Guest Post: 3 Tips for a Successful Content Marketing Funnel
On average, 71% of consumers show some level of frustration when their buying experience is impersonal, and 40% of US consumers say they have purchased something more expensive because their experience was personalized.
Creating personalized content can help you attract more customers, build trust, increase conversion rates, and drive more revenue for your business.
How to do it? How to create compelling content that speaks directly to your ideal customers? How to know which type of content to publish on which channel? How to know which problems to address in order to build a strong base of qualified leads?
Having a streamlined content marketing funnel can help you meet your customers where they are and put the right information in front of the right audience at the right time.
Read on to find out about the three actionable tips that could help you implement your content marketing strategy and make a highly successful funnel.
What is a Content Marketing Funnel?
A content marketing funnel is a system that helps you drive prospective buyers through your content flow in order to convert them into paying (and returning) customers.
It is divided into stages and it requires a carefully thought-through approach to your content production.
These stages refer to the different phases that your prospects go through on their journey to finding out about your product or service, evaluating it, purchasing it and coming back for more.
The stages of a content marketing funnel usually include:
- Discovery – the phase when your prospective customers become aware of your product’s existence and the fact that your product could solve their problem.
- Evaluation – the phase when your target audience starts to consider your product, compare it to competitor’s offers and do the research trying to find the best solution.
- Purchase – the phase when your customers decide to buy from you.
- Engagement – the phase that starts the minute they get your product and start using it. For instance, it starts with an onboarding process for a Software as a Service (SaaS) or the unwrapping process upon the delivery of a physical product.
- Loyalty – the phase when the excellent customer experience you provide really pays off. Once you make your users truly satisfied with your products, there is a big chance they will be happy to buy from you again and again.
- Advocacy – the phase when your customers become strong believers in your product and start referring you whenever they get a chance.
So, how does your content creation fit into these stages?
How to Generate Qualified Leads?
When we say qualified leads, we mean people from your target audience that you know would be interested in your offer.
That way, you know exactly what type of content to present, in front of the right people, at the right time, and in the right place.
But, how do you know who might be interested? And when?
The simple answer comes down to this:
- By knowing your audience inside and out
- By mapping out your prospective customers’ expectations, needs, pain points, emotional and cognitive states
- By finding out what your audience cares about, where they search for answers to their questions, and how they make decisions about buying
To conduct audience research, you need to first define your target audience as specifically as possible.
For example, if you own a hair salon for women, you don’t just say that “every woman is your target audience.” You might say that “your ideal customer is a stylish woman in her 30s who is not afraid of experimenting with her hairstyle; a woman who loves a good adventure, lives for the moment and longs for a meaningful change."
Once you have that in line, you’re halfway to creating your buyer persona, an avatar of your ideal customer.
If you are not sure who your target audience is and how your persona should look, conduct some research first.
You can go out and talk to 10-20 people from your target group to learn more about their genuine wants and needs.
Or, you can talk to your colleagues from the customer support. No one would know better than them what your audience’s questions and concerns are.
When you gather information, you can create a persona for your business. Make sure to include their name, age, location, occupation, family status, hobbies, likes and dislikes, habits, online behavior, expectations, needs, and desires.
Why are personas so important?
Because they help you develop a truthful customer journey, a step-by-step flow that maps out your potential customers’ whereabouts on their way to your products or services.
It’s a process that helps you walk in your customer’s shoes and see your brand from their point of view.
That way, you know exactly what stage of the marketing funnel your customer is in and how to approach them in order to meet their needs.
That’s what content marketing is all about – deciding what content to show to whom, on which channel and on which device, based on the evidence from the targeted research.
Now, let’s cut to the chase and get straight into the three actionable tips that could help your content perform at its best.
Tip #1: Choose the Right Content Format
Having buyer personas and customer journeys in place is just one part of the equation.
The other part is about the goals you set up for your marketing campaigns.
Goals you set should be specific and measurable, as well as realistic and attainable.
Apart from the campaign goals, you should have a specific goal attached to every piece of content you produce and publish.
