Sales Funnel: How You Are NOT Using it To Write Great Content

funnel funnel in SEO

Picture this.

You just woke up, yet the world outside is still dark and quiet. As you roll off your bed, your thoughts naturally wander towards the content you will be working on today. You are a marketer after all. You mull over some ideas while reaching out for your phone to check the news, only to realize that other marketers have posted on the same topic already.

Exactly while you were asleep.

Bummer

Every day, countless numbers of marketers focus on one thing only, breaking through the noise caused by their peers. There is an astonishing amount of information being produced every day. From new posts, videos, graphics to curated information and many other content types in between. All done with one purpose alone, to grab the buyers attention.

And here lies the problem, how to break through this noise and get to the buyers first.

Sure, in the old days you’d have SEO, at least in the old meaning of the word, of optimising sales pages for specific keyword to attract buyers. But that channel has become increasingly difficult to do now and can no longer be used as a growth engine for a business. Social media is time consuming and even though it brings results, it needs the content to fuel it. Adwords and other forms of paid advertising are too expensive for many bsuinesses and thus they are out too.

Content is what rocks the marketing world now. But, others are beating you at it, don’t they?

Well, not necessarily.

Even though it might look like it, it’s not being the loudest what wins the race. The key is in using your sales funnel to map out the content you know your potential customers want to see. And, gaining their fullest attention this way. And that’s not what many marketers achieve.

What is a sales funnel anyway?

Well, to begin at the beginning, a sales funnel is a concept used by countless companies for years to create an ideal process they want customers to experience when they move from being a prospect to becoming a buying customers and eventually coming back for a repeat purchase.

In short, the funnel represents various stages of the buying process.

It is wide at the top. That’s where countless unqualified prospects come with the first contact with your brand or site. They are usually not in a mood to buy, at least not right now. They may have an inclination that there is a problem they might need to cure but are not even at the stage where they research alternatives.

As the funnel narrows towards the bottom, the buyer intent changes. From the aforementioned need for information only to researching alternatives down to the actual sale at the very bottom.

The relationship between content and sales funnel

Content is the most critical ingredient of every sales funnel.

You need it to attract prospects. Blog posts and landing pages for instance can help you to attract new visitors to the site.

You can then turn those prospects into leads by using more content. You can then nurture those leads with email until they become customers. And even then you can build a further relationship with them to ensure a repeat purchase. That can be done through email as well.

But here is the thing:

I am sure you knew all this already.

Yes, I may have wasted your time a bit. You’ll have to forgive me for that. But it was important to cover those things anyway. Think of those few moments you spent reading those paragraphs as just a quick memory refresher.

The real problem we need to discuss is:

How to use a sales funnel to beat your competition in content

We live in a content rat race times. Everybody knows the importance of content and everyone wants to get all the attention. From headlines to taking various approaches at content, shocking, original, creative, who knows what else we do our best to have our content seen.

But all it creates is just more noise.

And here’s why:

You Don’t Map Out Content to Various Stages of the Buying Cycle.

There is no point in being the weirdest, loudest or most creative with your headlines if your content is not relevant to the stage of the funnel the reader is at. You will lose them right away. If you want to truly outsmart your peers, carefully map out your content to the various stages of the buying cycle. You can do that in a number of ways:

Map content type to the funnel stages, for instance:

For the Top of the Funnel (TOFU) you can use:

  • cheat sheets
  • blog posts
  • white papers
  • guides
  • how to guides
  • short videos

For the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU):

  • longer videos
  • ebooks
  • case studies
  • assessments
  • infographics
  • video posts
  • blog posts
  • curated content
  • webinars

And for the Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU):

  • product demos
  • brochures
  • email newsletters
  • ezines
  • in depth blog posts
  • case studies

Map your content to the buyer intent.

Every buyer has a specific intent which also corresponds to various stages of the buying cycle. You can map your content to those various intents as well to make them more relevant to prospects at a different stage of the buying process.

  1. The Intent to Learn – this is the stage in which a prospect might not yet have fully realized their problem. They are at a stage where they are not ready to start evaluating their options, they rather need to find a reinforcement that there is a problem. It is crucial for you then to understand what research your prospects might be doing and where and target them with relevant content.
  2. The Intent to Compare – this is a stage in which users generally know what problem they have and are looking at their options. As a marketer it is important to understand that emotions play a big role at this stage. Therefore you should target your prospects with content that highlights the benefits of your product but also shows it in use, reaffirming that message.
  3. The Intent to Order – Lastly, a purely commercial intent to buy from you or your competitors. Customers with this intent know what they are looking for and have their credit cards at hand.

You Don’t Use Any Calls to Action

When it comes to fuelling the sales funnel, content on its own does nothing. Yet I still see plenty of it containing no Calls to Action of any kind. It seems that in the authors mind, getting someone to see the content is enough. The user will do the rest. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Your users need to be told what you want them to do, otherwise there is only a slight chance that they will click on your products page. Seriously.

You Post One Type of Content Only

It is often tempting to focus on a single content type and master it to perfection (I am certainly guilty of that charge myself). However as I think I proved in previous paragraphs, it is crucial for your strategy to include at least a small variety of content types to accommodate users at different stages of the funnel as well as with different intents. Similarly, more content types means a variety of techniques you use and a better chance at making a strong impact on your readers.

You Spread the Same Message Over and Over

Lastly, it may also be tempting to focus on one particular story or an angle but it is crucial that you tailor what you say to different needs of prospects at a different stages of the funnel.

Conclusion

Winning content marketing battles is not easy. The quality of content produced is going up by the minute and that process won’t stop any time soon.

However, by being a bit more clever, beyond the catchy title you can create a highly compelling content that will certainly help you attract more leads while getting ahead of your peers in the content rat race.

Your Turn

How do you try to stay ahead in the content marketing race? How do you ensure that your content reaches its goals and does not lose with your competitors? Let us know in the comments.

Creative commons image by Angela Leese

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