Creating Content Marketing Funnels for Businesses
You have been pushed through another business’s content marketing funnel whether you realised it or not – as a consumer. Let us see how it all began.
You are browsing online. Suddenly you become aware of the latest must-have device. You instantly feel drawn to buy now but you hesitate. As an informed consumer you control that urge and consider your purchase.
What processes did you go through before deciding to buy this item?
- Do you check the reviews?
- Are they a reputable brand you can trust?
- Do you see if you can get a better price?
- How does the product work?
Each time a customer decides to buy something they go through a buyer’s journey.
Understanding this journey allows you to design a content marketing funnel. It guides the customer through this process and along the way – it cuts costs, increases revenues and maximises your Return on Investment (ROI).
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What Is a Content Marketing Funnel
Sales funnels come in many different forms. Different experts and influencers may call the stages by different names.
They may also have different names for the funnel itself – for instance you have the Buyer’s Journey in inbound marketing.
Each of these funnels describes the same basic process that customers go through based upon their methodologies as they feed and nurture through the funnel.
Let us have a look at a basic sales funnel.
The Basic Sales Funnel
You may be aware of a sales funnel – AIDA. It includes the following steps:
We call awareness at the top of the funnel. You feed the top by generating brand awareness. You keep people moving through the funnel by getting them interested.
You provide them with information to make a decision so they can take an action.
A funnel with low conversion rate is called a leaky funnel. Where the leak takes place in those four stages can guide a small business to rectify which layer of the funnel needs work.
In addition AIDA – an acronym that stands for the four phases of a client’s evolution, from awareness to direct action in which your company should invest its marketing resources:
- Awareness – attracting the target audience – generating relevant website visitors with a business blog
- Interests – generating new leads through content download or live chats.
- Desire – offering each prospects a good reason to stay through demos, free trials or something relevant to your target audience in return -you will receive signups.
- Action – convince people to turn into customers
The biggest problem with traditional sales funnel is that it does not really address how modern consumers buy.
The Content Marketing Funnel
A content marketing funnel works much the same. It guides people through the different stages with content but it has one very important distinction.
It recognises the importance of delighting customers as a way to continually replenish the funnel.
This funnel looks more like this.
- Conversion / Decision
- Happy / Satisfied Customers
- Promoter activity / Spreading The Word
Content Marketing Stages
The marketing funnel can be divided into these three stages:
- TOFU or Top of the funnel – includes the methods used to raise public awareness.
- MOFU or Middle of the funnel – contains the techniques used for leads generation.
- BOFU or Bottom of the funnel – consists of the measures taken to generate customers and maintain their level of satisfaction.
Let us take a closer look at each of these stages below.
Find out more about your target audiences and analyse your competitors with SWOT analysis – Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats.
When we use the term awareness you think of brand awareness. Brand awareness is an important part of building trust and name recognition with a target audience.
You also have problem awareness. Feed the top of your funnel by creating content that both generate brand awareness and problem awareness – what problems you need to solve.
In this phase a person considers the possible solutions to their problem. These solutions may be provided by you or they may also be looking at your competitors.
You need to provide a viable solution to your target audience’s problems.
This may seem like a single point in time but it is not. It is your entire sales process since the buyer is ready to make a purchase decision and you will need content here as well.
Businesses who act as if the sale is the end to all will find their business is on shifting sand. Strong customer relationships are the foundation of any business.
Happy customers skip the top of the funnel where you are spending time and money on awareness and consideration. They go straight to conversion.
Looking after loyal customers must be your main priority.
The results are phenomenal outcomes especially for small businesses:
- You have around a 5% chance to sell something to a new customer. You have a 60%-70% chance to sell something to a repeat customer.
- 65% or more of a small business’ revenues come in through existing customers.
- A 5% reduction in customer defection can increase revenues by 100%.
- Increasing your customer retention by a tiny 2% cuts your marketing costs by as much as 10%.
- And only around 32% of companies say that they have any strategies in place to retain customers.
This is a serious competitive advantage and we will show you how to increase your marketing ROI and slash your customer care costs.
Your existing loyal customers can become your greatest advocates or your worst enemies. Most of them stand on the side-lines.
They like your brand and are happy with your product but do not feel the need to do anything about it.
If you can turn even a fraction of these bench warmers into promoters you can leverage their enthusiasm to feed the top of your funnel with new customers.
You can do this via content and now your sales funnel looks like this.
