May 8th, 2017
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
Before moving forward with content creation for each funnel stage, you should take a step back and audit your current efforts.
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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