inbound marketing funnel

Breaking Stereotypes with an Epic Inbound Marketing Funnel

In the growing content network, traditional marketing is not enough. You need an epic inbound marketing funnel to break through the noise!

There is no shortage of content in the world today. But there is a big difference between lots of content and lots of great content. An epic inbound marketing funnel is essential for any company wanting to grow its audience and generate more leads today. A well-defined funnel will see you standing out from the crowd.

Content is not something we lack in today’s society!

There is tons of content available and its usefulness varies across multiple platforms. We are seeing more and more customers using online sources to assist them with their purchase decisions. The danger with this, however, is that not all content today can be deemed good content and some content published is either not correctly fact-checked or is published for entertainment purposes only.

While you may already be checking all the content boxes currently to ensure you are publishing high-quality content, marketers agree that this is just not enough. Having a good content marketing strategy is important, yes, but it does not help grow your business. At best, it puts you on par with the rest.

If you really want to reach your marketing goals and make a huge impact on your target market, you need to move from good to epic, creating something that defies the stereotypical content others are producing and places you firmly in a league of your own!

In this article, you will learn how an epic inbound marketing funnel can turn your content plan from good to great and see your content—and business—soar.

inbound marketing funnel
Source: Shutterstock

Raise the Bar From Good to Great—to EPIC!

The age of one-way, brand-powered communication is officially outdated. The arrival of new platforms and new techniques has seen consumers able to engage directly with businesses, turning the content tricks of past days on their heads and opening the doors for real engagement and a more authentic content marketing approach. Businesses still stuck in this old model of delivering purely promotional content run the risk of losing customers to competitors who are working harder to meet their needs.

And of course, this costs them money. Marketing that relies on stereotypes limits the brand’s revenue. As consumers get smarter, they learn to think outside the box and appreciate content pieces that are unlike everybody else’s.

In order to move from average to epic, your primary content goal should be to always create content that enhances the lives of your customer.

The only way to achieve this—and to really make a difference in the lives of your customers—is to be truly authentic in your content strategy approach. Focus your inbound marketing funnel on content that not only promotes your products and services but also addresses the very real needs your customers may be facing. Introducing this level of honesty to your content strategy, and reducing the level of promo-type content will establish your reputation within your customer base as authentic and forge a level of trust and loyalty.

Most companies today are guilty of publishing feature-rich and benefit-related content. This is not what customers need! They need content that addresses their entire buyer journey and not just selected parts. Businesses today lack content pieces that engage their customers and drive prospects towards a desired action.

This is where epic content marketing comes in handy.

What is an Inbound Marketing Funnel?

Epic content marketing is a form of an inbound marketing strategy that publishes content emotionally connecting with your target audience.

In a world overflowing with information, consumers need help to connect with businesses and brands on a deeper level. Creating content that reaches them authentically means understanding what they need or are looking for, and building your content around these issues. This customer-centric content is the key to epic content marketing.

When your consumers can relate to your content, they pay more attention to what you can do for them and what you have on offer. They become more receptive to those promo-style content pieces you were sharing previously. They see value in your organization and products and the trust relationship grows.

The absolute beauty of this approach—and of epic content—is that it really does take your content to the next level. It invites engagement and says far more, in a quiet way, than the volumes of text, images, or videos encountered daily. It creates relatable content that elicits an emotional response which in turn encourages them to take action.

Powerful Emotions

A strategically created inbound marketing funnel partners well with certain emotions and, when implemented correctly, evoke specific reactions. The table below gives an indication of these emotions and how you can use them as you plan your strategy.

Take note that, although most brands prefer to focus on the more positive emotions the emotional response does not have to be positive all the time.

Sentiment analysis for epic content marketing
List of popular and effective emotional responses

Components of an Inbound Marketing Funnel

Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi, the author behind the Epic Content Marketing book, discussed at least six principles that make up epic content marketing. These include:

Epic Content Fills a Need

As mentioned before, your content needs to address the customers’ unfulfilled needs, answer any questions your customers have, or solve a problem they are experiencing. Simply put, it should be useful to them in some way. And this usefulness should be above and beyond what your brand offers in the way of products or services.