A content marketing funnel becomes a self-feeding funnel by reinforcing it with the right content at each stage.
As you do this an amazing chain of events begins to take place.
- More people enter the top of the funnel
- People move more quickly through the funnel
- Costs plummet
- Revenues increase
- Return On Investment (ROI) is optimised
Did you know that content marketing produces 3X the leads for 67% of the cost? This is accomplished by turning your content marketing funnel into a cycle.
Content for Each Stage of the Content Marketing Funnel
Funnel leaks happen when we try to skip stages. If you try to take someone from awareness straight to conversion you will lose them.
That is why there are different kinds of content for different stages of the funnel.
Each piece of content will have specific marketing objectives and metrics that you could use to measure its success.
Now let us go through each stage of the content marketing funnel and the content you need to create in order to generate more leads and sales for your business:
1. Awareness/Discovery (TOFU)
This is crucial stage because the consumer becomes aware that your company exists. You are striving to generate brand awareness and visibility for potential leads.
The content used for this part of the process has to be engaging and trustworthy because possible consumers will analyse it to see if it fits their needs.
During this stage there is no selling. You are providing highly useful information. Let the consumer discover you make them want to know more about what you do or represent.
Draw them slowly to the next stage of the funnel. You may also want to focus certain problems that you product or services can address or solve.
Strategies to Apply
Building a social media presence is important and a consistent sharing on every platform is necessary.
Create content around trending and evergreen popular topics. Content should be very shareable with a strong chance of going viral.
The awareness stage is mostly about providing value to your audience. You are giving them something they want or need in the format they prefer.
If the problem that your product solves is not well known then this is your opportunity to demonstrate the need for your product or services
Research your customer’s challenges and address them directly in the content. They will think of you when they encounter the problems you address.
There is no selling at this stage. Your brand or specific products are not mentioned and you are only providing highly useful information.
Get people curious about your brand. Rather than jumping right into how your company solves their problem -make them want to learn more.
Draw them further into the funnel.
As you provide them with valuable information – you start to build brand awareness and show your audience that you know your stuff and they begin to trust your brand.
They begin to see you as the answer to those problems.
Types of Content
You can use the different types of content that can be created at this stage below:
Blog posts – they are a great opportunity to generate brand awareness. You can offer the exact information that your consumer is searching for and attract possible leads.
You can provide them reliable information and at the same time may be offer a free tool to connect with you.
Guides – these types of content will be a great source of knowledge, a very powerful tool – your audience gets a lot of value out of them.
Guides are also practical instruments that help consumers better understand specific terms and processes.
Videos – you can choose to engage your audience through videos. At this stage only make use of social media videos with fun stuff. Make your clients want to watch more every time.
Webinars – a webinar contains valuable information about your brand and subjects might that matter to your possible consumers.
It is a good choice to start building your brand.
Guest posts – guest posts are a great way to reach out to your target audience. If you post an amazing article on a well-known industry blog with tons of visitors – you are increasing your chances of being seen by your target audience.
By contributing to top blogs in your industry it will help grow your influence in your niche.
Quizzes – this form of content is interactive by nature. Quizzes make a person take action to complete them and can also generate brand awareness at the same time.
E-books – these are a great way to offer valuable information and generate brand awareness.
How to content – most people rely on how to articles when they want to get something done but they do not know how.
The step by step instructions needs to be easy to understand and show readers or viewers exactly what they need to do in order to achieve the results they want.
Social media posts – Social media posts are quite important for the first stage of a content marketing funnel.
They make your brand visible in an online environment where tons of people search for different things.
Infographics – Reading them is a lot faster and easier and can be shared anywhere in a jiffy. Great infographics will travel around the world in no time.
What do you need to see to know that your awareness stage content is effective?
You need to see increased:
- Social media views
Traffic should come in from various sources. Some of it will be clicks from social media.
Some will come in from inbound links to your website and others will come in through the search results.
Quantity is important. It helps feed the top of the funnel but do not get too hung up on quantity alone. You need to know that you are reaching the right target audience.
Use analytics to determine who is viewing your content. Both social media and Google Analytics will give you basic information about your interactors.
Find out their age ranges, gender and general interests and look even closer. How are they interacting with your content?
What you want to know is -are they simply finding your content? or are they actually interested in your content?
