Content is King; it is an old-but-gold saying in the digital marketing field. However, your King might be easily defeated if it is not tailored with a content marketing funnel in mind.
The funnel helps narrow down the readers through each stage into leads and drives them into specific actions.
That way, you save time, money, and effort to reach the right people.
What Is Marketing Funnel?
Before discussing the content marketing funnel, it is better to go over a more central concept – Marketing Funnel or Marketing Conversion Funnel, also known as Sales Funnel.
The ultimate goal of marketing activities is to increase the business revenue directly or indirectly.
Thus, a funnel is defined as different stages in which marketers will try to capture as many leads as possible in the early stages and then slowly nurture them through the funnel’s bottom, where they become customers.
About Marketing Funnel Stages
Stages of the funnel, however, are not always the same. There are two standard models for your reference.
1. Attention – Interest – Desire – Action
AIDA marketing funnel is a hierarchy of a 4-stage journey.
Leads “know” about your business but “do not understand” what you do and how to purchase.
At this stage, marketers research common issues and interests which are concerned by regular readers. Then, they will craft marketing campaigns (a piece of writing, TV ads, social media posts, etc.) to address those problems.
When leads pay attention to your marketing campaigns, they click to read out more, and even if they quit this time, they already know your business name and search for you later.
Congratulations if you can drive leads who pay attention to your marketing campaigns into the second stage, “Interest.”
Leads show their interest when they spend their valued time searching further about your campaigns, products, or services.
The challenging task is to hold the leads’ interest and help them pick out the relevant information. Many marketers we know make use of humor, personalized, and provocative imagery. Others concentrate on providing clear, easy-to-navigate, and concise content.
Those who are in this stage are incredibly close to the end of the marketing funnel. They are moving from “liking” to “wanting” your products or services.
Grab the chance by showing your soon-to-be customers features and benefits to fit their wants and needs. For instance, instead of just saying, “This dress is made of cotton.” – say, “Get this breathable and beautiful cotton dress to enjoy your summer beach holiday!”
When leads are ready to take action, you should make it easy and quick to decide.
Your “Call to Action” messages or images take place.
Use verbs where possible: “Download the brochure!”; “Call now to order!”; “Join our newsletter!”; “Buy now to get 30% OFF!” etc.
After many years, marketers still consider the AIDA a tried-and-true marketing funnel to seal the deals.
2. Attract – Engage – Delight
If you do digital marketing, you will find HubSpot reliable to get some references. Their inbound marketing funnel is an example.
Compared to the AIDA model, the funnel of HubSpot is shortened with three stages: Attract, Engage, and Delight.
In this stage, you draw the potential leads with valuable content and conversations to trust you as a helpful advisor they want to engage. Good examples are articles, social media posts, customer testimonials, product details, manual guides, etc.
Typically, SEO research and plan are required.
Next, marketers should present insights and solutions to align the pain points of potential leads. Thus, they are more interested and desired in the long term.
What are strategies?
Personalized conversations would be ideal. For example, sales team people or customer service representatives can call concerned prospects to provide tailored information.
Help and support show their influential role in this marketing funnel stage to help leads make a successful purchase and even after the purchase.
Online customers of all times will appreciate well-timed and thoughtful support. Chatbots, satisfaction surveys, and social media listening are helpful.
Unlike the AIDA model, the Attract-Engage-Delight is not always a hierarchy but works together in a flywheel.
Customers are no longer put as the output of the marketing funnel. Instead, they are at the center of the three stages. All marketing tragedies, sales, and service functions are responsible for attracting, engaging, and delight customers with as little friction as possible.
What Is A Content Marketing Funnel?
A content marketing funnel is also often referred to as the “content marketing sales funnel”,”sales funnel content marketing”, or “content funnel”. This is a content strategy for your online company. It can help you attract potential clients with quality information and guide them through the buyer journey, from first contact to conversion on a product or service, to make it easier than ever before!
The heart of the content marketing funnel is still to attract, engage, and delight leads into customers, but the stages are called with different names. They are:
- Top Of The Funnel (TOFU)
- Middle Of the Funnel (MOFU)
- Bottom Of the Funnel (BOFU)
Readers of each stage have a different intent, meaning that your content must be planned to pursue other goals and be measured in different values.
Top Of The Funnel (TOFU)
This is an awareness stage when people seek answers, education, research data, resources, opinions, and insight. Neither are they ready to buy, nor they might have heard of your business before.
The mission of content marketing is to answer readers’ queries and address their concerns. Then, it is possible to gently introduce your business, which sparks interest at the end of this funnel.
Middle Of The Funnel (MOFU)
Through the second phase, the number of readers gets smaller, but your chances of sales become bigger.
