How to Use Content Effectively at Each Stage of the Funnel
All content is not equal, and it is particularly true as far as using content in the sales funnel is concerned. The appropriate content must be used at the correct stage of the funnel in order to convert visitors into prospects and ultimately into buyers. Along the way different content will be used to engage your audience; educate them, introduce them to your business and services; and persuade them to take action.
1. How content works in the sales funnel.
The concept of a sales funnel is that you start out with lots of potential customers who are interested in what your business has to offer. Then, along the way, some lose interest and the funnel narrows until you are left with only a few who will buy from you. Ideally, you want to widen the sales funnel, and end up with a bigger number of buying customers. And then retain them.
The traditional sales funnel has changed into a content marketing funnel. This system takes as many leads as possible through a step by step content flow and converts them into paying customers.
If you’d like to start creating your own content funnel, this downloadable toolkit may be helpful.
There are three distinct stages of the content marketing sales funnel:
Stage one: You start out by using your most basic content to create brand awareness. The target audience is broad, and you use content to educate them. You’re just using top-of-the-funnel content marketing material to attract leads, not close them. A lot is about figuring out what the audience wants and needs. Blogs can be used to great effect at the top of your funnel, as they answer questions about the topic.
Stage two: This is where you educate and nurture your leads with content that goes a little deeper into the topic. One way is to use blogs, but blogs in the middle of the funnel will differ from those used earlier. At this point prospective customers are looking for more information; the content needs to be more specific to your company, and solve problems. You need to deal with challenges from prospective customers, provide solutions, and nudge them on. You need to build trust, tell them how your business can help them, and communicate directly with them through social media or on the phone.
Stage three: It’s now time for action, visitors have had time to become aware of your company, and they’ve been educated and informed, and at last it’s time to get them to take action. In the third stage, the goal of the content must be to get the sale or subscription. The prospect must see taking action as a way to help himself and improve his life.
Gated content is used to deliver value to readers and capture their contact information. To be effective, the call to action needs to clearly highlight the value visitors receive in exchange for taking action.
2. Put content into the hands of your sales team.
The achievement and success of having made a sale isn’t the end of the sales journey. After all the work and effort it took to turn a visitor to the site into a customer, you don’t want to lose him or her. Ideally, you want them to buy from you again, and it’s just as important that they tell their friends about you.
To continue the process, you need to reach out as soon as possible with personal, customised emails. Make the email personal and worthy of a response. Where it’s appropriate, you need to set up calls. It’s worth the effort to retain the customer. Encourage customers to give feedback, reviews and testimonials are some of the most powerful marketing tools – they come right from the source.
The final way you can use content is to keep current customers interested in your business. Consistently deliver value for them with a great product and quality content that actually helps them. This helps to put you in a better position to retain them long-term.
Content can be your best friend if you use it correctly in the different stages of the sales cycle. From basic content targeted to a broad audience to more educational, company-specific and actionable content in the later stages. Content can draw qualified prospects into your funnel and guide them to become long-term customers.
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