Building a content strategy is the most important part of content marketing – it’s impossible to see comprehensive results over time if you don’t have a well documented strategy to hold you accountable. One issue with a creating a strategy is that content marketers can sometimes get lost in the volume of content they need to produce, or follow what the competition is doing instead of thinking about who they are writing content for, and what the goals of that content are.

Customers move through what marketers call the sales funnel. The things that they need from content marketing is different depending on what part of the funnel they’re in, and what type of product your content marketing is supporting. No matter the type, content needs to be created with the goal of moving leads from one funnel stage to the next. Different stages in the funnel require different types of content.

Let’s walk through the marketing funnel and see which types of content are best suited for each stage. From there, we’ll lay out the steps of a content audit so you can start improving your content strategy right away.

Content and Your Sales Funnel

Awareness

People at the awareness stage have questions or problems that need a solution. Customers aren’t looking to purchase your product or service, they’re simply looking for answers. Focus on delivering educational and well-researched content that address these concerns. Content that asks users to buy will come off as “salesy” and push visitors away. Awareness content can include:

  • Blog Posts
  • Checklists
  • Ebooks
  • Educational Videos
  • How-Tos and Guides
  • Infographics
  • Whitepapers

Evaluation

Evaluation is the bridge between education and purchase. Leads who enjoyed your educational content may decide to learn more about your product or service. At this stage, you can use provide content that shows your product or service in action (in other words, give leads a chance to “evaluate” your product). Evaluation content can include:

  • Case Studies
  • Demo Videos
  • Product Sheets
  • Ebooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Webinars

Purchase

Leads at the purchase stage are ready to make a decision, yet there’s still no guarantee they’ll purchase from you. To tip their decision in your favor, provide purchase-oriented content that shows how your product or service has helped others:

  • Competition Comparison Charts
  • Ratings
  • Reviews
  • Self-Assessments
  • Testimonials

Delight

After you’ve landed a new customer, you’ll need to focus on maintaining a long-term relationship with them so they remain a loyal customer. Content that delights can include:

  • Email Marketing
  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Special Offers and Promotions

Keep in mind that our suggested content types for each funnel stage may not be the same for every company. You’re the expert in your industry, so you’ll need to figure out what content works best for your audiences. This leads into our next topic.

Conducting Your Content Strategy Audit

Before moving forward with content creation for each funnel stage, you should take a step back and audit your current efforts.

  1. Review Your Target Audiences/Buyer Personas: Content needs to resonate with your target audiences. Take the time to review your target audiences and understand their distinct characteristics and needs. If you don’t already have a clear idea of who your target audience, you need to find out soon! Here’s a guide to start building personas that you can use in this step.
  2. Review Your Existing and Scheduled Content: With your target audiences fresh in mind, go ahead and review your content calendar. Does your content educate your target audiences on topics they care about or offer solutions to their problems? This is also a good time to review performance metrics from your previously published content. Which blog posts have done well with your audience, and which ones haven’t resonated? Can you see any similarities in topic, theme or type? Why do you think this was successful or unsuccessful?
  3. Adjust Your Content Strategy: Going through your content will reveal the strengths and weaknesses in your strategy. You may have a lot of content that focuses on one part of the funnel, or maybe most of your content is directed toward one buyer persona. With your content strategy properly vetted, you can now identify where your content strategy needs work. You may need to pull back on blog posts and focus on eBooks and guides. Maybe your support documentation is out-of-date and needs to be reworked.

Moving Forward with Your Content Calendar

Now that you’ve aligned your content marketing strategy with your marketing funnel, it’s time to plan out your efforts. Adjust your content calendar to make room for content that covers parts of the sales funnel you’ve overlooked. Ensure everyone on your team understands the adjusted strategy and what that means for them (e.g. what new content types they need to focus on).

Content marketing is a powerful way to pull in new customers and engage old ones, yet only by aligning your efforts with your marketing funnel can you ensure your content is driving the result you want. After all, you and your team spend a lot of time creating content for your company. Seeing visitors turn into customers based on your work — what more can a content marketer ask for?

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