Last Updated on May 19, 2022 by Troika Gellido
From Viewing Your Product to Satisfied Customer: How Content Marketing Works
Did you know that the average buyer views around 13 pieces of content before they make their purchase decision? This may include looking at the vendor’s website, reading reviews, or watching videos where third parties compare two competitor products.
Turning potential customers into satisfied buyers is more than just drawing more people to your website – it’s creating a successful content marketing funnel that will earn you returns on your investment.
Although content marketing is becoming more important than ever, stats show that a large percentage of businesses still don’t have a viable content marketing strategy. Keep reading for an in-depth look at what the modern customer is like, why content marketing is important, what content marketing is, and how you can create different types of content for each stage of the funnel.
Who is the “Modern Customer”?
With more access to information about your product (and your competitor’s product), modern customers are more informed than ever before. If they don’t like what they find about your services or your prices, your competitors are just a click away. Here are some of the biggest characteristics that define the modern customer.
The Modern Customer Expects Convenience
With the rise of technology, gaining the loyalty of the modern customer has a lot to do with convenience. If your product isn’t convenient to use (or learn about), the modern customer is likely to just move on to a more convenient competitor.
For example, many companies have begun offering home delivery options for everything from furniture to groceries, while the traditional convenience store model has already started to become outdated.
The Modern Customer Expects On-Demand Options
Following along the same lines as convenience, having on-demand options is crucial to the modern customer. It’s why streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime flourished in recent years, while cable TV has taken a major dive.
Another example is online shopping. Modern customers can use Amazon or a vendor’s website to order your product (or learn about it) 24/7 versus buying in-store during business hours.
The Modern Customer Expects Personalization
Technology has paved the way for companies to reach more customers than ever before, but it’s also given the modern customer infinite options to choose from. Personalization goes beyond just segmentation or treating your customers like a group of people with the same interests.
Consumers now expect personalization and want to be treated as an individual – and it’s all too easy for companies to lose a potential customer with poor personalization. For instance, some beauty brands use skin match technology so that customers can find the perfect match for foundation or concealer.
Other companies, like Amazon, have personalized each consumer’s homepage. When you log onto Amazon, you’re greeted by name and the website shows you recommendations based on your individual search results – not just recommendations based on what people similar to you might like.
How Content Marketing Helps You Reach the Modern Customer
The modern customer expects more from brands than ever before, but how does content marketing help you reach them?
You Can Build a Relationship With Your Audience
Content marketing helps you build a relationship with your audience and the modern customer – and a good relationship can build brand loyalty and keep your audience around longer. Content marketing can allow you to personally interact with customers, and answer questions they have without the expectation of a purchase.
Quality content marketing can improve your reputation as a brand, and that can cultivate loyalty that has customers coming back time and time again.
You’ll Reach New Audiences Through Social Media
It’s one thing for existing customers to find you through a social media profile, but it’s another to create trendy, high-quality content that reaches new audiences and generates more leads and conversions.
Your Audience Will View You as an Authority in the Industry
In addition to creating more brand awareness with content marketing, you’ll also build a positive perception of your brand, one that may even help position you as an authority in the industry you’re in.
Not only does quality content help with your rankings, but when your audience trusts you as an expert in the industry, they’re more likely to trust you with their dollar too.
What Does the Buying Cycle Look Like?
The buying cycle covers the step-by-step process that a customer goes through – from the moment they realize they need what you’re selling until they’re placing an order and even beyond. A typical buying cycle can be broken down into five main stages: awareness, consideration, intent, purchase, and after-sale.
The awareness stage typically starts once a consumer realizes they need a product. Maybe their favorite mascara has dried up and it’s time to buy a new one. Maybe their stomach is rumbling and it’s time to decide where to get dinner. While buyers may enter the awareness stage on their own, many brands place a lot of emphasis on trying to reach customers while they are in this stage – or even trigger the awareness stage.
For instance, a restaurant or fast-food chain might run ads designed to trigger hunger reduction, while a real estate agency might create how-to videos for first-time home buyers.
The second major stage of the buying cycle is the consideration stage, where the buyer decides which factors or considerations they need in the product. Buyers may start weighing the pros and cons, and this is often when consumers do the bulk of their research about your product (and competitors).
This is also where content marketing shifts from bringing awareness to what your product does to showing the buyer how it fulfills their needs. Not only will they look at the price of your product, but this is often when buyers turn to third parties too – a buyer may check out online reviews or comparison videos to see if your product works or functions like it claims.
