Lead nurturing is an important part of inbound marketing. It’s a lot like falling in love – timing matters. Your content (i.e. white papers, buyer’s guides) needs to reflect where your prospect is in the buyer’s journey (or sales funnel). If they’re right at the tip-top of the funnel, they’ve just begin the buyer’s journey and, they’re not ready to see lower-funnel content like testimonials.
It’s not time to woo them with a candle-lit dinner at the most expensive restaurant in town. They want some harmless banter and knowledge from a subject-matter expert. If they’re closer to the bottom of that funnel– if you’ve gone on a few dates with them and shown them what you’re all about– then they’re likely more ready for a testimonial, an ROI calculator, and the candle-lit dinner at that fancy restaurant. It’s all about giving your prospects the right content at the right time.
In this day and age, we’re constantly bombarded with email after email from companies whose newsletters we didn’t even realize we signed up for. All of those emails, no matter how familiar you are with the company, usually end up in the trash. You don’t want your emails to be one of those. That’s why lead nurturing is important. To avoid the trash folder, you have to be strategic about your content and mindful of your lead. Not everyone will value your content, but if you put in the extra effort to make sure that it fits the lead’s buyer’s journey, you’ll have a higher likelihood of capturing Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs).
There are clear ways to break down the funnel: Top-of-funnel content (TOFU), middle-of-funnel content (MOFU), and bottom-of-funnel content (BOFU). TOFU content answers the question, why change? MOFU content answers the question, why with you? BOFU content answers the question, why now?
TOFU content is the least sales-y, least threatening content in the funnel. It’s also usually the most educational and informative. It could be specific to your software or not. For example, Utility Cloud created a Buyer’s Guide to Asset Management Software which was an informational guide to help interested leads understand what to look for in a management software to find the best one for their situation. It helped the reader ask the right questions and understand their own assets better. Of course, Utility Cloud hoped their asset management software was right for their leads, but they didn’t force it. By being informative, it put their lead at ease and made them more likely to request a demo. The TOFU content is for the lead’s benefit. You’re just helping them out. No strings attached. In doing that, you’re building trust with your leads, which goes a long way.
Examples of Top-of-funnel content:
When a lead has reached the middle of the funnel, they’re ready to learn a little more about YOU. They’ve swiped right and they’re ready to hear your witty responses. But they need some convincing. Now it’s your turn to answer the question, why you? They need to see how you can truly help them, or how you can take away the pain they’re currently facing. Case studies are a great way to do this. By sharing how clients who used your software have been successful, it brings that element of “word of mouth” to your sales funnel. Your lead may be thinking, “if it works for this company that had similar pains to me, then I bet it’ll work for me.” However, avoid going overboard and forcing case-studies down your lead’s throat. They still want to feel in control of their sales process.
Examples of Middle-of-funnel content:
Once your lead has reached the bottom of your content funnel – and they may have entered your funnel there – you know these leads are almost ready to see your demo and become real customers. But don’t get too giddy yet. Leads can smell the desperation in your words or content and if you come on too strong even here, they may become disinterested. Testimonials are a good place to start. Happy clients, nice words to say about your solution and your service, there’s nothing more convincing. ROI calculators are also a great BOFU tool. It gives you a good read on your potential client and it helps them better understand where their needs lie. Plus it helps your sales team qualify/disqualify leads with the information they provide.
Examples of Bottom-of-funnel content:
There are plenty of different options of lead nurturing content out there. Plenty of different ways to subtly show off your superpowers. But remember, lead nurturing is about taking it slow. You don’t want to come on too strong or too desperate and lose leads. You’ve got to give your leads what they need at the right time. Someone at the top of the funnel isn’t interested in a testimonial yet. They don’t care how great your clients think you are. They need a better understanding of what you do, what the industry is like and how you can solve their pain. If someone comes in at the bottom of the funnel, they’re ready to know how great you are, almost ready to press go on a demo, they don’t want to be bogged down with a Buyer’s Guide or an educational webinar. They don’t want to waste their time with information they already know.
For a closer look into the five stages of the B2B SaaS buyer’s journey, check out this article.