For example, Coca-Cola is known for creating content that fills the customer’s emotional needs. According to James Quincey, the president, and chief operating officer of this company, “building a portfolio of ‘consumer-centric brands’ requires shifting focus from what the company wants to sell to what consumers want to buy”.

Here are some other brands that use a content marketing strategy to connect emotionally to the audience:

  • World Wildlife Fund: It transmits fear through conveying the loss of wildlife
  • Heineken's Worlds Apart: It connects with the audience through empathy
  • Metro Australia's Dumb Ways to Die: It connects through humor, disgust, and despair
  • Children of the World's "Help Me Read This" Campaign: It shares real stories and uses sadness
  • Nike's "Just Do It": It connects through leadership
inbound marketing funnel
Source: Shutterstock

Your Inbound Marketing Funnel Lets You Communicate Consistently

One of the key characteristics of successful content is consistency—both in terms of quality and delivery.

Epic content should never fail to deliver on the promises that your brand makes. Whether you’re giving your customers discounts for signing up or subscribing to a monthly magazine or monthly email newsletter, they should always get what they signed up for and it should arrive at the promised time.

The problem is, many companies fail at keeping their promises, causing customers to lose faith. Addressing this issue alone is a great place to start building your inbound marketing funnel effectively and a great way to elicit the desired trust response.

Adding consistency to your marketing strategy will help you achieve this goal, and having your own content marketing playbook helps in making your content consistent across different platforms.

Uses a Unique and Human Voice

Epic content should always carry your brand’s voice and character. When companies publish dull, boring, and irrelevant content, they soon develop the reputation of being stereotypical. Losing your brand voice because you played it too safe is a death sentence for your content strategy and this will soon transcend down into your brand reputation.

One great advantage of digital marketing is your ability to strongly define what you want your brand to be and then share this easily with your audience. If your brand’s story is all about joy, share that. If it’s about humor, share that as well. Don’t be afraid to let your brand’s character shine through! This authentic approach will draw in customers, engaging them in real and dynamic discourse.

Source: Shutterstock

Your Inbound Marketing Funnel Should Express Your Point of View

It is becoming increasingly important to pick a side today. Epic content is not a history report nor is it a dictionary entry. You don’t have to be objective all the time because that would be too boring. You need to take a side on matters that reflect your brand’s expertise or opinion.

If you’re in the food industry and believe that your customers don’t deserve GMO foods, then speak up. This is another prime example of how to authentically engage with consumers across your platforms.

It is Free From Sales Pitches

Remember when we said that your starting point needs to be about meeting your customer’s needs and not promoting your own products and brand? Well, this is where it matters!

Take the time to get to know your customers. Find out where their challenges lie and meet them at this point. Show them that you care. Talk through their challenges and look at how you can help them. Don’t talk about your brand and your products or services—you have the rest of the website to do that.

The more you talk about your brand instead of about what matters to your customer, the fewer people will be able to relate to it. But by addressing their issues and focusing on their needs, your band will start to shine and will speak for itself.

Your Inbound Marketing Funnel Should Be the Best of Its Type

Creating epic content is not easy, but it is worth it! Putting in the hard work at the start will enable you to create an inbound marketing funnel within your strategy that can be considered the best in its class!

People today are busy, life is frenetic and people don’t have time to spend on irrelevant content. Your goal should always be to create content your audience can appreciate—and spend time reading. This type of hero content will appeal to a large audience and will immediately show an audience that sees value in spending time going through it. It would be best if you can create hero content and end up reaching a large audience.

You may need to reach out to content marketing experts in order to get this right. Content marketing specialists work with large volumes of content daily and can help you structure a content plan that will meet the needs of your potential audience.

a group of people working on inbound content marketing
Source: Shutterstock

Benefits of an Inbound Marketing Funnel

We all know that epic content marketing is good, but what specific advantages does it bring?

