B2B content marketers are continually faced with the challenge of creating relevant, yet relatable, content for the purpose of drawing buyers in and keeping them engaged. Emphasis on lead generation and page ranks tends to overshadow brand awareness and an appreciation for one’s audience. As the industry has changed, so too has the opinion regarding the shape of the sales funnel.

Bringing people into partnership with what your company is doing and journeying with them all the way to the end of the sales cycle is the purpose of a B2B sales funnel. You may have heard the opinion recently that the B2B sales funnel is dead, and that focusing all the attention on one customer is futile. But there is just as much opinion that the sales funnel is still important.

It just needs a little work.

Of course, as time marches on and technology changes, there are adjustments to be made in the sales approach. Buyers have more control today and have gained the ability to research on their own terms and re-examine as they determine it is necessary.

But that does not change the fact: each stage of the journey-the top, middle, and bottom-matters. No matter the shape.

1.TOFU: Building Awareness

TOFU is short for top-of-the-funnel. The top of the funnel is where B2B content marketers need to identify the audience, including company snapshot and favored content, as well as challenges the customer faces.

The top, or the beginning, is the content marketer’s domain, where relevant and engaging content draws people in. This engagement can take the form of a wide variety of tactics, including:

  • Blog posts
  • Email newsletters
  • Podcasts
  • Social media posts
  • Video

This stage demands quality and well-defined content. If what the person is taking in does not resonate, they have no reason to stay and move on further down the road. What is keeping them there?

  1. MOFU: Guiding the Lead to a Decision

Often described as the most difficult part of the process, the middle-of-the-funnel is where buyers will begin to evaluate what they really need and seek out a solution for that need. Buyers here will have engaged with your (quality) content and given some indication of their buying behavior.

Marketo breaks down the MOFU stage into to sub-stages:

  • Lead: The part of the journey where a target turns into a lead.
  • Sales lead: The lead qualifies as a buyer and is passed onto sales.
  1. BOFU: Time to Get Personal

Customers here are interested in what you have to offer and need personalized content in order to feel appreciated. Here is where deals will begin to close and direct conversations will take place. Content should be very specific and tailored to the customer.

The B2B Sales Funnel in an Age of Technology

The business world is incredibly connected. There is very little that we cannot find out, very few we are not able to stalk on social media, and a whole lot of information available with the push of a button. The opportunity to engage and personalize content in order to move prospects through the funnel seems endless.

So if we have what we need, and we are B2B content marketers in age of unbelievable connections, why then have 68% of B2B companies not identified their funnel? This process of narrowing down our sales leads and walking them through to the end if often treated as a chase or a manhunt. Instead of working through the sales journey with a plan, every new lead is sent on ahead with no evaluation or further engagement.

Content Still Matters for B2B Marketing

Content matters in all forms throughout the funnel. Everything should point toward the end goal-a closed deal and a satisfied customer.

Maybe the sales journey has changed in shape and does look like a cone. Maybe it is more like those Choose Your Own Adventure books. Whatever it looks like, it matters. It needs attention. Perhaps content marketers would do better to focus on the inside and not so much on the outside.