Content without a clear purpose is unlikely to bring your business any real benefits. In order to ensure your content attracts customers and generates revenue, you must build your strategy carefully so every piece of content fits into your content marketing funnel.
What Is a Content Marketing Funnel?
Your audience will consume your content at a number of different stages during their buying journey.
Some consumers will be right at the start of their journey, gathering information and educating themselves. They may not know what they want to buy or even if they want to buy anything yet. This is the wide end of the funnel – the awareness stage.
The purpose of content for this stage of the funnel is simply to make the reader or viewer aware that your brand exists and to give them general information that will help them to learn more about the topic.
For example, a user at the awareness stage might be looking for information on how to remove pet hair from upholstery. They may be a new pet owner that just became aware that some pets shed a lot. Due to this inexperience, they probably don’t have any idea that products exist for this very purpose. At this stage, they’re just looking for tips. If you’re selling vacuum cleaners, a blog post offering some potential solutions can make them aware of your website and brand, as well as some products they might start considering.
Traffic to awareness content commonly comes from search engines (with the help of SEO) and from social media and other links. This type of content includes blog posts, videos, infographics, ebooks, whitepapers, ads, and social media posts.
The Audible blog contains a range of round-up posts suggesting audiobooks on themes, such as “must-listens for aging Millennials,” that are not only highly shareable on social media but also introduce the reader to Audible’s digital services.
Capgemini’s brochure about cloud security services includes detailed advice about the benefits of cloud security, as well as reasons why you should consider the firm for your security needs.
Interest / Evaluation
At the middle of the funnel is the interest and evaluation stage. At this point, the user has a clearer idea of what they’re actually looking for, and they may be starting to look for more detailed information on specific features and benefits, and comparisons of different products.
The user in the previous example may have decided they need a new vacuum cleaner at this stage and started to look at information about different models to decide which product suits their needs best.
At this stage, content needs to go into more detail about particular solutions and might include in-depth reviews, case studies, and comparisons.
During this stage of the funnel, users may return to search engines several times and make several different searches. This is also a great stage to capture leads as these individuals are actively looking for information and may be comparing different vendors or service providers.
The landing page creation tool Instapage has a playlist of YouTube videos called “Why Instapage?”, which demonstrates the features that set them apart from competitors.
Microsoft provides persuasive information for those comparing Azure and AWS.
The content marketing funnel typically ends with a sale, and the content crafted for the bottom of the funnel should drive these sales.
Bottom of the funnel content includes landing pages, product descriptions, and sales emails.
Booking.com targets web users looking for villas in Bali by titling a list of available properties as “The 10 Best Bali Villas” and providing buttons for direct booking.
Backup service provider Backblaze encourages sales for customers landing on their homepage with several CTAs offering free trials and a bonus of extra storage.
Not every customer will start at the wide end of the marketing funnel and work their way through to making a purchase in a linear fashion.
Some people will spend a long time in the earlier stages of the funnel and never progress to becoming a paying customer. Others will jump straight to the purchase stage.
But crafting content specifically designed for each stage of the funnel and the user’s needs at each stage will give you the best chance of nurturing them through the funnel and converting them into a customer.
Building Your Content Marketing Funnel
The first step in building a successful content marketing funnel is to conduct extensive audience research. Only when you understand your audience can you successfully craft content to meet their needs.
Many brands ensure they’re creating content with their actual audience in mind by creating audience personas to represent different segments of their market. These personas can be constructed by gathering research from social media, web analytics, customer databases, and competitors.
Taking a stage-specific approach with your content strategy also ensures your day-to-day content planning efforts will be more targeted.
If you create only informational content to meet the need of individuals at the awareness stage of their journey, you may be missing out on opportunities to capture leads and drive sales.
However, you can’t go straight for the sale either – trying to take someone directly from awareness to conversion rarely results in a sale.
To ensure you have sufficient content for each stage of the marketing funnel, sketch out potential journeys for each of your audience personas, noting possible ways of finding your content, as well as questions and stumbling blocks they may have along the way.
For example, a user might Google some general questions to find information, land on one of your blog posts, click through to read more of your site, sign up to your mailing list, return to your site from a link in an email, and eventually make a purchase.
By making sure you go through this process for as many potential audience journeys as you can think of, you can make sure to create suitable content for every stage and avoid any gaps that may cause prospects to leak out of your funnel.
Keeping Track of Your Content
As you might imagine, with multiple personas and hundreds of possible customer journeys, ensuring you have content for every potential need can become quite a task to manage.
This is why it makes sense to use a content marketing platform to help define your content strategy, identify gaps, and ensure your content planning covers your entire content marketing funnel.
For more information on how you can use DivvyHQ to plan out your content marketing funnels, get in touch today for a quick demo.