Over the last few years, content marketing has taken off and changed the way a lot of companies do their marketing. Even so, it’s sometimes seen as “soft” marketing, something that’s used to attract the attention of potential customers, but not really something that helps drive sales. But does content marketing have its place in the sales funnel process? We believe so.
The sales funnel is designed to lead potential customers from awareness of your product or service, right through to the moment when they purchase. At each stage of this funnel, you have an opportunity to provide focused, specific types of content that will help customers get to the next stage. In this article, we discussed the five stages of the sales funnel. Here, we’re going into detail about the types of content to provide at each stage.
Stage 1: Awareness
This is the stage of the content marketing funnel that most companies focus on. It’s the stage where you get out there and make sure that people know you exist, and give them the information they need. During this stage, you want to focus on getting to know your potential customers. That means talking to them about what’s important to them, what kind of culture they find important in the companies they support. Content you produce for this stage should also be thoroughly optimized, because it will help people find it more easily.
The content focus for this stage should be on your social media. Engage, engage, engage! You want to grow your visibility, which includes using organic SEO, social media, guest blogging and paid promotion options. Share interesting articles - your own or someone else’s - create written and video content for your company social media presence, and go easy on the sales talk. Leverage other people’s platforms as much as you can to make sure your voice is heard. You will probably gain most of your social media followers during this phase, and your aim here is to reach as much of your potential audience as possible, not just trying to make a quick sale.
Stage 2: Interest and investigation
Once people have become aware of your company, It’s time to start showing them how you can solve specific problems they may be experiencing. They will start looking into your products and services as the potential answer to problems they are dealing with, and you need to show them how they will be able to easily get those solutions from you. In other words, this is where you set their buying criteria. This is the stage where they will read your buyers guides, as well as product information, and any external reviews pertaining to your products and services.
Make sure you provide customers with all the information they will need to make a decision. During this stage, they will look closely at your website, so make sure it is SEO-optimized, and that there is enough information available to help make a decision. This means making sure your product/service descriptions are up to date and accurate, but it also means making sure that your website includes information about your company, such as your history, background and values. During this phase many people use an email drip campaign to aid in converting prospects into customers.
Stage 3: Decision
Getting people through the decision-making stage is as simple as giving them everything they need to do it. During the prior stages, people with genuine interest will have signed up to receive updates, newsletters or alerts about your blog, and will have been made aware of exactly how to go about buying your products and services. That means you can now provide them with content that is a little more sales-oriented. For example, if you have special offers coming up, you can send an email with details, and you can focus much more strongly on the features and benefits of your product, and what makes your company unique.
Some content ideas for the decision-making stage include case studies, which can showcase your product or service and the specific types of solutions it offers, along with tangible outcomes. You can present these as written or video content, or even as a podcast. You can also provide testimonials and links to reviews. Case studies can be very helpful in this stage, as it shows exactly how you have solved a range of problems for people.
Stage 4: Action
Your customer has made a purchase, which presents a whole new content marketing funnel opportunity. At this stage, you have a chance to develop an ongoing relationship with the customer, which will eventually lead to referrals and repeat business.
Following up after a sale is one of the most effective ways to encourage customers to spend more money with you. If they feel that you are interested in them, they are more likely to grow to trust you. After-sales content marketing is all about keeping in touch with the customer and making them feel important, which will lead to greater customer satisfaction and engagement. For example, if you operate a subscription box service that delivers dinner ingredients to customers, follow up on their delivery with an email that offers wine pairing suggestions for the various meals. Even if you don’t offer wine for sale, it is a small touch that engages with your customer and gives them something more.
Stage 5: Repurchase
Much of the type of content you will send out during the repurchase stage will be the same as during the initial action phase. It’s still all about developing a relationship. Here, however, you can start encouraging additional engagement. Ask for feedback and suggestions on how to improve services, encourage people to leave positive reviews for you, and ask them for referrals.
What content marketing funnel ideas have you used effectively? Let us know in the comments.
Need help developing a funnel that works? Get in touch.