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How to Merge your Content Strategy and Sales Funnel

One rookie mistake that businesses make when entering the digital marketing arena for the first time is creating a disconnect between their sales funnel and content strategy.

Without the funnel to channel their content delivery they start looking at other businesses for clues about what type of content they should be putting out there, how frequently they should be posting and how much money they need to spend.

That approach rarely works since all businesses have different target audiences and what appeals to one persona (e.g. multiple short videos and ephemeral content for college students) would be a waste of time and effort to another (e.g. if your site sells medical equipment to professionals).

The Basic Sales Funnel

Let’s first revisit the concept of the sales funnel:

The wide mouth of the funnel is for capturing as many leads or potential customers as possible. Sales is largely a numbers game so the more people you can get into the funnel, the more sales and profit you will make.

Leads who have shown sufficient interest (e.g. taken advantage of a lead magnet such as a free eBook), now become prospects within the neck of the funnel. At this stage, the goal is to build awareness about the benefits of your product or service and how it (favourably) stacks up against similar offerings.

At the spout of the funnel is your checkout process. By this time, your prospects are convinced you are the guys to solve their problem and it’s just a case of nudging them to hit the buy button. Your leads have become customers.

From Sales Funnel to Content Marketing Funnel

In reality, your content strategy and your sales funnel are part of the same system. If the sales funnel is a symbol of the buyer’s journey then the content you produce is the fuel that moves them along.

You might as well relabel your sales funnel as a content marketing funnel!

At the mouth of the funnel, your content should attract leads. In the middle it should convert leads into prospects and at the end it should close the deal, turning prospects into buying customers.

To maximise the chances of customers staying with you for the long haul, a further stage can be added post-sale. Here is where you delight your customers so that they come back to you.

Mapping your Content to your Buyer’s Journey

Now it is just a case of mapping the right kind of content to your new content marketing funnel. To ensure a seamless user experience, your brand message needs to be consistent across platforms. Whether a lead has arrived at your website from a PPC ad, a YouTube video or a Facebook post, they should feel they are connecting with one business. Pay careful attention to colour schemes, tone of voice and formatting.

To attract leads you can use online advertising campaigns, work on a clean, powerful website home page and landing pages and perhaps create some overview explainer or demo videos. Handy freebies such as calculators, cheat sheets and templates are ideal for collecting email addresses and building your prospect list.

Examples of content used to convert leads into prospects are more in-depth blog posts and product pages (linked to via social media), eBooks, case studies and interactive webinars.

Content can also help with the final push towards closing the sale. Positive ratings and reviews and persuasive emails can be effective.

Customer satisfaction surveys, special offers and additional product information can all be used in the post-sale phase, helping to build loyalty and encourage repeat sales.

Using your analytics software, you can find out where most of your leads are along the buyer’s journey. By combining this knowledge with what you already know about your target audience you now have a recipe for creating content with a purpose rather than for its own sake.

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