It’s hard enough to say what component of the digital marketing strategy is the most essential; however, no marketing strategies make sense without a well-developed sales funnel. Before the advent of the Internet, the sales funnels were relatively primitive and powered by word of mouth.
Now, online shoppers have more opportunities to choose from, and that’s why you need a well-structured sales funnel that takes the expectations of your customers and the marketing psychology into account.
This article will help you design a content marketing sales funnel, analyze its structure and stages. Moreover, we will share some ideas you may use in your marketing strategy right now.
Content Marketing Sales Funnel Definition
A content marketing sales funnel may be defined as an online way your potential customers are going through before becoming your customers and then, your loyal customers. However, why are they becoming loyal to your brand?
They are becoming loyal because you are sharing (or intend to share) content that has the greatest value for them, is helpful with their problem-solving, and is engaging and interactive at the same time. Thus, the first insight into the content marketing sales funnel is the quality of the content you are using.
The second insight is the skill to offer the right content in the right place and at the right time, taking the current stage of your relations with your users into account.
To find out how to do it right, let’s dwell on the content marketing sales funnel structure and stages ( not the same things!)
How a Content Marketing Funnel Is Structured
Fortunately, the structure of the content marketing funnel is not so difficult.
Your knowledge of your users’ specifics, problem points, and the market and competitors is the foundation of your sales funnel. In fact, it is impossible to develop a high-quality funnel capable of converting without a deep understanding of your users’ specifics, your product (service), and your business, as well as the market in which you operate. And the only way to get this knowledge is to use economic research methodologies, plus social analysis methods such as user surveys.
In addition, in order for your sales funnel to work, you need to understand what kind of value you give to users, as well as find the right words to convince them that they need it. For example, in order to sell a car to a millennial, you need to convince them that the value of your offer exceeds the value of calling a taxi or car-sharing.
A floodgate combines all the channels you use to make your content marketing strategy work and your content marketing sales funnel to lure leads and convert them into customers. For example, you may use email or video marketing, social media marketing, and SEO promotion, and all these will be examples of the content marketing sales funnel floodgate.
#3. Sales funnel itself
The sales funnel combines the above two elements and can be described as the way you are using the knowledge that is at its foundation with the help of floodgate channels.
To find out how it works in practice, let’s find out the main stages of any sales funnel.
3 Sales Funnel Stages
Any digital marketing sales funnel has three stages, each of which is equally important for converting the visitor into the lead, the lead into the customer, and the customer into the loyal buyer and brand’s advocate.
At the top of our sales funnel, we get to know the user and never make any drastic moves towards aggressive marketing and sales. The goal of this stage is the first contact when each user is just a visitor and a potential lead.
For example, at this stage, targeted advertising in Google and social media is used, to encourage the user to go to the site, quickly go through the offers and, as the final goal of this stage, receive an email from the user (that is, convert him/her into a lead) in exchange for some free value (like an e-book).
At this stage, communication with the user continues; however, we still try to avoid direct sales. Today’s users hate aggressive selling, so the goal of this stage is to convince the user to look at your offers in more detail.
Email marketing is the smartest communication channel at this stage, and of course, your newsletter chain should be logical, unobtrusive, and personalized.
We have already communicated with the user a little by this stage. Based on their behavior and interests, we can make a relevant and unobtrusive offer and motivate the user with additional tricks like discounts, bonuses, and the like.
However, our relationship with the user does not end at this point, as the goal is to build lifelong loyalty. At this point, it’s worth talking about how modern users make purchasing decisions and how you can use these insights to design your sales funnel.
AIDA Concept vs. The Modern Online Buyer Journey
There are two customer behavior models that are used in sales funnel development. AIDA concept was one of the first such models, and perhaps, you are already familiar with this abbreviation.
So, AIDA behavior models suggest that the decision-making process occurs in the following four stages:
- Awareness. At this stage, the users find out about the product or service via external or online advertising, social media, or word of mouth.
- Interest. At this stage, the users feel interested in the product service and want to find out more about how it may be helpful/useful/attractive/fitting to them.
- Desire. At this stage, the users feel the urge to purchase the service or get the product.
- Action. And the last stage is quite simple – the only thing that remained to the customer is to make an order and pay for it.
However, there is one significant drawback to this marketing behavior model. It works well for one-off and impulse purchases, but it doesn’t work well for developing long-term brand-user relationships.
Moreover, some marketers say that AIDA is dead, and the process of digitization of the business has changed the patterns of purchasing behavior and user expectations from the interaction with the brand.
The Modern Online Buyer Journey
Therefore, the current user journey model looks as following and is at the heart of most digital marketing strategies and related sales funnels.
Similar to the previous concept, at this stage, the user learns about the product or product for the first time. This stage of decision making corresponds to the top of the sales funnel. Here is what you can do to increase awareness.
- Launch a PPC advertising campaign on Google.
- Get started with a social media advertising campaign.
- Develop a landing page with an attractive lead magnet to get qualified leads.
- Submit a guest post with LinksManagement to expand your reach and improve your SEO positions.
And here is the first difference from AIDA. According to the new model of the modern online shopper’s behavior, the user is driven not so much by interest as by reasonable considerations about whether he really needs your product or service. If so, whether it is worth buying it from you and not from competitors.
This decision-making stage corresponds to the middle of the sales funnel. At this stage, you need to give the user really valuable content through email marketing and social media. Here is how to do it.
- Come up with a well-developed newsletter chain and continue your communication with the user step by step.
- Invest some time in YouTube video marketing using the practice-proven hacks since it is quite effective at the consideration stage. The users like to see the products as they are and compare them with competitive goods.
It may seem to you that we have already reached the bottom of the sales funnel, but no – we are still in the middle of it. This is just the first purchase, and here is what you may do to speed it up:
- Send the user a personalized offer with a favorable condition.
- Share some more valuable content with real results and metrics (perfectly suitable for B2B marketing).
- Offer an extended free trial period (the approach fits SaaS products promotion).
- Stay in touch with your buyers on social media, and make sure to learn how Instagram may boost the effectiveness of your sales funnel by 120%.
This stage corresponds to the bottom of the sales funnel, which in this case is cyclical. Having successfully passed the stages of awareness, conception, and the first purchase, the user remains at the bottom of the sales funnel, making further purchases.
This means that you must continue to invest in developing your relationship, personalizing marketing, caring for your customer, and improving service with the following tips, for example:
- Offer your loyal customer to create a testimonial for you in exchange for a bonus or gift.
- Invite them to participate in your events, take part in your webinars, or make some benefit from a referral program.
- Send your loyal users exclusive offers, thank you notes, birthday cards, and come up with personalized promotion strategies based on their behavioral analysis.
Thus, creating a content marketing sales funnel for your business is not as difficult as it seemed. However, you should always keep the quality of your content in focus and share it wisely, taking the data-driven behavior specifics of your users into account and using the right marketing channels.
Also, keep in mind that the ultimate goal of any digital marketing funnel is to generate repetitive purchases and automate this process.
About the Author!
Nancy P. Howard has been working as an editor at guest posting service Adsy for a year. She is also a professional writer in such topics as blogging, IT and marketing.