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Rethinking the Content Funnel Buildout With the "It-Me-You" Model

Content audits, you love them right?

Well here’s my confession, I used to stress over content audits. When I was tasked with sorting out existing content on a blog (or an entire site) into top/middle/bottom funnel content, I felt that it was really subjective. Those that know me best know what a stress case I am. When it comes to my work, I thrive with concrete parameters. And determining where something lands in the funnel has never felt like a concrete task.

I came up with a handful of mental models that helped, but during one meeting with our VP of Marketing Automation, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

The stage of content in the user journey is determined by how we’re talking to the customer AND what we’re talking about. If how we’re speaking is subjective, what we’re talking about shouldn’t be. So there it was, right in front of me.


Enter the “It-Me-You” Model

Here's how it works: Within 10 seconds of looking, you can figure out what the content is talking about. Is it talking about the industry, about your company, or to the customer? Once you have that information, it’s an easy call determining where that content fits in the funnel.

The broader the topic, message, and audience, the higher in the funnel. As the content gets more specific, it goes deeper in the funnel. 

Before I get into the why behind each stage of the content, let me say that it’s not always direct transfer into the stage of the funnel. It hasn’t been true for us 100% of the time. So while models like this are helpful, don’t rely so heavily on them that you forget who's really in charge. You, the marketer.


Top Funnel “It” Content

“It” content is the content that is about the industry your business plays in. For example, if you're a network monitoring solution, you may chose to write a blog post about the state of SSL/TLS. If it’s about anything besides your customer or your business, it’s “it” content.

Most of the content on your blog will be “it” content. The content you’re reading right now is “it” content.

Many of you will recall Dale Carnigie’s words, “A person's name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language,” and ask yourself, "Why are you leading with 'it' and not 'you?'"

It’s a fair point. After all, if we’re trying to catch people’s attention shouldn’t we be speaking to them directly? Well if it makes you feel better, we can also refer to the “it” content as the “soft-you” content. Soft-you, meaning that the content resonates with the user because it’s about their industry, so naturally they will relate it to themselves. “It” content should convey to your audience the following things:

  • You are part of the same ecosystem as the reader
  • Your insight is worth the time of a reader
  • Your content has more to offer

Your “it” content needs to be so compelling, so juicy, so insightful that a reader finds their way back to your content. Because when they do, it’s your job to ensure the “me” content is front and center.


Middle Funnel “Me” Content

“Me” content means it’s about your company. Your products. Your services. If you’re talking about what you do, or who you are, it’s “me” content. A prime example of “me” content is the classic case study. A case study is the essential “me” content, it’s all about what you do best.

The purpose of “me” content is to give people that are looking for a better taste for who you are. Don’t be shy. The reader chose to visit your website, and if you’re “it” content is doing its job, this isn’t their first time on the site. It’s safe to assume that they want to get to know you.

The point of “me” content is to get the user to “you” content. But don’t be offended if they don’t get there immediately. Depending on your buying/sales cycle that could mean that your lead is consuming a dozen different middle-funnel pieces before going deeper into the funnel. Increase the odds of your “me” content making a difference in a lead becoming a customer by making “me” content highly discoverable.

Chances are, you’re collecting customer information with “me” based content. You know the drill, they give you their email, you give them a case study. But hopefully you’re giving them much more than just a case study. Think of “me” content as the options in a “choose your own adventure” for your leads.

After reading your “me” content, your reader should understand:

  • What you’re good at
  • How and why you do it
  • Why they’ve given you their information

I hope that you’re using their information wisely, because their information will help you craft the right “you” content.


Bottom Funnel “You” Content

You get the picture by now. “You” content is about your customer. By now they’ve learned that you understand the industry, and they know a little bit more about you. Now it’s time to show them how they fit into your ecosystem.

While “you” content doesn’t have to speak to the audience directly, it needs to give them enough information so they can picture themselves as the hero of the content. An obvious example is a pricing structure page. Another one is a FAQ page. Or maybe you have that homerun case study, or pillar page that is so specific and deep that it almost speaks to your user directly based on what you know about them.

All of these pages give a serious lead the opportunity qualify themselves. And then it’s up to you to make sure that they are seeing opportunities to get in contact with sales (or purchase). Again, think of the limitless options of content as a “choose your own adventure” scenario for the lead. In other words, let them think they are in control. From their first blog post, to case studies, all the way to getting on the phone with sales; users need to believe they were in control the entire time.

“You” content needs to hit the user in these ways:

  • Feel understood
  • Feel assured that you are an expert
  • Understand where they fall into your ecosystem

Perhaps the most important thing “you” content should accomplish, it should provide the lead with an opportunity to raise their hand to get in contact with sales.

The “it-me-you” model is helping us categorize 97th Floor’s content in a way that feels intuitive. We communicate with savvy marketers and business owners. Your users aren’t dumb, in fact your audience may be the most savvy crowd that see your content. So let’s make a decision to make sure our content is well tagged and targeted.

PJ Howland

PJ is the VP of Industry Insights at 97th Floor. He coordinates insights with others at 97th Floor to ensure we're all elevating each other through good content.

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