The Marketing Funnel

The Marketing Funnel and How to Map Content to It

The marketing funnel and purchasing cycle:

In our earlier blog we discussed the marketing funnel, and how the wheels of the buying cycle turn:

There is an awareness of a need/problem à then an exploration of options to satisfy that need or solve the problem à an assessment of the various solutions and their potential risks à a decision on what the best solution is à action taken to acquire the solution/product à an observation of the results produced with this solution.

If the results aren’t satisfactory, then the cycle is repeated from the second step – assessment of various solutions. If the results are satisfactory, then the same solution is sought every time. Moreover, the new buyer now becomes an ambassador for this solution.

 

The mistakes made that compromise lead conversions:

Most businesses and all marketers are familiar with this purchasing process, and how the marketing funnel works. However, in the content-creation process, how many of them actually put this knowledge to practical use and cater to the people in different segments of the funnel? Many businesses complain of having excellent products or excellent marketing content, but they aren’t able to drive conversions.

This is usually because either all the content is aimed at only one segment of the marketing funnel, or the right piece of content isn’t being presented to the shopper at the appropriate time during their buying cycle. And therein lies the solution to the problem: creating content that engages potential customers at the various different stages of the purchasing journey.

 

The flow of customers through the sales funnel:

It’s important to understand how customers come in through the marketing or sales funnel to be able to understand how to target them with the right content.

 

(This model is the basic foundation for the various versions and derivations of the marketing funnel.)

However, don’t be fooled into thinking that the flow of customers through this funnel is linear – going neatly from awareness to action. While it would be easy if a customer entered through the top of the funnel (TOFU) and moved through the stages, you will usually find people entering from different places and then moving back up or downward. There can be two reasons for this – 1. They accidentally discovered you at a further stage of the funnel, realised your relevance to their need, and then went back to understand what you are, or 2. They are already in a different stage of the buying cycle and it isn’t necessary for them to go through the earlier segments.

 

Prepping:

Before you jump into tailoring your content, you first need to detail your buyer persona right. This is a mandatory step because if you don’t know your audience, you can neither create targeted content for them, nor will you be able to craft the right kind of messaging to help them move down the tunnel.

You can start with the demographics to get a broad outline. Then put down the answers to all the wh-questions – who, what, why, when, where etc. By doing this you understand what their problem is, and what they are looking for. It helps research and explore the ethnic, demographical, business and digital ethos that dictate buying behaviours. This data is collaborated to understand who your actual buyers are and to model who your ideal buyer will be. (This is not fictional but archetypal.)

 

MAPPING CONTENT TO YOUR MARKETING FUNNEL:

Basically this means how much content you will create for each segment of the funnel to allow for customers to enter in at any point and still be led to the bottom of the funnel.

Ideally the top-of-the-funnel (TOFU), which is the awareness stage, has the highest volume of content but is comparatively the least in value. Content at the middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) – the consideration stage – has less volume but a little more value that at the TOFU level. And finally, the content at the bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) – the decision making stage – has the least amount of content but the highest in value.

 

TOFU Content: the customer must discover your brand and learn about it

Typically, this segment of the funnel would have the following types of content:

  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Social media posts
  • Podcasts
  • Guides

How you pick the content format from this list must be dictated by the what message you are going to send to the people in this section of the funnel. People who flow in at this level could be unaware of their pain point, just recently aware of their pain point, or becoming aware that there are solutions to solve their problem.

So the messaging points your content here should have will:

  • Broadly relate to the audience’s interest
  • Address a potential pain point
  • Address specific problems your product solves
  • Teach them how to solve their problem
  • Address your product category directly
  • Show customers what they should look for in a solution
  • Position your product against other competitors

As you can see, all of this content informs the discovery process of the customer.

 

MOFU Content: the customer must be convinced that your solution is the best

Typically, this segment of the funnel would have the following types of content:

  • Landing pages
  • Case studies
  • Whitepapers
  • E-books
  • Product videos
  • Demos
  • Trials

At this point in the funnel, customers are now aware of your product as one of the solution options. You are on trial as they are comparing the potential solutions and considering the best one to zero in on.

The messaging points at this juncture will revolve around:

  • Showing them how your product works
  • Directly positioning your product as the solution to their problem
  • Emphasizing your USP and other aspects that make you stand apart from other solutions

The messaging you want to convey to them must reinforce your brand as the best answer among the rest of the solutions available in the market.

 

BOFU Content: the customer must be ready to convert into your buyer

Typically, this segment of the funnel would have the following types of content:

  • E-mail marketing
  • Pricing page
  • Sales page / offers
  • Free consultation / free trial
  • Testimonials
  • Reviews
  • Membership / loyalty programs
  • Customer specials

At this juncture, your customer has turned into a lead, and just needs a gentle nudge to convert. They are fully aware of your product and solution, and how it can help their pain point. They are purchase ready. They just need to figure out the best plan for their budget.

The messaging points you will focus on here are:

  • Providing in-depth information about the workings of your product
  • Explaining different pricing options
  • Including feedback from precious users of your product

The content in this segment reaffirms their decision in picking you, and reinforces trust in your brand.

 

 

 

Fixing the content gap in your marketing funnel:

Now that you understand what kind of content and messaging should go into which segment of the marketing funnel, you can now figure out where you have content gaps.

You can sort out all your content pieces using the information discussed earlier. You could either use a calendar scheduling software or just a simple excel sheet for this. Mark the different stages of the funnel and segregate the content pieces under each stage – TOFU, MOFU or BOFU. You could further subdivide the main segments to fine tune the content distribution across the funnel. (You could take it a step further and include the piece’s URL and date of being published, too.) You could also sort content using colour codes.

Once you have your content segmented properly, you will be able to identify where the gaps are. The visual representation easily indicates where there is redundant or insufficient content in any section. Based on this, you can create a content calendar to bring it to balance.

 

Go create fabulous, well-targeted content for any phase of the funnel!

Now that you understand the marketing funnel and how to register content to it, your content strategy will be more organised and effective. This means the right content will be reaching the right audience at the right time! And that inevitably translates into better ROI!

 

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