For instance, the goal of your Facebook ad could be to increase awareness about your brand, and you’d like to achieve it with 30% more website visits.
Depending on your goal and the stage of a marketing funnel your prospects are, you’d present different types of content to different people at different times.
For the discovery phase, the best-performing content formats are:
- Blog posts
- YouTube videos
- Explainer videos
- Lead magnet downloads
- Newsletter signups
- Social media ads
For the evaluation phase, you might want to:
- Write long-form articles
- Publish white papers
- Put together case studies
- Craft special reports
- Create an online course, intro training or 5-day challenge
- Design infographics
- Run webinars
For the purchase phase, the best formats would be:
- Sales pages
- Email sales sequences
- Website landing pages
- Microcopy on your checkout pages for a streamlined buying experience
For the engagement phase, you can help your customers with:
- Demo videos
- Onboarding information
- Help documents
For the loyalty phase, your customers may appreciate:
- Email newsletters
- A dedicated Facebook group
- Live videos on social media
- Online membership-based community
- Occasional special offers for members only (newsletter codes, discounts, early-bird offers, membership cards, loyalty cards, etc.)
For the advocacy phase, the best content formats are:
- User-generated content
- Case studies featuring success stories from your customers
Once you know the content format, the next step would be to find the best channels for the content distribution and don't forget to polish your grammar with proper tools. Creating content is good but you should also try content curation on social media platforms with the help of various content curation tools.
Tip #2: Reach Your Ideal Customers
To reach your ideal customers, you need to meet them where they are.
It means that you need to know where your customers spend the most of their time online, and put your content in front of them.
For instance, if you find out that your ideal customers like to hang out in Facebook groups, that’s where you’d go to promote your content.
But, be careful.
You don’t want to promote all over the place every single day. Instead, become an active part of that community and start sharing valuable and useful tips with your audience.
Eventually, when the right opportunity comes, you can place a link to your content. This way, there is a great chance of attracting the right people to your content exactly when they need it, without being perceived as too pushy or sales-y.
If your research shows that your audience predominantly spends time on YouTube and the video is their format of choice, you should definitely create a YouTube channel and start publishing relevant, useful, and interesting content for your audience.
Tip #3: Scale Up the Success of Your Content
Having specific goals for every piece of content is very useful when it comes to the measurement of results.
By analyzing the performance of your content, you can find the best-performing pieces and define opportunities for growth.
What should you look for?
For instance, if you set the clicks on a Facebook ad to be your key performance indicator (KPI), by tracking those clicks you should know whether your goal of getting 30% more website visits from that ad was achieved.
If it was, congratulations – your content has proven to be performing well.
When you know that, you might want to consider scaling the results to see more of that good performance.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that you should go big on Facebook advertising and only promote your brand on this platform from now on.
It means that your audience got interested in your offer at that stage. It means you met their expectations and assured them that your product might be what they need.
Now, keep on producing high quality content for other content marketing funnel stages as well.
And here is the secret: you don’t need to create new content all the time, you can repurpose your existing content and adjust it to different channels to follow through the funnel stages.
So, your blog posts related to one specific topic could become an eBook that you can promote as a lead magnet, free to download.
Or, your existing webinar might get split into several modules and offered as an email course.
Or, you might divide your long-form blog post into smaller parts and make live videos or short video tutorials on the subject.
And, those videos could be summarized within the Instagram captions or you could use them as an outline for a LinkedIn article.
Choosing the right content format, reaching your ideal customers, optimizing every piece of content for a specific funnel stage, and scaling up the success can help you create the most effective content for each particular customer at each particular moment.
Make your customers feel special by providing an excellent experience and a streamlined flow of personalized content.
You can use content marketing funnel to:
- Educate your users about the topics of their interest
- Provide the right information at the right time
- Engage more people and generate qualified leads
- Encourage prospective customers to take action
- Motivate customers to start interacting with your brand
- Help them make a decision to purchase
- Inspire them to come back again and again
- Delight every customer with a personalized experience
- Create a cohort of loyal customers
Revisiting your content production flow from time to time to realign it with your business goals can help you scale faster and increase conversion rates by engaging more qualified leads.