In the not-so-distant past, a lead would travel through the marketing funnel in a relatively short period of time. With the advent of the Internet and digital marketing, this process has become much longer, particularly when it comes to the B2B space.

Today’s B2B marketers must adopt strategic, long-term thinking. They should take the potential customer into consideration at every step of their marketing funnel and ask questions such as, “What appeals to someone just discovering my company, as opposed to a potential lead who is ready to make a purchasing decision?”

The general consensus among B2B marketers and sales experts is that over the last few years, the sales and marketing funnels have elongated. Given this new reality, a marketer must visualize the process that leads will go through before they become customers, and with content marketing, the ultimate way to shepherd them down the funnel is by providing valuable content.

Additionally, the content that is created must be distributed on a large scale, and to the correct audience. Social media provides a fantastic conduit for this distribution, and for B2B’s there is no better tool to distribute content through social media than Oktopost.

The marketing funnel is different for everyone, and has arguably changed significantly since it was first defined. However, some steps in this funnel are nearly universal. Consumers of any product or service work through a process that starts with becoming aware of a need, and ends with making a decision to purchase or not to purchase. This premise is clearly outlined in the Universal Marketing Funnel, defined by Splash Media U. It’s no wonder that brand awareness was cited as the number 1 goal of content marketers last year. There is no way to push a lead down the funnel if you haven’t first brought them in to begin with.

Almost all B2Bs must market to potential customers at every stage of the funnel. Therefore, a content marketing strategy must be broken down by priorities. Below is an overview of the Universal Marketing Funnel, as well as some strategies on pushing leads through it.


This is the stage at which the potential customer becomes aware of your existence. As a best practice, about 30-40% of your content should be written with awareness in mind. This stage makes potential customers cognizant of your company and exposes you to your target market. Awareness content needs to focus on trends or education on best practices, and is essentially devoid of overtly sales-oriented messaging.

This stage presents content marketers with a challenge: How do you create valuable content that will let the reader know about your company and what you offer, without it being perceived as explicitly promotional?

The goal here is to know:

  1. Who your target market is
  2. What they are interested in

Once you have identified who your target market is and what their interests are, you can start writing content they will find useful. Put yourself in their shoes, what would YOU find interesting and relevant?

This exercise will help you mold your awareness content strategy.


Much like purchasing a car, the evaluation stage has the potential buyer doing their due diligence; they go from dealership to dealership “kicking tires.” The key in this stage is that the buyer has accepted the need to purchase the product or service you offer, but still hasn’t quite decided what his or her criteria are for purchasing.

Like the awareness stage, 30-40% of this content should be focused on helping the customer gauge what you have to offer. Try and create content that evaluates your business versus your competitor’s, by communicating the unique selling features of each, and showing your product or service’s superiority over your competitors’. The consumer must understand what their needs are, and how your company – versus the competitor, meets those needs.

While this stage is more focused than the awareness stage on nudging the reader towards purchasing your product or service, you must still avoid a hard sales pitch. The main focus of your strategy should be to educate the reader on the benefits he or she will receive from the features of your product or service.

Some best practices for this stage are:

  1. Creating comparisons
  2. Pros and cons
  3. Top ten lists


This is the stage where you separate the wheat from the chaff.

A standard funnel starts out large at the top, and gets smaller as you go down. In terms of the marketing funnel, the decision stage of the funnel is the smallest. Once you have moved a potential lead through awareness and evaluation, they are now ready to be sold.
This is the time for that sales pitch. But, it has to be done with tact. Best practices for the decision stage are to lay out the main differentiating factors of your business, and the key benefits you offer. Including calls to action on your website, whether in the body of the text or on a side bar, will help increase the likelihood that your content will generate a lead.

Writing great content that establishes awareness of your product of service is worthless if no one sees it. The importance of social media in this step is paramount; content marketers must think strategically about where and how they will be distributing their awareness content.

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