Creating a content marketing funnel is a visual way to improve your customer experience (CX).
What’s the most crucial aspect of implementing a content marketing strategy? Naturally, you need a robust content plan and an editorial calendar.
If you want to accomplish your end goals, you must ensure that all your content assets focus on conversions. Creating conversion-focused content requires you to have a deep understanding of the buyer’s journey and content marketing funnel.
It is essential to identify your audience’s needs, pain points, and queries at each stage of the funnel. You need to choose the right content formats and distribution channels for each stage. It’s also essential to select relevant topics and tailor your content for each stage.
Every piece of content you create can be aimed at guiding your potential customers from one stage of the funnel to the next. Even the most insightful blog post or viral meme will fail to yield the desired results. Creating the right content for each stage of the content marketing funnel is easier said than done.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the buyer’s journey and understand how content relates to the marketing funnel.
Understanding the Buyer’s Journey
A buyer’s journey describes the stages a consumer goes through before they decide to purchase a product or avail of a service. The buyer’s journey involves the following stages:
Modern content marketers must have a deep knowledge of how their potential customers transition from prospects to leads and eventually, paying customers. Also, sales prospects are becoming increasingly tech-savvy and don’t want brands to dictate their purchase decisions.
In other words, your customers read and analyze different pieces of content before making a purchase decision. According to HubSpot, a consumer typically engages with 3 to 5 pieces of content before even contacting a company’s sales team.
This, in turn, has made it important to map your content strategy to each stage of the buyer’s journey. You must provide content that handholds your target consumers as they move forward in the journey. Even after they become paying customers, you need to keep them hooked with personalized content and experiences to retain them. The idea is to build a strong and lasting relationship with your potential customers throughout the buyer’s journey.
Image Source: Accelity
Now that you’re aware of how the buyer’s journey works, it’s time for us to understand how content relates to the marketing funnel.
The Content Marketing Funnel
How does content affect different stages of the marketing funnel?
This is likely the most common question that’ll come to your mind when you think about creating conversion-focused content.
The first step is to understand what constitutes a successful content marketing funnel. Simply put, it’s the application of the sales funnel in content marketing.
Attract, Engage and Convert
A content marketing funnel provides you with a framework to create relevant content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Every piece of content you create in the funnel serves one of the following purposes:
- Attracting consumers at the top of the funnel (awareness)
- Engaging leads in the middle of the funnel (consideration)
- Converting active leads at the bottom of the funnel (decision)
You can use engaging, entertaining, and informative blog posts, infographics, social media posts, etc. to grab the attention of your potential customers.
You can use powerful lead magnets such as e-books, checklists, etc. to convert website visitors and social media followers into qualified leads.
Nurture Leads with Content Marketing
You can nurture leads with insightful newsletters, case studies, product comparison guides, etc. The key is to build an enduring relationship, win their trust, and highlight why your product is the right fit for them. You can use webinars, live demos, free trials, etc. to compel active leads to make a purchase.
Drive Loyalty with Content Marketing
Modern content marketing funnels often include a fourth stage – loyalty. The idea is that you shouldn’t abandon a customer right after they make their first purchase. You need to handhold them as they start using your product.
As with the other stages of the funnel, high-quality content plays a key role here. You can use personalized emails, educational blog posts, and surveys to delight your customers. You need to provide them with detailed user guides and round-the-clock support to create an outstanding customer experience.
This is particularly crucial considering that acquiring a new customer costs 6 to 7 times more than retaining an existing one. When you make your customers feel valued, it reinforces their trust and loyalty.
This, in turn, converts them into staunch advocates of your brand. Advocates end up recommending your product/service to more people and consequently, you attract more consumers to the top of the funnel.
Image Source: Medium
Now that you know the importance of content marketing at every stage of the funnel, you can’t wait to get started. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create content that drives conversions.
How to Create Conversion-Focused Content
Do you want to create content that converts website visitors into subscribers and leads into paying customers? You must provide relevant and engaging content to your target consumers at each stage of the funnel. If your content fails to strike a chord with them, it won’t drive any conversions.
That’s why you need to use the following steps to kickstart your content marketing strategy:
Conversion Doesn’t Mean Sales
It’s important to understand that driving conversions isn’t the same as closing a sale.
When a website visitor downloads an e-book by submitting their email address, it counts as a conversion. Likewise, when an active lead requests to speak with a sales rep, it’s a conversion. You must have a clear idea of what constitutes a conversion at each stage.
Breakdown Your Content Marketing Funnel Goals
If you’ve outlined a content marketing strategy, you’ve likely already defined your end goals. It’s now time for you to assign specific goals to each stage of the funnel. You can set one or more of the following goals to the top of the funnel:
- 2x website traffic in the next quarter
- 100,000 Instagram followers in the next six months
- 3x YouTube channels subscribers in the next year
Know Your Potential Customers
You can’t create high-converting content without identifying your audience’s needs, pain points, and preferences. You can use social media polls and online surveys for a deeper insight into your audience’s minds.
Also, you need to put yourself in their shoes and identify the questions they’re likely to ask at various stages of the funnel. This can go a long way to help you select the right topics and themes for your content strategy.
Create Buyer Personas in your Content Marketing Funnel
Let’s say you own a brand of home decor products. Your target audience likely comprises the following segments:
- New house owners
- Existing house owners who’re renovating their homes
- Working professionals who’ve recently relocated to a new city
- Engaged or soon-to-be-married couples who’re setting up their own place
- Independent professionals who’re creating a home office
The likes, dislikes, needs, and preferences of each segment are going to be different. Your prospects’ needs are going to change as they move down your content marketing funnel. That’s why you need to outline distinct buyer personas for different audience segments at each stage of the funnel.
