Why B2B Content Marketing Funnels are Obsolete – and What to Do Instead

Content funnels as you know them are outdated. 

A funnel may be how we want buyers to buy B2B products, but it’s not how they actually buy our product.

In fact, the traditional B2B content funnel was invented by martech vendors and agencies with the purpose of measuring success in terms of leads—instead of how much revenue they actually drive. 

As we all know here at Elevate Demand, revenue is the true indicator of growth—not leads, not “traffic”, and not clicks.

So, how do we reimagine the standard B2B content marketing funnel so we can CREATE demand rather than drive vanity metrics?

Let’s dive in. 

Reimagining the Typical B2B Content Funnel

Rethinking the traditional content marketing funnel requires a shift in mindset. 

While we would love to easily “funnel” users from the first point of contact to the point of sale, a typical content funnel does little to actually create demand. 

In fact, this method is slow, clunky, and ineffective—not only in terms of leads but in terms of driving actual revenue. 

Brands spend far too much time trying to figure out what gaps exist in the funnel and what content is needed in order to fill those gaps. 

They’ll invest weeks and sometimes months creating whitepapers so that they can generate leads and drop unsuspecting buyers into a sales cadence. The logic being that if they believe the content fits somewhere in a funnel, that means a buyer is likely to buy soon.

This is the exact reason so many companies are currently stuck with their content efforts.

Content funnels fail to address customers’ real needs. 

Companies often end up following some imaginary funnel that doesn’t really exist. They’re basing their content structure on some “demand waterfall” as an attempt to guess what stage a buyer is at in their buyer’s journey. 

This leads to writing content for your funnel instead of for the customer. 

An effective content funnel isn’t just about “filling gaps”, but writing content people actually want to read, based on their unique habits, beliefs, needs, wants, struggles, questions, and desires.

At Elevate Demand, we know that what customers don't just want to solve their pain, but most buyers don't even recognize they're in pain. This means they're not searching to find your content.

So, we help B2B brands tap into understanding their buyers operating narrative that hits buyers before they recognize a pain and gives rise to their buyers and customers pain.

Do this instead: Build Demand with Your Content

Most B2B companies have found a way to completely overthink their content.

You don’t need a fancy funnel in order to draw in new customers.

All you need is a mix of highly valuable narrative driven content that builds REAL demand and a content marketing strategy that circulates your content where your target customers are likely to see it online.

Is your old “content funnel” not working? Here’s what to do instead:

Create Content That Builds Brand Awareness

You don’t need to create content for every stage of the buyer’s journey. You’ll just end up wasting your time and “filling gaps” that don’t really exist and don’t ultimately matter when it comes to increasing sales.

Most B2B companies start with building a list of pain points and then mapping content ideas to these pain points based on search volume.

The problem with pain point driven content is it never out paces demand. You're still waiting for buyers to recognize they have a pain worth solving or it assumes that buyers care about solving their pain enough that they want to reach out.

Instead start creating content that maps to your buyers operating narrative as if they were unaware of a pain. This type of content starts with their current beliefs and habits. It's understanding how the buyer "operates" today to day.

Imagine creating content that isn't about solving a pain but gives rise to their pain so they need to take action. Once they recognize that pain and need to take action you can offer up pain point focused content or you'll start increasing your inbound volume.

This is how you beat your competition and 5x your inbound volume.

Distribute Content with Zero Sales Intent

Next, distribute your narrative driven content across paid social channels in order to reach your audience where they are at. These campaigns should have NO sales intent; they simply serve to build awareness of your brand narrative, shift the beliefs of your buyers, and give rise to their pain so they actually desire to take action. 

Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and Instagram Ads can all work to grab users’ attention and make them aware that your brand exists. Then, they are likely to read your content and, if interested, venture to other pages of your website to learn more. 

Ungate Your Content 

Let your target market actually read your content. This means no gated forms, no email required, and no asks. Your content should be ungated so people can read your content without the push of you turning them into a “lead” right away. 

Add Social Proof and Customer Stories

Add in customer success stories, testimonials, and other types of social proof to build brand trust. Social proof and customer stories that actually support your brand narrative and help buyers understand how you helped them recognize their pain can be a huge difference maker.

Convert Customers on Your Website

If your content is hitting at your buyers operating narrative and starting to shift their beliefs and habits it will give rise to their needs, goals, struggles, and desires, then they are more likely to buy from you.

Your website will serve as your ultimate “funnel” to direct users to your product and service pages. No fancy bells and whistles required. Once customers are ready to buy, they will. 

Change the Way You Create B2B Content

This reimagining of the traditional B2B content funnel serves to change the way your company views content. Our hope is that you steer away from the now outdated content funnel and instead focus on creating content that builds demand and drives real revenue.

This requires that you completely overhaul your content and content marketing approach. The good news is, this method is way more simple (and effective) than the typical content funnel. You will save time, energy, and marketing spend—and see better results.

Don’t believe it? See how we increased sales by 79% for Revitalash by overhauling their content marketing strategy and using paid campaigns to build demand. 

Out with the old, in with the new — rethink how your B2B creates content with the help of Elevate Demand. Book your discovery call today