Creating content can sometimes feel like reinventing the wheel just to run yourself over. Until you’ve had time to learn about your audience and what they’re looking for, it’s challenging to know what works. But when you finally have that piece of content that resonates with your audience, it can feel like everything is falling into place. Moving forward, you will produce more of what works. And when you understand the stages of the marketing funnel, you can create the types of content buyers respond to most at any point in time.
Understanding your audience is critical in content marketing. Content isn’t one-size-fits-all. Potential customers have different needs at various points in their buyer’s journey. You can meet those needs by providing more of what suits them at that time.
All stages of the marketing funnel require different kinds of content. But how do you know what sort of content to include for each stage? We’re here to help!
What is a Marketing Funnel?
First, you must grasp what a marketing funnel is and why it’s helpful. Essentially, a marketing funnel visually represents your audience’s path from being aware of your brand to becoming a loyal customer and advocate.
It’s called a funnel because, visually, that’s what your pool of potential customers looks like. At the top, where the funnel is the widest, you have all the potential customers who are aware of your brand. Then, as the funnel narrows, you have all the customers who have moved from knowing about your brand to determining whether your product or service is for them. The next stage continues to narrow as fewer customers make their way through the funnel to the stage of making a purchase. And the final stage is the group of customers who are loyal to your brand and trust you as an expert in what you do.
Ideally, everyone would make it to the end of the funnel, but then again, there aren’t many companies (if any) that can boast a 100% conversion rate.
When you know the stages of the marketing funnel, you can create content for each stage. This approach nurtures the relationships you’re building with your customers and encourages more of your audience to move toward the bottom of the funnel.
But before you can do that, you need to know the stages of the marketing funnel to understand what content your audience needs.
What are the Stages of the Marketing Funnel?
There are a few different marketing funnel models out there, and some are more detailed than others. They all follow the same path, though, even if some have more stages.
The 4 basic stages of the marketing funnel are:
- Awareness. When your audience becomes aware of your brand. This stage introduces your audience to your service/product.
- Evaluation. Encourages audience members to weigh their options to determine if your product or service best fits their needs. In this stage, you tell them why your product or service solves their problem and why they should choose your brand instead of the competition.
- Conversion. This stage is when your audience takes the action you worked toward, like purchasing your product.
- Delight. Keep your audience engaged and excited about your products and your company during this stage. This stage is where you build customer loyalty.
Knowing these stages helps you create content for each of them. When you do that, your content will have a greater impact on your audience.
The Benefits of the Marketing Funnel
Even if you haven’t actively defined where your current audience members are in terms of the marketing funnel, they’re still going through those stages. Stepping back to see where your audience falls within the funnel has tons of benefits for your business.
Marketing funnel benefits include that it:
- Streamlines Your Marketing. Once you know the stages of your funnel, you know what content you need to create. Plus, you can see which stage needs more attention than others, which means you don’t waste time and energy working on content you don’t need.
- Sorts and Ranks Your Leads. When you know which segment of your audience is near the bottom of the funnel, you know they are more likely to buy than someone at the top. You know which leads are likely to convert and which need more nurturing.
- Increases Conversion Rate. Understanding which of your leads are more likely to convert means you can give them the content they need to push them to make a purchase.
- Better Sales Forecasting. When you know what portion of your audience is a loyal customer or ready to buy, you can better predict your sales moving forward. You don’t have to guesstimate your sales by looking at your audience as a whole.
- Develop Better Customer Relationships. Making content that caters to each stage of the funnel means your audience gets more value from the content you create. It leads them to trust you and feel confident buying from you.
How to Create an Effective Marketing Funnel
Once you understand the stages of the marketing funnel, you can use it to your advantage and make it work for your business.
Before you implement any content plan or strategy, set goals for each stage. Think about the percentage of your audience you’d like to advance to the next stage. Remember, no one has a 100% conversion rate, so don’t set an impossible goal. Instead, think about your resources and how to grow your reach while moving your current audience through the funnel. That will help you set a realistic goal.
Understand customer pain points at every stage in the funnel. When you know the problems your customers face, you can create content to address those issues. And because what your customers need at each stage of the funnel differs, you need to consider the content each step needs.
Once you’ve figured that out, it’s time to create the content. Then, you can tailor it to your audience based on the stage of the funnel they’re in. For example, segmenting your newsletter allows you to send unique content to different parts of your audience, which will help you give them the content they need.
