Marketing

What Is Middle-of-Funnel Marketing? Aiding Research and Evaluation

What Is Middle-of-Funnel Marketing? Aiding Research and Evaluation
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What is middle-of-funnel (MoFu) marketing? Middle-of-funnel marketing is a strategy that aligns with the middle “consideration” stage of the buyer’s journey. Marketing activities midway through the funnel support research and evaluation through solution-focused content that helps mid-funnel buyers solve their problem.

The funnel. It’s one of those memorable marketing terms we all grew up with. Fond memories spring to mind of enthusiastic whiteboard sessions, with crappy colorful markers that always seemed to run out at the most intense strategic moment.

Now we know there is more to the marketing funnel than steps 1-3 that every buyer “must follow” on a whiteboard. Buyers can absolutely come and go out of any stage of the marketing funnel at any time. As such, marketers should be prepared to meet them where they are and remain flexible with marketing tactics.

Last time we went into great detail about top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) marketing and today, we’re heading further down the rabbit hole to discuss the middle-of-the-funnel (MoFu).

“Hey, what did you call me?” Oh, I didn’t say mo**… I said MoFu.

Without further ado, here are all the details you could possibly ever want to know about middle-of-funnel marketing.

What is middle-of-funnel marketing?

What is middle-of-funnel marketing?

Middle-of-funnel (MoFu) marketing is a strategy that aligns with the middle “consideration” stage of the buyer’s journey. Marketing activities midway through the funnel support research and evaluation through solution-focused content that helps mid-funnel buyers solve their problem.

The buyer’s journey and the marketing funnel are essentially one and the same. Both the journey and the funnel have three main stages to illustrate different needs and requirements, depending on where the buyer is at that specific point in time.

The marketing funnel stage names are standardized: Top of the Funnel (ToFu), Middle of the Funnel (MoFu), Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu). Whereas the three main buying stages that match the same journey in the funnel can vary wildly. You will see numerous variations, but commonly, these buyer stages are called:

  • Awareness for ToFu
  • Consideration for MoFu
  • Decision for BoFu

Here are some synonymous terms for this stage in the funnel: MoFu, middle of the funnel, middle of the sales funnel, middle-of-funnel content, middle of the customer funnel, mid-funnel marketing, consideration, and mid-funnel.

Marketers today understand that buyers do not necessarily flow through these stages in sequential order. For example, I saw one social media ad for software (ToFu) and after completing a 14-day trial (BoFu), I signed up for an annual subscription. I had never engaged with the brand previously, but I already knew my problems needed to be solved with technology. Voila, there was the solution I needed in my Facebook feed.

What is top, middle, and bottom of the funnel content?

What is top, middle, and bottom of the funnel content?

Is the marketing funnel dead? No, but the marketing funnel has evolved. Just as marketing has become synonymous with content marketing, the marketing funnel is a reflection of this evolution.

As you visualize the marketing funnel, you need to think of content that will serve as marketing tactics to reach intended audiences (target audiences, if you prefer) at these various stages at the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel.

  • Top-of-the-funnel content increases brand awareness and trust.
  • Middle-of-the-funnel content supports buyer research and evaluation.
  • Bottom-of-the-funnel content validates buyer decision and purchase.

When mapping out your content strategy to these various points in the funnel, you’ll also want to tie in the challenges and goals of your unique personas along the way. The way you present your solution as the answer to these challenges and goals will go from light-touch in the early stages and become more prominent with marketing touchpoints in later stages.

Top-of-the-funnel content example

Check out these marketing funnel examples from Airtable, who is cleverly using their blog, For the Record, to cover all three marketing funnel stages in one swoop.

Airtable's For the Record Blog

Airtable’s Tips & Tricks blog category delivers how-to and “what is” content to engage with audiences at the top of the funnel. This type of content is frequently a crowd-pleaser, ideal when casting a wider net to build awareness and trust.

Some mid-funnel content, like the above third blog about using Airtable to manage editorial content, is blended in to attract potential buyers considering solutions already.

Middle-of-the-funnel content example

Airtable’s Stories blog category offers real-world customer experiences.

Airtable’s Stories blog category offers real-world customer experiences. How are other brands using this product? Do they have similar problems that we’ve been trying to solve? It’s working for them, so it can work for us too.

This is a great example of middle-of-the-funnel content because it uses customer validation to support the buyer’s research and evaluation process.

Bottom-of-the-funnel content example

Airtable’s Product Updates blog category shows specific product details and features.

Airtable’s Product Updates blog category shows specific product details and features. Anyone who is considering solutions can take a peek behind the curtain of this software without doing a trial or a demo. Typically, you won’t see BoFu content so front and center on a blog. In this case, it works as a more hands-off sales content approach for validating the buyer’s decision and purchase.

Why you need middle-of-the-funnel marketing

Sales was saying, “We need more leads” and soon that becomes, “Actually, we need better leads.” While top-of-the-funnel marketing is great for casting a wide net, this strategy doesn’t always deliver the type of qualified leads sales wants to work with.

People coming into the top of the funnel may not be as relevant, unlike in the middle of the funnel, where you have more relevant leads who aren’t quite ready to make a purchase. But these prospects are certainly considering a purchase. Clues to that level of buying interest are reflective in their behaviors and actions — engaging with solution-oriented content like an in-depth product webinar.

It’s worth noting that buyer behaviors have changed with the times, making mid-funnel content even more of a necessity. 53 percent of salespeople said buyers require more business justification. Additionally, 50 percent of buyers are conducting more research prior to engaging with sales and 39 percent are looking to their peers for vendor recommendations.

