The content marketing funnel is a key strategy in any marketing plan. Here are the four stages, what content you should be creating for each stage, and what you need to know.
When you ask someone about a good place to eat, they’ll likely suggest their favorite restaurant. Whilst you might eat there on a friend’s recommendation or maybe on a blind date, it’s not coincidental that you happen to come across such a place.
It’s a marketer’s planned strategy - a marketing funnel - and you were in its initial stage (awareness) whereas the recommender was in the last one (brand advocacy).
Let’s go into detail.
What is a marketing funnel?
A marketing funnel can be considered as goals set by a marketer to turn a “name” into a “brand”, which begins with making people aware of its existence (stage of awareness), then convincing them to consider its products (stage of consideration) and eventually, buying them (stage of conversion). But that’s not where it ends, as the most important stage is retention.
You have the customers, but now you need to retain them, by earning their loyalty and trust, to ultimately reach your final goal of making them your brand advocate so you can earn authenticity, trust, and organic publicity (word-of-mouth).
But a marketer’s job does not stop there, their main goal is to retain the same number of customers they started the funnel with.
Any customer lost during the stages of a funnel is a loss to the brand, so marketers work hard on retaining them by following different strategies and processes. One of these processes includes the content marketing funnel.
So what exactly is a content marketing funnel?
A content marketing funnel is similar to a marketing funnel but it focuses solely on content-based strategies, like what kind of content would be efficient for which stage of a marketing funnel and for different audience sets and so on.
Content has been proven to be a valuable asset in boosting customer retention and guiding consumers through the marketing funnel. It can help widen the funnel even further, which is why 54% marketers are planning to adopt content marketing this year to market their brands online.
Discovery: The First Stage
This is an important stage as it sets the foundation for the following stages. A brand needs to first lay the brick of recognition before going after sales. It needs to make people aware of its existence and the best way to achieve this goal is by creating educational and viral content.
Tell me, do you research a product before buying it? It’s reported that an impressive 81% of online shoppers do. In this stage, the importance of educational content is to resolve people’s queries about the product that have risen from their research.
However, in order to resolve these queries, you need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and understand what they want or what they are looking for. Accordingly, you can prepare the right content to target the right people.
You can create blog posts, videos, or offer educational e-books. Whichever method you choose, your focus needs to lie on educating the audience and making them curious to know more about your brand.
Consideration: The Second Stage
Your brand has now been discovered and people are interested in knowing more about it. They are just interested in “knowing more” but they aren’t ready to buy and pushing them won’t work! So, in this stage, there will be no selling but you can still lure them.
You need to build a relationship with them, and tell them about your products, how to use them, and how they are better than other products on the market.
The best way to do this is through retargeting advertisements so when people leave your site, they can be driven back via advertisements on different websites.
Provide product explainer videos, case studies, infographics, and how to or tutorial videos. You need to do everything in your power to convince these potential customers to trust your brand.
Conversion: The Third Stage
Now, your customers are interested in what your brand has to offer and so it is time to help them take the final step and convert into paying customers.
To achieve this, it's finally time for you to start selling. You need to give your customers a clear product description focusing on the unique selling proposition which makes it stand out.
But this factor alone cannot make a big difference, so you need to support it with user generated reviews and testimonials because such reviews can increase conversions by 74% because 93% of consumers find them helpful when making a purchase decision.
Retention: The Final Stage
This is the toughest part.
Converting a “one-time” buyer into a regular customer and brand advocate is perhaps the most challenging part of the marketing funnel.
Have your ever received emails with special offers or gift cards? We all have, and this is a part of the retention process.
You cannot force customers to stay, but instead you need to convince them. Again, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and understand what they want.
In this stage, it’s best to have a tight grip on your customer service and user experience because if there is a problem with your product, your customer will want it to be resolved as soon as possible.
Author: Sahil is the CEO and Founder of Rankwatch - a platform, which helps companies and brands stay ahead with their SEO efforts in the ever growing internet landscape. Sahil likes making creative products that can help in automation of mundane tasks and he can spend endless nights implementing new technologies and ideas. You can connect with him and the Rankwatch team on Facebook or Twitter.