Do you want to create an effective content marketing strategy? Remember, your content is only valuable if you put it in the right place and at the right time. You can be investing thousands of dollars in content creation, but if you don’t have a system to publish the content and track its performance, you could waste a lot of time and money. After all, the competition in the content business has become overwhelmingly fierce! This post will focus on marketing strategies for your content marketing funnels.
What is a Content Marketing Funnel?
A content marketing funnel is a system businesses develop to improve their chances of converting a potential customer. The funnel is the customer journey from a prospect to a loyal customer. In other words, the funnel leads the potential customers through a series of interactions, making them well-acquainted with your offer and influencing their purchasing decisions. There are three main stages of any content marketing funnel —
- Awareness Stage or TOFU (Top of the funnel), which helps build attention
- Evaluation Stage or MOFU (Middle of the funnel), which helps generate leads
- Purchase Stage or BOFU (Bottom of the funnel), which helps conversions
In a later part of the post, we will discuss the various stages of a content marketing funnel in detail and find out the different user intents associated with each step. Not just that, we will discuss the different kinds of content you can use to satisfy your prospects’ need for information. For now, let’s discuss why a business needs a content marketing funnel in the first place.
Why do you need a content marketing funnel?
A recent study by Kapost suggests that businesses that invest in content marketing often produce three times the leads per dollar than businesses that invest in paid advertising. But why? The reason is quite simple. Content marketing involves extensive content production, which eventually improves a website’s SEO. With more and more content publishing on your site, you will generate more backlinks, get more pages indexed, and it will become easier for you to leverage word-of-mouth marketing.
Another content marketing survey conducted by Semrush suggests that 95% of marketers focus on creating top-of-the-funnel content, 86% focus on creating middle-of-the-funnel content, and 76% of marketers generate more bottom-of-the-funnel content. The survey makes complete sense since the primary focus of every marketer should be on getting the attention of their target audience.
Once you attract the audience, it will become easier to make prospects slide through your content marketing funnel and drive them to make the desired purchasing decisions. We will discuss the key takeaways from Semrush’s survey as we go through the different stages of a content marketing funnel.
What are the different stages of a content marketing funnel?
Let’s discuss the different stages of a content marketing funnel. As we mentioned earlier, any content marketing funnel has three main steps.
STAGE ONE: Awareness Stage or Top of the Funnel
The first stage of any content marketing funnel is the Awareness stage, and as the name suggests, the focus here will be to generate awareness in the target audience. The idea is to create content that attracts your prospects to what you offer.
The content for the awareness stage should be able to generate shares and views, and people consuming the content should be a part of your target audience. Moreover, you need to know whether or not they are interested in what the content offers.
So, what kind of content should you create for the top of the funnel? We know that you are looking for prospective customers. But sadly, they are a part of a large target audience. Therefore, you will have to create content to target a large audience.
The best kind of content you can create for the awareness stages are:
Blog posts, especially the ones that answer questions (How-to), work like magic for this stage. This is the most accessible type of content you can create and helps you with SEO. You can create more and more how-to blog posts and start sharing them on your site, social media, and other sites.
You can focus on creating more visually appealing content too. Infographics are images that represent the different parts of a topic in a much more presentable way. They can be used to focus on statistics, flowcharts, and other data. In other words, you will use infographics to make your content easy to understand. We suggest you create infographics for the how-to blog posts too. These will help you gain attention on social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.
Nothing converts like a video. If you have the budget and resources to create videos, never look back. Keep making more informative and highly engaging videos for your target audience. The only drawback of videos is that creating one takes a lot of time. However, they can significantly boost your conversion rates! If publishing to YouTube, you also get the added SEO benefit of videos potentially appearing in the Google search results.
We live in an age where people like to consume content on the go. In other words, people want to go about their day and consume content without engaging with a screen. Podcasts, therefore, have become highly successful in the last few years and are set to continue with platforms like Spotify fully embracing the medium. If you can give it the necessary time, consider a Podcast, which can later be transcribed into blog posts.
STAGE TWO: Evaluation Stage or Middle of the Funnel
The middle of the funnel or evaluation stage is where you are trying to engage with people that have shown interest in the awareness stage. In other words, the pool of people you targeted in the awareness stage has now become significantly smaller. You will now be able to focus on people who might become your customers.
So, the main focus in the evaluation stage is on being more and more valuable to the audience. They have already shown interest in the first stage. Now, you will have to satisfy their inner critic through informative content. The content you produce for the middle of the funnel will help your audience apply what they have read.
Another objective of the evaluation stage is to collect information from the audience. This is because you want to start nurturing relationships with customers that have shown interest in your business. Once you have their personal information, you can encourage the relationship to the bottom of the funnel and turn them into customers.
How would you achieve that? You must create the kind of content we call ‘Lead Magnet’. People who have passed the first stage can share their email addresses and get more information about the product or service. This will create a ‘win-win’ situation for you.
You now have their personal information to help you create an email list, and you have shared the content to help you achieve more conversions. So, what kind of content comes under ‘Lead Magnet’?
A report can be a short, concise showcase of how your product or service can solve people’s problems. A well-written report can effectively convince your audience to move to the next step or purchase.
Case studies are data-driven reports you can present to your audience as results of the tests and surveys you conducted earlier or examples of a customer’s positive use of your product or service. These give a real-life analysis of how the product will help the person if they buy it.
Again, these can be how-to guides or strategy roadmaps that go into more detail in their approach to solving the problem.
Worksheets can be coupled with any of the above content types such as printable PDFs. They help the potential customer apply the information you’ve shared in your content.
A step further is a free level of membership. This can give your customer a high-value experience, done right and there’s the natural upsell to paid levels. All of the aforementioned content types could be part of any membership area.
STAGE THREE: Purchase Stage or Bottom of the Funnel
Lastly, we have the purchase stage, where the focus is on making personal connections with the prospects. It’s time you bridge the gap between your free content and the paid product you try to sell. It would be best if you practised extreme professionalism to get your prospects to start paying.
Since you need to take a professional route, you will have to depend on email autoresponders. Remember the emails we collected in the middle of the funnel? It’s time to use them and start emailing the subscribers the following:
Show how many customers you have satisfied with the product or service. Create a series of emails where you share the success stories of people that have used your product. Better still, focus on your own successes as a brand or marketer and tell your story to connect with your readers.
Advanced content can be webinars or one-on-one classes you can hold for your prospects. Creating and holding a webinar will require more planning since you will have to put a lot of effort into setting it up but the payoff could make it worthwhile.
Free discount codes
Nothing works like the word ‘free’. The magic of free discount codes works and the people you send them will use the codes to make a payment. Couple that with a ‘limited time offer’, and you can leverage the oldest trick in the book — urgency.
Don’t be afraid to give your list offers, whether it’s your own products or services or affiliate offers. This has to be a major reason you’re doing this, after all.
Keep building that solid relationship with your customer. Make them feel like a part of your family. A customer-business relationship is like any other one—solid communication will only make it stronger.
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By Jerry Holliday.
This is a guest post from Jerry Holliday if you would like to be considered for a guest post please contact me.