Mid-funnel marketing is for more serious prospects who are comparing solutions, so the content and tactics should align with this potential buyer’s research goals.

As the funnel starts to narrow, MoFu marketing:

  • Nurtures MQLs (marketing qualified leads) and SQLs (sales qualified leads)
  • Requires a medium frequency of in-depth/solution-oriented content
  • Targets people who are more likely to make a purchase (warm leads)
Middle-of-funnel #marketing tactics should present solutions. No longer are you talking to visitors at the top of the funnel, you’re talking to leads, prospects, and perhaps... future customers. Click To Tweet

Common middle-of-funnel marketing tactics

Middle-of-funnel marketing tactics should present solutions. No longer are you talking to visitors at the top of the funnel, you’re talking to leads, prospects, and perhaps… future customers.

At this stage of the marketing funnel, this person knows their problem well and they are searching for the perfect solution that will address their needs. And, because they’re fully aware of their challenges and requirements, they want the buying experience to be easy and straightforward.

If your team misses the mid-funnel opportunity (sound the alarm), your competitors will be standing by with handy information that encourages that person to consider their solution over yours.

Engaging with the MoFu audience is clearly a delicate matter because your prospects are basically window-shopping with you and your closest competitors. So you absolutely want to remember the revenue goals driving your marketing tactics before pressing go.

Check-in first by confirming the answer to this question: Will marketing tactics X, Y, or Z support the buyer’s research and evaluation?

A “yes” response means you are gingerly coaxing your warm leads toward the decision (BoFu) stage without pushing people over the edge. And you’re not missing the mark with delivering early (ToFu) tactics that they’ve already moved past. A “no” response to this question helps you see that these marketing tactics are likely more relevant to audiences early or late in the funnel.

This short-form customer story by ClearVoice is a great mid-funnel marketing tactic, since it supports the buyer’s research and evaluation for content solutions…

A short-form customer story by ClearVoice

While this ClearVoice pricing page that includes the “free, no-obligation content consultation” language is right in line with lower-funnel audience needs. The goal of this page is to help validate the purchase… and turn the lead into a customer.

ClearVoice pricing page

MoFu marketing ideas

  • Email (nurture campaign with testimonial or product/service content)
  • Case study
  • Customer story
  • Customer interview
  • Customer video
  • Testimonial
  • Product review
  • Expert guide
  • Solution comparison
  • In-depth webinar
  • In-depth podcast
  • In-depth video
  • In-depth courses (longer length)
  • Account-based marketing (Using above MoFu marketing tactics to engage target accounts)

Middle-of-funnel marketing do’s and don’ts

By now, you’re definitely over the word “solution” and that’s perfectly acceptable. But, “solution” is truly the essence of mid-funnel marketing. Your buyer is searching for a solution and you have a solution to offer.

At this key stage in the funnel, you want to be careful of missing opportunities (aka sales opportunities). Follow these do’s and don’ts to stay on track.

Do create solution-oriented content.

The MoFu audience commands content that clearly answers their questions while they are on their quest for a solution. This isn’t the time to describe the problem. Mid-funnel is the time to solve it. Testimonials, customer success stories, research, this solution versus that solution, in-depth problem-solving, top features — don’t hold back with content you create at this stage.

Do lean heavily on customer validation.

Here in the middle of the funnel, it’s a tricky balance when we are sorta talking about our products and services but still wanting to be extremely educational. Lean on your customers and let them do the talking. Customer validation will help buyers validate their decision now when they are considering — and later when they are purchasing.

Do factor in more time for content production.

Unlike shelling out ToFu how-to’s and listicles, MoFu content requires more time to produce. Not only is it information-rich, but this content also frequently involves multiple internal subject matter experts (SMEs) and customers. When more people are involved in content creation, you need to plan for this so you don’t rush this important process. Your mid-funnel audience expects the very best information you have to offer.

Don’t just focus on pain points.

Pain points are… well… a pain in the ass. What frequently happens with middle-of-the-funnel marketing tactics is WAY too much focus on the challenges. Yes, you need to address pain points and how you can help. BUT, your MoFu audience has goals and aspirations as well. Feel free to take a different angle by focusing on how you will help this audience achieve (not just overcome).

Don’t fall into the Ambiguity Effect.

Buyers will straight-up avoid products or services they feel are ambiguous or missing information they need to make a decision. This is called the Ambiguity Effect and it is insanely common in marketing. Make sure mid-funnel content being shared is relevant, honest, memorable, risk-averse, and customer-validated.

Don’t forget to bring in external content support.

Some marketers get stingy and stubborn about middle-of-the-funnel content. They think their internal team knows the customer best, when in fact, an outside perspective can be enlightening.

Teamlancers bring fresh perspectives, skills, and talents that you may not have in-house. And, they can help you scale your efforts during those times when you can’t ever seem to get to case studies no matter how hard you try.

The buyer’s journey continues to shift and evolve with the times. Middle-of-funnel marketing must be a balance between solid foundations and flexible strategies. As the past year has shown all of us, the way “we did business” doesn’t continue to work the same way forever.

Mid-funnel buyers are doing even more research, listening closely to their peers, and overall, requiring an extra dose of validation before choosing to do business with any brand.

The way you communicate with buyers at this stage is all about being in step with their specific needs at this specific moment in time. Proceed with empathy and solution-oriented content… and buyers will take notice.

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About the author

Britt Skrabanek

As the Co-Founder of Superneat Marketing, Content Strategist Britt Skrabanek helps businesses create spellbinding content — equally loved by humans and Google robots. Britt is also the author of four novels and she is the host of Love Your Enthusiasm, a podcast that inspires people to follow their greatest passion.