It’s inevitable that your pool of potential customers will shrink as it goes through the funnel. However, your aim as a marketer should be to stretch that funnel so that more customers get to the transaction stage.
Content marketing can address people at any stage of the funnel, not just when they’re at top. Here’s how you can tailor your content for each stage:
Top of funnel
Target audience: The entire market – anyone who comes into contact with your brand
Goal: Raising brand awareness and indirect customer acquisition
Types of content: Blog posts, webinars, ‘big’ content, guides, videos and email newsletters
Why this stage is important: The point that visitors discover your brand is likely to be via advertising, SERPs or social media. At this stage of the funnel, you are trying to generate awareness across the market by piquing people’s interest and enticing them towards your brand. The aim is to be memorable and authoritative.
You should be trying to explain the problem you’re able to solve. Don’t waffle on about your brand; show that you understand the audience’s problem and how to address it. It’s about the soft sell – persuading them of your competency rather than ramming your service down their throats.
This initial stage is where your inbound marketing skills can shine. Use a wide variety of content to reach out to a broad customer base. If you send out informative and entertaining content, your new visitors will associate feelings of gratitude and respect with your brand.
Example: HubSpot provides CRM and digital marketing software that helps marketers increase profitability. The marketing platform posts regular instructional and educational blogs on marketing best practice, establishing them as a broad-reaching and authoritative source.
Middle of Funnel
Target audience: Potential customers
Goal: Direct customer acquisition
Types of content: Case studies, ‘how-to’ content, product descriptions, demo videos and data sheets
Why this stage is important: At the mid-funnel stage, your remaining visitors should recognise the problem you’re trying to solve.
They should already associate your brand with the solution, but using a regular supply of relevant content can help them move towards a decision and get to the next stage of the sales funnel.
At this stage, you should speak directly to your potential customers. A sales-heavy approach might betray the trust they’ve already invested in you, so continue with the soft techniques and use unique and accurately categorised content to differentiate yourself from competitors. This combination should encourage them to make up their own minds in your favour.
Example : Marketing research agency Product of the Year uses case studies that suggest how their service might boost sales. How their product might help brands isn’t explicitly mentioned. Instead, the case studies imply that their services will increase profitability.
Bottom of funnel
Target audience: Leads close to a decision
Goal: Lead completes transaction
Types of content: Testimonials, reviews, instructional content, features to look forward to, special offers
Why this stage is important: The people at this stage of the sales funnel are actually making the decision to purchase. They’ve done all the research; they just need that little push to transform them from visitors into customers.
This is your chance to make a final direct pitch. Here you can go full-salesman, touting the benefits of your products, giving clear descriptions and outlining the unique value that they provide customers. Add an occasional chart or two that compares your products favourably to other competitors, and emphasise the good reviews you’ve had in the past.
Example: V Festival pushes its users to complete a sale through offering early bird tickets and publishing a clear deadline to make sure their customers don’t miss out on savings and a great event. “To avoid disappointment” is a powerful emotive phrase that will persuade the user that this is the right thing for them to do. This type of web content can be distributed through email, web copy, social media and more.
So your visitor has made the decision to buy a product. Well done – but your job isn’t over yet! You’ll need a smooth and seamless sales process to make sure that your new customer doesn’t stray. Everything you’ve promised in the previous two stages must be adhered to, or the customer will feel hard done by and not come back after their initial purchase, which brings us nicely on to …
Beyond the sales funnel
Target audience: Existing customers
Goal: Retain customers
Types of content: Customer support documentation, special offers, ‘how to’ guides, email outreach
Why this stage is important: It seems like most brands forget about this stage, but it’s integral for ongoing profitability. Help and support your customers as they get to know the product. Do this by publishing content that tells them how to use the critical features effectively. Treating your customers well at this stage will help turn them into repeat customers later on.
With a developed sales funnel strategy, you will be able to both reach out to a broad range of potential customers, and rely on long-term customer loyalty.