During the intent stage, a buyer forms a clear idea of what they need from a product, what their options are, and which of those options they’re most likely to purchase. In the intent stage, brands want to show buyers that not only is their product an option, but it’s the best option.
When it comes to the fourth stage, purchasing, this is when it gets down to crunch time. Buyers have already determined which product is going to fit their needs and they’re ready to make a purchase. For brands, this is the time when your content marketing is geared towards creating an ongoing relationship with your new customer – not just a one-time sale.
For instance, brands may collect your contact information so they can send you emails about future sales or even to recommend other products based on your buying history.
The aftersale or repurchase stage can look a little differently, depending on what kind of product you’re selling.
This is a good time to offer follow-up support to your customers, generate conversation about other ways your product can be used, or suggest similar products to your customer. If you can create a positive impression of your brand and product, you’re more likely to have repurchases – and develop loyal, trusting relationships with your customers.
What is a Content Marketing Funnel?
Now that we’ve gone over the buying cycle, let’s talk about the content marketing funnel and how your content marketing changes through each stage of that cycle.
At its core, a content marketing funnel helps you bring new leads and traffic to your business and product through various forms of content – whether that’s blog posts, social media posts, videos, infographics, e-books, reviews, webinars, or even e-mails.
You can break down the content marketing funnel several ways, but there are usually three main parts that you’ll need to know, regardless of product or industry:
- Top of the funnel (ToFu)
- Middle of the funnel (MoFu)
- Bottom of the funnel (BoFu)
Here’s a more in-depth explanation of ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu as well as what those look like in terms of content strategies:
Top of the Funnel (TOFU)
The top of the funnel (TOFU) is a marketing term that refers to the first stage of a marketing funnel. It is also called the first “touchpoint.”
The TOFU is a crucial part of any company’s marketing strategy. It can be defined as a company’s first interaction with its audience. The touchpoint can be either online or offline, and it directly impacts how effective the company’s marketing campaign will be.
The TOFU is also known as first impression or “first touch.” This happens when someone visits your website for the first time, signs up for your newsletter, or calls you for the first time.
Your website, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), advertising, and other digital marketing activities.
For example, if you are a business owner who wants to get traffic to your website, you need to invest in SEO and advertise on Google. If they want to get more customers and make more sales, they will need to create content for their website that people will find interesting and share with others.
The TOFU is the part of the marketing funnel where businesses have control over what happens next.
One TOFU strategy is when the company targets paid advertisements to the customers that are more likely to buy their product.
The benefits of this strategy include:
- The cost of paid advertising is significantly lower than other marketing channels.
- It can be used for a wide range of products and services.
- This strategy’s ROI (Return on Investment) is usually higher than other marketing channels.
Video content is a highly effective tool when it comes to attracting visitors. It is a great way to present your company and services in an engaging format.
Content marketing aims to build trust with your audience, leading to increased revenue. There are many ways to create content for your target audience, but video content is one of the most popular options.
Video content can be used as a standalone piece, or it can also be used as part of an overall content strategy that includes blog posts, infographics, webinars, etc.
Infographics are a powerful tool for marketers to convey their message. They are a visual representation of information that can be easily understood and remembered.
The TOFU strategies are designed to make the most of the infographics by generating leads, increasing sales, and generating social media traffic.
This strategy is designed to attract visitors to the website or landing page. The goal is to convert visitors into customers.
It aims at making the visitor feel that they are getting a lot of value for their time and money. Then, create a sense of urgency in the visitor by showing them how much they stand to gain from taking immediate action on your offer or product.
This method can lead generation, content marketing, and more.
List articles are a popular form of content that generates interest and drives traffic to websites.
List articles have been around for a while, but they have recently become more popular due to the rise of listicle sites like Buzzfeed, Upworthy, and ViralNova.
There are many benefits of using list articles as part of your marketing strategy. They can be used as an effective way to create awareness about your company or product. They can also be used for lead generation and customer acquisition.
Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)
The middle of the funnel is a term used in marketing for the period when a customer has been exposed to marketing but has not made a purchase.
In other words, this is where the customer is still on your website, and you are waiting for them to take action. It can be anything from clicking on an ad, watching a video, or signing up for your newsletter.
The middle of the funnel is where most businesses spend their time and effort because it’s where they can get feedback about their product or service before it reaches its goal – purchase.
It is hard to get your content noticed when you are at the bottom of the funnel. That is why it is important to have a strategy to ensure that your content gets seen.
MOFU refers to the phase where someone has already been exposed to your brand and has some interest in what you offer.
