It's an exciting time to be a business owner, as the possibilities for growth through digital marketing are seemingly endless. From viral videos to interactive websites to the rise of QR codes and augmented reality advertising, digital transformation is changing how marketers do business.
Whether you're just starting or looking to grow your business in the digital space, it's never a bad time to learn how to create a market-leading content funnel that can bring in new customers and help retain loyal ones.
What is a content funnel?
In marketing terms, a content funnel is a strategy employed to ease potential customers into a "journey" that eventually ends in a purchase.
A typical content funnel can be broken down into three parts:
- Awareness (top)
- Evaluation (middle)
- Conversion (bottom).
Each part represents a different stage in the buyer's journey. For example, the top of the funnel represents the awareness or discovery stage. This stage aims to increase awareness of your brand in your target market through high-level content such as explainer videos, blogs, and social media posts.
The next part of a content funnel is the middle, the evaluation or consideration stage. In this stage, a customer has moved from mere brand awareness to a state of more active interest. Popular consideration content types include newsletters, webinars, and long-form articles because they require active opt-in or extended interest from the potential customer.
Finally, the bottom part of a content funnel is focused on conversion or moving from a lead to a sale. For example, by this stage, a potential customer may have gone from reading a blog post to receiving a special offer in an email to going to a product page with purchase intent. Marketers creating content for the bottom of the funnel will focus on things like demos or customer success stories that turn interest into conversions.
Each part of the content marketing funnel can lead to conversion, but the most successful marketers know that employing this 3-phase approach increases chances of success (along with content optimization).
Depending on your needs, you may even employ the fourth step to retain customers, known as the loyalty or advocacy stage. This involves creating content that incentivizes customers to make another purchase, such as a rewards program, exclusive discounts for repeat customers, or a monthly newsletter with unique content just for subscribers.
The #1-way marketers are driving traffic
Data experts at Semrush surveyed 350 marketers globally to find that a "how-to" guide is the most effective lead-gen tool. But a how-to guide doesn't have to be a blog; it can be an email, a social post, or even a video.
In the same survey, it was found that 87% of marketers create content for different customer journey stages.
What a customer journey might look like for a small business depends on the type of business you're running. For example, it's common for realtors to take a video-first approach to marketing.
A video-first strategy involves storytelling through video as the first line of offense. When a realtor wants to put out feelers for potential clients, they might post a video tour of the interior of a house rather than a 1000-word blog about home decor. This can all be done organically, meaning a marketer doesn't necessarily need to push money behind the content. However, there are times when paid ads are a wise investment.
When to invest in paid ads
It can seem too good to be true — how is it that one can buy an audience and consumer interest? Paid ads can and do work, but it's not a magic ticket to success.
If you're just starting and trying to grow an audience, it's best to focus on organically growing your brand. If you don't know who to target, paid ads could waste time and money.
Without adequate consumer data, your paid ads won't reach a specific targeted audience; what adds to the difficulty of data gathering is that privacy laws are always changing. The good news is that with a content funnel, you'll learn through metrics like changes in CTR (click-through-rate) and ROI (return on investment) what types of content draw in consumers without spending money on paid ads.
Within the content funnel are both inbound and outbound marketing tactics, wherein the former relies on drawing audiences in, usually through content, while the latter involves direct outreach to potential customers.
Start the process of digital transformation
The content funnel and digital marketing are peas in a pod. An innovative, strategic approach to content will help you drive your business into the digital sphere and reach a huge audience of new potential customers.
Traditional marketing methods have fallen out of popularity in light of a growing digital landscape, a change driven not by marketers but by consumers. While this doesn't mean that traditional forms of media like print marketing are dead, the space for competition within the advertising world is expanding rapidly with the shift towards digital transformation.
Suppose you own a business of any size in 2022 and beyond. In that case, digital marketing (and transformation) will be necessary to reach your desired audience and maximize your business's advertising potential.