If you’ve done any kind of sales or marketing in the past, you’ve probably seen a sales funnel before.
They’re a great visual representation of how generic traffic and potential prospects graduate from leads to customers as their relationship with your brand evolves. If you’re not familiar with how sales funnel marketing works, let’s recap it quickly. Here’s a traditional funnel:
Your own marketing funnel might be a little different from what I’ve posted here — some are longer or have more steps. Basically, more people engage with your brand at the top of the funnel — often through ads or social media — and trickle down the funnel as they become more familiar with your brand and what you offer.
It’s generally understood that some segment of your funnel traffic will exit the funnel at various stages (some sales funnels are depicted with holes at every section to represent this), and that’s expected. But the people who make it all the way to the bottom of the funnel are the ones who make a purchase and become customers or brand advocates.
That’s the gist of it. There’s more out there regarding sales funnels and how to build one for your organization, but even if you’ve got a funnel, you’ll still need content which targets each type of customer passing through it.
This is where a lot of companies get it wrong and lose customers.
So, today, let’s talk about how writing and sales funnels go together and what pieces of content you should use to bring your customers through the top of the marketing funnel and out the other side.
If you look around online, the big thing that you’ll see about top of the funnel content is that — like the top of the sales funnel — it needs to be big and bold and broad. It needs to be attractive and informative at a high level while providing a great overview of your organization and what you do.
This type of content might be anything from a white paper or a case study all the way to a blog post or an infographic. Depending on your target market, you’ll want to create the appropriate variety of content for the setting.
That’s pretty standard stuff.
Keep in mind that 96% of visitors who come to your website aren’t ready to purchase anything yet. But, if your content is valuable enough, they might be willing to provide their contact information.
There are a few pieces of content that are specific to the top of the sales funnel which are easy to overlook if you’re not paying attention because they’re broadly accessible and 100% essential.
Think about your website and your listed web pages. Home pages and landing pages are hugely important to the top of the funnel. These pages are often the first point of contact that your customer will have with your brand. These are top-of-funnel content pieces that are often missed because they’re a necessary part of doing business online.
The same is true for SEO-ranked blog posts and social media content where a prospect might interact with your business on a casual or semi-casual basis.
Supplying great content that keeps your target audience informed on industry topics and updated on your business offering helps you build that connection and, with the right push, can drive your client further down the sales funnel.
When you’re approaching the middle of the marketing funnel, your approach to content should change somewhat — but not entirely.
Customers who fall into the middle of the funnel have recognized that you have something valuable to offer and are interested in learning more about your brand.
Some of your top-funnel content might still be relevant, (like comprehensive, targeted blog posts) but your focus through the middle of the sales funnel is about nurturing leads, educating customers, and working to set yourself apart from your competitors.
This is a big deal. As Hubspot and Strategic IC point out: Businesses who nurture leads make 50% more sales at a cost 33% less than non-nurtured prospects.
If you’ve segmented your audience correctly, you can curate and target your content most effectively through outreach that aligns to this segmented audience. This might mean using specialized mailing lists to ensure that the right prospects receive targeted information. You can also narrow your content focus to speak to a small portion of your audience.
Keep in mind that leads in this category have self-selected as potential customers for your brand. They want to hear more from you, and they’ve chosen to be a part of this outreach.
But remember: These middle-of-funnel leads are different from customers who might’ve signed up to a mailing list in order to get a lead magnet or to download a free sample.
You’ve probably had the same experience I’ve had, where you’ve thrown a dummy email address into a sign-up form or you’ve immediately unsubscribed after receiving the documentation you wanted.
If you’re using gated content for your email list, park that in a different spot than your middle-of-funnel list and use it to qualify and graduate customers to middle-of-funnel prospects. Without that qualifying step, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up targeting the wrong people.
All of this is extremely important when it comes to empowering your sales funnel because any content that you create for your segmented audience has to resonate with that audience. If you’ve got your lists set up correctly, customers passing through this part of the marketing funnel are more likely to receive the content they need to learn more about your brand and move toward a decision-making process.
If your customer has made it to the bottom of the funnel, they’re probably close to a purchasing decision. They’ve weeded out other potential vendors, and they’re looking for brand differentiators to make their final selection.
The content you create for the bottom of your sales funnel needs to speak to the client needs in a hyper-specific and hyper-technical way. Because the B2B sales cycle is so long (and has gotten longer in recent years), this means that you’ll need to anticipate those needs and point out how your product or service aligns with those needs.
The content in the bottom of your sales funnel isn’t about attracting attention — it’s about giving someone a reason to purchase and overcoming the objections that keep them from sealing the deal.
With bottom-of-funnel content, consider bringing out the data, the research, and the hard numbers. Consider the shift in your prospect’s decision-making process and the challenges they’re working to overcome.
Your prospect’s challenge might not be a question of whether your service is a good fit. They might be trying to figure out how they can convince their boss to pull out their wallet. Put yourself in their shoes, try to isolate that buying objection, and generate content that matches that needs.
This kind of number-driven content tends to highlight the ROI and the product features and benefits with more directness and clarity. Buyers at this stage don’t need to build trust with your brand — you have that already — they need stats, specifications, and a solid roadmap of how your service helps them achieve their goals.
Give them that and you just might see a sale at the end of the funnel.
Each part of your sales funnel has a different goal and a different purpose. At a high level, your funnel is about branding and awareness. Farther down, it’s about trust before moving onto hard, actionable metrics.
If the written content you generate, from infographics to white papers, fill these niches, you’re well on your way to stocking your sales funnel with premium content.
If you’re still building your content library, consider what pieces you can generate that fit within your funnel and where the needs of your business are right now.
And, of course, if you need a writer to help you build a powerful content strategy, don’t hesitate to reach out.