Bill Gates once said, “Content is king,” and he was absolutely right.
No matter what you’re selling, it’s an established fact that you have to form a good relationship with your customers.
The content you deliver is one way to do that. It’s a representation of your brand, of your product and your USP. Naturally, you’d want to ace it to secure good favor with your customers, right?
However, mastering content delivery is no easy feat. You might struggle to deliver generic content that successfully attracts a wide audience to your brand offering.
This is where your understanding of funnel marketing can make all the difference.
? What is Funnel Marketing?
A marketing funnel refers to your customer’s journey with your business. From your perspective, it is the opportunity to convert a visitor to a loyal, repeat customer.
This journey covers everything from the very first stage where they learn about your product toward the end, when they purchase your product.
The stages of a customer’s relationship with a business can be broadly categorized into four parts, as pictured below.
Why should you bother understanding the marketing funnel?
Well, if you’re having trouble influencing your customers, this can be your go-to guide on how to attract them along every stage of their journey.
Your understanding of funnel marketing can help you develop content strategies that lead to a sale.
By showing you your areas of improvement, you can also increase your retention rates.
? Stages & Strategies for the Marketing Funnel
It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling a product or service, online or through a physical store – all customers go through a similar journey with you and your competitors. And it starts long before they are even aware of your product.
In fact, 57% of the buyer’s journey is complete before they even talk to a sales rep.
But it all starts with one question and often, marketers think it’s: “what should I buy?”
On the contrary, before getting to the ‘what’ of the matter, the buyer’s journey begins with: “do I need to buy anything?”
#1. Awareness Stage
At this stage, your customers may be unaware of what they want. They may have a pain point or need that requires addressing that hasn’t been brought to their attention.
It is your job to inform them.
The awareness stage is considered a top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) stage. The content you craft here should be focused on drawing attention to the customer’s need and why they should address it.
Depending on the kind of product you are selling, how you go about disseminating information here can change.
The need you are addressing might be fairly obvious, in which case, customers may already have a base level of awareness. Thus, your content can focus less on the ‘why’s of the need and more on the ‘how’s.
However, if your customers are less aware of their desires, then it’s up to you to invest more in this stage of the funnel and educate them.
Your basic goal here will be to attract more prospective customers by increasing traffic to your site and positioning your brand as a leader and viable solution provider for their needs.
TOFU content usually takes the form of… ?
- Informative/how-to articles
- Generic advertising
- Educative webinars/podcasts
- SEO-optimized landing pages
#2. Interest Stage
Now, you’ve captured a prospective audience of customers. It’s time to take it to the next stage: developing their interests.
Like the metaphorical stoking of the fire, it’s important you respond to your customers at this stage by transforming their interest into a search for further information.
For example, let’s say you run a pharmacy. Through smartly positioned ads at the awareness stage, you have now made someone aware that they are showing symptoms of a fever.
What can you do next to bring them closer to your offering? Offer them solutions that can help them feel better.
Sometimes, customers may go about this stage on their own. They might search for pharmacies near them on Google, providers offering home delivery or hospitals closeby.
Research shows that 70% of customers leverage Google 2-3 times during this stage to know their alternative solutions.
This is where you can come in and provide content that addresses their queries and leaves them satisfied.
Continuing from the previous example, you can produce an article on home remedies for a cold or a handy page with links to the most convenient providers of the medicine they require.
At this stage, you have to remember you are not focused on making the sale but making yourself visible as a prospective seller. What better way to do this than to show you know what you’re talking about?
Keyword research can help you build relevant content at the middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) stage. Discovering a search metric that attracts traffic can help you increase the leads to your own site.
MOFU content often takes the form of… ?
- Informative blogs/social media posts
- E-mail campaigns
- Actionable Facebook/Google ads that lead to demonstrations/informative displays
MOFU content should achieve two things… ?
- It should validate the needs and concerns of your customers, convincing them of their requirements for a solution.
- It should introduce the brand offering and position it favorably for the next stage of the funnel.
#3. Evaluation Stage
The evaluation stage is the second part of MOFU in the buyer’s journey. Here, the buyer weighs up the alternatives that they narrowed down in their interest stage.