Increased Attention

Epic content gives your brand the attention that you're looking for. People see value in good quality content and are drawn to it. If your customers know they can rely on the content you are publishing to be accurate, relevant, and relatable, they will keep coming back for more.

In this way, you are able to turn the tables within your strategy and establish your inbound marketing funnel as an effective tool for your overall strategy. You won't have to worry about not reaching the right audience because they will be the ones reaching out to you.

More Traffic

Epic content drives traffic. This is particularly true for omnichannel content, or content shared across a range of platforms. These platforms could include social page sites and even email.

It stands to reason that the more people who read and share your content, the higher the chance of drawing traffic to your site. The number of people visiting your website will multiply as more people consume your content. Aside from ranking high in the SERPs, epic content also provides many opportunities to go viral.

Source: Shutterstock

Improved Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty matters. It is what makes your business resilient no matter what the current market trend. This is particularly true at times like these. First the pandemic, multiple lockdowns, resulting effects like supply chain issues, and now the uncertainty around certain world events.

Loyal customers are always going to be the key to your survival. And loyal customer bases are formed through your epic content efforts.

Heightened Authority

Epic content takes planning. It takes research and needs to be supported by credible sources. Being an epic content creator gives you the opportunity to become a voice of authority within your industry. It paves the way for you to be seen as an expert in your field.

This in itself builds trust and fosters brand loyalty. When you produce epic content that ticks the boxes of realm relevant and credible, and when you are meeting the needs of your customers through these content pieces, you are providing a service that is more valuable than gold.

And if you do this consistently, your target audience will soon see you as an authoritative expert or resource when it comes to the topics you are writing about.

Potential To Go Viral

Organic reach is powerful when it comes to content! And epic content stands a good chance of achieving outstanding organic reach. This is simply because epic content is shareable content. It is content your audience places enough value on to pass it forward.

An organic strategy builds an excellent word-of-mouth strategy. Let’s be honest. People trust peer reviews today and a solid word-of-mouth inbound marketing funnel will see many people visit your social profiles based on what others have said.

Research today shows that 88% of people trust online reviews from other consumers as much as reviews from personal contacts. A further study shows that as many as 81% of people admit to being influenced by what their community shares on social platforms.

These stats show the importance of having an organic strategy that consistently posts engaging and relevant content.

a man doing social media engagement
Source: Shutterstock

Breaking Stereotypes with Your Inbound Marketing Funnel

Overcoming stereotypes in making your content plan is a lot more challenging than you’d expect. It entails thinking creatively while keeping your brand’s message in mind.

But sometimes the “expert” who advises you to write epic content only writes average content. They may have an idea of what epic content is, but creating it needs actual experience. It takes one to teach one.

Additionally, epic content takes time! You need to be able to devote the time, effort, and resources required to create the right kind of content. You don’t go viral by simply aiming for average.

If you find yourself struggling to find the time, or create the level of content required, rest assured in the knowledge that you are not alone! While content creation may appear easy at the onset, there is a certain skill required to generate the right content for your platforms.

In fact, as many as one in three B2B content marketers struggles to generate engaging content while 21% of content creators fail to produce content at the level required to meet the needs of their target audience.

Here are some content marketing tips to help you create content that people can’t ignore:

Tip #1: Keep Your Customers Happy

We talked earlier about eliciting emotions from your customers, but getting positive emotional responses is better than negative ones. This is because you want your content to be associated with a positive experience.

Try to keep your customers happy while still adhering to the goals you have set. Focus always on your reason for the content piece you are creating. What is the benefit your audience will get from this piece of content? After all, what’s the point of having epic content if it does not align with your brand’s message?

