“’Cause whether you’re high or low, you gotta tip on the tightrope.” –Janelle Monae
Content marketing can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope through treacherous crosswinds. On one side, you have the need for brand recognition: Followers, likes, shares, all the metrics that make marketers feel good.
On the other, there’s the need to prove effectiveness through lead capture, conversions, and closed deals. These metrics used to be the sales department’s problem. As marketing becomes more data-driven, though, marketers are increasingly held responsible for proving their contribution to revenue.
Sometimes we end up swaying from one side to the other, constantly over-correcting. It’s hard to make forward progress if you’re just trying to keep your footing.
The good news is, once you find the right balance you can quickly pick up speed. You can make minor adjustments to make even more progress. You can attract the right audience and help lead them to a purchase decision.
Let’s take a look at two unbalanced ways to approach the problem, then explore what a healthy balance looks like.
Approach #1: Fill the Top of the Funnel
This marketing mentality comes from a reasonable place. Your pipeline is a funnel that has more people at the top and fewer at the bottom. So the more you fill the top, the more paying customers you will eventually acquire. Right?
So you create content that’s maximized for clicks and sharing. Let’s say your company makes artisanal handcrafted back scratchers. But you see a trending video with a dog jumping into a pool. So you make a compilation video of dogs jumping into pools. It’s a great video and it goes viral.
The problem is, if the content is irrelevant to your actual product offering, you’re hitting the wrong audience.
You can’t ask that audience to take the next step because they haven’t taken the first step.
Approach #2: Focus on the Bottom of the Funnel
So pulling in a broad but irrelevant audience doesn’t work. Why not take it to the other extreme, and focus on the people that you know are interested in your product? They’re more likely to go straight from your content to a purchase decision.
That means creating content that convinces people your back scratcher is the best. Videos that highlight the hours spent lovingly whittling each back scratching time. Blog posts about how most back scratchers use fake leather to wrap the handle, highlighting your genuine leather handles.
Anyone in the market for a back scratcher would be a fool to buy any other brand after reading your content.
But how many people are already in the market? How many even know there are multiple back scratching options out there?
Most importantly, how many people with itchy backs will never see your content? They’re not searching “what’s the best back scratcher,” they’re searching, “upper back skin irritation.”
This approach can capture a fraction of your potential audience but leaves the majority out in the cold.
Four Tips for an Effective Content Balance
It should be clear by now that neither approach is going to keep you moving forward on your marketing tightrope. Here’s how to find the balance that will let you sprint down that rope to your next big goal.
#1: All Content Should Single Out Your Audience
Regardless of funnel stage, every piece of content you create should be relevant to your audience in some way. That means clearly defining who your audience is… but also defining who your audience is not. Don’t create content for people who want the cheapest back scratcher. They’re not your people. Focus on people who are likely to be moved by your value proposition.
#2: Create a High Ratio of Top of Funnel Content
Most organizations have more bottom of funnel content than top—like I said, it’s easier to connect that content to revenue. However, depending on your audience, you should have more top of funnel content than any other type. Just keep in mind the first point: It needs to be relevant content designed to be the first step towards a purchase.
#3: Don’t Neglect Mid-Funnel Content
It’s important to address the area between “my back itches sometimes, but whatever” and “I need a $100 artisanal back scratcher.” The middle of the funnel is where you can provide the most value to your potential audience. You’re positioning the brand as an authority in your industry, providing helpful information, improving your audience’s lives and earning trust. It’s a crucial step in the process.
#4: Bring It Home with Bottom of Funnel Content
In a well-balanced content plan, you will likely create the least amount of bottom of funnel content. That’s okay because your early content was relevant and your middle content led the buyer further in their buyer’s journey. Now you just need a few pieces that speak directly to your different audience segments.
Each piece should show one segment exactly why your solution is right for them. One might talk about the sustainable hardwood in your back scratchers, another about durability, another might be an industry study on how well different brands of back scratcher alleviate an itch.
Check Your Balance
How can you tell if your content is perfectly balanced? Check your analytics. If you’re getting tons of impressions in search results but no clicks, or lots of page traffic but no response to your CTA, your top of funnel content needs to be more relevant.
If you have a high conversion percentage but low overall traffic, you’re too focused on the bottom. If you get plenty of blog subscribers but no purchases, that’s likely a middle funnel deficit.
Keep making adjustments to better give your potential customers what they need. As you balance your content, you’re likely to find traffic and conversions rising.
In other words, if you scratch their backs… they’ll scratch yours.