The importance of this stage, again, varies dependent on the offering. For example, someone choosing what to order in for dinner will take considerably less time than in deciding what TV to purchase.
Hence, the content you provide at this stage should impact the customer directly by enticing them with the benefits of choosing you. You have to appeal to their desire directly.
Why is your solution the best one for them? What makes you different from your competitors? What are your customer success stories?
You should ensure your content answers these questions by focusing it around the characteristics of your offering and by encouraging customers to get to know your product better.
The type of content here can include the following… ?
- Your product’s website
- Product-focused webinars
- White papers
It as the end of this stage that your audience may or may not convert into a customer.
Indicators of successful conversion include… ?
- Signing up for a free trial or product demo
- Returning site visitors
- Creating a wish-list/adding to shopping cart (in case of e-commerce)
- Contacting you with further questions of interest on the product
#4. Commitment & Sale Stage
If you are greeting customers at this stage, then congratulations are in order!
You have kept them on the hook throughout their journey and now have a shot at retaining them as a permanent and loyal customer.
The commitment and sale stage is often regarded as the bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU).
It is the most narrow part, with all disinterested prospects having weeded themselves out to a pool of your highest-potential leads.
Here, you focus your efforts on making your customers feel rewarded and better off by purchasing your product. Make the process easy for them with a simple call-to-action.
Content here should reflect the benefits of your product and can include… ?
- Positive case studies
- Customer testimonials
- Informative check-out pages
The biggest challenge here is curtailing negative feedback you may have received from previous sales. If your customer is sensitive, this can dissuade them entirely and all your efforts up to this stage will have been in vain.
However, customers are comforted when they see you willing to take the extra mile and grow.
If you can transform the negative feedback into constructive criticism and focus on improving your product, you have a chance of turning the sale around.
#5. Post-Sale Stage
The buyer’s journey isn’t complete immediately after the sale.
It is important to keep your customers engaged with post-sale content and correspondence.
Think about how you could leverage one customer’s good experience to attract others. Positive word-of-mouth buzz can increase referrals and in turn, awareness of your product, inciting others’ buyer journies with you.
If your new customers do not feel valued or experience bad customer service, one negative review can alter the perception to your product entirely.
To avoid this and maximize your customer’s satisfaction till the very end, BOFU content here can be in the form of… ?
- Post-purchase newsletters
- FAQ pages
- Social media for customer service (for example: Twitter)
? Essential Marketing Funnel Metrics
So now, you’ve done it.
You’ve defined a marketing funnel with all the important touchpoints for your customers across their journeys.
You have the relevant TOFU, MOFU and BOFU strategies you’re going to leverage to make the sales you’re dreaming of.
You might be thinking that’s it but there’s more to the marketing funnel than that.
How are you going to measure your success?
The final step in your marketing funnel is defining the metrics you can put to the test to track the effectiveness of your strategies.
For every piece of content you generate, you will also get insights and data. This can come in varying forms such as website traffic, shares on social media or qualitative customer feedback.
It’s important you have 3-5 clearly defined KPIs in place to do this. These can be… ?
- Conversion rates: measuring the number of prospects that transform into customers. This should grow over time.
- Time in stage: a higher percentage of time spent in one stage over the other can indicate where you should focus your content strategy resources.
- Content engagement rates: is one blog piece getting more views than the other? Your CTA can be improved by tracking engagement rates.
- Opportunity arrival vs. closing rates: if the number of prospects is extremely high in comparison to the number of sales, then you probably have areas you can improve upon.
Using a mix of KPI indicators will help you get a 360-view of your funnel and improve your understanding of how to better serve your customers.
? Go Beyond the Funnel
You think now that you’ve mastered the fundamentals, you’re done with the funnel? Let me tell you something.
The funnel is never done with you.
The customer journey is endless and goes beyond the end of the sale. Like a cycle, you have to restart the funnel and focus on keeping the customers streaming in.
Likewise, using the funnel to retain and improve relations with loyal customers is an important goal.
Never underestimate the power of a good funnel marketing strategy. Creating one that works for you can take time and effort but is well worth the pay-off.
Remember: focus on your audience.
Think of it like being in a relationship. You have to show your customers that you care and have their best interests at heart.
The funnel is one of the best ways to do exactly that.