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We’ve discussed the fundamentals of a basic sales funnel in a prior article titled, ‘How to Create an Effective Sales Funnel’. Here, we’ll take an in-depth look at how a small business can successfully manage their own B2C or B2B content marketing funnel as a cost-effective and beneficial alternative to attracting and retaining more customers.

Basic Sales Funnel

To recap, a sales funnel refers to the process a company will use to encourage customers to buy their products; hence, ‘funnelling’ customers towards an end goal. There are four stages, which are as follows:

Awareness:
The use of various marketing and advertising tactics that bring customers to your website and into your click funnel.

Interest:
Offer a range of items or services that have value to your audience.

Decision:
Your relevant and up-to-date content prepares your audience for a purchase.

Action:
Boost customer retention through continuous marketing obligations.

A content marketing funnel uses the same principles, in that it guides people through each stage. The key difference is that it uses different types of content as a vehicle to continually replenish the funnel – theoretically bringing in a constant stream of new or old customers.

Content Marketing Funnel Stages

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Conversion
  4. Satisfied Customers
  5. Promoter Activity

1. Awareness

The first stage of a content marketing funnel is the same as a regular sales funnel: awareness. It’s the same because it’s the most important. Think of it like this: how can you expect to bring customers to your website if no one knows it exists? To generate awareness you should create exciting content that immediately grabs a user’s attention. This can be any of the following:

  • Blogs
  • Games
  • Apps
  • Videos
  • Newsletters

2. Consideration

Will they? Won’t they? This stage of the funnel is the most difficult to master. Customers nowadays are more informed than ever, with more options than ever. This means it’s obligatory for the seller to come up with good reasons as to why a customer should buy from you.

There are understandably very few people who are actively willing to be the first to buy from a new online business. The threat of poor quality products, undelivered items or even fraudulent activity hangs heavy over unknown e-commerce websites. Customers would rather stay safe with popular brands as opposed to their smaller competitors.

Here, you’ll need to display and leverage as much social proof as possible to demonstrate that you’re a reliable and trustworthy business. Content that demonstrates social proof can be in any of the following content:

  • Case studies
  • In-depth how-to guides
  • User-generated content and stories from real customers— 3rd party product reviews, videos of customers using your product/service
  • Demo videos
  • Actual demos (free consultation & trial software)

3. Conversion

This stage of the funnel should be swift and smooth. You’ve essentially done the hard part by attracting the customer and convinced them to make a purchase – the decision has already been made. DON’T give hem a reason to back out now! Whether that’s the removal of unexpected shipping costs or other optimization techniques, this stage relies on the strength of your web design and loading speed.

You might not think that content at this stage would be useful, but continuing to ensure your customer that they’re making an informed decision is a good idea. Make use of the following content at this stage:

  • Testimonials
  • Reviews
  • Coupons/Offers

4. Satisfied Customers

A business’ success starts with the creation and maintenance of strong relationships with its customers. Those who have already been through the purchasing process will have no qualms about doing so again, and next time, they’ll skip each stage of the funnel and head straight to conversion.

Existing customers comprise the majority of a small business’ revenue – bringing in up to 65%, and studies have shown that a small business has around a 5% chance of selling to a new customer, compared to a 70% chance of selling to an existing customer. These statistics really do outline the importance of customer retention; sure, gaining new customers is amazing, but don’t forget about your loyal spenders!

Content for this stage is all about doing the most to help and inform website visitors. Produce any of the following content to provide a satisfactory service to your new and old visitors:

  • Automated or dedicated chatbots
  • Troubleshooting guides
  • FAQs & informative guides to help existing customers
  • Automated emails with the latest news and deals

5. Promoter Activity

This stage requires you to be active with your previous customers. There are times when we’ve made a purchase and, despite being perfectly happy with the product or service, simply forgotten or couldn’t be bothered to write a review or interact with the business again. We’re all guilty of doing this at least once!

Leveraging this demographic can have a big impact on your business. Their feedback, especially when it’s positive, can act as a catalyst for other indecisive potential customers to make a purchase:

  • Automated emails reminding people to write a review
  • Integrated review system
  • Increase user-generated content

Wrap-Up

Implement this content marketing funnel template to produce what can be a self-sufficient model. If you’re new to content marketing, first outline all the different types of content – there are many – and think about which type belongs at each of the specific stages. After doing this, you’ll have taken the first steps towards a cost-effective method that can optimize your ROI.

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