This is a loaded question, believe it or not. . . While most would say, “amplify it,” they’d be correct. However, the type of content it is and the order it’s promoted matters, too. Where the content resides in the funnel and who owns it matters. These are all very important attributes that should shape a marketer’s distribution strategy. Introducing a brand through a first touch using bottom funnel sponsored content might not be the best idea. You must go out on a date before you ask someone to marry you. Content marketing is no exception.
Top-Funnel Content / Awareness
This type of content is completely non-salesy, for the most part. Earned media is an exception we’ll dive into below. Think of this content as an introduction to a brand that is very cordial and shows expertise and thought leadership in the prudent industry of the company. Remember, businesses are in the business of solving peoples’ problems. That’s what they do and why they exist.
It’s this relationship between businesses and consumers that helped spawn content marketing, among other things. This type of content is what consumers’ use to do research on products and services. Therefore, such content should demonstrate the highest level of expertise.
Once created, this type of content should be shared, amplified and distributed as much as the budget allows. This is the bait that fills a brand’s top of the funnel with prospects.
Mid-Funnel Content / Consideration
Content in this category can and should introduce products and services in a more robust way. This content is required for when a prospect gains brand-trust from awareness content and chooses to move down-funnel on their own.
Keep in mind, it doesn’t matter if the content is owned, earned or sponsored. If it nudges the users further down the funnel, that’s the goal. Consideration content should be amplified, retargeted or shown in a relevant call to action (CTA) AFTER the specific user consumes and engages with awareness content. Amplifying this content on its own without the first step being awareness content should be avoided.
Bottom-Funnel Content / Conversion
Generally speaking, promoting this type of content is ADVERTISING. It’s very product or service centric and blasted all over TV and display advertising. It’s challenging consumers to take the leap and to make a commitment to purchasing. The hope is that the message connects at the time they need the help. However, that’s the most inefficient form of paid media that exists today.
As mentioned above, don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date. Take your time to build a relationship first. This type of content should only be delivered after a user engages with mid-funnel content.
This is the north star for most content marketing initiatives. This is the content created by the brand and is looked at with a little suspicion from consumers. Obviously, content created by a brand should be considered self-fulfilling and promotional. However, this is the content that maintains a consistent pace and builds a permanent audience.
If created with an obvert feeling of helpfulness and thought leadership this type of content will serve a brand well. Top of the funnel versions of this content should be amplified at will and the data received should help teams construct the next version of their owned media.
This type of media is very flexible. A brand could get a nice article about how they’re impacting the community or a product review – all on a third-party website. Because these articles come from a trusted third-party source doesn’t mean they can’t be amplified as part of a holistic content marketing campaign.
Earned media works very well together with top-funnel content. Due to the fact that it’s trusted third-party content it can easily be served up after owned top-funnel content is consumed by a user. It eliminates the dating/marriage analogy made above. Most brands don’t consider amplifying this type of content in their mix. That’s a mistake. This is some of the best brand content a marketer can promote. It’s just a step or two from the bottom of the funnel.
The great thing about this content type is that it has a lot of promotion built into it. Working directly with a publisher automatically has an audience ready to receive content. Unfortunately, publishers’ audiences aren’t scaled to the level of social media and programmatic native advertising networks.
That’s potentially the difference between 10K and 100K clicks. The positive side about this is that brands aren’t producing said content, publishers are. If a marketer does sponsored content and amplifies it on its own the windfall of content engagement can be over 10x what the original sponsored content from a publisher could provide.
As mentioned above, your top-funnel content should seek a cordial introduction of the brand. Mid-funnel content should be an introduction of the product/service. Lastly, bottom-funnel content should sell said product or service. In addition, owned, earned and sponsored content should all be a part of the content marketing mix. As a result, this content should be distributed in that priority order. Only send mid to bottom funnel content to consumers who have engaged with top-funnel content.