How Does Branded Content Drive Consideration in the Mid-Funnel?

how branded content serves as a powerful tool for advertisers looking to influence consumer decision-making

Brands and agencies are constantly seeking new ways to engage and capture the attention of their target audience. One such strategy that is gaining significant traction is the use of branded content to drive consideration, especially in the mid-funnel. 

Let’s take a closer look at how branded content serves as a powerful tool for advertisers looking to influence consumer decision-making during the crucial mid-funnel phase.

Understanding the Mid-Funnel

The marketing funnel is a conceptual framework that represents the stages a consumer goes through before making a purchase decision. It typically consists of three main stages: awareness, consideration, and conversion (or action). 

The top and the bottom of the marketing funnel remain important, but our industry has reached the limits of where brands can improve the impact of their marketing budgets with awareness- and performance-centric tactics and advertising. These days, massive, aggregated audiences at the top of the funnel are growing rarer, and this scarcity has driven prices higher than ever. Meanwhile, the performance engine at the bottom of the funnel has evolved into a finely tuned machine—but one that’s also hitting the limitations on what’s possible. Search and social channels are saturated, and most marketers are acknowledging they’ve reached a point of diminishing returns in these channels.

That’s where the mid-funnel becomes so important. The mid-funnel, also known as the consideration stage, is where potential customers actively evaluate and compare different products or services. During the consideration phase, consumers are not only aware of a brand, but they are also open to exploring and learning more about what it has to offer. Advertisers recognize the importance of this stage as it directly impacts the likelihood of conversion. This is where the strategic use of branded content comes into play.

The Role of Branded Content

Branded content refers to any content that is created by or for a brand. It goes beyond traditional advertising by focusing on storytelling, value creation, and building a genuine connection with the audience. This form of content marketing has gained popularity due to its ability to provide valuable information while subtly promoting the brand.

Today’s brands need to be aware of and well-represented across the complete hierarchy of brand storytelling, which includes:

  • Industry stories: Content—articles, videos, podcasts, events and more—focused on the growth and future of the categories in which a brand operates.
  • Company stories: Content that explores the reasons a company exists, its internal culture and impact on the world, and more.
  • Product stories: Content regarding a company’s products, their features, and how they compare in the competitive set.
  • Expert stories: Professional outlets and influencers that showcase brands and their products.
  • Customer stories: Testimonials and reviews from real-world customers sharing their experiences with and opinions on a brand and its products.

Elevating Branded Content with Native Advertising

The above types of branded content provide fodder for owned, earned, and paid media opportunities. One of the most important of those opportunities to activate within the mid-funnel is native advertising, which enables brands to promote their branded content in the places and moments where consumers are in decision-making mode. Here’s why branded content is particularly powerful when elevated by native advertising: 

Builds Trust and Credibility: In the mid-funnel, consumers are actively seeking information to make informed decisions. Branded content allows advertisers to position themselves as industry experts and thought leaders. By delivering relevant and insightful content, brands can build trust and credibility, essential elements in influencing consideration.

For example, a technology company creating in-depth blog posts, webinars, or video content about industry trends, best practices, and case studies not only educates its audience but also establishes itself as a reliable source of information. This, in turn, encourages consumers to consider the brand as a trustworthy option when making purchasing decisions.

Creates Emotional Connections: Branded content has the unique ability to evoke emotions and connect with the audience on a personal level. Emotional connections play a crucial role in driving consideration, as consumers are more likely to choose a brand that resonates with their values and aspirations.

Storytelling through branded content allows advertisers to humanize their brand and create narratives that appeal to the emotions of their target audience. Whether it's through heartwarming videos, inspiring success stories, or relatable anecdotes, brands can leave a lasting impression that goes beyond product features and pricing.

Provides Value and Utility: Consumers in the mid-funnel are actively seeking solutions to their problems or needs. Branded content that provides valuable information, tips, and solutions not only positions the brand as helpful but also keeps the audience engaged throughout the consideration process.

For instance, a beauty brand could create tutorials, how-to guides, or product demonstrations to showcase the effectiveness of its products. By offering practical value, the brand becomes an indispensable resource for consumers, influencing their consideration and favoring the brand over competitors.

Fosters Engagement and Interaction: Interactive branded content encourages audience participation, creating a two-way communication channel between the brand and the consumer. This engagement not only increases the time spent with the brand but also provides valuable data and insights into consumer preferences.

For example, a sportswear brand could develop an interactive quiz to help consumers find the perfect workout gear based on their preferences and fitness goals. This not only keeps the audience engaged but also allows the brand to tailor its messaging to individual needs, ultimately driving consideration.

In the evolving digital marketing ecosystem, branded content remains an important tool for advertisers aiming to influence consideration in the mid-funnel. By focusing on building trust, creating emotional connections, providing value, and fostering engagement, brands can effectively guide consumers through the consideration phase, increasing the likelihood of conversion. As the market continues to evolve, the strategic use of branded content—particularly when elevated by native advertising—remains a key element in the arsenal of advertisers seeking to establish meaningful connections with their target audience.

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