Content marketing is so powerful because it’s valuable on both ends. It’s valuable to your customers and it’s valuable to your brand.
72% of marketers are producing significantly more content than they did a year ago (source: IAB). This is an unsurprising statistic when you consider the estimated cost of content marketing is 62% less than traditional marketing, and generates approximately 3 times as many leads (source: Demand Metric).
You’re probably already producing digital content as a business in some form, maybe you’ve got an Instagram page, a blog, you’re doing FB lives, webinars or mini-classes?
That’s all great, but if you’re producing content without a strategic content marketing funnel in place, your content not only loses impact, but you also lose potential customers.
Having a strong funnel and content strategy provides true meaning behind every piece of content you produce, and works to move your customers through from awareness to conversion. In other words, it helps people that have never heard of your brand become a paying customer.
The complexity of a content funnel will vary depending on the size of your business and the amount of content you produce, but all funnels have three stages in common:
Let’s start at the top of the funnel…
Your goal at the top of the funnel is to grasp the attention of your audience, and make them aware of your brand. First impressions count, so your top of funnel content needs to match up to your target market’s interests perfectly.
Top of funnel content types include:
- Social media updates
- Digital magazines and books
- Audio podcasts
- Print magazine/newsletter
- Primary research
The interests, desires, fears and pain points of your audience should be at the forefront of planning and producing top of funnel content. What content would be truly valuable to your customers? In what format would your audience value and enjoy the most?
Remember you’ll always be better off choosing a small number of content types and producing high quality content. Don’t spread yourself thin.
If you produce content because ‘you think you should’, ‘everyone else is’ or ‘for the sake of it’, your customers will have absolutely no chance of moving down the funnel to become paying customers.
Segue One: From Awareness to Evaluation
Once you’ve chosen and created your content at the top of the funnel, you need a segue for your customer to move organically from the top, to the middle of the funnel.
Either at the end or intertwined into each piece of top of funnel content, needs to be a middle of funnel offer. Something further that your audience can engage with if they enjoyed your initial piece of content.
This won’t always happen in the first go – i.e it may take a few blog posts, social media updates and videos of awareness before your customer can move on through the funnel. However, you must always present them with the option to.
For example, you might have a content upgrade to a free eBook at the end of a blog post.
Now you’re in the middle…
The sole purpose of middle of funnel content is lead generation. That is, providing something of value for your audience in exchange for their contact information.
Your goals at the middle of the funnel are to grow your email lists, grow your retargeting lists and possibly engage in some initial customer acquisition (depending on your industry).
Middle of funnel content types (AKA lead magnets) include:
- Case studies
- White papers (good for B2B)
- Cheat sheets
- Software downloads
- Discount/coupon code
Your lead magnets need to be an ultra-specific solution to an ultra-specific market. Go back to your avatar and ask what they want.
Segue Two: From Evaluation to Conversion
The segue from evaluation to conversion is all about nurturing your leads, and providing them with what they need to become paying customers.
And you’ve made it to the bottom…
At this stage in the funnel, you customer has shown significant interest in your brand and your offerings. You’ve built up trust and high perceived value from your content throughout the first two stages of the funnel. You’ve nurtured your leads, and they’re on the brink of making a purchase. Your content at the bottom of the funnel will be the decider of whether or not they go ahead to become a paying customer.
Bottom of funnel content types include:
- Demo/free trial
- Customer story/testimonials
- Comparison/Spec sheet (checkboxes of what you offer compared to other services)
Just as with any stage of the funnel, your bottom of funnel content needs to be designed and produced with your customer at the forefront of every decision.
Everything from the copy, design and delivery of your content marketing funnel needs to deeply resonate with your customer’s position. Bottom of funnel content is about providing your customer with what they need to hear, see or listen to in order to make a purchase.
Creating content with a clear strategy and funnel in place is guaranteed to bring you more paying customers. So if you haven’t already got a clear funnel and strategy behind the content your producing, or if you’re not producing content at all – it’s time to.