Just like the natural universe, the content marketing universe turns out to be a bit more complex than we once imagined. In her intro to one of our guest posts on Entrepreneur.com, Brandi Dreiling put it best: “Marketing funnels aren’t simple, linear paths any longer. Companies can’t just set up their funnels once and watch the leads roll in forever.”
To build a content marketing funnel that converts in today’s world, your brand needs to be available whenever your customers have questions.
One thing hasn’t changed, though. A customer-centric approach to content production and publication can adapt to shifting trends and customer behavior patterns. Provide answers to current and potential customers, and you’ll broaden the reach of your enterprise as far as you want it to go. Here are some marketing funnel-building secrets we’ve learned over the years.
1. Start with a Product or Service That Lives Up to the Hype
You might have a crack content team that creates experiences that would make Shakespeare jealous. Your video production team might be so good that Hollywood directors have some of their names on speed dial.
But if your goods and services fall short of the expectations you’re setting, you should probably take a pause and focus on your product development and customer support before you launch your content marketing program. When your target customers begin to realize that the value of your product, or your expertise in your field exceeds your content expertise, then you’re ready to position yourself as a thought leader through content marketing.
2. Use Target Customer Questions as the Foundation for Your Content Marketing Strategy
Remember when your mom told you that you’d learn more if you kept your mouth shut and your ears open? That advice goes back to the ancients. Both the Judeo-Christian scriptures and Hawaiian proverbs proclaim the wisdom of listening.
Turns out, that ancient wisdom makes a savvy content strategy for today’s world as well. Here’s how to put it to work for your company.
Before you begin to write or film new content, “listen” to the questions that come in through your sales and support channels. Listen to the comments that have been left on your existing content, as well as those on your competitors’ blogs and social media comments. In these questions reside the pain points that your content can solve.
Using potential customer questions as a springboard has value throughout the funnel. People who are just searching for information become aware of your brand as an expert in its space, while those who want more in-depth information turn into prospects by becoming an email subscriber. Those further down the funnel, having developed trust from all the questions you’ve already answered, often become true leads as they are considering buying your product or service.
Pieces of content that answer customer questions can also produce an insane amount of return on your research investment. Case in point: An in-ground pool manufacturer used this strategy to turn around his company, with a single blog post netting sales of $1.7 million. Imagine what listening can do for your enterprise.
3. Create Content Targeted to Specific Stages in the Customer Journey
In addition to question-based content, create content that meets the specific needs of people at each stage in their customer journeys. Targeting people at each stage personalizes your approach, letting them know that you’re aware of their needs and willing to meet those needs.
Get Them into the Funnel by Building Awareness and Trust
Before potential customers get into your sales funnel, they need to get to the funnel. Building awareness of your brand and what it offers them allows them to initiate a relationship with your company. According to a recent SEMRush survey, 72 percent of the respondents found success at the beginning stages with how-to guides, followed by landing pages (35 percent), and infographics (28 percent).
Convert People into Prospects by Demonstrating Your Expertise
People who are investigating solutions to their problems look for content that demonstrates a brand’s mastery of their industry. For that reason, 44 percent of the survey’s respondents rated how-to articles targeted to these people’s challenges as the best choice for converting them into qualified leads. Product brochures that address how a product or service can solve their problems, as well as case studies that show how others have found success by using the product, can turn people from browsers to leads.
Turn Prospects into Qualified Leads with Problem-Solving Information
At the bottom of the content marketing funnel, people are looking for more in-depth information – proof that buying your product will help them become more productive, save money, or live better lives. At this stage, the study showed, in-depth product overviews, customer success stories, and detailed customer reviews work best to drive them further along in their relationship with your company.
Create Customers out of Prospects
For enterprises that sell to other businesses (B2B), account-based marketing is an excellent way to overcome objections. In account-based marketing, content marketers partner with their company’s sales team to identify decision-makers within the prospect’s leadership.
Consulting with the sales team to uncover questions and objections the prospect’s leaders have raised, the marketing team searches through their archives to find content that answers these concerns. If needed, the content team can create new content or repurpose existing content to send to the prospect’s key personnel.
After the prospect’s team has had enough time to digest the material, the sales team should follow up to request a meeting. Working hand in hand with the sales team is essential to ensure that messaging is consistent.
Companies that sell directly to consumers can use discount coupons or other special offers on products and services about which their prospects have expressed interest.
4. Amplify Content on Social Media at Every Step
As Ian Cleary pointed out at Content Marketing World, linking to owned content on social media can help you discover new market segments, build relationships with your audience all along their customer journeys, and move them along on the funnel.
It all starts with analytics. Use your social media analytics to identify growing, relevant audience segments whose interests and pain points align with your offerings.
Learn what platforms these relevant audience segments frequent and the times they’re usually on those channels. Then, publish links to content relevant to their interests and needs to build their trust in your brand.
Then, use content analytics to look deeper into those segments to see which pieces of content drove conversions. These conversions might be sales – for bottom-of-the-funnel segments – but they’re more likely to be new email subscriptions, signups for online events, or new leads submitting their email addresses for an ebook or another resource, particularly if they’re near the top or middle of the funnel.
Track social shares, as well as links to your content from third parties. Not only do shares build your authority, but they can also help with your SEO as you build traffic to your corporate website and valuable backlinks to your site.
A content calendar can help you schedule your social media posts, as well as your blog posts. Keeping track of your posts ensures that you are publishing consistently and often enough to drive conversions.
Building a content marketing funnel that drives those conversions might sound like a lot of extra work. But with a comprehensive content marketing platform like DivvyHQ, you’ll have everything you need to brainstorm, collaborate, create, publish, and analyze all in one place.
Those combined capabilities allow you to streamline your entire content marketing program, making your teams more productive and your content more effective. For a free, no-obligation demo of DivvyHQ, get in touch with our team today.