Many marketers consider this MOFU as an Evaluation or Consideration funnel. Leads who are potential customers do heavy research on whether your products and services meet their requirements.
One of the goals of this funnel is to guide, customer acquisition, or educate readers so that leads can gain a deep understanding of the business. Another task is to build trust with future consumers.
Bottom Of The Funnel (BOFU)
Converting people from the MOFU into BOFU is tricky, as you might already know when discussing the Action process above. It would be best if you made extra effort to persuade people to give their hard-earned cash.
Personalization and Call-to-action content are the keys to success. It would help if you gave leads at least one reason to buy. For example:
- Answering specific questions on your brand equities, product/services’ specifications, and policies;
- Showing pound-for-pound comparisons to demonstrate that your products and services are better than others;
- Offering an attractive discount to seal the deals more quickly;
- Providing a free trial within a specific period if possible, etc.
Why Is The Content Marketing Funnel Important?
When you are thinking about writing something and publishing it on the Internet, your rivals might be as well. Thus, the content field is very competitive.
There are some obvious reasons for spending your time on content marketing – but not limited to:
- Getting to know your readers and talking to them more effectively;
- Increasing more organic search traffic when covering more concerns;
- Reducing investment in paid TV or social media advertisements;
- Cutting time in writing compelling content which is helpful and business-centric;
- Increasing higher conversion rates thanks to on-point content.
Understanding the funnel means you have a good foundation to go on, then reach the right readers in the right way, at the right time, and in the right place.
4 Steps To Create The Content Marketing Funnel That Convert?
Step 1: Identify Your Target Audience
You will want to identify your readers before writing anything, whether a short slogan or a long blog article. Without doing so, your content ends up reaching nobody, and your effort is in vain.
We would strongly recommend creating Buyer Personas for your business and segment customers into different content marketing funnels.
- Use your current customer database, sales team feedback, research, surveys, interviews, third-party networks to find raw data of potential leads.
- Fill in multiple buyer personas templates to divide your readers into groups – around three ones.
- Make both positive personas (for the one you desire to sell for) and negative personas (for the one you want to avoid).
- Collect as much information as possible: demographic, education, incomes, interests, etc.
- Focus on questions about their motivations and pain points. Can you address and solve them with your business’s products or services?
Step 2: Brainstorm Content For Each Content Marketing Funnel
The big question is: “What is the goal for your content marketing efforts?”
You already know that the marketing funnel for the content field has three stages: TOFU, MOFU, BOFU. For each buyer personas, try to suggest content and content types for driving them from the top to the bottom of the funnel.
Most ideas come with two approaches: Keyword research and Competitive research.
- Keyword research
It is a habit now in the modern world that whenever people plan to buy something, they search for information on the Internet first. Keywords are what your audience might use to express their requirements on the search engines.
You can put yourself in the readers’ shoes to raise questions. Otherwise, there are many Keyword Research tools available now to provide keyword analyzes and consultancies.
- Competitive research
Spend time simultaneously exploring your rivals’ content and providing more exciting ideas for readers to digest. They already researched before publishing the content. Reviewing their information in advance helps cut a lot of time for researching.
Do not ignore the content offered by the top influencers in your field. When there are detailed articles from the experts, you might not want to create one yourself since most people check the content of those influencers first. Instead, you can learn helpful information from them and adjust the content to make a new exciting version.
Try to assign them into specific content marketing funnel(s) when the ideas are ready.
Step 3: Decide Time And Resources To Follow The Plan
After completing buyers personas, you might have many ideas and cannot wait to make them available. We only recommend focusing on a few content formats and channels at a time due to limitations in time, money, and human resources.
- Formats: Blog posts, emails, videos, infographics, etc.
- Channels: Your website, your blog, business social media, third-party review platforms, etc.
With selected content formats and channels, you should define goals to measure and evaluate the efficiency.
Step 4: Create And Publish Your Content
With all information as above, it is time to tailor your actual content. It should be concise, unique, free from spelling mistakes, and enjoyable to follow.
Once you have the content, you should be on the right track of the publishing schedules to ensure a well-balanced and various content libraries.
Content Marketing Ideas For Awareness Stages (TOFU)
One piece of content will not be enough to do all the heavy lifting of all funnel stages. Thus, it would help if you prepared different content ideas.
You might not notice it, but you are reading a blog post, and this one is our content for the TOFU – where people can get the awareness of a new concept, “Content Marketing Funnel.”
Firstly, a blog article is easy to digest when people need detailed information on a particular topic since it shows texts, images, and videos all at once.
Secondly, an article is a good for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because marketers can insert a specific keyword density level to make it crawlable by search engines and show it to the audience.
Social Media Posts
Social media will expand the touchpoints to your potential leads. We often call this type “content curation” – meaning some action “clicking on the share button.”