When consumers are interested in your content they will:
- Read the whole blog
- Attend the whole webinar
- Watch the whole video
- Download your E-Book or free tool
- Join and complete the quiz
- And more
You are able to measure the effectiveness of your content to whatever extent they do the above.
For example look at:
- Time spent viewing a video
- Dwell time — how long someone stayed on the page
- Bounce rate — whether they clicked on anything else on the page
- Number of webinar sessions attended or time spent
How to Be Aware When It is Not Working
These are 3 primary ways to know that this stage of your content marketing funnel is not working.
- Low traffic.
- People are not interacting with content.
- Reaching the wrong people.
If you find that your content falls short or does not address the correct audience – change, amend or pivot.
Just because you have started on one path does not mean you cannot make changes to your strategy.
To fix it you need to re-evaluate your content creation processes. Learn from your mistakes and create better content.
This stage is all about showing your products and services to your target audience.
At this point you can start placing your products and services under the spotlight and convince them you are the best choice on the market.
This is the moment when you can start addressing your leads directly and showcase all the possible ways in which your business can come up with solutions for their needs.
The content you create here has to bring to life everything your business stands for.
Your objective is to acquire the customer. By the end of this stage, your customer should be ready to buy.
At this stage you need to help the consumer evaluate you as a brand. Share with them the various options they can choose from. Give them the tools they need to make a decision to buy now and to buy from you.
Here use your social proof to demonstrate that you are the best company for the job. Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that you can leverage to increase sales.
It stems from the fact that no one wants to be the guinea pig and only a few people are willing to take the risk of being someone’s first customer.
Social proof reassures people that you know what you are doing. If your social proof is impressive then it can act like positive peer pressure. It compels someone to not miss out on the benefits that others are experiencing.
The following types of content are very effective for this stage:
Videos – showcase your products and services through demo videos. Make people understand that you can provide them the most reliable offer on the market.
Create engaging videos and reach out to your target audience. People love to watch videos more than reading an article so make this count.
Case studies – these research reports contain valuable information about a problem, its solution and the final results.
They refer to the reason and the way your business has helped one of your customers and because of that they are an amazing tool for showing potential customers what you can do for them.
Webinars – in this stage these should contain more information about your products or services and other valuable knowledge to attract an audience.
How-to content – here you should show the consumers that you can manage to do the task for them.
Some may consider that too much work is more to handle so if you make them see you can solve their problem – you have the upper hand.
White papers – white papers are an elevated form of guides. They are a long-form type of content that offers researched statistics, documented facts and particular information about a specific subject, quotes and citations.
A well-researched white paper can help you gain your consumers’ trust.
Checklists – creating an organised checklist can offer the answers your potential customers are looking for.
Imagine yourself in their position and think of what you would do to solve that issue.
Testimonials – this type of content can transform you into a trustworthy company.
If your previous clients leave you positive comments then you are officially in the business.
In-depth blog posts – conduct keyword research and make a list.
Use the most relevant keywords to your industry and create an amazing blog post that shows you can handle your customers’ needs.
Microblog – most companies are usually choosing to implement their blogs directly into their websites.
Slideshows – this type of shareable content can be effective in some situations like when you need to illustrate complex topics or processes.
Templates – most people want to simplify their work as much as they can.
This is why they are always looking for the fastest solution to finish the job.
Sometimes a template is exactly the thing you need to make your possible customers engage.
E-books – they can also represent a great way to generate leads at this point.
An attractive E-book with lots of important information might respond to a more complex problem.
Guides – this content can help you show your deepest knowledge in your industry.
With a step by step set of instructions you can manage to offer an interesting solution for a consumer’s problem.
Give the consumer what they need to make an informed decision and demonstrate your authority on the topic.
Measuring the effectiveness of consideration stage content is more straightforward. Measure the percentage of people entering conversion stage.
For a service company it may be scheduling an appointment. For e- commerce this would begin with adding something to the cart. For brick & mortar this may begin with calling to start the order process.
You will know your consideration stage content is not working if you have few customers entering the conversion stage of your content marketing funnel – with a poor conversion rate.
To fix this you will need to evaluate what you can do better to demonstrate that it is time to buy and it is also important to look at the conversion stage itself.
If consumers are entering the conversion stage but then backing out then the problem lies at the conversion stage content itself.
This is where most of you will struggle to convince potential buyers to choose your brand over others in the industry.
They have to make a final decision and it is up to you whether you manage to influence them or not. Here you can use a direct pitch to gain their attention but without aggressive content.
