What Is Content Marketing & How Can It Enhance Your Sales Funnel?
Content marketing. If you definitely feel like you understand “content” and you’ve got a firm grasp on “marketing,” but the two words combined stump you, read on. I promise, content marketing is nowhere near as complicated as it can seem!
First things first: What is content marketing?
Content marketing is simply a strategy that communicates a valuable message that ultimately makes readers convert. Content marketing isn’t just about what you write, but how you write it, where you put the content, and beyond. For more details, check out the Content Marketing Institute’s description.
Still, despite how vital content marketing is, it can be difficult at times to convince someone of the value and weight content holds. Many people question its value within the sales cycle.
But in a world where almost anything and everything is accessible in a moment’s time, you need to distinguish your brand from the rest. Who are you? Who is your target demographic and how are you trying to reach them? When you know this, you can begin to discover ways in which your brand can align with your target’s interests.
Never thought about your brand like this? There’s no day like today to start. Let’s begin thinking about the way content marketing can apply to the discovery of your brand and also through the rest of the sales funnel.
There are roughly three main components that make up a general sales funnel: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. Learn more about the purpose of each stage of the funnel and what kind of content is best for that particular stage.
This is the very beginning of the sales cycle where a customer first discovers your brand. It can be good old regular content—or even viral content.
Whether it consists of a blog post, video, or webinar, content marketing for the awareness stage is meant to simply bring awareness to your brand. To put it in its simplest form, content marketing can lead to brand awareness which can lead to acquiring new customers.
The types of content that work best in the awareness phase of the sales funnel include:
Blog Posts: They’re an informal way to communicate with your customers. You can write about any subject that you feel would align with your demographics’ interest. The team over at REI has a fantastic blog worth checking out.
Newsletters: These are (usually email) publications distributed to recipients on a regular basis and consists of a topic that pertains to the subscriber’s interests. For example, if you’re a company that offers financial advising services, you can send newsletters to subscribers on finance news and company updates.
Videos: They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so a video is probably worth a million words? If you have the resources, videos can be an awesome way to make people aware of your brand. Morrie, of Morrie’s wig shop in Queens, New York, is a man who understood the value of a video. (For something a bit more relevant, The Dollar Shave Club has a good video as well.)
Remember, the goal in this stage is to simply make someone aware of your brand’s existence, so go crazy with interesting content.
The middle of the sales cycle is where a customer will think about whether they need a service or product that your business provides. It is here that your content’s purpose will be to directly acquire a customer. Your content should focus on educating the customer about the services you provide in the hopes of convincing them to make a purchase.
The types of content that work best in the consideration phase of the sales funnel include:
Webinars: They’re simply seminars that take place on the internet. These can be especially useful for companies selling intricate products. Think of software products like Quickbooks or Adobe Photoshop. Webinars are an easy way to educate customers on how to use your product.
Podcasts: NPR anyone? Audio can be just as effective as video for conveying a brand’s message.
Case Studies: These are detailed examples of a product or service and its effect on an entity.
At this point, the customer has recognized their needs and wants to research all possible solutions. Help them with their research by creating high-quality content!
The end of the sales cycle. The decision stage is when a potential customer (hopefully!) decides to take the leap and become a full-fledged customer.
Great content marketing can help seal the deal. Assure them that your product or service is high-quality, one-of-a-kind, and precisely what they need.
The types of content that work best in the decision phase of the sales funnel include:
Reviews: These are key to speaking for the quality of your product/service. There are tons of examples on YouTube of bloggers reviewing everything from drugstore mascara to the new Aston Martin DB11 helping consumers to figure out if the product is the right fit for them.
Testimonials: Think of a time that you asked a family member or friend if they had a recommendation for a new hairdresser or gym shoes. One happy customer turns into two happy customers, and two happy customers turn into four happy customers, and… you get the idea. You can check out our testimonial page on the PSM website to see it in action.
It’s simple—you want your content marketing to make the decision process as simple and seamless as possible. And don’t forget to have some fun with it!
If I’ve awakened your inner content marketer, don’t forget to check out the content marketing mistakes you need to avoid.
Do you have any favorite brands that pull off content marketing for the sales funnel? Enlighten us! Tweet us at @Perfect_Search.
Amina is a DePaul grad who longs to visit Hogwarts and Atlantis. A self-proclaimed ice cream queen, Amina also loves cars, clothes, and the entire cast of Parks & Recreation—but don’t talk to her about country music.