Lead Generation With Middle Funnel Content: The Missing Guide

nurturing content

Middle funnel content is an important part of your marketing funnel. It warms, nurtures and educates prospects towards developing a need for your product or service.

While there are already many articles and books available online which go over the subject of middle of the funnel content, I am baffled by how wrong most of the material is.

So in this post, I’ll talk about what makes middle funnel content confusing and what it really is, its types and everything else you need to know.

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    What Is Middle-Funnel (MiFu) Content?

    To understand the middle part of a marketing funnel, it’s important to look at the funnel as a whole first.

    Imagine what happens when you pour something through a funnel. It first comes in contact with the wide top area, followed by a narrow middle, and finally a steep bottom.

    Top, middle and bottom funnel content

    The process that someone goes through before buying your product or service can be very similar.

    • They first become aware of your business through a friend, social media or an article (top-funnel)
    • They are considering if they might have a need for something like the product or service you are selling (middle-funnel)
    • They want to buy but need to be sure that your solution is the best for their budget, preferences and requirements, among all the alternatives. (bottom-funnel)

    As you can see, your prospects will require different types of content, depending on where they are in the funnel.

    Top-funnel content catches attention and sets the stage, and bottom funnel content closes the deal.

    So what is middle of the funnel content?

    This is the content that nurtures prospects to help make transition from top to the bottom.

    • It shows your audience how their needs are connected to your products and services.
    • It educates them so they can appreciate what you bring to the table and why they should take it seriously.

    In other words, top funnel content makes your audience aware that you exist. But it’s the middle funnel content which tells them why you exist, why it matters for them, and why they should be interested.

    Then once they are interested, the bottom funnel content drives them to make a purchase.

    Middle of the funnel content helps turn more of your prospects into qualified leads. And not having adequate middle funnel content is like leaving money on the table.

    Without the middle of the funnel content, they wouldn’t be interested in your product’s features, pricing or case studies (bottom-funnel content) because they don’t want to purchase anything.

    Eliminating The Confusion

    Unfortunately, most of the knowledge floating around the subject of middle funnel content is full of false notions and confusion.

    For instance, some people think of these as types of middle of the funnel content: blog posts, white papers, ebooks etc.

    Image Source: Single Grain

    But the issue is these are just formats which can be used to present any type of content, whether at top, middle or bottom of the funnel.

    What makes for middle of the funnel content has nothing to do with how it’s presented or delivered (whether it’s a blog post, PDF book or video).

    It’s about what kind of information you are covering, and whether that information is appropriate for your prospects when they are in the middle of the funnel.

    Moreover, middle funnel content can sometimes be hard to identify, as it may look similar to or overlap with top-funnel or bottom funnel content.

    For instance, I found many articles which just listed bottom funnel content as middle of the funnel content. So let’s understand what makes it different in implementation.

    Top/Middle Overlap

    What differentiates top-funnel content from middle-funnel content is that in middle funnel content, you can fit in your product or service in a natural way.

    For example, let’s say you run a travel agency and you write an article about must-see tourist attractions in Australia.

    middle vs top funnel content

    In this article, maybe at the end you can add a call to action suggesting the reader to hire a travel agency, but it won’t make logical sense. It will look forced, promotional and out of place.

    This is your top funnel content. It’s related to your business but not specifically to your product or service.

    Now let’s say you write another piece, on some topic like 10 steps to plan an international trip.

    Middle vs top funnel content

    On the surface this looks like a top-funnel topic, but let’s say one of the tips in the article is about hiring an experienced travel agent.

    This tip makes natural sense for including in the article, while it also subtly suggests the reader to consider hiring a travel agency. This is what makes it middle of the funnel content.

    Middle/Bottom Overlap

    What differentiates middle funnel content from bottom funnel content is that middle funnel content focuses more on education around the product or service, than selling.

    Going with the travel agency example once again, let’s say you write an article about whether one should plan their trip on their own, or go with ready-made packages from a travel agency.

    Middle vs bottom funnel content

    Here you are educating and helping the reader evaluate options of different nature, which makes this piece part of your middle funnel content.

    Now if you were comparing your travel agency with other travel agencies in the area, this would have been a bottom funnel content.

    This is because here you are helping the reader evaluate options of the same nature: travel agency vs travel agency. And the main focus is showing how yours is better, which means selling.

    Take another example: a case study.

    If your case study is showing the reader how something was achieved step by step in a way that they can follow, and your product/service is part of those steps, then it’s middle funnel content.

    The main focus in middle of the funnel content is on the steps, not just your product or service.

