A customer buying a product online – this particular instance sounds simple and straightforward but underneath it, there’s more than what meets the eye.
In most cases, it involves a few more layers of deliberation and valuational stages before the customer ultimately seals a deal. That is, customers usually go through a stream of stages before they make an actual purchase.
Creating content for every stage of the customer journey is a strategic necessity for what we call “good business” (and good content marketing for that matter). Keeping in mind that a purchase isn’t a simple one-dimensional process, marketers need to engage customers at each step of their purchase. A survey conducted by Semrush shows that 87% of marketers create content targeted toward different stages of the customer’s journey.
Strategically crafted content marketing funnels are now more relevant than ever. Businesses are aiming to create content that can help customers as well as establish themselves in a position to influence the outcome positively.
In order to properly employ strategies for different content marketing funnel stages, with the objective to enhance customer experience, it is crucial to understand what it is and how it works. Let’s break it down for a clear picture!
Before delving into content funnels and best content marketing funnel strategies, let’s begin by understanding what a customer journey is in marketing.
Customer Journey In Marketing
Except in those rare cases of buying out of impulse, customers go through a few stages before they make a purchase. The customer journey usually starts from the “unaware stage”. They might be the ones who would potentially need your product, but currently, aren’t aware of this.
For them to begin a journey, some trigger events might occur that make them realize their need, or posit a problem that needs a solution. This is the “awareness stage”.
After this, they move to the stage of consideration. Here, the customer is aware that you have a solution or a product they are looking for and are deciding if they should consider it or not.
Finally, in the decision stage, the customer makes the final choice of whether to buy the product/solution or not.
In any business, understanding your audience is crucial for growth. Businesses should know how each segment of their audience thinks, or what problems they are looking to solve.
Content marketers have to put out content that is relevant to the audience and is appropriate and fits into specific content marketing funnel stages.
Build a strategic marketing funnel to focus on developing and enhancing the buyer’s journey by creating content that stays relevant to the customer.
What is a Content Marketing Funnel?
A marketing or sales funnel describes the three different stages an individual goes through before they make a purchase – awareness, consideration, and decision.
A content marketing funnel, hence, is a tool or a system that businesses create to attract customers as well as guide these potential buyers through their customer journey. The content that brands put out, aims to grab customers’ attention from the first interaction and gradually convert them into loyal buyers.
Usually, experts divide the funnel into three stages:
- Top of the Funnel (TOFU)
- Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)
- Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)
Each stage has different audience intentions. The content for each stage will have to differ in approach, with different goals to achieve.
The top of the funnel is where you try to attract customer attention, the middle is where you generate leads and convince them for interactions, and the bottom of the funnel is where your content should attempt to drive payments.
These content marketing funnel characteristics dictate what kinds of content should be used for the respective customers.
Ultimately, your content has to perform these three functions in their respective stages: attract, engage, and delight. Creating a content funnel that performs these functions is highly important as it strengthens your business’s overall strategy. Also remember, that each stage requires suitable channels to distribute content in a way that has the maximum desired impact on customers.
Now let’s have a look at each of the different stages of the content marketing funnel in detail.
Top Of The Funnel: Attract
The Top of the Funnel (TOFU) is where customers start their journey. And this is where most of your prospects will be. Having understood what they need, customers are looking for the right product or service to address this need. Your goal is to make customers aware of your brand and attract them. How? By offering the best solutions and answers to their needs and questions, that is, to communicate that you have what they need.
In the top stage of your content marketing funnel, customers are often not willing to make purchases. And hence the content needs to be convincing and relevant. While this seems like a task that needs flair and uniqueness, try not to do away with gentleness. You need to be careful when you introduce prospects to your brand through content.
At this stage, your expertise in creating content is put to test, to start meaningful and lasting conversations that forward customer relationships with the target customer.
‘How-to’ guides seem to be attracting the most attention at TOFU according to 72% of marketers, based on the survey by Semrush. Send out guides that provide simple answers and pointers to customers, as this establishes your brand as a dependable expert in that specific field.
It is also important to know the suitable channels for each stage. At the top of the funnel, customers will be looking for educational content that directs them towards answers to their questions, hence blog posts, e-books, infographics, and social media are ideal channels that can drive traffic. Organic search also plays a key role in driving traffic in TOFU. And so, search engine marketing is also a crucial channel.
If customers find your content helpful and satisfactory, they will move to the middle of the funnel.
Middle Of The Funnel: Engage
As you get to the middle of the marketing funnel, your content is to be crafted to encourage customers. In the MOFU stage, there will be fewer customers in comparison to the TOFU stage. But those who have moved to this stage are more interested in interaction if you manage to guide them properly.
