Not long ago, content in the sales funnel only belonged at the top, where we try to make people aware of our products or services. But progressive marketers now recognize that content can be leveraged mid-funnel when prospects are just thinking about what we have to offer — even at the bottom of the funnel, just as they’re preparing to buy.
I’ve produced content in all marketing funnel positions, mostly relying on three content forms: writings, podcasts and videos. Each has advantages and disadvantages. In this article, I’ll share what I know to help you plan your own content marketing campaigns.
Written content: easy to produce; less engaging
Of the three types of marketing content, this is the most common and easiest to produce. However, it might be called the most pedestrian. It takes time to read, and it’s not as much fun without the images and music found in videos and podcasts. Written content takes many forms. Some of the most common are blogs, white papers and e-books.
I believe the most effective written content teaches people how to do something. Readers don’t mind reading, but it’s important to include a few images to keep them motivated. Because humans’ attention span is short and getting shorter, I recommend keeping written content under 2,000 words.
Podcast content: growing consumer use; commitment required
I’ve produced almost 70 podcast episodes, and I’m a firm believer in their marketing effectiveness. In fact, podcast use is growing astronomically. As shown in 2019 podcast statistics, 22% of Americans listen to podcasts weekly — up from 17% last year. About one-third of Americans listen to at least one podcast monthly. This jumps to 40% for Americans under 54 years old.
Why are podcasts so popular? For consumers, it may be because podcasts are the only medium that facilitates multitasking. For marketers, it could be that it’s easy to “Trojan horse” brand messages into the conversation. In my experience, the most efficient length for a podcast episode is 24 to 30 minutes. And it’s absolutely necessary to commit to producing the podcast regularly.
Video content: most effective; difficult and costly
Not surprisingly, videos are the most effective type of content and drive the most interest (clicks). However, video is also the most difficult and costly to produce, although costs are dropping.
A word of caution: bad video is easy to recognize and can hurt your brand. There’s one exception: user-generated video. Viewers are more tolerant of video shot on location by nonprofessionals, as long as it’s authentic and genuine. We recently shot a very effective video that involved sending hand tools to a number of tradesmen, each with a six-inch microphone to record his or her opinion of the tool and a tripod to steady the phone. We then combined several of these videos to tell a brand story that surpassed all our goals.
Understanding the purchasing journey
The best use of content for your product or service hinges on your audience members and their habits as they move through the sales funnel. Content can help at any stage of the purchasing journey — you just have to make sure you understand that journey. Then you will be well equipped to consider the best content choices for your marketing campaigns.
About the Author:
Kevin is an extraordinarily-focused Marketing Leader with 20+ years of experience building high performing teams at a leading Fortune 25 big-box retailer, a nationally renowned advertising agency and at an international media/publishing firm. With a passion for influencing consumer behavior to drive revenue and a proven track record of using a variety of tactics including content marketing, digital/social campaigns, in-store marketing, traditional advertising and public relations.
Kevin is based in the Greater Atlanta area and has strong experience working with clients in Retail, Manufacturing, Publishing, Marketing/Advertising and in the startup space.