Embrace the Funnel
Seth Godin says content marketing is “the only marketing left” – it’s digitally consumable, practical, and perfectly suited for the internet generation.
With so much of our professional and personal lives lived online, content matters. People care about it. So, marketers need to create assets that are meaningful, and recognise the stage in the sales cycle a target customer might find themselves in.
Answering customers’ questions and addressing their motivations as they move along the sales funnel is how content marketing drives conversion:
1.FIRST: You create content that attracts users and builds brand awareness.
2.THEN: You create content that activates users, turning them into qualified leads
3.FINALLY: You create content that pulls those leads over the line to conversion
While conversion is the ultimate goal, the content created for each phase has different and specific objectives.
Success metrics for content aimed at the top of the funnel, should be different from the content KPIs aimed at the middle or bottom.
Measuring performance at each stage of the customer journey
Sales funnels and pipelines are just models to help marketers better understand the customer decision-making process: but they’re a great way to gather the mix of motivations, frustrations, and aspirations that move people from being completely unaware of a brand or its benefits, to the point where they can make a buy.
There are many funnel structures, some with main phases and others with phases-within-phases. For our purposes a simple 3-stage model works best:
At the very top of the funnel, visitors may have had zero exposure to your brand or what it does; they may not even be aware they have a need you can fulfil. They are typically looking for answers, resources, to educate themselves or seek other opinions and insights.
Content created for this stage should aim to facilitate awareness of a problem or challenge.
The form of that content depends on your audience responds to, and the budget or resources needed produce it. It could be high level PR thought leadership content, or more focused PoV blog posts or videos.
The goal of this content is to turn the suspect into a potential prospect.
KPIs at Attraction Stage
The primary success metric at this stage is the number of potential leads generated through content upgrades and other lead magnets that capture email addresses – the crucial response action that enables them to be added to a lead nurturing system.
At the middle of the funnel, it’s safe to consider all visitors potential leads who are evaluating purchase options or undertaking due diligence. Your brand has moved up a notch in the decision-making process and is now a subject of research to see if it’s a solid fit.
That means the user has specific questions they want answered. Doing so is an opportunity to increase move them on to the next stage.
Content that works best at engagement stage is advice-based – best practice sharing or even top tips that demonstrate your brand’s expertise in a subject or problem-solving area.