Many companies just beginning to establish their digital presence think only in terms of “sell now, sell fast, sell a lot.” Ultimately, selling your service or getting your product into the hands of consumers is the end goal. However, attracting an audience and seeing an excellent ROI doesn’t happen with the snap of a finger.
The understatement of the century would be to say “there’s a lot of content on the Internet.” But it is the truth, so you can’t expect to seal the deal with your customers after their first interaction with your content. Following a content marketing funnel is the key to finding users/readers, interesting them, converting them, and retaining them. The marketing funnel is your company’s proving ground, and the best method to impress an audience.
Approach your content marketing funnel with a Field of Dreams type mentality: if you build it, they (customers) will come. When actually building a marketing funnel, it is important to understand each stage and how it will impact eventual results. We walk you through just that below.
Booyah’s Content Marketing Funnel Template
Here at Booyah, we visualize the content marketing funnel in four stages. Each stage plays a crucial role in establishing a relationship with your consumers and should not be overlooked. Here’s an example of how we might set up a content marketing funnel:
Understanding the Marketing Funnel Stages
If you’re asking yourself, “why do I need to go through all these stages?”, think of your company as being on a first date with your target audience. At the end of the night, you get down on one knee and propose to this person you have gone on one date with. Would you do that in real life? And even if you say you would, would you expect the other person to accept your proposal? No way!
As a consumer, making a purchase or signing up for a product is a commitment, and you can’t expect a user to spend their money or time on you the first time they encounter your brand.
Here are the different stages of the content marketing funnel to consider:
Attracting an Audience
The first stage of attracting an audience is often referred to as “top of funnel marketing.” At the top of the funnel, you are the furthest away from monetary payoff, but it is a personal favorite, as this is where the greatest opportunity to be creative comes in.
The attract phase is where you introduce your company to a larger targeted audience. The goal here is to tell a story. Let your business’s values shine, make a statement, hunt for some laughs, whatever it is, leave your mark in your audience’s memory.
Leading into the attract phase, your team should be prepared with a strong sense of your company’s “brand” because that is what you will be introducing to your target audience. Marketers can accomplish this through a number of mediums. Content marketers can target strategic link placement in articles that align with their branding goals. While on the paid media side, video ads are a great way to make an impression through storytelling on platforms like:
Besides familiarizing an audience with a brand, you are also looking for engagement from your audience to further refine your eventual audience into warm and cold leads.
Going into the conversion phase of the content marketing funnel, remind yourself that these content conversions are not defined by purchases but rather converting engaged consumers into confirmed leads. While the attract phase is all about casting a wide net, in the conversion phase the idea is to take those folks that engaged with your original content and retarget them for your new conversion content.
What is conversion content?
Conversion content is defined as content that concludes with a very clear call-to-action (CTA). These CTAs can be incorporated into onsite content like blog posts or pillar pages, but can also operate independently through pop-ups or other CTAs. To attain leads, conversion content’s goal can be building an email list, signing up for newsletters, or enabling push notifications.
In recent years, a popular method of converting consumers has been to incentivize their participation. This often manifests on a product page where a pop-up will appear asking for an email address in exchange for a % off of a customer’s first purchase.
Meanwhile, on the content side of things, the incentive could instead be a whitepaper or some other type of gated content. You can lead a reader down the content funnel through various blogs and once they are ready to convert, rather than giving them a percent off a purchase in exchange for their email, you can send them a whitepaper.
Close: The Crossroads of Sales and Marketing
Marketers, don’t let your internal sales teams bully you into thinking they are the only ones making your company money. With a polished marketing funnel, this third stage, referred to as the closing phase, is where your strategy can hit those KPIs.
Accomplishing this could require various strategies depending on your market. For example, eCommerce companies can close deals by letting their users know about a sale through an email campaign or by including a highly clicked upon product in a targeted ad.
Meanwhile, for other businesses, you may need to develop a piece of content that would entice someone to make a purchase. This needs to be different from your other content though. Instead of the usual blog post or listicle, create a whitepaper that is backed by data and includes insights valuable to your audience that they may not find elsewhere. This can be similar to the Sphero whitepaper we included above, but rather than utilizing it to convert readers you can make it available for purchase or put it behind a paywall as a closing method. Just make sure the content is worth the cost!
In other stages, marketers are free to have some fun with their copy, but in the close stage, the focus should instead be on providing instructional copy that shows a clear value-add to the user. If your goal is to attract readers to a specific product description page and make sales, the captions or copy should be straightforward and include:
- An informative description of the product
- Why that product is worthy of purchase
- Encouragement for the reader to make the purchase either through a CTA or exclusive offer
Remember, the importance of making sales goes beyond just the monetary returns. Sales also provide a tremendous opportunity to capture data about who your audience is and what on your site is resonating with the users who are making purchases.
Delighting Users and Retention Marketing
The bottom of the funnel is referred to by several different verbs including retain, re-engage, and delight. Despite the disparity in the levity of these three words, they all speak to the same goal: keep your paying customers interested.
One purchase does not equate to customer loyalty. To build that loyalty, you need to continue your relationship with your audience after their first purchase. For one, send a thank you email. Try adding some sort of personalized touch to that email to show the customer their purchase was appreciated.
Retaining customers is also not a one-act process. To nurture a user’s bond to your company, you’ll need to come up with ways to continually create new touchpoints and keep your brand top of their mind.
A method for doing this is to take advantage of the information gathered from the conversion phase of the funnel. Use the emails you have gathered from an email capture campaign (or from online purchases in phase three) and send out a newsletter at a consistent cadence.
This consistency should also include the consistent production of online content. Creating a blog for your business is not only a great tool for the top of the funnel but it also provides an opportunity to delight users who have previously converted.
While every piece of blog content should be optimized for SEO, the goal of each article does not need to be “bring in new business”, it can also serve as a source of entertainment or information for your loyal users.
Content Marketing Funnel Strategy
If you execute a well-thought-out marketing funnel strategy, you will find and acquire more new customers online. We feel though that sometimes the funnel imagery isn’t always the most productive for envisioning what this process can do for a business. The shape and function of a funnel suggest an end or finality.
However, executing a proper marketing funnel strategy is a bit of a never-ending process. Once you reach the bottom of the funnel, delighting users shouldn’t have a defined end. Even more crucially, after you’ve reached the bottom of the funnel with a single customer, many of these steps can be repeated. Learn what your most highly engaged users purchased or viewed and then retarget them.
Check out our graphic below to visualize what I am talking about. See those light grey areas? Those are implying that even after you have delighted a customer, it is time to start the “funnel” over again.
Take a moment to think about onsite blog content and its relation to this funnel. It is one of the rare unicorns in the marketing world that can contribute to each stage of a marketing funnel.
- Attract new traffic? Yep, SEO-optimized articles should answer commonly searched queries and if it ranks well on search engines then the blog will organically bring more traffic.
- Convert interested users? CTAs on pillar pages or utilizing content for an email newsletter will help out there.
- Closing business? Use content, like a whitepaper, as an actual product worth purchasing.
- Delight readers? You bet. Good content should always leave loyal visitors happy and wanting more.
A content marketing funnel is a key consideration for any business attempting to attract more people to their site or sell more products. By understanding the importance of each step, you can set up a successful funnel. For even more help with creating a marketing funnel, reach out to Booyah’s team of experts today.