Introducing the content marketing funnel: what it is all about? And how creating content can help you build solid relationships with your clients and prospects? Follow along …
The ultimate goal of inbound marketing is to make people come to you spontaneously (i.e. via their online activities) rather than “on call” (i.e. as a response to ads and promotions).
To describe this stranger-to-customer transformation, marketers often refer to funnels. For content marketing, I’d rather call it a roadmap, for the best content strategies are about building relationships rather than “pushing through”.
Whether you’re into kitchen or travel metaphors, the concept is the same: content marketing is a step-by-step process with different checkpoints. At each stage, it’s up to your ideal client to decide whether they should stay or go.
It’s a bit like dating, you know. You don’t invite her home to meet your folks on the first night out.
Your editorial calendar must reflect this, and include different types of content for the different stages of your relationship with your ideal client.
Still confused? Let’s have a closer look at each step of the content marketing funnel.
Step 1: From stranger to visitor
You know she’s out there, but you never met. At this stage, focus on free and shareable content to generate traffic and get noticed. Blog posts, podcasts, visual content and micro-content are great options. Aim at content that addresses her typical questions and pain points. Focus on being helpful and relevant.
Step 2: From visitor to lead
Once a stranger, now a visitor – but you don’t know much about her yet. To start a relationship, you need to make a personal contact first. That’s where gated content steps in.
At this stage, focus on attractive content – something that’s both eye-pleasing and actionable. Ebooks, checklists, email courses, newsletters, … the choice is up to you. Remember though: for your ideal client, disclosing her email address is a matter of trust. Don’t jeopardise your chances with sloppy copy&paste content.
Step 3: From lead to prospect
This is the dreaded MOFU stage – the middle of the funnel (or roadmap). Here, the focus is on establishing your business credibility with focused, in-depth content. This will strengthen your brand image, and show your unique skills and talents.
Step 4: From prospect to customer
Now it’s time for you to ask her out (i.e. to work with you). As your content-channeled relationship grew, you got to know her. You know what her pain points and needs are – and you know your services or products can help her achieve her goals. Inspire action with added-value content such as product demos, welcome kits, and free consultations.
Step 5: From customer to happy customer
Step 5 is “beyond the sale”. The content marketing funnel doesn’t stop at purchases. You worked so hard to build and nurture a relationship with your ideal client, and now she is a customer. Don’t be a jerk, and call her back. Happy customers are the very soul of your business success. Delight them with exclusive content such as market reports, tailored promotions, freebies and goodies – and keep them informed about all the great things you do and offer.
Et voilà! The content marketing funnel isn’t that bad after all. Just remember that people make business with people – keep it human and personal, and you’ll be just fine.