Content on social media posts is often short, and you have to calculate it carefully. Social media’s pieces of information often go with image and video consumption to make up for this disadvantage. They also encourage interacting with the posts easily: liking, commenting, and sharing.
The more people reach the posts, the more people you can expect in the funnel.
Checklists are always a hot content format because people want to have shortcuts (in the form of bullet points) organized systematically – what they are supposed to do with complicated tasks.
Here comes a checklist to write a good checklist!
- Having a heading to summarize the content of the checklist. You should add a number in the beginning, for example, “9 steps to writing a checklist in the TOFU phase.”
- Putting a noticeable bullet point icon. We usually use a dot, or a tick, or a number.
- Making sure that bullet points are consistent in structure. For instance, they should be all sentences, questions, or fragments.
- Punctuating bullets consistently as well. Only when the content after bullets is a sentence can you end them with a period (full stop.)
- Avoiding using semicolons to end bullet points. Their style is outdated.
- Not writing long bullet points. Three lines are an acceptable number.
- Removing transition words. Phrases such as “firstly” or “moreover” will slow the audience down.
- Avoiding using checklists when you write a rapport or content to handle sensitive issues. Bullets seem not warm.
- Laying out the points cleanly. You should never use a mix of fonts or margins.
- Designing infographics to showcase checklists. People would like to save the bullet points to revise later, so you should provide them with an easy way to download the lists.
How To Videos
‘How-to’ guides are always the best traffic drivers in the phase of awareness. And how-to videos are even more effective than a how-to blogs article or checklist.
Although videos take more time and effort to create, they present content in an easy-to-understand, visual, and exciting way. Videos are also compelling to spread brand awareness since people can share them across websites and social media platforms.
When you do the videos correctly, you can expect a dramatic increase in conversion rates from the first TOFU funnel to the next MOFU funnel.
Podcasts are a modern version of radio shows in which you deliver your content energetically and freshly. Instead of reading the content, the audience can now listen to it.
Your podcasts will do a great job in creating awareness if they are a part of the regular editorial calendar rather than being randomly published.
7 tips for creating convertible podcasts:
- Prepare in advance: You must do research on your listeners, draft scripts, and have good recording equipment.
- Find a dynamic speaker: A good voice will create a bond with the audience and encourage them to listen to the podcasts all day.
- Ask the listeners: Publish a survey form or a poll on your website or social media to collect information from potential customers. Do they enjoy listening to the episodes? What can you do to improve the quality of the show?
- Post a catchy subject line: Like any type of content, it is all in the name that decides where listeners want to click on it.
- Schedule the right time: As we mentioned, podcasts should be published on a periodic calendar so people know where and when to find your content.
- Repeat it: Podcasts are good to draw attention in the first place. However, it is hard only to process information via an audio form. You can write them down in a blog article or checklist.
They are visual graphics combined with text information in a visual medium. Some common infographic types to driving your leads into the paying customer:
- Comparison infographics: You can put two opposing concepts or ideas together in one image to visually compare them side by side.
- Marketing infographics: They are used in documentations to introduce your business to first-time visitors. You can showcase products or services, achievements, business data, company core values, etc.
- Process infographics: They explain the steps of doing something in visual terms. You can convert checklists into process infographics.
- Timeline infographics: A typical use of a timeline infographic is to present a product launch planning.
- Statistic infographics: The primary purpose is to show research results and data.
Advertisements (or ads) can effectively attract potential customers’ attention during the TOFU stage if you want to grow your audience quickly and are ready to pay money.
Benefits of ads include:
- Increasing brand awareness since you display your content to individuals in and out of your networks.
- Providing a better understanding of your potential leads with analytics of the performance of the ads.
- Tailoring higher-performing content with the knowledge above so that you achieve business goals.
There are some common types of online ads, including social media advertising, paid search advertising, native advertising, etc.
Content Marketing Ideas For The Consideration Stage (MOFU)
In this middle stage, prospects start showing their interest and association with your business.
Your tasks are to share useful content with them so that people can evaluate whether your products and services are a good fit. During the MOFU funnel, you also want to nurture the relationship and build trust with customers.
Product Comparison Reviews
Since customers have not used the products yet, they want to hear feedback from other existing customers. However, instead of letting them go to other websites to read reviews, you should proactively prepare documentation.
It is unreliable to talk about your product independently, but the best practice is to compare it with others. The difficulty is not alienating your audience and having preference over your business; meanwhile, you still need to generate good revenue.
We have some tips for your reference:
- List your competitive products: At this step, you are educating yourself about your rivals. In the end, it is essential to draw a brief conclusion of each product.
- Undertake research: You will want to start with researching customers’ questions – what they want to compare among products and their criteria are to make a decision. Then, you should also read product reviews of other competitors.