Here’s an example:
Image Source: UXPressia
Select the Right Channels in Your Content Marketing Funnel
Effective distribution and promotion of your content assets is an integral part of content marketing. Your choice of distribution channels influences various aspects including your marketing budget and the content formats you use.
Depending on your audience’s preferences, you can choose from the following distribution channels:
- Company website and blog
- Social media platforms
- Search engines
- Paid advertising
It is essential to understand that your potential customers will prefer different communication channels depending on their position in the funnel.
Leads at the bottom of the funnel already know your brand and will prefer direct communication via email. However, you can’t use emails to reach out to prospects at the top of the funnel who aren’t familiar with your brand.
Here’s a useful guide to help you select the right distribution channels:
While you’re doing this, it’s also important to develop a comprehensive content marketing playbook. It’ll help streamline your content strategy and ensure that all your team members are on the same page. If creating it from scratch seems too laborious or time-consuming, you can get a free content marketing playbook designed online.
Choose Your Formats and Topics Wisely
The most crucial step of creating conversion-focused content is to publish relevant content in the right format. If you’ve performed thorough audience research, you likely already know the subjects and themes that’ll resonate with them.
Next, you need to build a list of potential topics that’ll answer their questions and/or resolve their problems. Make sure you repeat this step for each stage of the funnel. Lastly, you have to select the right content format for each topic depending on which stage of the funnel you’re targeting.
Here are a few commonly used content formats:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Ultimate guides
- Case studies
While blog posts and infographics are useful for generating awareness, testimonials and live webinars can be instrumental in shaping purchase decisions. But if you want to drive conversions, you need to offer free trials or discounts.
Formats for the Top of the Content Marketing Funnel
If you know what is top of funnel content marketing, you know that the goal of this stage is to amplify awareness and generate leads. At this stage, your potential customers are looking for solutions to a specific problem. Alternatively, they might be looking to educate themselves before making a purchase.
You need to reach out to them with relevant and meaningful information using the right channels. This is particularly crucial considering that 87% of today’s shoppers begin their search for a new product on digital channels.
You can use the following content formats at this stage:
Blog Posts in Your Content Marketing Funnel
Well-researched, meaningful, and valuable blog posts are a must for every content marketing strategy. When optimized, using the right keywords in your content will help your organic website traffic skyrocket. 55% of marketers prioritize blogging for their inbound marketing strategy.
Did you know that 65% of marketers use infographics in their content marketing strategy? This isn’t surprising considering that infographics help convey plenty of data and insights in an engaging format. They’re great for posting on social media as well.
Podcasts and Videos
You can repurpose lengthy blog posts in the form of podcasts or videos to reach a wider audience. These formats are more engaging and are particularly useful in targeting new demographics.
Capitalizing on viral trends is a great way of skyrocketing brand awareness. Identify trending and popular memes and put your spin on them. Share them across all your social media profiles to grab eyeballs.
E-books, Checklists, and Whitepapers
These are excellent lead magnets and help bolster brand authority and trust. Make sure you create well-designed and conversion-focused landing pages to showcase your lead magnets.
It’s worth mentioning here that 75% of B2B buyers are willing to share their contact information in exchange for a whitepaper.
Other useful content formats for this stage include:
- Paid ads
- Social media posts (tweets, one-liners, etc.)
Formats for the Middle of the Content Marketing Funnel
Your primary goal at this stage is to nurture leads and educate them about your product. You must position your product as the right solution to their problems.
Here are a few useful content formats for this stage:
Compile your latest blog posts, e-books, infographics, etc. to create engaging, valuable, and insightful newsletters. They are useful for staying connected with qualified leads and gradually earning their trust.
Product Explainer and Tutorial Videos
You can use videos to highlight your product’s features and benefits. Alternatively, you can also create detailed product comparison guides. You can even include a call-to-action (CTA) asking them to book a live demo or free trial.
Case Studies and Testimonials
Both case studies and client testimonials boost brand credibility and compel leads to consider purchasing your product.
Bottom of the Content Marketing Funnel Formats
This is the stage where you have to convert an active lead into a paying customer. The key is to offer an irresistible incentive that’ll compel them to make a purchase.
You can use the following content formats at this stage:
Live Demos and Free Trials
A free trial or demo gives your potential customers a glimpse of what your product can help them accomplish. Use it as a CTA at the end of your newsletters and case studies.
Webinars & Live Streams
Webinars offer an excellent channel for personally interacting with your potential customers and resolving their queries.
They help showcase your brand’s human side and earn your audience’s trust. Likewise, you can host live Q & A sessions on social media to directly communicate with your audience.
A discount code or coupon creates a sense of urgency and piques your potential customers’ curiosity. It can be just the push they’d been waiting for to make up their mind. While this may not count as content, it needs to be a part of your strategy.
Creating Content That Enhances Loyalty
This is often the most ignored aspect of creating conversion-focused content. If you abandon first-time customers after they make a purchase, they won’t return. On the other hand, if you keep handholding them, they’ll likely become loyal brand ambassadors.
You can use the following content formats to boost loyalty:
- Personalized emails
- User guides
- Rewards and loyalty programs
You can’t implement a content strategy without knowing how to create a successful content marketing funnel. It’s essential to develop a thorough understanding of your target consumers and develop distinct buyer personas for each stage of the funnel. Also, you need to identify the right content formats and channels for each stage of the funnel.
Blog posts, podcasts, and infographics are great for attracting prospects and boosting awareness. However, you need powerful product tutorials, newsletters, and case studies to nurture leads. Likewise, you need to offer free trials/demos and loyalty programs to close sales and improve loyalty.