers a sense of comfort in knowing they can try before they buy. And the bonus is, if they like what they see, the chances of them making a purchase can be high.
Webinars are a great way to show the expertise that your business has. Have a VP or director within your company conduct a free webinar to show the knowledge and expertise that your company possesses, and that you are willing to share a bit of that with others. Potential B2B customers respond well to content that is most useful, and webinars can be extremely useful. Make the webinar gated, and follow up with those who attend.
Rewards and loyalty programs are great ways to ensure final purchases for both B2B and B2C companies. Often, customers like the idea of getting something in return when giving your company money. Offering rewards for dollar spend or for combining services, makes potential customers feel like you aren’t trying to take advantage of them, and you do care about those who invest in you. Create banners on your website, or pop up forms and landing pages that discuss your rewards and loyalty programs in detail. It can truly make the difference between a customer doing business with you or going elsewhere.
We’ll talk about social media in a separate section, because social media works for all levels of the purchasing funnel, and for all audiences. Forecasts for the 2016 content marketing landscape show both B2B and B2C companies heavily using social media. Why? Because that’s where people are. Marketing is becoming increasingly about H2H (human to human) rather than B2B or B2C, and social media is proving this.
Social media works great for top of the funnel brand awareness needs because of the ability to utilize tactics to make you and your brand discoverable through search or browsing. Post original content using strategic hashtags, jump on trending hashtags to add your own voice or take on a popular topic, retweet or repost funny memes or videos, or make announcements or post about news.
Invite potential customers to like your pages, or follow you for new product information, or an inside look into your company. You can then leverage your social pages to offer discounts, announce promotions, or create events for potential customers to get to know you better without having to make a purchase just yet.
Use social media to retarget customers who may have already checked out your website. Use display advertising to show them products they abandoned in their shopping carts, or service pages they viewed. You can use sponsored posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to target customers who fit within your ideal buyer persona. B2B companies can leverage LinkedIn for groups, or post articles and news updates that target professionals who will be interested in your products or services.
It’s important to remember that content marketing takes strategy and planning. Not only does content differ from B2B and B2C audiences, but it also makes a huge difference where the potential customer is in their buyer’s journey. By using optimal content that is tailored for those specific audiences and needs, you are better able to guide consumers along their journey to become your customers.