Marketers use the sales funnel as a schematic to describe the nurturing of prospects. The top of the funnel represents the initial stages, when brands focus first on casting a wide net then, as the funnel gets narrower, assisting potential customers to evaluate and finally purchase the product. Depending on the stage, sales agents have to use different methods in order to drive the customer towards purchase.
Content marketing has mostly focused on eBooks, videos and blog posts, all of which are essential to build brand awareness and get new sales leads. This type of content serves little use for prospects at the mid- and bottom-funnel stages, however, since they already have substantial brand awareness. At these points, it's crucial to produce new kinds of content to keep them interested and ready to buy.
Middle of the Funnel Content: Helping Customers Evaluate
Customers who get past the top funnel stage, awareness, know about your brand and are ready to learn a bit more. At the mid-funnel stage, they need to know what makes you different from your competitors. Your content should be informative and invoke an emotional connection and trust between your brand and the consumer.
At the middle of the funnel stage, you should focus on content that is brand-specific and informative, like product demonstrations, case studies and how-to guides. With this kind of content, you're taking steps to convince the consumer that you're the right purchasing choice.
Marketing expert Andrew Raso also argues this stage should weed out potential customers who won't benefit from the product. You may want to get as many people from mid-funnel to bottom funnel as possible, but if the wrong people buy your product they won't stick with you for very long. A low retention rate can cost you more in the long run, especially in industries where customer support is crucial in the early purchase and implementation stages.
Bottom of the Funnel Content: Giving the Option of Buy
Your content marketing is crucial at the tip of the funnel, where your best leads have learned about your product and are ready to give it a try. At this point, you want them to sign up for a service or fork over a credit card.
Your content will describe what you get with a free trial, demonstration, estimate or any other hook that converts your prospect into a customer. It can be in the form of static website content, online advertising targeted at late-stage customers, email solicitation or any other collection of text that has a call to action and an incentive to follow through.
Think of your content marketing as a full-funnel strategy that uses different information to appeal to customers at different phases in their relationship with your brand. At the end of the day, awareness isn't enough if it doesn't ultimately lead to purchase.
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