- Write your content: When you have enough information on board, you can start writing. Blog posts, videos, and infographics are good product comparison formats.
A case study analyzes particular individuals or companies who have used your products and services successfully. It is considered as social proof to convince leads that your business is right for them.
In fact, case studies are very effective in both MOFU and BOFU.
You can showcase case studies in PDF documents or emails sent to potential leads and customers. Another good place for this type of content is the Homepage to create the first impression.
If you have many happy customers, you can even create a dedicated page or blog article series.
Case studies can also be used off your website, for example, on webinars, workshops, or social media, and for the sales team when connecting with prospects.
Most people desire to buy from authentic brands. Reliable content like electric books (ebooks) to resolve complex topics help build trust. They will save your content and digest it many times.
With a well-designed ebook, you can not only provide detailed information about your business, products, and services – but you can also make use of it to collect information from those who might be interested.
For example, show a contact form to download FREE ebooks. Your salespeople can reach out via phone numbers or emails to have personalized conversations with your leads.
Content Marketing Ideas For The Decision Stage (BOFU)
In the first two stages, content is primarily informational so that prospects can have an overview of general topics or your business. People coming to the BOFU stage no longer need recommendations, though.
Your content should be decision content, which urges people to seal their deals as soon as possible.
Free Trial Or Product Demo
There are cases in a free trial that is better than a live demonstration and vice versa.
For example, free trials are recommended for software products or services such as gymnastics or courses. Registers have the freedom to use the tool or course in their own time and at their own pace, making them more comfortable making a purchase decision.
Handling all settings on their own, unfortunately, can be a tough task. Tutorial resources take time and might be quickly outdated. As a result, prospects give up shortly.
Demo, on the other hand, will show and tell potential customers about your business with a script. It is best to provide a demo when your products need an extensive setup to run correctly. A demo is in the form of a video or sales presentation.
Your content marketing strategy at the bottom of the funnel should follow a consulting approach that focuses on some tactics: answer-first, question-asking, active listening, and prioritizing prospects’ concerns that prevent purchase decisions.
Consultation is often delivered by customer support or customer success teams to the soon-to-be customers.
Coupon Or Discount Code
Who does not like promotion gifts like 20% off their purchases?
Such a discount code or coupon is often time-sensitive, so prospects end up buying much quickly if they desire your products or services.
A common misconception is that the higher discounts, the better you sell. Significant discounts lead to a suspicion of product qualities, or frequent discounts make your brand less desirable, though.
Thus, you should test the heat with a small incentive from 10 to 30%. What’s more important is where to show off the discount information. Here are the best places to put it:
- On the Homepage banner: This way, prospects are aware of the discount when they first land on your page.
- At the cart or checkout: The shopping cart page is very close to the bottom of the content marketing funnel.
- In marketing email: You can also narrow down your ideal prospects to offer discounts by only sending discount codes to specific email lists.
- By salespeople: When having a live demo or consultation process, your team can give private coupons or discount codes.
It is another kind of social proof content. At the early of the funnel, leads might already digest case studies about your successful customers. Nonetheless, they still hesitate, thinking that you provide preferential content for your business.
Customer testimonials, despite their briefness, are effective since they come from other consumers.
Thus, it would help if you created a fan club with our happy customers by encouraging them to leave feedback on the website.
A webinar is a web conference where you invite potential customers to discuss with experts in the industry. When you host a web meeting, you must have a great understanding to consult the listeners.
Here are 10 tips for creating a sellable webinar:
- Understand your target attendees
- Choose a suitable topic to discuss
- Invite relevant speakers and experts
- Schedule a time slot convenient for attendees
- Mention your products and services as an Add-on
- Decide on suitable webinar formats
- Prepare headset, projector, screen, etc. carefully
- Do a dry run in advance before you launch your webinar
- Create blogs, landing pages, etc., to inform the webinar
- Document the webinar process and share the webinar video later
What Should We Do After Converting The Audience To Customers?
When customers have already made a purchase decision, they will not remove it forever. Those customers can come back to your website to find more information about another product or service.
The best practice is to engage old customers and provide post-sale services if needed.
You will want to remember the following tips:
- Collecting the information of old customers to adjust content for others.
- Analyzing the data to figure out new updates.
- Enhancing omnichannel customer support so that they can reach you quickly if needed.
- Creating a community for the customers to discuss whatever they want.
The content marketing funnel (or content funnel) is designed to help you identify the type of information your prospects need, present it in a way that makes them want to learn more, and ultimately convert them into customers. We’ve covered all the basic information about this concept, from its definition to benefits and use cases.
I hope you enjoyed the article and learned something new. Now it’s time to get started on your content strategy! Remember, if you find yourself getting stuck with creating high-quality material, don’t hesitate to comment below.
We’re here to help!
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