Content and the sales funnel

online sales

What are the different types of content and what should be putting out there to help your users?

Content is king…. Strategy is queen. With so many types of content and multiple channels, putting together a content strategy or even thinking about what content to post may seem like a daunting task.

Part of a killer content strategy is producing content that helps your clients through the ‘buyer’s journey’, yes it sounds corny but essentially it’s the sales funnel that you want to direct your potential customers through.

The Internet and social has made it much easier for brands to engage with customers, but whilst they may be putting lots of content out there, it’s not necessarily the right content. In fact, 65% of marketers struggle to understand which types of content are effective and which are not.

However, before we get to the sales funnel, whenever you are producing content it’s important to keep you audience persona in the back of your mind. That mental or literal checklist that makes up the attributes or demographic of your audience. Their likes, dislikes and pain points are all important when you’re trying to produce content that will eventually lead them to making a purchase.

If you haven’t got to the stage or creating an audience persona, or you haven’t visited it in a while, I suggest you do. If you aren’t producing content that’s useful to them, then you risk losing them.

What makes up the buyer’s journey?

The buyer’s journey can be split into three categories:

  • Awareness stage – also known as the top of the funnel. At this point customers are looking for answers to their problem, they begin to look for information and opinions around what they are looking for.
  • Consideration stage – the middle of the funnel. At this point the user or customer has found your product and is researching whether it’s a fit for them.
  • Decision stage – The bottom of the funnel, the user is working out what exactly would get them to purchase your product.

Great content leads your users through this sales funnel and help convert them into a customer. And this is where your audience persona comes in, to produce awesome content, you need to understand your customer, and think about how they will progress through the sales funnel.

At this point you need to think about the actions that someone takes before finally deciding to buy. I am very indecisive when it comes to purchasing products, I spend a lot of time in the middle of the funnel researching a product and its competitors, and that’s something that has spilled over from my business to my everyday life.

However saying that, I would spend much longer researching which would be the best car to purchase over a holiday. Understanding the demographic of your audience will help you understand how much research they may do, and what it might take to convert them from potential customer, to paying customer or client.

Once you understand your clients and the way they move through the funnel you can start mapping out content that will help them on their journey. So what exactly is that?

Awareness content

As we said previously, this is the first stage of the funnel where potential customers realise a pain point or a want for something, and have started the research process into finding the right product for solution.

During this stage, research is key, producing content that advises and leads the potential customer to more useful information that will inform their decision is a great way to go. In Sprouts 2018 trends report 59% of consumers said they wanted to see posts on social media that teach them something, closely followed by posts that entertain, and posts that inspire.

Producing high quality video or advice content that leads your potential client to more information around your product is the way to go, and remember at this stage they are looking at multiple options, keep them close and provide them with the information they need.

Content that works at the awareness stage

Blog posts, ebooks, reports, original research and whitepapers. Video is still ranked as the most engaging medium to be using, look at producing short videos for platforms like Free Slots, Facebook and Instagram, reports, research and white papers are well suited to platforms such as LinkedIn.

Consideration stage

At this middle stage your potential client is now researching your product or service as an option to solve their problem. This part of the funnel provides an opportunity for you to build relationships with your clients, guiding them to find the right product or service.

Sprout social’s latest research suggests that consumers want the most content at this stage of the process. When a prospective client is looking to make a purchase, the research found that 30% of consumers wanted to see more links to information and content on social media, and similarly to the awareness stage they also want to see educational posts, however unlike the awareness stage, 72% of consumers would be looking for discounts and offers.

Content that work at the consideration stage

Live video, expert blog posts, webinars and white papers work well at the consideration stage. This sort of content fosters trust between the user and the brand and helps build a relationship that could lead to a sale.

Decision making stage

The final stage in the funnel, you’ve taken them through a wealth of great content and your potential customer has made the decision to make a purchase. The key is not to lose them at the final hurdle, provide them with that final nudge to make the purchase with a great call to action.

Content that work at the decision making stage

Whilst the first two stages have content that could be seen as similar, in the decision making stage you’re looking for content that converts your potential customer in to a customer. Trials, demos, case studies and testimonials are great examples of decision-making content.

Taking the time to really work out what your ideal client looks like and what their needs and pain points are will allow you to produce a strong content strategy that helps you turn potential clients into customers.