Tip #2: Don’t Forget Your Mission Statement

Just like every business, you need to communicate your mission statement to your audience. This adds to the E-A-T (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness) of your website. Here are the things you need to incorporate into your mission statement:

  • Your audience – so they know that you are talking to them
  • What you’ll deliver – so your audience knows what to expect from you
  • The outcome – what you want to achieve

Tip #3: Build Content for Loyal Customers

Getting a lot of traffic is not a bad thing but you also need to constantly assess how many of these visitors are authentic customers. How many of them are really interested in buying from your brand? When you have audited your visitor base, you can categorize your visitors according to pre-determined criteria. Those who want to buy from you and those who are just browsing.

In this way, you can focus specific content on these groups instead of wasting your time and money creating irrelevant content. By segmenting your audience, you are able to be channel-specific and relevant, content to these audiences, giving each one the time they need in this process. It doesn’t take much to convince loyal customers why they should stick around, or to see the value in your brand. New customers are generally harder to convert and require more time and a different approach.

Nurturing the right visitors with the right content will translate into increased brand loyalty and a greater organic reach.

Tip #4: Reach Out to Influencers in Your Industry

If you want to go viral, you’ll probably need some help to get there. And who better to help than the influencers that your target consumers love to engage with. So do your research and make a list of influencers in your niche. Build relationships with the people on the list through social media. Then get them to notice you by engaging or sharing their content.

Once you achieve this, you can ask them to share your content, which will be seen by their followers. You can also reach out to them directly with a collab or a project.

Tip #5: Prepare a Budget

Let’s admit it: relying on organic traffic alone is not enough to promote your content. Of course, if you really create some epic content, going viral is not an issue. But you should always aim to support these efforts with a marketing budget.

There are various paid channels you can use to promote your content. They include:

  • Google AdWords
  • Social media
  • Bing

4 Steps in Creating an Epic Inbound Marketing Funnel

Now that you’ve read everything you need to know about epic content marketing, the next step is to figure out how you can create your own. Keep in mind that creating epic content requires a lot of practice, research, and patience. And you might not get it during the first few tries. But don’t fret. The steps below can be your guide in drafting your own epic content.

Step 1. Research, Research, Research

Epic content is all about the new information people haven’t seen before. And the only way for you to discover it is by digging into all the possible sources of information for your topic. Good quality data is what will make your content stand out so don’t do your research half-heartedly.

Step 2. Write as if Your Life Depended on It

Let your passion and excitement show in your writing. Of course, remember not to talk too much about yourself or your brand. Draw inspiration from your past experiences, write catchy headlines, provide unconventional views, and be honest. Keep the tips that we discussed earlier in mind.

Step 3. Don’t Be Afraid To Criticize Your Own Work

Once you’ve completed your content and done your basic checks, go over your work, and determine if it is something that you would want to read. Did it make sense? Did it elicit the right emotion? Are the details accurate? Look for ways to improve the article and see what else you can add.

Step 4. Let Others Criticize Your Work

Ask other people to read your epic content and get their honest opinion. It would be better if you can ask someone that you do not know to critique your content. Gather opinions from different people and see which ones make sense. Improve your content based on the feedback, then hit publish!

Partner with WriteForMe For Your Inbound Marketing Funnel Strategy Needs

Creating epic content is not rocket science. But sometimes fear and insecurity prevent you from going viral. Sometimes it is not a lack of expertise, experience, or information that’s keeping you in the average zone. What holds most brands and thought leaders back is the fear of criticism.

But when you get this epic content marketing right, you’ll be amazed at all the benefits it brings. Make it a priority to create something epic this year!

Contact us today to get started building your content marketing strategy!

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Andy Steuer

Andy Steuer is the Chief Marketing Officer at WriteForMe. Andy has been CEO, CMO, VP of Product for 8 fast-growing companies in his career. 3 of those companies became Top 10 Internet companies. Content Marketing has always been at the core to differentiate these companies from their competition. You can always schedule a 1 on 1 meeting with Andy by grabbing some time on his calendar here. List articles below that have Andy on the byline on the rest of the page. Here’s my calendar link:https://meetings.hubspot.com/andysteuer » More blog posts by Andy Steuer

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