“Can content marketing drive sales?”
If you’re looking to investing in content marketing, this is one of the first questions that’ll come to your mind.
A few years back all you had to do was look at what people are searching on Google. Then create content to match their search queries.
Since then things have gotten tougher.
Competition has increased. Tons of content gets created everyday. Because of which many marketers have unwittingly settled for content quantity instead of strategic, quality content.
At the same time buyer habits are changing.
90 percent of buyers don’t respond to cold calls or emails. Instead they prefer educating themselves before contacting suppliers. According to Forrester:Decision makers are already 70-90 percent through a purchase decision before reaching out to suppliers. Click To Tweet
How do you survive as a marketer, when buyers start making purchase decisions on their own?
By creating highly relevant, educational content for these buyers. And, by making it available when they need it. That’s why marketing teams across the world are investing in creating and distributing content.
Buyers need content at all stages of their purchase journey.
At your end, the buyer’s journey corresponds to the marketing funnel. Creating content for each stage of the marketing, helps you improve brand awareness, generate leads, and drive sales.
What is a content marketing funnel?
A content marketing funnel helps buyers along their purchase journey with relevant, valuable content.
Buyers go through a 3 stage journey when making a purchase decision.
- Awareness: The buyer comes to know about you and/or your product.
- Evaluation: The buyer evaluates if your product is a good fit.
- Purchase: The buyer is ready to purchase, either from you or a competitor.
Buyers have unique information needs at each of these stages. When you create highly relevant and valuable content for each stage, it helps:
- Move buyers along their journey from awareness to purchase, and
- Maximize the purchase to awareness ratio.
Let’s understand what content works at each stage of the buyer’s journey. For examples we’ll look at articles from Fieldboom. It’s a SaaS company that helps marketers create forms, surveys and quizzes with smart automation.
Awareness stage or Top of the funnel (TOFU) contentYour goal at the top of the funnel is to improve brand awareness. Click To Tweet
The content you create for this stage is not directly related to your product or service. However it addresses the buyer’s aspirations and challenges.
For example, Fieldboom shares this article on their blog.
This article isn’t about their product.
Instead it addresses the aspiration of marketers to get more SEO traffic by doing something as simple as watching videos. Plugging-in a huge influencer like Rand Fishkin is the cherry on top.
Here are two more examples of awareness stage content.
Call to action for TOFU contentTop of the funnel content is great at driving traffic, but doesn’t always get conversions. Click To Tweet
Convert them into email subscribers instead of letting them consume content and move on. Fieldboom uses two calls to action in their article.
- The end of the article call to action which asks you to subscribe for more case studies.
- The floating bar which asks for your email in return of a free guide.
Evaluation stage of Middle or the funnel (MOFU) content
At this stage buyers evaluate if your offer is a right fit.Your goal at the evaluation stage of the funnel is to showcase expertise and build trust. Click To Tweet
Your content for this stage introduces your product as a solution. But it’s still about the buyer’s problems. Not about selling your product. Advanced strategies, how-tos, webinars and case studies make great content at this stage.
Here’s an example of a MOFU article from Fieldboom.
Instead of making this article about selling, Fieldboom makes it about market research using Facebook Ads. Towards the end of the article, they gently introduce the product as a solution to collect survey responses.
Here’s another evaluation stage article about increasing customer lifetime value using feedback surveys for Shopify merchants.
Call to action for MOFU contentMiddle of the funnel content gets you both, traffic and conversions. Click To Tweet
So you can either ask the reader to try your product or sign up for email updates or both. For example, at the end of the article you could ask the user to sign up for a free trial. Or you could ask them for their email address in return of a lead magnet.
Just like Fieldboom does:
Purchase stage or Bottom of the funnel (BOFU) content
At this stage the buyer has evaluated all the options, and finally ready to purchase.Your goal at purchase stage of the funnel is reinforce your authority and give the buyer a final nudge to buy from you, instead of your competitor. Click To Tweet
The content at this stage is all about your product.
- What are its features & benefits?
- How does it compare to the competition?
- How much does it cost?
- Have others used this product before?
- What are their reviews?
Most business websites have content for the purchase stage. It’s available in the form of product sales pages, competitor comparisons, testimonials and reviews.
In this piece Fieldboom pitches its product against Google Forms and other alternatives.
Here’s another purchase stage content example with Typeform alternatives.
Call to action for BOFU contentContent at the bottom of the funnel drives conversion, but usually very little traffic. Click To Tweet
At the purchase stage, you can directly ask buyers to try or buy your product. That’s exactly what Fieldboom does at the end of it’s articles.
How to use the funnel in your content strategy?
How you implement the content marketing funnel depends on your goals.
If you’re just getting started or need traffic, you’ll need a mix of top and middle content. On the other hand if you’re already getting enough traffic, a mix of middle and bottom stage content will get you conversions.
Your content strategy will also depend on your business type.
If you’re a B2C e-commerce store, you’ll need to focus more on the top-end of the funnel. On the other hand B2B businesses (which don’t need a lot of traffic) can focus on the middle and bottom stages of the funnel.
The content marketing funnel provides a framework to create content at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Depending on your business goals you’ll need to create a mix of top, middle and bottom of the funnel content. For each content piece, you’ll also need a call to action based on the what stage of the funnel it’s in.
Need help setting up your content marketing funnel? Get in touch.