We’ve all experienced different phases of the marketing funnel as a consumer:
Seeing advertisements opens up our minds to new products, and when we seek information about these products, marketers give us specific content. It can come in many forms, and for digital content, oftentimes that information is delivered in a blog post.
What you probably didn’t know is that the blog article was created to answer the question posed by the advertisement. And once the advertisement and subsequent information have been consumed, it should ultimately lead you to purchase the product. In the digital marketing space, we call that a “conversion.”
Creating conversions is what content marketing is all about.
The marketing funnel is an age old illustration of how marketing leads to sales, or conversions, and perfectly describes the buyer’s journey. The only change that’s been made over the years is the fact that the internet has provided a platform to deliver all stages of the funnel.
In fact, a Google study revealed that 89 percent of B2B buyers use the internet during the research phase of the buying process.
Each one of the sales funnel stages have a different objective along this path, and it’s meant to get people to become your customers.
The first stage in the content funnel is “awareness.” You’re probably hyper aware of how your product can solve people’s problems, or how they can make life easier (that’s why you developed your business in the first place, right?). So you want content - often an advertisement - that makes people aware of how your product can solve those problems, or make their lives easier.
This leads to the second stage of the marketing funnel, which is “interest.” Once you’ve been discovered by your potential customer, they’ll keep you in mind, or perhaps they’ll even seek out more information. Not only will they want to know more about your products or services, but also your brand, which includes your values and reputation.
The next state in the funnel is the process of reaching a “decision.” In this stage of the buyer’s journey, your customers have all the information they need, and are now basing their decision to buy on trust, and fulfillment of their needs. Hopefully, you’ve stood out enough from your competition so your customers know that you provide their best option.
And finally, the last stage of the marketing funnel is “post purchase.” To think you’re done with the buyer’s journey once you’ve completed a sale is short sighted. This is a time where you want customers to be satisfied and happy so they’ll come back, and trust that they made the right decision so they’ll make it again.
Now that we know the objectives of each stage of the funnel, how do you know what content corresponds best to each stage of the marketing funnel? After all, there’s so much to choose from! Well, we have a pretty good idea of what works best for each stage in order to lead customers toward converting.
Awareness is top of funnel, and a delicate stage, as customers may or may not even know about your product, or how it can help them. But ultimately, your product or service addresses a need that people or businesses have, and they need to know how your product does this.
This stage is very important, as according to a Harvard Business Review report, 75 percent of B2B buyers will choose the company that was first to add value.
This value can be obtained through your potential customers being contacted with a piece of content, and there are a number of types of content that can accomplish this. Below are some examples of what kind of content to use, and how to use that content to spread awareness.
Landing pages are often accessed by potential customers through an email marketing campaign, or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. Landing pages are similar to advertisements, as often times they’re short, and quick to get to the point.
They also come with a Call To Action (CTA), and when used for this stage of the funnel, the CTA should be something like subscribing to your newsletter, or given more access to information. You want to add value as you gently guide readers toward the interest phase.
Speaking of SEO, a blog post is a great way to spread awareness about an issue involving your products or services. SEO enables you to focus your blog post on something specific, like highlighting a problem. And while you’ll of course explain in the article how your product will solve the problem (and add value), you shouldn’t necessarily sell the reader on your product. Not yet.
PPC ads are a great way to spread awareness, as you don’t have to pay for the ad unless a user clicks on it. Knowing where to place PPC ads is aided by good SEO work, as it will indicate what your potential customers are searching for. Then those pages are targeted with PPC ads that typically lead users back to your website.
Like PPC ads, social media posts can be targeted to specific people or groups of people. Certain platforms work better than others, but for B2B companies, LinkedIn has amazing ability to generate leads.
Infographics are yet another way to spread awareness about an issue that you think people should be turned on to. Adding new insights to your field of expertise establishes you as a thought leader, and this goes a long way toward establishing trust. A well designed infographic that’s circulated by a premier digital marketing agency is a fantastic way to add value from the opening bell.