At this point potential customers already know what their needs are and how to solve their issues but they have to choose a specific product.
It is very important to offer your target audience a direct path to your business without hitting them too hard with too much information.
You have one objective. Carry the customer seamlessly through the conversion process.
This should be the fastest part of the process. The decision is already made.
Make it so easy to continue down this path that it would seem silly to back out now.
You need a very intuitive sales process and this comes down to your website design. The process should be very easy and as short as possible.
If a person is navigating between screens it should load quickly. They should provide the person with what they need to keep going.
If there is any confusion that causes a need to hit the back button – you could lose the customer.
If the customer is caught with a surprise charge or unexpected high shipping or sales tax they may back out. The content you provide at this stage avoids these last minute second thoughts.
Additionally these content types can aid the process:
Testimonials – this is to convince a customer that your company is reliable by offering a few testimonials from previous customers.
Webinars – webinars showcase your performance as a company and since they are live – it has a great impact on the target audience.
They get to see the way you talk, how you describe things and what you have to say about that specific subject.
Always keep them short, compiling everything in a maximum of 5 minutes or host a longer webinar of 20 to 30 minutes or more but stay on the subject.
Case studies – a great case study can convince possible customers to engage in no time with previous customers telling successful stories about your company.
The solution provided in this type of content might be helpful for more than one potential buyer.
Reviews – feedback is very important in any type of business. You can find out if something is wrong with your services or if your customers are happy.
On the other hand you can motivate new customers to purchase your products.
Coupons – this is an interesting way to attract visitors and convert them. Coupons will always be appreciated by anyone because they represent discounts or free stuff.
Videos – most videos are fun to make. Customers enjoy them because they can see interesting content.
You can take advantage of this type of content to convince those customers to purchase your products because they do this and that as seen in the video. Everyone gains in the end.
Free trials – free trials will generate leads in no time. If a customer wants to see how your service works- you can provide this opportunity through a free trial that lasts several days.
In the end a happy customer will pay for a full subscription because he/she received something free from the start.
Demos – demos are important here as well because they show how your product or service works and the way they can solve the customers’ problems.
People like to know what they are buying before they pay the price. There is a 50/50 percent chance a purchase will actually be made but you have to risk it before gaining something.
You can measure the effectiveness of your conversion stage process by knowing if a sale has taken place.
If people actually enter the conversion stage process in your content marketing funnel and then back out then something is not working.
Scrutinise the entire process. What can you do to avoid those second thoughts?
If you have an email address then you may resume the sales process by sending them a compelling offer. Sometimes – special offer popups are effective.
You can also automate your website so that it will remind a person if they have abandoned their cart.
Delight your customers, exceed their expectations consistently and increase the customer lifetime value (CLV).
These are your objectives for the happy customer’s stage of your content marketing funnel.
Provide the product or service that the customer expected. A marketer may not make the actual widget being sold but your marketing efforts do shape how people perceive their purchase. Do not over promise while under delivering.
Provide your customers with support they need to use your product. This can be from a helpful customer care team or even more effective when customers can help themselves.
This may vary some by demographic – 91% of consumers say they would prefer to help themselves online.
If you give them the content they need to answer their own questions they will use it and this impacts customer satisfaction.
If the content is there you make the customer happy and avoid that unsatisfied person queueing up for your customer care team.
The right content can reduce incoming customer care volume by as much as 80%. You can also use content to make customers feel special. Reward them for loyalty with exclusive access to certain content.
Content that will help you in this stage includes:
- Chatbots that look information up for customers
- Problem-shooting guides
- FAQs & How-to’s – designed specifically for existing customers
- Automated follow-up emails
In addition to online content, provide your customer care team with the same easy access content to help those who prefer to talk to a person.
This will generate consistency between what the online content says and what customer representatives say.
Measure the effectiveness of this stage by increased:
- Upsell potential among existing customers
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
- Promoter activity – great reviews, sharing, referrals, etc.
- Acquisition costs
- Care costs
If you are not getting this kind of results then re-evaluate the buying process. Target the areas where the dissatisfaction is coming from and address it.
5. Promoter Activity / Spreading the Word (BOFU/BEFU)
Once you have gained new leads you also have to keep them and transform them into ambassadors that tell your story further.
Happy customers still need to be persuaded to write you a great review or share your posts.
88% of consumers today consider online reviews as reliable as a referral from a close friend.
