Every marketer should live by the funnel. After all, why are we producing content? To generate leads, increase sales, and build authority.
However, these things will only happen when the marketing funnel is integrated into a workflow that plans every step of the client, from content discovery to conversion.
The problem is, 68% of businesses don’t measure sales funnels, according to Salesforce. However, businesses need clear and streamlined funnels so that content marketing can grow and grow bottom line.
That’s what I’m going to cover in this article: Proven Steps to Increase Sales and Leads With an Effective Content Marketing Funnel.
1. Start at the top and work your way down
Many marketers make the mistake of starting and ending at the top. They produce great content … and hope for the best. Imagine throwing a wide net to catch as many fish as possible. Still, as you’ll see in Step 2, you’ll need to filter them to find the best catches.
Top-of-the-funnel content includes blog posts, videos, and podcasts. You will attract the most users to your website (later you will provide resources for gathering user information).
I recommend using a tool like AnswerThePublic to find as many relevant and contextual topic ideas as possible. This increases the number of high quality leads you generate through content marketing.
First enter a search term. You will see an ad with questions, phrases, comparisons, and other terms related to your input.
Save all the topics you want to target individually or use the export option to download a CSV file.
However, it’s not just the topics you choose that drive demand. It’s the quality of the content that you produce. You need to give the readers the best possible impression.
For online text, this means a high word count is achieved: the average Google result on the first page is 1,447 words. Longer text is good for your company’s search exposure and offers readers more information, resources, and knowledge. By providing in-depth content, you are showing them that you have your back. And you will appreciate that.
Make your content practical and actionable. Don’t just tell readers to do something. Show them how to do it. Give them tools and resources. Add step-by-step instructions and screenshots.
2. Generate leads with assets in the middle of the funnel
Do you remember the fishing analogy I used earlier? In this step you will unplug the best fish.
Mid-of-the-funnel assets are gated, which means visitors have to enter their email address and other information to get the resources. This could include …
- White papers
- Case studies
People who take additional steps to obtain a resource are more determined to learn about the industry or solve a problem. Hence, they are higher quality potential customers and may eventually convert.
For example, Marketo offers a free template on the condition that users enter their information to get it.
3. Close at the bottom
This is where the fun happens! Leads have dealt with your content and your business and are now deeper in the funnel. It’s time to close.
As? By offering bottom-of-the-funnel assets.
Below are some of the best content types and offers for this step.
Free demos and trials
Who doesn’t like something that’s free?
Free demos and trials are especially effective at converting if you are selling a SaaS product or similar software. Leads can see and get a feel for how the software works. You can experiment with dashboards and the user interface, see integrations stack up, and tinker with settings.
You may well see that the software would benefit your business and so convert.
Webinars are fast becoming one of the most popular forms of visual content. In fact, over the past 12 months, 76% of B2B buyers had used webinars to research purchase decisions.
Use a platform like Zoom to host webinars. It allows up to 100 video participants and offers customizable branding and intuitive controls. The plans range from 100 to 10,000 participants who are only viewed.
Online education is booming: The e-learning industry is expected to reach a market size of $ 240 billion by 2023.
Online training courses are a great addition to bringing prospects to the bottom of the funnel. Train them in relevant skills and processes that are tailored to your services.
For example, if you are marketing an AI SaaS product, it is the perfect opportunity to convey to potential customers how implementing AI can help them scale and save time.
Case studies and testimonials are some of the most effective ways to convert leads and build trust with them as they see how other people like them are using your product or service and are doing well. They learn the process of working with you, your pricing, and most importantly, the results. Present accurate numbers and percentages to make success stories as believable as possible.
HubSpot provides a great example. The website has a case studies section detailing customer success stories.
All case studies use a similar format to explain who the customers are, what problems they had, and how HubSpot solved those problems.
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We don’t produce any online content to make our websites look attractive. It serves a much larger purpose. The right content marketing plan can help your business succeed, but it has to start and end with the funnel, or you’re just shooting in the dark.