Believe it or not, but almost 9-out-of-ten B2B buyers use the internet for research during the interest phase of the buyer’s journey.
And it’s a testament to how much B2B buyers have become like B2C buyers.
Trade magazines and other ways of circulating information about your products have changed, and in today’s B2B environment you must provide your potential customers with information in order to demonstrate value.
In fact, a Digital Commerce 360 study found that 90 percent of B2B buyers who use the internet for research visit two-to-seven websites before they make a purchase. Will they visit yours?
Well, if you provide them with some of the following material, they will see value in what you’re providing.
Nothing speaks the truth like raw data from a situation that not only happened, but happens all the time to your potential customers. Case studies demonstrate the need for your product, which in effect answers why customers need your product in the first place.
White papers are another fantastic means to provide information and demonstrate value. White papers are web pages that basically make something hard, easy to digest. They’re loaded with information that your client can use to make a more informed buying decision.
If you’re decent at presiding over zoom calls with several members present, perhaps you can also handle a webinar. And if not, then maybe a podcast will work better. C-suite leaders should think about these options if they feel like they have a true handle on cutting edge information about your field of business. Who better to speak on an issue than the experts?
Don’t think of email marketing as another means to inform. After all, how often do you read more than a sentence of an email sent from an unknown person? Rather, email is the delivery mechanism for the above assets. Email marketing ads value by offering up the content you created, whether that’s a blog post, white paper or an upcoming podcast.
You’ve gotten your potential customers attention, and demonstrated value by providing information. What more can you do?!
Well, a lot, as it turns out, because we’re only halfway there!
If you provided A+ content to your potential customers, don’t be surprised if they still turn to other sources (i. e. your competitors) for information. You would do competitor analysis in your buying decisions, wouldn’t you?
So, you can differentiate yourself from your competitors, and show your potential customers that you’re the best company for their business by using some of the following tools.
What better way to show that your product is better than to stack them up side-by-side with your product? And maybe your competitor beats you in certain criteria, but from a customer’s perspective, being honest about that demonstrates more value than your competitor ever can.
You’d be surprised at how many manufacturers don’t have engineering or performance specs about their SKUs online. Some manufacturers have millions of SKUs, making the process of uploading all that data online robust, but necessary.
Testimonials are a must! If you have satisfied clients because your business is so amazing, then how about asking them to put in a good word for you? Offering information about what your clients think of your products is being transparent, and adds value. It also collects vital information, so you can see for yourself what your customers like and dislike about your products.
There are so many options when it comes to creating valuable videos that you’ll almost want to hire an in-house videographer. Videos can be uploaded on social media and your website, among other places, and can be a demonstration, presentation or some other message.
Your customer has decided to buy from you.
All of your hard work along their journey has earned you their business.
But now you have a customer that was willing to give you a try, and you want them to do the same thing the next time they want to buy.
Keeping them happy can be accomplished by showing gratitude, offering them a deal on their next purchase or continued service while they use your product. These messages can be delivered in various ways.
Post purchase email marketing is almost a no brainer, as you should definitely have an automated system set up that “thanks” your buyers. This is a welcome email from you customers, and might be the best time to offer them something else.
Not only do surveys and questionnaires help you understand more about your customer’s buyer’s journey, but they also let your clients know that you care about their feedback. It also keeps them engaged, and continues their interactions with your company.
A message from the CEO, CMO or another C-suite leader that says “thank you” is a fantastic way to delight your customers. It’s personal and honest, and who doesn’t like a warm feeling after making an extremely important buying decision?
As you can see, there are a lot of different methods for contacting your clients along their journey toward buying your product. Marketing hasn’t changed all that much, but the means in which it’s delivered has.
Digital marketing explores new avenues that we’re really getting a handle on understanding. We’re no longer throwing jell-o at the board to see what sticks, as digital marketing agencies know just what lever to pull and at what time.
Get the support you need to create content for your customer funnel. Get in the ring with Main Event Digital.