An effective content marketing funnel enables you and your team to drive traffic, turn traffic into leads, and turn leads into revenue. All you need is the right content and a plan, which this post will help you create.
Claim Your Content Marketing Funnel Planning Template
Before you try to apply the knowledge in this post, make sure you claim your free content marketing funnel template so you can plan and create content that will delight your audience.
What Is A Content Marketing Funnel?
A content marketing funnel is a system that enables you to create content that matches your prospects’ needs as they move through the buyer’s journey.
This system allows you to create content that serves the specific needs of your potential customers and enables you to more strategically distribute your content and track the progression of your prospects and leads toward purchase.
Phases Of The Content Marketing Funnel
The content marketing funnel has three distinct phases, and each phase calls for content creation to match the needs of customers at that level of your funnel.
Top of the Funnel (TOFU): Drive Traffic & Awareness
The top of your content marketing funnel is where you look to drive traffic to your website, social media, or storefront. Additionally, you should make your ideal customers aware of a problem your product solves and what your product does to solve that problem.
This phase of operations most often comes to mind when people think of traditional marketing practices. Things like online advertising, direct email marketing, helpful videos, and SEO can all fall into this category.
Middle of the Funnel (MOFU): Generate Leads
The middle of your content marketing funnel is where you turn the awareness and engagement that you earned at the top into qualified leads that you can pass off to your sales team. The primary way to do this is with gated content.
Gated content is valuable to your audience but requires them to take some action (most often email signup) to access it. Unlike top-of-the-funnel activities, this content converts the traffic you’ve already gained into leads that your sales team can follow up with.
Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU): Convert Leads to Sales
You’ve engaged your audience, provided valuable content, collected emails, and given your sales team leads that they can follow up with, but they can’t do it alone. You need to create content that supplements your sales team and allows potential customers to make a confident purchase for this stage of the funnel.
This content could include case studies, specific use-cases of your product, free trials, or statistics showing the benefits of using your product. Your content at this stage of the content marketing funnel should help your leads be confident in purchasing from you.
The Keys To A Great Content Marketing Funnel
Now that you know the phases of your content marketing funnel, it’s time to explore why these phases work with the buyer’s journey.
Understand The Buyer’s Journey
As you can see in the graphic below, your content marketing funnel corresponds directly with the buyer’s journey phases.
The phases of the buyer’s journey — awareness, consideration, and decision — are important to keep in mind as you build out your content at each funnel stage.
- Identify problem
- Conduct online research
- Explore solutions
- Research vendors
- Determine relevant strategies
- Create a shortlist of solutions
- Assess the ROI of each
- Make a purchase decision
If you can understand what needs you’re addressing for potential customers with your content at each funnel stage, you can be sure that you’re making the best decisions to help them feel supported and drive them closer to purchasing your product or service.
For example, TOFU content drives traffic to your website and makes customers aware of the problem you solve and potential solutions for it (especially yours!). Your content should be geared toward helping your audience identify issues or opportunities for growth with content that provides real value without expecting an immediate payoff.
Tailor Your Funnel To The Buyer’s Journey
As you go forward with creating content for each stage of the funnel, keep in mind the phase of the buyer’s journey that your content is meant to serve.
Use this guide to create the right content for each stage of the funnel, and then make sure you keep in mind the issues and thought processes of your target audience at each step to create the perfect content to bring you more paying customers.
Create Content For Each Stage Of The Funnel
So, now that you know the stages of your content marketing funnel and the phases of the buyer’s journey you need to cover in each stage, you can move forward with creating content.
Some examples of top of funnel content you can create and share are:
- Blog content
- Youtube channel
- How-to content
- Webinar snippets
- Social media ads
- Targeted website ads
- Direct email
- Cold email outreach
After your target audience identifies problems, your SEO, video content, and digital advertisements will put you in the perfect position to be one of their first points of contact when they start conducting online research.
Some examples of middle of funnel content you can create and share are:
- Case studies
- Social media
- Drip campaigns
- White papers
As your audience starts to look for and find solutions, vendors, and strategies to help alleviate their problems, this content can be a valuable resource (especially if you already made contact in the first phase). This time is also where you can gate content (templates, case studies, etc.) to earn email signups to your newsletters.
Some examples of bottom of funnel content you can create for your audience are:
- Customer stories
- Competitor comparisons/spec sheets
- Sales decks
Take the time to think back to the actions within the customer journey at this stage. Customer stories and comparisons will help you stand out in customers’ shortlists. Trials, demos, and support from sales will help determine ROI, and your sales team will close the deal.
This stage is very reliant on the work of your sales team, but you can create content assets that assist them throughout the sales process.
The Fourth Funnel Phase: Customer Retention
This phase of the content marketing funnel is often forgotten but vital to business success. Customer retention will mainly fall to your sales, customer service, and support teams, but marketing can also impact retaining your customers.
Continue to share valuable insights into your product, resources that will help your customers succeed, and behind-the-scenes content from your company to keep them engaged and delighted throughout the customer lifecycle.
Next Steps To Implement This Practice
Now, take your content marketing funnel template and start planning and creating content that will delight and entice your audience at each phase of the buyer’s journey.