September 25, 2022

How to Create a Winning Content Marketing Funnel

How to Create a Winning Content Marketing Funnel

How to Create a Winning Content Marketing Funnel

You probably haven’t thought about it, but everyone on the internet is ‘sell‘ something. No, not the snake oil type stuff, but happy with a specific purpose.

Do they give you detailed information? Free video tutorials? Maybe even tips? Do they need you to sign up or need your email – maybe both? Oh, they don’t ask for anything in return yet? This is probably because they take care of you before offering you a product.

That’s not a bad strategy, as 73 percent of companies that invested ten to 70 percent of their total marketing budget in content marketing experienced tremendous success. How did they achieve this? They created a documented content marketing strategy and stuck to it.

To replicate this success, you need a content marketing funnel to help you guide website visitors to the point of purchase. Here’s how to create and leverage a winning content marketing funnel for your brand.

What is a content marketing funnel?

Content marketing funnels are documented strategies that help move potential customers from awareness of your brand to conversion. The content funnel uses different content formats and distribution strategies to guide visitors to a specific action at each stage.

This action may vary based on a specific customer and industry. It can also be influenced by your end goal and the specific steps leading up to it. For example, it could be to buy something or sign up. When your visitor takes any of these actions, it becomes a conversion.

Let’s take a look at the stages of a content marketing funnel.

What are the stages of a content marketing funnel?

Although there are different visual representations for a content marketing funnel, they all have three main stages. For example, Wordstream compares a marketing funnel to an ice cream cone.

Source: Wordstream

Following the image above, it is clear what these three stages are;

  • Top of the funnel (TOFU) with content geared towards Awareness.
  • Middle of the funnel (MOFU) generates leads with content aimed at education and nurturing.
  • Bottom of the funnel (BOFU) with content geared towards Conversion.

Each level of the funnel is a way to organize your content marketing strategy. The crucial question is, what content format will deliver the best results for content marketing efforts, and at what stage of the journey?

A little disclaimer here: some content types are just as useful for the top of the funnel as they are for the bottom when presented correctly.

You’ll find that some content types work better than others at certain stages of the funnel, even though they can (technically speaking) be used for each of these stages. For example, you can use a case study at the TOFU stage to attract your audience and use another case study to get them to sign up for BOFU.

So, how exactly do you create a content marketing funnel?

How can you build a winning content marketing funnel?

To make your marketing funnel effective, tie your content to a specific purpose that ‘cures’ different pain points in a buyer’s journey. What challenges do they face? How can your products and services solve this?

Next, identify where your target audience hangs out online. Instagram can be a great place to start if you sell home goods. In that case, social media content can be an effective part of your content marketing strategy.

Once you’ve figured these things out, map out your content touchpoints for each stage from top to bottom:

  1. Top of the Funnel (TOFU) — Awareness or attraction stage

For the TOFU stage, you must assume that your potential buyers or target audience is unaware of your brand. Therefore, you should focus on inbound marketing to create awareness. TOFU content appeals to people looking for insights and free resources on the Internet to help them solve a unique problem.

Your goal in creating content for this stage should be to attract these prospects with educational and useful resources. The awareness should not be “salesy”.

You can also refer your website visitors to your content hub for more related valuable information. Content hubs are ideal for storing accessible curated content such as in-depth articles, infographics or videos that you can use for your content marketing funnel.

Effective examples of awareness stage content are;

Blog posts to answer the most pressing questions of curious potential customers. Use AP style to write articles clearly and consistently. This consistency will help build trust in your audience.

E-books and shareable infographics to attract visitors with high-value resources and drive organic traffic to your website. Do this by creating custom landing pages for your most valuable resources.

Source: Spoon Graphics

Comprehensive how-to guides to position yourself as an authority in your niche. This content type can come in different forms, such as pillar blog posts, videos and interactive content. But it usually covers a broad topic in more detail than longer form content.

To get visitors to convert with this content type, you can offer 95 percent of the content for free and get them bonus content by joining your mailing list.

Other top-of-funnel content examples include short, engaging videos, informational podcast episodes, and social media posts.

  1. Middle of the Funnel – Education

At this stage of the funnel, you need to nurture the leads you got from the top of the funnel. The leads here consider your products and services as a potential match. The content strategy here should be to educate and demonstrate how your product or service can meet their needs.

Again, no need to be super pushy. The quality of the content you use here will speak for itself. You need to send drops of ultra-targeted content that is closely related to your product or service.

You can do this through the following relevant content types:

Marketing email newsletters is a great way to move prospects from the awareness stage to the education stage. Although, depending on their purpose, they can work well in the TOFU or BOFU content stage. Marketing emails can also influence 50.7 percent of your subscribers to convert.

Source: Sales Cycle

These newsletters allow you to educate your target audience by sharing case studies and success stories that inspire confidence and encouragement. This can help move your prospects through the next step in the content marketing funnel.

How-to content, showcasing your products

Some customers may not be convinced that you are the best fit for them until they see your product in action. Creating content that shows them how your product works will help them make an informed decision that will move them down the content funnel.

Source: Kelty Linger YouTube

For example, the video makers for the side table above kept the how-to video short and simple. They included everything that users would need if they decide to buy the product.

Present your product at its best, then give customers a call to action to buy it.

Demo or explainer videos is more factual than advertising, but not as detailed as how-to content.

Source: What a Story YouTube

Fronter, a project management software, uses concise explainer videos to educate users about the features and functions of the software without going into detail. Your demo videos can inform potential customers in the middle of the funnel without boring them.

Social media posts, buying guides, case studies, and gated content are other middle-of-the-funnel content types you can try.

  1. Bottom of the funnel – Build trust

The bottom of the funnel is the final stage of the content marketing funnel and houses leads that are ready to buy but may need an extra push. So the goal here should be to communicate with that sale in mind.

Of course, you also want prospects to remember you even after the purchase. Therefore, the bottom of the funnel content should help build that trust so that they will convert now and consistently in the future.

Some BOFU content types are:

Assessments and consultations can help you portray yourself as an industry expert and demonstrate how your company can solve potential customers’ problems. During a consultation, be sure to offer your prospects valuable advice, noting both robust features and areas where they can improve.

Reviews and testimonials are customer-led marketing efforts that encourage customer conversion. This includes photos, videos, written reviews and user-generated content from existing customers that showcase social proof.

Product features and use case sheets is a hit-the-nail-right-on-the-head kind of content. Because it is ultra-targeted, this type of content is ideal for people who want to buy a product for a specific purpose. The content should directly show the prospect your product’s key benefits.

Mention has a dedicated page for use cases that are both industry and need specific.

Bottom line, a testimonial reinforces the credibility of their product.

As mentioned, customers sell the outcome of each benefit – not just the features. This way, you can present a compelling use case that will convince prospects to convert at the bottom of the funnel.

In conclusion

The number one goal of an effective content marketing strategy is to create content that converts. Your company will be able to interact and influence customers at every level of the content marketing funnel if you have a good content strategy in place.

Email your customers tips and insights to help them use your products more effectively. You can also consider email automation to maximize reach and identify more audience segments.

If you are not meeting your goals, perform a funnel analysis and work on a content optimization strategy until you achieve the desired results.

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