Find out what 400,000 articles taught us about content engagement
A well-designed marketing funnel turns your site’s visitors into customers. The better you can improve that funnel, the better your profits will be.
This type of improvement is only possible, though, if you understand the unique demands of each stage of your funnel. Otherwise, your would-be customers will end up in “funnel purgatory” where they quit progressing toward making a purchase.
One very important aspect of each of these stages is the content you use. Nail this important requirement and you’ll not only enjoy higher conversions; you may also find they happen much faster, too.
At the very beginning of your marketing funnel, you need to engage your prospects. They already have some interest in your product or service, so it’s your content’s job to make sure they don’t go wandering off to learn about it from someone else.
How you don’t do this is by talking about you or your company.
At this stage in your funnel, that information just isn’t helpful to your reader. They’re not even sure they want what you’re selling, so why would they care about the person or company doing the selling?
Right now, your objective is to educate and excite. In simplest terms, you want to tell them, “You are absolutely right to be interested in this product/service. Here’s some proof.”
The king of top-of-the-funnel content is, of course, the landing page. It’s short, sweet and prompts the reader to take a step forward in the funnel.
That being said, you can still provide helpful information to your leads below the fold, so if your lead is slowed by a bit of decision-friction, you have an opportunity to nurture them forward.
However, sometimes, your readers are going to need a bit more information before they decide to take that step.
In that case, blogs are fantastic. As “sales funnels” have turned into “marketing funnels”, blogs have become substantially more important for nurturing leads.
When it comes to the top of your funnel, use blogs that answer all the questions a novice would have about the topic.
If you’re a CrossFit instructor, you could talk about what this form of fitness is and what kinds of benefits it offers. Now your reader has a better understanding and, with this knowledge, will be more likely to move forward.
One really easy way to come up with this type of content is by thinking about the questions you usually get from customers right away:
You’re going to answer these questions at some point anyway, so why not do so at the very beginning of your funnel when they can help you nurture leads?
It also helps that these types of questions tend to correlate with great longtail keywords, so you have the opportunity to rank and nurture at the same time.
One final word on these blog posts: don’t fall into the trap of answering an easy question with an easy answer.
Going back to my example, “What is CrossFit?” could be answered in about one or two sentences, but is that going to move a lead to the middle of my funnel?
Whatever you do, don’t use more words than you need to, but keep in mind that the better you educate your lead, the more likely they are to become a customer.
Everyone loves infographics and it’s not hard to see why. Leads gain important insights in a matter of seconds, which makes them far more likely to continue through your funnel.
Of course, that’s why marketers are also so enthusiastic about using infographics.
As with blogs, use them to educate your leads so they have the information they need to continue through your funnel.
Lastly, your website is an important part of the funnel that often doesn’t get the content it deserves.
As I mentioned before, the top of the funnel isn’t the time to introduce yourself or explain your company, yet this is exactly what most homepages do.
While blogs and landing pages can serve other stages, your homepage’s one and only purpose is to generate enough interest from your visitors that they move to the middle of the funnel.
Your homepage’s content needs to reward the visitor for making the right decision in their quest to learn more about the type of product/service you offer – specifically, its benefits.
If your homepage has a high bounce rate, it’s probably because you’re using it to sell your company and not the benefits of what it does.
Now that your prospect has become a lead, it’s time for the transition stage that stands between them and the sale.
Just like middle children, the middle of the funnel usually doesn’t get a lot of attention (kidding!).
The beginning and the end are easy to prioritize.
You’ll know right away if you lack solid content to attract readers and gain their interest because your funnel will be covered in dust.
When attention arrives but purchases or sign-ups don’t, most people immediately rush to the end of their funnel. Clearly, something is wrong with their CTA.
However, a closer look at your analytics might tell you that the middle of your funnel is dropping the ball.
On the other hand, your analytics might show that the middle portion successfully chauffeurs people to the last stage – YAY! – but the truth is that they’re doing it with all the emotion of an “eh” – BOOOOO!!!
Knowing which type of content works best here will solve this problem.
Earlier, we outlined blogs as a powerful way to educate your leads. You can also use blogs in the middle of your funnel, but it’s important you understand the difference between these two stages where this type of content is concerned.
In short, middle-stage blogs are for solving problems.
So think about the types of problems your leads face that are relevant to your product/service and then produce blogs that will help them.
The better you solve these problems for your readers, the more likely they’ll be to see you as a reliable authority and, thus, continue to the final stage of your funnel.
Sometimes, videos make a lot more sense than blogs for the middle of your funnel.
For example, you might have a product that helps fix common forms of back pain, so a good piece of content for the middle of your funnel would help solve a version of this problem.
You might write a blog post that describes a certain stretch used to relieve pain caused by sciatica and, with the right photos, it could prove helpful.
However, that post probably won’t be nearly as effective as a short video that walks the viewer through the steps and shows them an actual example in much less time.
Case studies are incredibly effective, but you have to be careful because they can easily turn into sales copy:
“This person was suffering from [popular problem] but then I helped them and now they enjoy [enviable solution].”
At this point in the sales funnel, it’s too early for the pitch.
Instead, the purpose of your case study should be to show readers how to solve a problem in a way that leaves them without any doubt about the solution.
After all, they’re looking at a real-world example of what actually worked.
Sometimes, the aforementioned forms of content just aren’t going to cut it. Your leads have a problem that is a bit more in-depth. Maybe they want to design custom IT infrastructures for their small businesses. Perhaps, they want to get started down a completely new career path.
eBooks and whitepapers may be the only realistic way to address this problem. We’ve all seen blog posts that have bitten off more than they can chew. The title promises that the next 1,000 words or so will show the reader how to start a small business.
That kind of complicated topic is going to take pages and pages.
These two forms of content can sometimes be used at the top of your funnel, too, especially if you’re looking to trade them for email addresses.
We’re finally at the bottom of your marketing funnel: the point that will make or break your entire campaign.
One wrong decision with your content here and all that other work was for nothing.
The goal of this content is obvious: get the sale/subscription. But another helpful way of viewing this goal is that you want your lead to think, “This product/service is definitely going to help me.”
How do you do this?
Much like a case study, reviews, ratings, and testimonials are evidence no one can argue with it; they come right from the source.
Of course, these types of content are much shorter than case studies, but you don’t have to limit them to just a line or two.
You want to use this type of content so the reader identifies with the person being quoted and can then see themselves benefiting the same way they did – a glimpse into the future – so long as they become a customer/subscriber.
There’s also nothing wrong with using a sales page. Much like a landing page, its goal is clear and its approach is streamlined.
At this point in your marketing funnel, your lead should be not just ready for this content but excited:
“Finally, I can start enjoying [XYZ benefits] by purchasing this product/service!”
Still, don’t rush things. Some of your leads may still be on the fence, so you’ll want to remind them about the benefits they’re going to enjoy as soon as they click “buy.” If there’s any scarcity involved in your approach, make sure they know about that, too.
A lot of marketing funnels out there aren’t suffering from bad writing; they’re suffering from the wrong type of content.
As you’ve probably heard before, “For every job, there is a tool.”
The same goes for the content in your funnel. Use the above information to give your funnel the best possible chance of succeeding by outfitting it with the most powerful content for every stage.
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