The internet is the number-one tool people use to shop. They use it to figure out what kinds of products/services they need to solve their problems, compare different options, and finally make a purchase.

Businesses that create digital content to help leads on their research and buying journey are well positioned to attract a variety of new customers through the web. But your online message can’t be a pure sales pitch. It’s important to nurture leads by educating them, illustrating value, and building trust.

And it’s worth the effort. Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost:

Smart marketers help their leads build a customer journey, creating content that’s perfect for each point in the research process.

With the help of marketing automation, it’s possible to optimize your strategy in all three parts of the funnel – top, middle and bottom – to deliver content to the right leads at the right time.

ToFu: Top of the Funnel

Top of the funnel is the widest stage of the sales funnel. This is where you’ll have a large number of potential leads that are interested in a niche topic related to your business. Most of them won’t convert into paying customers in the long run, but that’s okay. ToFu content will help you engage and weed out leads that won’t convert.

Leads at the top of the funnel are doing some initial research about a topic. They’re not necessarily looking to buy anything yet. So the last thing you should do is bombard them with sales pitches at this point. Instead you should create content that answers their questions and helps them learn more about your niche topic.

Here are two important types of ToFu content to create:

Blog articles

Blog articles can cover all sorts of broad topics related to your niche. A great place to start brainstorming blog article topics is a tool called AnswerthePublic. Say you have an ecommerce store that sells natural makeup. Just type in a relevant keyword (e.g. “organic makeup”) and it will return a list of common questions people ask related to it.

These questions make for some great ToFu blog post topics!

Lead magnets

The next important content type is your lead magnet. This is some kind of premium content that you offer, such as an ebook, tip sheet, template, etc. Instead of offering these openly on your blog, you can use them to capture your leads’ contact information by having people fill out a form to download the content.

Once you have your lead’s email address, you can start marketing more content to them through email marketing.

MoFu: Middle of the Funnel

After you’ve captured your leads’ contact information, you can start serving them some middle-of-the-funnel content. MoFu content will be a mix of the same helpful, informative pieces as ToFu content plus some more advanced content. At this point, it’s okay to start suggesting that your leads have certain needs or challenges that your business might be positioned to help.

Stress their pain points

Now’s the time to focus more on the specific issues your leads might be having that your business can help fix. Use more advanced content here to segment out your warm and hot leads. Videos, webinars, and podcasts are good examples of this kind of content. You can also create quizzes or assessments here.

Quicksprout, for example, offers a free website assessment to help leads see what issues need to be fixed:

Illustrate your value

MoFu content can also start illustrating the value of your product or service without explicitly asking leads to purchase. White papers or case studies that show your success stories are great for this. 

BoFu: Bottom of the Funnel

Bottom-of-the-funnel content is reserved for leads that you know want to buy. They just need to be convinced that your product/service is worth the money, and that it’s better than all the competitors out there.

This is the one point in your sales funnel where you can start selling hard. You’ve already captured your lead’s interest during ToFu and gained their trust during MoFu. Now you need to help them make a purchase decision. Sales pages, product features/highlights, and vendor comparison guides are helpful at this stage.

For some businesses, it makes sense to reach out to leads directly, offering a free consultation or live demo. You can also use discount codes, special offers, or a free trial to convince people to convert at this stage.  

SharpSpring’s resources section has a clear breakdown of ToFu, MoFu and BoFu content examples for each step of the sales funnel:

Lead Nurturing Through Marketing Automation

Creating content for each stage of your sales funnel is only the first important step of building a strong lead nurturing process. You need to be able to monitor the performance of your content assets as leads interact with them and move down the sales funnel. You also need to take advantage of opportunities to personalize your marketing message to their unique needs and position in the funnel.

This is nearly impossible to do with just your marketing team. To maximize the effectiveness of your sales funnel, you need to use marketing automation technology. Marketing automation tools can help you automatically reach out to leads with relevant messages at key points in the sales funnel. It also makes it easy to monitor performance and identify opportunities to improve your content strategy, which gives you more time to create more targeted content for ToFu, MoFu, BoFu. 

Isabel Hasty
Isabel Hasty writes and edits case studies to share client success stories and industry trends. She produces a variety of lead-generation content, including white papers, blogs, infographics, and thought leadership articles.