This stage is sometimes called Beyond the Funnel or BEFU and sometimes called BOFU.
Retention is an important process because once you have loyal customers they can write referrals and testimonials while making new purchase.
Your objective is to encourage existing customers to recommend you to others.
You still have to deliver amazing content to keep the image of your brand vivid in the minds of your customers.
Strategies to Apply
Actively ask for reviews and monitor your online reputation whilst addressing concerns quickly.
Remember and recognise that all businesses do get bad review sometimes.
According to recent studies of content marketing funnel statistics:
- 95% of people say that they are suspicious of a company’s reviews if they see no bad or negative reviews.
- 62% of consumers sat they will not buy from brands that censor online reviews
- Reviews drive 18% higher loyalty and 21% higher purchase satisfaction amongst existing customers
Engage with your existing customers through content.
Type of Content
Add these forms of content to your toolkit.
Specific email newsletters based on your customer needs – you have figured out what your customers’ desire most so keep them close to your brand with newsletters with specific content.
Contests – organise contests with prizes to offer your customers an opportunity to win free stuff and leads to greater User Generated Content (UGC)
Special offers or upgrades on new products – once you have launched a new product or an upgrade – always try to create special offers for your existing customers.
Videos – create storytelling videos to highlight positive messages from particular customers or some of their specific activities.
Tips and insider’s guides for your existent products or services – release new tips and guides for your products and services and make them available for your customers. New content will always be appreciated.
Automated emails – reminding people to write a review
Website or App integrated review system
Do not just stop after they have bought something from your business. Let them promote your brand for you too.
Here is what you can do.
- Offer discounts on their next purchase if they refer your brand to a friend.
- Give trial codes that they can send to their friends and families.
- Make them feel VIPs by giving them exclusive content in exchange for sharing your brand with other people.
- A good impression lasts a long way so your customer support should always be great. Through this, your consumers will like your brand better and will recommend it to other people they know – for free!
Monitor your reviews – you should see more and better reviews. As reputation improves you will see more new customers coming into the top of the funnel.
In the early stages of the content marketing funnel you have to work really hard for these new top-of-funnel visitors but now your funnel is feeding itself.
All you do is maintain the funnel you have built.
Content marketing is more like a snowball effect. At first it takes a lot of work but once you get your snowball to a certain size it becomes its own force. As it starts down the hill – it start to grow larger and larger.
Many people get discouraged when they try content marketing. They see themselves doing all this work up front and do not see the immediate returns.
Content marketing is a cost-effective, long-term strategy that grows your results exponentially. At the same time, costs go down as you go into maintenance mode.
You can expect timeframes to look something like this. See how they correspond to the content marketing funnel stages we have discussed.
Plan, strategize and execute your strategy.
These questions may be running through your mind – Where are the customers? Is my content doing anything?
We mentioned earlier about how to measure awareness. Track those metrics to understand how you are doing during this phase. Increasing revenues is not part of this stage.
Google starts to realise you exist. You may start getting a little traffic through searches.
More people are finding your consideration stage content. Continue to execute your strategy. Create more and better content.
Now the leads are starting to come in more consistently. More people are entering the conversion stage.
Revenues begin to climb and holds steady your content creation pace as you approach a tipping point.
You start to see significant revenue increases and your hard work is really beginning to pay off and so does your ROI – going up and up.
Your funnel is now self-sufficient and you can focus more on the narrow part of the funnel as your awareness content continues to do its work. You may update awareness content or weed it from time to time.
You would not stop feeding your funnel but you would spend most of your time delighting existing customers.
Creating content is not an easy task especially if you have to deal with all three content marketing funnel stages in a short period of time.
Firstly you have to think of your target audience and serve them tiny pieces of business information but not everything.
Then you describe your business and state what you are offering to solve the possible customers’ issues.
Penultimate stage – you have to convince them to convert and buy your products.
Finally – keeping your customers is the key to a successful content marketing funnel.
As always the heart of improving conversions is improving customer journey.
By anticipating the customer’s thoughts, customising your communications, offering transparency, help when required and giving consumer’s options to complete a purchase in the way they would like to – you will see an increase in leads, customer base and sales.
However if you are finding it difficult then seek an experienced marketing agency like Best–Digital Marketing Services to help you set up a creative marketing funnel for your business to maximise your businesses’ potential
Do you want your content to convert? Contact us today to see how we can help you develop content that gets results.
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