The sales funnel is the process you want your customers to experience as they go from potential buyers to loyal shoppers.
For years, the sales funnel has been at the heart of convincing and converting warm leads, yet many marketers don’t know how to use it to its full potential.
Most companies miss an enormous opportunity to fill sales funnels when they overlook how content strategy fits into a sales model.
Content and Sales: A Team Effort
The “death of the sales funnel” has become an ongoing topic of debate recently, with new variations such as the pipelines and the cylinder cropping up as replacements. However, the original sales funnel structure still rings true in today’s marketplace. No matter how you look at the process, meaningful interactions with consumers turning prospects into customers through your content strategy is the heart of sales.
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As the customer journeys through the acquisition, nurture, and conversion phases of the typical sales funnel, he or she comes across multiple pieces of content. When a company flawlessly optimizes content, customers won’t even notice its presence as they transcend through the levels of the funnel. Yet content is ever-present. It’s the catalyst that keeps visitors moving in the right directions.
Consider the Typical Sales Funnel
The typical sales funnel can use many different words and phrases, but the main idea is the same. It’s the process through which a customer goes on his or her way from becoming a warm lead to a loyal customer. In a nutshell, the funnel consists of a few major stages:
- Awareness. In the initial stage of the funnel, the consumer becomes aware of your brand. This may be through a marketing campaign, your homepage, landing pages, or organic brand awareness.
- Interest. The consumer visits your product/service detail page looking for more information about your brand. At this stage, consumer interest is piqued but no one is sold on your company yet.
- Decision. The consumer makes the decision that, yes, your brand is exactly what they’ve been looking for. Your content cut through during the interest phase and pushed the shopper in the right direction.
- Action. The final step in the sales funnel converts warm leads to actual customers. This is the phase in which the consumer actively follows through with a purchase, becoming a loyal patron.
Content strategy and sales are intricately linked. As your leads move through the four phases of becoming a customer, they interact and (hopefully) engage with your content. Your website content, blog, video, imagery and other material must speak volumes to leads as they navigate your site, encouraging them to make the decision to support your company.
The Content Marketing Funnel
According to data by Curata, 74.2 percent of companies see an increase in marketing teams’ lead quality and quantity with content marketing. Content marketing is vital for building brand awareness, achieving sales objectives, and delivering real business value. Your sales funnel and content strategy do not, and should not, operate as separate entities. Blend the two for optimal lead conversions. Content marketing has its own funnel:
In this version of the funnel, we see the consumer move from website visitor to customer with slightly different steps. The foundation of this funnel is the stages of ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu, or the three pillars of inbound marketing. ToFu, or Top of the Funnel, is where you attract relevant traffic to your website. You can achieve this with blog articles, brand awareness campaigns, or lead generation techniques.
MoFu (Middle of the Funnel) is the most complicated content marketing stage. At this point, you’ll have a diversity of leads that you haven’t yet qualified. Forbes reports that companies waste 71 percent of web leads in this stage because they don’t react to interest quickly enough. In MoFu, your content should educate consumers about your brand or product and begin the process of positioning your company as a solution. Consider creating eBooks or videos to boost credibility and aid in this stage of the process.
Finally, we reach the Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu). Your content until this point has served as your company’s biggest advocate, with relevant information that expresses your brand’s value to consumers. You may want to offer a free assessment or trial of your product to clinch the deal at this stage. Content can be minimal here, allowing consumers to focus on the actions they’re taking to move forward with your enterprise.
Give Customers a Reason to Return
Once the funnel is complete and you’ve earned a new customer, focus on retention with your content marketing strategy. That way, you’ll earn and enjoy their business for life. As customers travel through the sales funnel, your brand has plenty of marketing opportunities to pull customers to the next stage. Capitalize on these every step of the way to grow your brand exponentially.