Writing Content for Each Stage of the Marketing Funnel
There’s content that best suits your audience’s needs in every stage of the marketing funnel. Once you understand what they need at any given time, your content will be more helpful, and you’ll get better results from your efforts.
Content for Awareness
Awareness is when buyers become aware of your brand. They identified a need in their life, searched for a product or service to fulfill that need, and discovered your company.
Content that works best in the awareness stage includes:
- Blog Posts. Your audience wants to understand your product, what it does, and what your brand stands for. Long-form blog posts work well for laying this foundation. Also, you reach potential customers through search this way.
- Webinars. Webinars create a classroom learning environment online, in real-time. You can teach people about your brand and how it meets their needs.
- Infographics. Infographics that explain your brand are easily shareable and eye-catching.
- Videos. You can pack a lot of information into a short time on video, showing how your products work and providing testimonials.
- Social Media. With social media posts and ads, you can reach a targeted group of people with information about your brand and show them your products.
- Podcasts. The great thing about podcasts, other than their popularity, is that the unique medium may reach a different market than the other methods above. Podcast hosts also do a lot of research on their audience, so they can give you lots of info on who you’ll reach with your message.
Content for Evaluation
You’ve officially grabbed their attention! In this stage, you keep them engaged and help them discern whether your product is a suitable purchase. In other words, this stage is where you convince them that your product will meet their needs.
Some info to give your audience may include:
- How-To Guides. These guides provide clear instructions that solve a myriad of questions a buyer may have about your product or service.
- E-Books. Allow for longer-form content and deeper dives into your expertise.
- Demonstration Videos. Give buyers a hands-on guide in using your product successfully.
- Research Reports/Case Studies. Give buyers some research or case studies that support your product claims.
- Testimonials. Have existing customers tell your audience why they chose your product and what they like about it.
Content for Conversion
The time is now! The customer purchased your product. But your job isn’t over. You have to help them feel confident about their purchase and utilize your product to its fullest.
Helpful content during the conversion stage includes:
- Customer Help Center. Show your customers you still want to support them and answer their questions as they use your product.
- Chatbots. A quick, easy, and personal way to answer last-minute case-by-case questions.
- Product Tutorials. Showcase a non-employee uniquely using your product.
- FAQs. Answer people’s most common questions about your products all in one spot.
- Discount Offers. Create a sense of urgency and seal the deal.
- Free Trials. A harmless way for customers to relieve uncertainty and test out your product. It minimizes the risk for them to try your product.
Content to Delight Your Customers
You got the customer! Your content for the various stages of the marketing funnel worked! Now, you have to keep them coming back and develop a relationship with them. You want to take them from customers to fans and advocates.
Content that helps with client retention and relationship building may include:
- Email Newsletters. Keep customers in the know about what’s happening with your brand and other industry-specific information.
- Exclusive Offers. Makes customers feel valued and special by giving them exclusive offers or access to new products before everyone else.
- Surveys. Gather feedback about how your customers feel about your products and how you can improve. Then act on their feedback.
- Contests/Giveaways. Give people some friendly competition and free stuff, all while gaining exposure for your company.
- Referral Programs. Reward loyal customers for recommending your brand to others. It’s a simple way to get new customers and keep old ones coming back.
Which Marketing Funnel Metrics to Track
After you’ve taken some time to understand your marketing funnel and you’ve set goals for it, it’s time to see how it’s performing. Here are the metrics to track when it comes to your marketing funnel:
- Cost Per Acquisition (CPA). A measurement of how much you’re spending to acquire new customers. To find this number, divide the cost of your marketing campaign by the number of conversions.
- Customer Lifetime Value (LTV). Customer retention is important, and LTV measures that. LTV is the continuous value a customer brings to your business, which helps you understand the value of the delight stage of the funnel.
- Conversion Rates. A conversion rate is the percentage of your audience taking a particular action, like signing up for your newsletter or purchasing. You can measure your conversion rates per channel to see what works best for your business, like social media, newsletter, blog content, or referrals.
Don’t Fear the Funnel
You might feel intimidated by the thought of mastering writing content for the stages of the marketing funnel, but never fear! Content Journey would love to help. Contact us to learn how we can assist with the initial research you need to understand your audience and develop the content they’ll respond to most.