If you run a business, then you are familiar with the concept of a marketing or sales funnel. This concept is widespread across industries, but even a lot of marketers misunderstand it. You’ll even see ads on Facebook, Instagram and google for “the perfect funnel” or “funnels that close,” and these address some customers want, but in terms of real marketing, most of these are just ploys to play on the hopes and dreams of small business owners.
These campaigns present the funnel as though it compels prospects like a moth to a flame into buying and becoming loyal customers, but in fact the funnel doesn’t “make” anyone do anything.
Maybe what they are talking about is a drain rather than a funnel. “Drown your prospects with ads in three easy steps!”
Instead, understanding the funnel helps us present the right information to prospective customers at their stage in the process from awareness to decision and then to purchase.
Simply put, a marketing funnel helps you see your products, services and ideas through the eyes of your prospective customer.
So, with that in mind, we want to take a look at the marketing funnel – what it is (and isn’t), and how content marketing can help you make yours as useful as possible.
Customer Behavior and the Decision-Making Process
Overall, your marketing funnel should be focused on helping to inform and potentially influence your customer’s decisions. They have a problem that needs a solution, and they have to decide how to solve it.
If you want to make an effective marketing funnel, you need to understand how your audience thinks and what motivates them.
Here’s your primary action item: Get inside an average customer’s head to know how he or she thinks. Taking this approach will enable you to be more impactful in the decision-making process because you understand what they want from the product or service.
Breaking Down the Marketing Funnel
When you look at the different elements of the funnel, they can be categorized like this:
Need – having a problem that needs solving
Awareness – finding out about your company
Evaluation – looking at your brand more closely
Exclusion – comparing you to your competitors and deciding what not to buy
Decision – deciding to buy from one of the providers in your category
So, when creating your marketing funnel, you need to understand what your audience wants and needs at each stage of their process. Content marketing is a great tool to apply in this process.
How Content Marketing Can Help
Because leads to conversions is the primary metric in most marketing departments, it’s easy to assume that each stage should encourage everyone to buy from you. However, this tactic is often a mistake.
Let’s see how content marketing can help with each part of the sales funnel.
At the top of the funnel, the goal is to make as many people aware of your brand and what you offer as possible. This is where most people see the value of content marketing, as it can be shared easily across a variety of platforms. Videos, blog posts, infographics – all of these can be utilized to build brand awareness.
At this stage, the customer needs to understand how your product or service can help. Here is where storytelling can make a significant difference. Rather than talking about the various features of your product, connect it to a particular situation. This way, you can engage more deeply, and the story will resonate with your audience.
In some instances, need precedes the product itself. Mobile phones with cameras and text wasn’t an obvious need for most people, but it’s a great way to fulfill the need to communicate.
When this is the case, the funnel can help you imagine new products and services before your customer demands them from someone else.
Now is when your leads are going to want to find out more about your brand and its reputation. One way that content marketing can help is by drafting customer testimonials. Written reviews or video clips of satisfied patrons can help others decide to buy from you. Also, if you’re able to offer a limited trial of your product or service, now is when you should present it. Try before you buy is an extremely attractive offer and can boost your conversion rate substantially. Another way to do this is to get your product into industry magazines for review. Camera, car, camping products are all great candidates for this approach as publishers and readers are hungry for professional evaluations.
No matter what business you’re in, there is going to be a lot of competition. Why should people buy from you instead of a competitor? Now is when you may be tempted to offer a slick sales pitch, such as a time-sensitive discount. However, focusing solely on the price of the product can be more of a turn-off, primarily because it doesn’t focus on the value. Many customers will exclude lower priced items from their short list because they garner a perception of low quality.
Instead, now is when you want to use content marketing to illustrate what your customers get when they buy from you. Anyone can offer a discount – what makes your brand unique? What do customers get that they can’t from anyone else?
Decision (and Retention)
Once a person has decided to buy from you, it’s imperative that you make sure he or she is satisfied with that decision. All too often, businesses are so focused on getting people to this stage that they forget what happens after.
Content marketing can assist you by offering residual value from the brand. Not only did the customer get a great product or service, but now you’re adding something else. Whether it’s a loyalty program, advice, or insight on how to get the most from your product, the right content can keep your new customers coming back for more.
Bottom Line: Focus on Customer Experience, Not Sales
Overall, your marketing funnel should help you connect with your customers, and only one of many touch point is a sale. People are going to feel much better about buying from you when you treat them with respect, give them the information, attitudes and ideas at the time they are interested in it. Pushy sales tactics may help you get a quick buck, but it can leave a sour taste afterward.
Are you considering implementing a brand driven funnel in your marketing? Work with Green Vine Marketing to strategize and deploy your branded marketing funnel. Go beyond selling. Build a long-term relationship with your customers.