Ah, funnels. They mean different things to different people.
In college, it was the thing we shotgunned a beer out of. When I used to drive a car, it was the thing that I never had when I desperately needed to change my oil.
If you’re in tune with the sales process or online marketing in general, you probably associate funnels with conversions, optimization, and nurturing.
Funnels are good for quick conversions. A simple update to a funnel can increase sales overnight. But the process shouldn’t end with the sale.
Traditional sales tactics are being replaced with content aimed towards adding value to the user and gaining their trust before resorting to a hard sell. This is forcing brands to get creative in the ways they drive sales, and many are finding success using content marketing funnels.
So what type of content are we talking about?
Good content should be a priority at any step in the buying process, and leads can be converted into customers at nearly any stage, depending on where they first interact with your content. The more content you produce and test, the more insight you’ll gain into what types of content to generate and what users resonate with it. Then, you’ll be able to use that information to create even more content to widen the funnel and expand your brands reach.
Keep in mind the four main elements of inbound marketing; Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. These four variables are what keep your audience engaged, and your leads nurtured throughout the life of the funnel. Once you break down the process into these four phases, you’ll be able to assess what kind of content will be the most valuable to your audience in that phase.
You want your content to attract your audience. Obviously. This is done by creating things that your audience wants to see. If you haven’t already, you need to conduct a content audit to learn what’s been working and what hasn’t regarding the types of content your audience resonates with. Once you have this information, it makes it easier to know what to create as a lead magnet or content upgrade.
You need to create content that your audience wants, or better yet, doesn’t yet know they need. There’s no need to resort to clickbait, but the material does need to be compelling enough that someone who is not familiar with your brand will want to click. Don’t be afraid to narrow your focus to one or two platforms when first trying to attract new people into your tribe.
Popular types of content in this phase:
- Blog posts
- Facebook Ads
Whatever you choose to create, it has to be able to entice users to click something and urge them to want to learn more on the way to the next stage of the funnel.
In this second phase, potential customers are evaluating your brand and deciding what additional actions they want to take.
The conversion phase is an excellent place to evaluate the success of your funnel so far. Take a look at what conversions you see from the initial clicks in phase 1, and what information users are giving in phase 2. If there’s a definite disconnect between the number of users clicking and the number of users downloading, you may need to re-evaluate the content you’re offering or even consider an alternative platform to the one you’ve been using.
Popular content in this phase:
- a free course
- email sequence or course
- downloadable guide
- free consultation
The information you gather from this step will help a user determine whether or not they trust your brand enough to make a purchase.
Always make sure your content is aiming to solve a common pain point for your users. This is where your research skills will come into play as you’ll need to have done sufficient industry research to discover what your users are struggling with to offer solutions they’ll want to try out and eventually pay money for.
A few ways to convert clicks into solid leads at this point is to offer something a bit more robust than in stage one. It’s important not to lose momentum and to continue to increase the amount of value you’re adding at every step in the funnel.
Now we’re getting deeper into the funnel and closer than ever to making a sale. It’s exhilarating!
You’ve been able to attract users, and they’ve taken action to make it this far. Here’s the time to take those nurtured leads and close them. You’ve been able to gain the user’s trust, and based on their past actions, there’s a good chance they’re ready to make a purchase.
Take a look at what pieces of content they’ve interacted with the most. If you can’t identify this data from your analytics, don’t be afraid to send out a survey or ask them directly how you can help.
They’ve come this far for a reason, so be patient, be consistent and don’t stop creating valuable content. After all, it can take up to seven touchpoints for a prospect to make a buying decision.
Once the sale is made, take a quick break to celebrate, but keep in mind that the work isn’t done yet. The core of content marketing is relationship building and creating a genuine trust between your brand and your audience. This means continuing to nurture that relationship even once the check clears.
Remember, someone who’s bought something from you once is way more likely to buy something from you again, so why not continue to nurture that relationship with even more content.
In this stage, it’s all about thanking the customer for their support and continuing to build the relationship. Use this time to gather testimonials, offer exclusive access to new services or products, or conduct surveys to get to know their thoughts on your customer experience. If you continue to nurture the relationship, your customers will become your brand ambassadors and in turn, spread your brand message organically.
When successful, effective content marketing engages audiences, generates sales and transforms users into brand ambassadors. As you continue to create high-quality materials and content, your funnel will widen and naturally expand your reach.
If you’re still unsure what content to create, or what your audience is even interested in, here’s a massive free resource that will give you access to a DIY content audit, 101 evergreen content ideas, and a list of every tool you need to create a killer content strategy. Get it for free now!