In last week’s blog, my colleague Bari Cener spoke about the stages of the sales funnel and how to effectively navigate from one to the next to optimize conversions. Progression through the funnel makes a lot of sense on paper—and the title of her blog, “A Blueprint For Creating A High-Converting Sales Funnel,” was an accurate way to explain how to set yourself up for success.
But, it’s not quite as simple as dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s of an architectural sales plan. The buyer journey requires a lot of support, which is where content marketing plays a significant role.
Create Stage-Specific Content
The buyer journey requires a lot of support, which is where content marketing plays a significant role.
As a marketer, it’s likely you’ve done some research on writing inbound marketing content. The problem with many resources is they often only focus on one stage of the sales funnel: attracting your target. In some respects, this makes a lot of sense. All marketing is a numbers game. Depending on your business and industry, the final conversion rate may look something like needing 1,000 new visitors for 125 new customers.
Be that as it may, without sufficient content to target individuals at every stage of the consumer life cycle, your outcomes fall short. All the website visitors in the world will not amount to much if they don't convert.
It’s important to understand content’s purpose at each stage so it eventually turns viable consumers into your customers.
Top of the Funnel (TOFU): Awareness & Education
At this stage, individuals are essentially exploring without a map. They have a problem that needs solving, but they don’t necessarily have a plan. Remember, these folks fall into the category of “the unaware,” so they may be encountering your brand for the first time.
This is not the time to slap them across the face with a “Buy NOW” message.
Top of the funnel is all about awareness and education, which is best addressed with high-value, non-promotional content. Your audience doesn’t yet trust you enough to commit to a service or make a purchase, so it’s wasteful to inundate them with promotional messaging.
At this stage, individuals are essentially exploring without a map. They have a problem that needs solving, but they don’t necessarily have a plan.
Rather, the most constructive content at this stage includes materials like blogs, research reports, newsletters, “how-to” guides, videos, ebooks, and infographics. Of course, social media is a key component of TOFU as well and may be the initial content piece that draws targets in.
As your audience begins to gain confidence in your brand, they’ll intensify engagement. Encourage them to sign up for your newsletter or connect with you on multiple social media platforms.
Cause/Effect Model of Consistency & Trust
It takes time for potential customers to trust you. A consistent content strategy keeps your brand in the front of their minds−working toward building trust−but only if your content is of value. Thus ensues the fine balance between quantity and quality.
Your content may be top-notch, but if you produce it infrequently or inconsistently, readers lose faith in your ability to provide answers and insights.
An uptick in number of blogs (and adherence to a consistent schedule) can yield short-term gains. But, the quality of your content is what propels long-term benefits. You can’t just post blogs “on schedule” and expect to retain audience engagement if the content holds no worth.
Ultimately, this stage relies on relationship-building content−information that enlightens and raises the competence of your targets to a point where the products or services you have to offer are more useful to them, and thus more desirable.
Although this stage might not feel like “marketing” because you’re not proactively selling, it’s a critical component of the high-converting sales funnel blueprint.
Next week I’ll take on the middle of the funnel content strategy, where you really get to stretch your marketing muscle.