    But if your case study is focusing mainly on the results you achieved, portraying you as the protagonist of the success story, then it’s bottom funnel content.

    In other words, if it touches on the process only briefly, it’s a marketing case study, not an educational case study. So it’s not middle funnel content.

    Types Of MoFu Content (With Examples)

    Now that you’re clear on the overlap that might exist between 3 types of content, we’re ready to cover some types of content you can create which fall under the umbrella of middle funnel content.

    Depending on the nature of your business, these forms of middle of the funnel content could be essential to engage and turn prospects into leads.

    This is not a complete list. Once you get a hang of concept behind middle funnel content, you will be able to generate your own ideas about what type of content would allow you to educate your audience while subtly mentioning your business.

    A Case Study

    In fact, 78% of B2B buyers use case studies when researching solutions. Middle funnel case studies show your prospects the process and results achieved in solving a problem.

    Image Source: Venngage

    This helps the prospects follow along and envision similar success for themselves. If you’re looking for inspiration, consider Ahrefs, an SEO software company which has mastered the art of middle of the funnel content.

    Most of their content strikes the right balance between educating the reader how to accomplish something and promoting their product.

    For example, look at this case study which shows how NorthMill grew their traffic 100k+ unique visitors in 6 months.

    It doesn’t just focus on what was accomplished, but also how. And Ahrefs software forms a good part of the steps involved in the process.

    A Product Use Case

    This content talks specifically to the problems of your audience and how they can be solved in a way that your product/service is part of the solution.

    It doesn’t just show your audience that your product can solve their problems, but also inspires them to use it in new ways they didn’t think of.

    A great example of this is content created by Airtable. Since they have a product which can be used in a hundred different ways, they come up with use cases like how to build a better budget, or a content marketing pipeline with Airtable.

    Use case as middle of the funnel content

    You can create this content based on specific search queries and sub-problems which your product addresses.

    Another way is to think about all the influencers and decision makers in your sales cycle. Then come up with use cases for each segment involved in the purchase process.

    Comparison With Alternatives

    It’s never been easier to find information on any type of problem and the options available to solve the problem.

    So let’s face it: Your product or service is not the only option prospects are considering. They’re probably weighing their alternatives.

    Middle funnel content gives you the opportunity to educate them on their options, one of which is the type of product or service you offer.

    Notice that I said alternatives, not competitors. There’s a subtle difference between the two terms. And as I covered above, this subtle difference determines whether your content is for the middle or bottom of the funnel.

    For example, the main reason people play a game on their smartphone, like Angry Birds, is to kill time. So if we were to think about the competitors to the Angry Birds game, it would probably be other video games.

    Comparison as middle funnel content

    But comparing your product to another similar product would make for good bottom funnel content, but not middle of the funnel content.

    Alternatives to the Angry Birds game are anything else a person can do to kill time. For example, go out, read a book, cook a meal etc.

    So if you were to create content on a topic like, “What’s the best use of your time? Playing a game or learning a new skill,” this would be your middle of the funnel content.

    In middle funnel content, you’re comparing different alternatives, not similar competitors.

    A Tutorial/List Post

    Middle funnel guides and tutorials show your prospects the exact process or best practices for solving a problem or accomplishing a goal. At the same time, they mention your product or service in a way that fits.

    For example, consider this content from CoSchedule: SEO Project Management - How to Organize Teams and Tasks to Get More Traffic.

    guide content middle funnel

    It guides the reader on managing SEO projects step by step, and one of the steps is about using a project management software, which is CoSchedule’s core product.

    Answer To A Common Question

    No matter what your niche, I am sure your audience often has some common questions that come up on a regular basis.

    These questions are not specifically about your product or service, but related to the problems that your business solves. In addition, the answer to the question may have the opportunity to mention your product or service.

    For example, one of the services we provide to clients is launching and writing content for their blogs.

    One of the questions prospects often ask us is, “How much content do I need to launch a blog?”

    If we were to write on this topic, as BlogTyrant has done, it would be our middle funnel content.

    middle funnel answer

    This is because once they determine how many articles they would need, their next challenge will be how to source all this content. And that’s where our services would fill the gap.

    Summing Up

    As we discussed for bottom funnel content, you need to start thinking beyond traffic. Traffic is not the end goal, it’s just a step towards conversions.

    Traffic will not do much if your website doesn’t have content which can convert visitors into leads (middle of the funnel content) and then leads into buyers (bottom funnel content).

    So take a look at your content calendar and see if you have been prioritizing middle funnel content as much as the other content types. Then take steps to fill the gaps.

    Did I miss anything? Did you create middle funnel content? Do you have any questions or comments? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.

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