What are your marketing goals in the next quarter or year? Is it to…
- Drive more traffic to your website and social media platforms?
- Boost marketing ROI with more cost-effective marketing tactics?
- Close more sales?
- Encourage current customers to promote your brand to potential customers in their immediate network?
All of these goals can be achieved by developing a content marketing strategy. The right content allows your business to meet potential buyers at every stage of the sales funnel for a smaller price than traditional marketing techniques.
The Benefits of Content Marketing
Content marketing goes hand-in-hand with inbound marketing, a customer-centric approach that lets the customer find your business rather than reaching out to strangers who are more likely to waste your time. There is a reason that 72% of marketers have a content marketing strategy in place; this more modern form of marketing saves your business important time and resources. In a recent study, 74% of companies said that content marketing was key to finding more high-quality leads. Content can also convert these leads into customers, who can later become content creators for your business. (We’ll elaborate more on user-generated content later in this post.)
Almost half of marketers are prioritizing content creation that follows buyers along the sales funnel, optimizing their content strategy and effectively meeting buyers as they move down the sales funnel.
How Digital Content Moves Buyers Through the Sales Funnel
The days of outbound calling and door-to-door sales are behind us. Putting your focus on online content can expand your reach and close more sales with less effort and a smaller budget. But even though “content is king” in 2018, simply creating content is only one piece of the content marketing puzzle.
The key to moving more customers along the sales funnel is placing this online content in front of customers at the right time. Content geared toward customers who are ready to purchase may seem too aggressive or confusing to customers who haven’t been properly introduced to your business. Conversely, a final call-to-action is necessary for customers who are ready to buy but need an extra push to close the sale. Producing and distributing different types of content can make the transition from the top of the bottom of the sales funnel smooth and enjoyable for the customer, and will encourage them to support or promote your brand to others.
Top of the Sales Funnel (ToFu)
Place on the Buyer’s Journey: At this stage, customers are still strangers, and may not be aware of your business. These buyers may not even know that they are interested in buying at all, but they are looking for solutions to a problem that you know you can provide with your products and services.
Goals: At this stage of the sales funnel, you want to provide helpful content that will establish your business as a leader and expert. You have identified the customer’s needs; meet the customer as they search for solutions and offer your assistance. This exchange should be the first win-win situation of your relationship. The customer wins by receiving answers to their problems. Your business wins as you collect the customer’s data and boost engagement across your website and social media pages.
In your ToFu content, you should ask for a small amount of engagement. Prompt the buyer to visit your website, or leave their contact information in exchange for further content. The buyers that make the effort to interact with your business are then moved down to the middle of the funnel.
Best Content for the Top of the Sales Funnel
Before you start to develop content to distribute to customers, take a look at your landing page and overall web design. How does your landing page introduce your business to customers at the top of the sales funnel? Most content that you distribute at the top of the sales funnel will direct back to your landing pages, so make sure each page provides a user-friendly experience that shows customers who you are.
Content marketing is all about letting the customer find you. Optimize your landing page and web site so your customers find you through a quick Google search.
Learn more about SEO best practices here.
Blog posts are the top dogs of content marketing; 53% of marketers named blogs as their top inbound marketing priority. Writing consistent blog posts boost your website on search results and help your customers find answers to their questions or problems.
In order to create effective blog posts that drive traffic to your website, perform keyword research. Write long-form posts that provide detailed and informative answers to the questions customers are asking in their search bars. Be sure to include links back to your landing pages, social media pages, and other content to keep the customer engaged and on your site.
Social Media Content
How many people use social media regularly? Just under 33% of the entire global population. Social media marketing can reach your customers in a creative and fun way, giving you many opportunities to tell a story about your business or products. Use sites like Facebook and Twitter to gather data on customers and segment further content distribution based on demographics and online behavior.
Middle of the Sales Funnel (MoFu)
Place on the Buyer’s Journey: The middle of the sales funnel can be confusing and broad. Buyers have made small efforts to receive more content or even interact directly with your business, but aren’t a qualified or guaranteed lead.
Goals: The middle of the sales funnel further focuses on what buyers are worth pursuing. When buyers download or engage with more detailed content, you know that they are more likely to take on larger tasks with your business. This larger task may just be making the final purchase.
Best Content for the Middle of the Sales Funnel
eBooks and White Papers
Simple eBooks can be distributed at the top of the sales funnel in exchange for contact information. In the middle of the sales funnel, more in-depth eBooks and white papers can be used to provide detailed information on how to approach their problems. This type of content can be advertised or distributed through email, social media posts, or separate landing pages.
At this stage, your content should be perfected. While 43% of readers skim blog posts, an eBook or white paper calls for more attention.
Case studies put your business in the spotlight. At this stage, buyers get the hint: they know that you might have something to sell. Case studies allow you to show off what you are selling and how it has worked for similar buyers who were previously facing similar problems. Case studies are an important form of social proof that builds trust with the buyer.
Email marketing alone has proved to be a more cost-effective alternative to traditional forms of marketing. Once you have gathered a list of leads, you can directly reach them where they will see your message: their personal inbox. Get creative with the stories you tell through email marketing, and speak directly to these leads. Personalized email content can elicit direct responses and move your customers toward one-on-one consultations or sales calls that seal the deal.
Bottom of the Sales Funnel (BoFu)
Place on the Buyer’s Journey: Qualified leads have made their way to the bottom of the funnel, and are just about ready to make a purchase. There are many factors that move a buyer from “lead” to “customer,” including creating a sense of urgency and showing the customer the disadvantages of not buying now.
Goals: Close the sale! Call your leads to take action and make the final push. The work you have done in the ToFu and MoFu stages have all lead up to your work in the BoFu stage. Distribute content in the home stretch and see your revenue increase with every purchase.
Best Content for the Bottom of the Sales Funnel
Free Trials or Consultations
This four-letter word may be the final step that gets buyers to walk through your doors. Let BoFu buyers know about free trials or consultations. Once the customer has directly interacted with your product or consulted with your employers, they will feel more confident about their purchasing decision.
Exclusive Offers and Discounts
Buyers have already made the effort to engage with your business. Reward them for their effort (and create a sense of urgency to buy) with an exclusive offer. Similar to a free trial or consultation, these offers add extra value to their purchase. Limited edition discounts and offers create a sense of urgency that encourage an immediate purchase.
User-generated content (UGC)
BoFu buyers are one step away from becoming active promoters of your brand; show them the role that they could play by sharing user-generated content. UGC is a powerful conversion tool; 41% of consumers only need to see 1-4 pieces of UGC before they are convinced to take action and purchase a product. The best part about user-generated content? It’s free. Get previous buyers to create content that converts.
Content Marketing Agency: How Digital Squad Can Move Your Customers Down the Sales Funnel
Creating a comprehensive content marketing strategy requires creating high-quality content and placing it where customers will find it at the appropriate stages of the sales funnel. By combining expertise in SEO practices and digital marketing, Digital Squad can help your business make the most of your content to generate more leads and close more sales.
Megan Okonsky is a copywriter and content marketing specialist with Digital Squad. She is originally from Philadelphia but has landed in Melbourne after traveling for eight months in Southeast Asia and New Zealand. She also teaches vinyasa yoga online.