Content Marketing Blog

Drive more conversions this Christmas: Targeted content for the 4 stages of the sales funnel

Time is running out if you want to attract potential customers before the end of 2016.

Christmas is the perfect occasion for getting in front of your audience. Everyone is online searching for presents, but they are also searching for content too! At this time of year, people have a lot of questions they need answered – whether that’s how to cook the perfect Christmas ham, gift ideas for the person that has everything, or how to plan for a week-long road trip. As well as brainstorming holidays and activities for the silly season, many people are also looking to get their affairs in order to start 2017 on the right foot.

Christmas really is the time for giving, and by that, I mean giving your audience the information that they need.

You have the potential to win over these people before they make their final decision to purchase. Understanding where your prospects are in the sales funnel is crucial to providing content that will encourage them to convert.

What IS a Sales Funnel?

There are many different incarnations of the sales funnel – just run an image search in Google and you’ll see what we mean – and it’s very similar to the more recent ‘buyer journey’. The point is to show the different stages a prospect goes through before becoming a customer, helping you to understand what they need at each stage, and how you can push them through the funnel to conversion.

Those at the top of the funnel have only just become aware of you (or even of a problem/need they have), while those at the bottom are seriously considering hiring/buying from you. Obviously, not everyone who has heard of you will buy from you, so the funnel shape represents a large group of leads being whittled down into a much tighter group of prospects with real purchase intent.

Sales funnels usually have between three and seven stages, but ours has four (plus a bonus fifth at the end of this article!).

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Different content is suited to people at each of these stages in their purchasing journey. If you can tailor your content to meet their needs, you could beat the competition and become their first choice.

Stage 1: Awareness

Marketing Objective: Traffic and engagement

At the top of the funnel, your audience is very broad. This is the initial discovery phase, where people are still searching for exactly what they need. It can also be an educational phase if consumers are looking for answers to their problems or information about a topic.

This is the point where you want to get your brand on their radar. Provide content that helps them solve their problem or answers their query. This is where your blog will prove extremely valuable, particularly with articles like ‘how to’s’, or ‘top tips’.They are easily digestible and are highly useful. Detailed infographics help break down difficult concepts, so if you have a complex topic to cover it would be ideal to produce one of these. Industry news also plays an important role at this stage, keeping your audience up-to-date with the areas they are showing interest in.

To reach your audience you’ll need to distribute this content widely – concentrating on your 10x content tactics to rank higher in Google search as well sharing to your social media pages.

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Second stage: Interest

Marketing Objective: Brand awareness and thought leadership

Now that your brand been discovered and your audience has consumed some of your top-level content, show them why you’re the best choice with thought leadership.

Dig a bit deeper with your content and provide more insights. Demonstrate your knowledge and provide an analysis of the industry or a white paper that delves into popular topics.

This stage is where you want to build an association between the product that the consumer wants and your brand. Thought leadership content is all about positioning your brand to be the first choice for consumers.

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Third stage: Consideration

Marketing objective: Product/Service promotion

Like a bee to nectar, you have enticed your potential customer further down the funnel. Your chances of getting that conversion are now far better.

At this point, the consumer is already interested in your product, has developed a familiarity with your brand and is likely to consider your brand during their purchasing decision-making process. Now is a good time to introduce them to your product content, to show them exactly what they can expect from you.

Make sure your landing pages are conversion-focussed and optimised, and that your product information is detailed and comprehensive.

Customers prefer to be heavily informed about a product prior to purchase, according to a study by Salsify, an e-commerce tech company. Three is the magic number when it comes to product images and reviews – customers prefer to see three of each before making a purchase. 88% of shoppers say that product content plays an extremely or very important role in their purchase decisions.

The more information you can give  your prospects at this stage, the better.

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Fourth Stage: Purchase

Marketing Objective: Trust and credibility

Now that you have your prospects at the bottom of the sales funnel, it’s time for the clincher.

This is the final moment before they make their purchase – you need to demonstrate why it should be from your business.

Content at this stage is focussed on getting your prospect across the line. Present them with case studies and testimonials, or offer a product demonstration. Clear up any doubt they have and streamline their decision-making process.

Make sure your content is accompanied by CTAs that direct them toward the action you want them to take, whether that’s a checkout, webinar registration or newsletter sign-up.

At this point, you should be turning all of the interest that has generated from content higher in the funnel into a conversion.

Nurturing your prospects in this manner will build quality relationships and form loyal customers; ones that are more likely to engage in repeat purchases.

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The fifth (and often forgotten) stage: Customer retention

Marketing Objective: Lead Nurturing

A crucial part of the sales funnel that many people forget is retention. Ultimately, the point is that you pour leads into the top, and you get customers/clients out of the bottom. So what about those customers? Yes, they are more educated about who you are and what you can offer than people at the top of the funnel, but in most cases, there is still a lot more that they could learn – so why stop there? You want to keep educating and upskilling them to ensure that they still value you when assessing next year’s budgets, and ultimately to move them from customers to advocates.

What you want here is an ongoing stream of communication with these customers. Ideally, they will continue reading your blog and downloading the occasional whitepaper, but if they subscribe to a newsletter you can deliver them content on a regular basis.

Once you have these customers in your email database, you can nurture them with content that matches their needs and interests. Targeted, personalised content such as this will make them much more inclined to return for another purchase further down the line.

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What does all this mean for your sales team?

So how does this relate to your sales team? Well, that depends a lot on what you sell, and how you sell it.

But a broad brush answer is that in most cases a salesperson could be speaking to a prospect at any stage of the funnel (even customers in many cases). If you can create a content strategy that caters for all stages of the sales funnel, your sales and marketing teams should be able to work together to identify which stage each prospect is at, and set up nurturing campaigns to ensure you’re feeding the right content to the right people.

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