Content marketing follows the same process as any type of marketing. You need to know your audience, your products and services, and when, where, and how to get your audience’s attention. The marketing funnel consists of the three or more steps that also covers the buying journey.
A marketing funnel includes:
- Awareness – This is when your customer may or may not know yet about the problems they have, that they can be solved, and that you can solve them.
- Consideration – This is the time when the audience now knows that they have a problem that can be solved, and you need to give them exclusive content that helps them pick your solution over others.
- Purchase – They’ve made the purchase, and are now your customers, so now it’s your job to keep them and delight them by sending them the right content.
Understanding this cycle and what it means for the buyer is important because it also means something for you as the content creator who wants to attract and serve their ideal customer in a very customer-centric way. A content marketing funnel seeks to map the content you’re going to push to your audience and customers to the place it needs to be within the marketing funnel.
I think it’s helpful to make this funnel more in-depth to get even more specific about the content you need to develop and publish. Creating a mini funnel at each stage can be very helpful for keeping it straight in your mind.
The main reason is because even though the existence of the funnel makes it seem like the audience moves through the funnel the same way each time, the truth is, any entry point to your funnel works. So, whether they get on your list in the awareness stage or after they make a purchase, the process is the same.
Awareness can consist of many levels of your funnel and not just one. Some people in the awareness stage know about their problems, some don’t. Some know about the solutions available, some don’t. You’ll need content for all the levels you identify. The types of content you can create for the awareness stage includes:
- Blog Posts
- Social Media Updates
- Images and Photos
- White Papers, eBooks and eReports
- Web Pages
- Print Magazine or Newsletter
- Primary Research
When people are in the consideration stage, they’re trying to evaluate the problem and the solutions that they have discovered. Think of this also like an evaluation. The types of content that are needed to navigate this part of their journey include:
- Educational Resources
- Surveys, Quizzes, and Interactive Content
- Other Types of Resources
- Case Studies
The purchase stage of the buyer’s journey and the marketing funnel includes making a purchase or sometimes called conversion. After all, sometimes conversion isn’t about making the sale, but about getting someone on your list. Also, remember that purchase includes getting them to make the purchase or convert, as well as a time you can delight the customer too. The content that works great for ideal customers in this stage of their buying journey includes:
- Customer Stories or Case Studies
- Compare and Contrast
- Spec Sheets
- Thank You Notes
- Exclusive VIP Offers
- Events and Masterminds
- Bonus Information
Loyalty and Advocacy
I like to add this, which should go under the purchase designation of the buyers’ journey and the marketing funnel. The type of content you can use at this stage is a combination of the content used at every stage, and then some, because you really want to delight your customers so much that they become brand advocates. The content you can use here includes:
- Loyalty Programs
- Exclusive Emails
- Exclusive Events
- Exclusive Access to You
- Case Studies
- User-Generated Content
- Content in Groups and Communities
Of course, for all this to succeed, you need a clear vision first. You need to know who your audience is, what they want and need, and why and how you can provide it to them. The more understanding you have of them and yourself, the easier and more effective your content marketing will become.