The middle of the funnel is the part where you are trying to generate leads and get them through your sales funnel. There are many ways to do this, but one way is by creating how-to articles that are easy to read and understand, with clear benefits and methods for readers.
A comprehensive guide is a series of content that provides a deep understanding of the topic with step-by-step instructions. It can be found in blogs, videos, podcasts, and more.
The benefits of comprehensive guides are that they are easy to digest and make it easy for readers to get started on the topics. They also provide a complete overview so people can easily find what they need when needed.
There are many methods for creating a comprehensive guide, such as the following:
- Content planning: This method starts with an idea for the content and then writing out what needs to be covered. The writer writes about each topic in detail to create a strategy for how it should be written.
- Content audit: This method involves analyzing your current content to identify gaps. The writer would then create content to fill in these gaps.
- Instructional design: This method starts by identifying the skills, concepts, and best practices important for success in your organization or field of study. The writer then creates a guide to help learners achieve this success. Many instructors use content planning as their long-term strategy in a training class or program.
Lead Magnet: E-books
There are many benefits to using a lead magnet. It can help you increase your email list, build trust with your audience, and convert leads into customers.
The first step is to decide what type of content you want to offer.
The second step is to choose the best platform for your lead magnet.
The third step is to create the content and optimize it for conversions.
Consistent Social Media Posting
You can use many ways to ensure that your social media posts are consistent and regular. You can do this by creating a schedule for your posts on social media and posting at specific times throughout the day.
Companies just need to maintain consistency in their social media posting schedule and then see results coming in over time.
This strategy is a mix of content creation and distribution, where marketers create content relevant to their audience and share it with them through email or social media channels. This strategy helps them generate leads, build relationships with their customers, and increase engagement rates.
There are three ways content emails use MOFU strategies:
- By providing value for their customers
- By using content emails as a lead magnet
- By offering discounts or freebies
Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)
The bottom of the funnel is the last step in the sales process before a sale is made. It’s also known as the “closing” stage of the sales funnel. This means that it’s not just about getting people to buy your product or service; it’s about getting them to become active customers who are loyal and will continue to buy from you for years.
White papers are marketing documents that offer a deep dive into a specific topic. Content marketers create them to provide the reader with valuable insights on a particular subject.
The white paper is an important tool for any business to gain visibility and spread their brand awareness. It is also an educational tool for readers, who can learn about the company and what they offer.
Additionally, companies use these documents to educate their audiences about how they can benefit from the company’s product or service.
Case studies are a great way to showcase the benefits of your marketing strategy. They give examples of how your strategy has helped a company achieve success in its field.
Case studies offer an overview of the company’s content marketing strategy, including what they have done, why they have done it, and what results.
The case study also provides insights into how content marketing can help you succeed in your field as a company or individual. It shows no one-size-fits-all approach to content marketing – all companies need to be aware of the benefits and drawbacks before deciding their strategies.
Sales emails are considered one of the best types of content.
They are sent out to potential customers to entice them to purchase a product or service. They contain information about the company, its products and services, and how the customer can benefit from them.
There are many types of emails that you can use to generate leads, but there are also some that you should avoid. For example, spam emails will not be read by your recipients and could even get them blocked from your email list.
Limited Time Offers
This BOFU strategy has been used by companies like Amazon, Nordstrom, and Unilever. They offer discounts or free samples to customers who are just about to purchase. This makes it easy for consumers to try new products before committing to buying them.
It’s an effective way to increase conversions and boost revenue. However, it needs to be done with caution because it can be very costly if not done properly.
Past and Current Customer Surveys
Another technique is where marketers ask prospects for their contact information at the end of a sales funnel. Again, the goal is to collect contact information for future marketing campaigns. It provides an opportunity to collect customer data that can be used later on.
To find out which types of customers are most likely to leave your product, you need to conduct customer surveys. This will help you determine your retention rate and how much effort you should put into retaining these customers.
How to Create a Content Marketing Funnel
Now that we’ve covered what the content marketing funnel is, how it works, and what kind of strategies you can use for each one, it’s time to talk about how the content marketing funnel is actually created for individual businesses and brands.