When a buyer reaches the middle of the funnel, it means you now have their attention. The customers, having recognized their problem, are evaluating their options and looking for the best solution, with you being a potential candidate.
If the content aimed at the top of the funnel is created to educate and attract the customer, in the middle, you are to showcase that your solution is ideal for them and that you can be a dependable brand to approach. Keep in mind that customers who are not ideal for your business might result in increasing churn rates in the future.
In this stage, you are nurturing and guiding a lead. This is the crucial first step in building a meaningful customer relationship, which can, in the long run, influence retention. The content marketing funnel templates that you opt for must be able to build trust between you and your audience.
Here too ‘How-to’ guides are effective. They can help communicate that you as a brand know what you are dealing with and are keen on providing the finest of solutions.
Other effective content types that are suited to the MOFU stage are product overviews, case studies, and landing pages. Product-related content is effective here. 43% of participants prefer success stories and 33%, product overviews.
Some of the best channels suited to this stage of the content funnel include email marketing, social media, and remarketing.
Bottom Of The Funnel: Convert
The end of the funnel is where your content needs to prove your brand’s worth is superior to competitors. So far, you have been answering questions and providing solutions. At this stage, your content should do the same with more specificity. That is, your content must concisely answer specific questions related to your product or service.
The bottom of the funnel is where the previous stages and their success culminate, ultimately reaching the customer’s purchase decision stage. Leads at this stage of the funnel may or may not buy the product. Even so, your goal here would be to provide the final nudge towards the purchase. Having relevant content and the right offer can make all the difference to convert leads into sales.
Some of the most effective content forms employed in the BOFU stage are customer-generated and case-oriented. Customer reviews, case studies, and success stories could be used to provide adequate info to customers in order to influence their final decision. Personalization and content optimization is important at this stage. The ideal channels include email marketing, SEO marketing, chatbots, and live chats.
Content marketing shouldn’t end once a purchase is done. Create content for developing a healthy customer relationship beyond the first sale. This is where you start working on delighting your customers and increasing the chances of customer retention.
Loyalty programs and knowledge bases for self-service are great ways to do this.
With a clearer picture of how the content marketing funnel works, you might want some deeper insight on how to employ this most effectively.
Here are a few good practices to keep in mind when building your ideal content marketing funnel template (that works!).
Best Practices When Building Content Marketing Funnels
1. Tailor Content For Each Funnel Stage
Create content for each stage in the content funnel so as to strengthen your strategy. Use content to guide your prospective clients through different stages of their journey. Create and implement content for every stage, be it for influencing the final purchase decisions or for creating brand awareness. The content should stay relevant to the specific stage it is tailored to.
2. Drive Traffic With ‘How-to’ Guides And Landing Pages
Semrush’s survey showed that 72% of marketers felt that ‘How-to’ guides are best at driving traffic. Do this: Provide solutions to the problems faced by customers to attract them to your brand. You can also provide a brief overview of the services and products you provide on your landing page. How-to guides are also said to be quite effective in terms of lead generation.
3. Make Use Of Product Overviews And Customer Reviews
There is a certain charm in customer-generated content and this is not to be taken lightly. Publishing success stories of your services, product overviews, and genuine reviews from customers are all effective in the bottom stage of a b2b content marketing funnel.
4. Use Metrics
Efficiency metrics like conversion rates, number of purchases, number of visitors, etc. are persuasive proof that help support your content. Your strengths can be showcased to drive more conversions.
5. Reach Out To Target Audiences
Use email marketing and other channels to convince prospects to make purchases. The best strategy is to answer customer queries, showcase your strengths and send personalized messages. Moving buyers through the content funnel can prove a challenge, so using internal links and email follow-ups can ensure the customer descends down the funnel.
6. Use Keyword Research And Competitor Analysis
In order to decide what content needs to be created, most businesses usually lean on researching keywords and competitor analysis. Look into your content, and also analyze competitors for a wider analytical approach to the content you create.
Ready To Start Content Funnel Marketing?
The key to creating content suited for the various stages of the funnel lies in understanding the complexities of the audience. Guiding your prospects down the lane and converting them into loyal customers requires strategic approaches and even more expertise than one would imagine.
When it comes to B2B content marketing funnels, there are a lot of elements that need to be focused upon to create a frictionless business experience.
Content marketing is something that works only with time and effort, and for the best results, you need the best people working on it.
It is high time that you outsource your content marketing for enhancing your business and choose the correct agency to do so.
Contensify can provide you with the right expertise for all your content marketing needs. Reach out to us!