It’s important to note that the type of content you use can vary greatly based on your product and the audience you need to reach. Some ways that buyers may travel through the buyer journey with your brand could include:
- The buyer read/watches a social media influencer talk about your product > They visit your landing page > They purchase your product
- The buyer finds a blog post discussing a pain point and how your product solves it > They visit your landing page > They purchase your product
- The buyer hears about your product in a podcast ad > They read a blog post about your product > They purchase your product
- The buyer sees a Facebook ad about your product > They visit your landing page > They purchase your product
- The buyer watches a how-to video that discusses a pain point and how your product solves it > They visit your landing page > They purchase your product
Step 1: You Need to Perform User Research
To figure out how you’re going to reach your audience, you first need to know who your ideal customer is – and that starts with user research. For instance, if you’re trying to reach a younger audience or customer, you may prioritize working with social media influencers over Facebook Ads.
Performing user research may include:
- Quantitative research
- Qualitative research
- Survey questions
Step 2: Capturing Your Audience in the “Awareness” Stage (TOFU)
Some of the first content you’ll need to make for your content marketing funnel is content that targets the top of the funnel – or the awareness stage of the buyer cycle. Your buyer may already have some idea that they need a product, but they may not know about your specific product or how it’ll solve their pain points.
For example, your buyer may feel like they never have time to make coffee in the morning. Maybe they see a Facebook Ad or hear a podcast ad about your automatic, time-saving coffee machines, and have that “Aha!” moment that triggers the awareness stage.
Once you’ve done your user research and you know which brand awareness channels will help you better reach your audience, you can start creating TOFU content – like influencer marketing, paid ads, podcast advertising, radio ads, TV ads, or even live events.
If you’re not sure where to start, you can always check out where your competitors are advertising? Do they show ads on Facebook, TV, or on YouTube? Do they use influencer marketing? If they have been advertising those ways for long enough, it’s likely that these channels have yielded some success.
During this stage, you’ll want to make sure your website and landing page are still optimized for purchase intent. You’ll also want to create a CTA for your ads and content that leads customers onto the next step in their journey: finding more information about your product.
Step 3: Searching for Information (MOFU)
Your buyer is aware of your product, but they don’t know how it will fit their needs yet, so it’s time to give them this information through content marketing. The more complex your product is, the more information you’ll need to make.
This is where you may create content like YouTube videos that explain how your product works, blog posts, or social media posts. Blog posts are usually the go-to starting point for many companies, and they allow people to find you through addressing pain points – and with high-quality content and the right keywords, you can draw a big audience.
If you sell coffee makers, you might create a blog post talking about what kind of espresso drinks you can make with your coffee maker, or create a how-to video that demonstrates how easy your coffee maker is to use.
With your product, think about what your customers will first search for when they find out they have a problem. Start by creating educational content around pain points, but you can still use a CTA to draw people into the next stage of the content marketing funnel.
This is a broad stage, and it’s also the time when you can start creating content that helps people evaluate your product against the alternatives, such as:
- Write a blog post about the “best coffee makers” or “easy to use coffee makers” that includes a CTA and info about your product
- Use retargeting ads for people that have already looked at the pricing page
- Optimize your pricing page and start internally linking to it
- Ask existing customers to leave reviews
Step 4: Making the Purchase (BOFU)
By the time your buyer has made it to the bottom of the funnel, most of your work is already done. Your customer has already made the decision to buy your product, and as long as they don’t run into any last-minute roadblocks, they should follow through. Last-minute objections might include:
- There’s a bad review sitting front and center on your website, and your buyers are able to see it on the purchase page
- Your website is too hard to navigate and your customers can’t find their way to the purchasing page
- Your website is too slow or glitchy
- Your customer isn’t able to find basic information about the product, like its specifications, what it looks like, whether it has a warranty, etc.
In this stage, you need to work on conversion rate tactics, like:
- Add an FAQ section on your website that addresses last-minute concerns or questions that customers might have
- Use a 24/7 customer support chat window to quickly deal with last-minute issues or questions that customers might have
- Depending on your product, you can offer a free limited trial
- Offer a 30-day money back guarantee or customer satisfaction guarantee
- Include positive reviews on your purchase page for easy viewing
When it comes to ensuring a long-term relationship with customers or drawing them back for re-purchases, you can also collect contact info so you can send follow-up emails or deals.
Content Marketing Funnel: Yes, It Works
While using a content marketing funnel may require detailed analysis and work, the results are worth it – research shows that the lead generation stats for content marketing are three times higher than traditional marketing.
In 2019, SEMRush found that companies who took advantage of content marketing generated 97% more backlinks, created give times as more sales, 434% more search engine result pages, and it still cost them 62% less.
Another case study with Tiger Fitness showed that they saw a 60% returning customer rate with video content marketing.
What these stats demonstrate is just how successful a content marketing funnel can be, and as technology and the modern customer continue to evolve, high-quality content marketing only continues to become more crucial than ever.
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