What is a Content Marketing Funnel?
Content is a key part of marketing in today’s world, with 50% of businesses expecting increased content marketing spend in 2020. One important concept for content marketers is that of the content marketing funnel.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what a content marketing funnel is, why it’s so important, and how to build one.
What Is A Content Marketing Funnel?
A content marketing funnel is the process through which you use content to attract potential customers to your business and guide them towards becoming a buyer. You draw prospects in at the top of the funnel with informative and educational content and slowly guide them down towards the bottom with more focused content.
This process uses lots of different types of content, from blogs and videos to social media posts and emails.
Why Do You Need A Content Marketing Funnel?
If you don’t invest in a content marketing funnel, you’ll lose out to those businesses that do. They’ll rank higher in search engine results, reach far more of an audience, and ultimately gain more customers and make more money.
So how does a content marketing funnel work? We can break it down into four main stages.
The Stages of the Funnel
- Awareness — where you land on your audience’s radar and bring them to your content
- Interest — where you build interest in your brand and what you’re offering
- Decision — where you guide prospects through deciding to become a customer
- Action (Purchase) — the final nudge to become a buyer
We can divide these stages into three parts of the funnel: top, middle, and bottom. Here’s how that works.
The Top of the Funnel
This is where you’ll want to grab your visitor’s attention and build awareness with lots of accessible, engaging content. You should answer common questions, position your brand as a knowledgeable authority, and establish yourself as the go-to source in your industry.
At this stage B2B SEO is very important — you’ll want to focus on ranking high in search engine results so you’re the first website prospects see when they search for topics related to your industry. Aim to generate lots of traffic and views, and make sure you’re reaching the right demographics who are likely to eventually become customers.
Some common top-of-funnel types of content include:
- Blog posts
The Middle of the Funnel
At this stage, you’ve already caught the attention of many of your prospects and you now want to build interest in what you’re offering. Here, prospects are likely to be doing more specific research, trying to refine their knowledge in a specific area ahead of making a purchase.
Your goal here should be to convert followers into leads by giving them all the information they need to make a buying decision. Types of content to use are:
- More specific blog posts
- Case studies
This content can be used as lead magnets, which visitors can download in exchange for providing their email addresses. Once you have their emails, you can send lead nurture email sequences to your audience to give them even more personalized and targeted messaging ahead of their buying decision.
If you do this stage right with valuable and persuasive content, your leads will move to the bottom of the funnel where they’re ready to become a buyer.
The Bottom of the Funnel
The goal at this final stage is to give your leads the last nudge across the finish line to become a paying customer. This can be a difficult part to measure, but it’s a crucial part of the process. The content you use here will be more specific and sales-focused than at the other stages:
- Targeted emails
- Questionnaires and quizzes
- Calculators (e.g. ‘work out how much you could save’)
- Reviews and recommendations from other customers
The goal is to clearly show your leads what they stand to gain by becoming a customer and make this final decision as easy as possible for them.
Some General Tips
Get to Know your Audience
If you want to create a content funnel that makes an impact on your audience, it’s vital to understand them. Research shows that high-performing companies are 2.3 times more likely to research the drivers of their buyers than their competitors.
A good way to this is by creating buyer personas — 71% of companies that exceed revenue and lead goals have documented personas. Find out what kind of people your target customers are, what challenges they grapple with, what they desire, and what kind of message they might be likely to respond to.
You can do this by creating surveys, analyzing competitors, spending time on social media, and much more.
Use Multiple Channels
It stands to reason that the more channels you use, the more audience you will reach with your content funnel. This is especially important at the top of the funnel when you want to raise as much awareness as possible, but it matters at every stage.
It’s easy to do this by reusing content. For example, if you’ve created a blog post, you can share it on multiple social media channels and as part of an email campaign, as well as your company blog.
Track Metrics Closely
Keeping track of metrics like traffic, bounce rate, page views, social media shares, and many more will allow you to gain a clear picture of how well your content funnel is performing and quickly pinpoint any areas that need improvement.
Use platforms like Google Analytics and Ahrefs to closely monitor as many aspects of your content as possible, and make tweaks as needed to help it perform better.
How Can You Tell if Your Content Marketing is Successful?
Content marketing is incredibly important and can make the difference between a mediocre marketing strategy and a powerful one. However, in order to create content that fulfils your goals, it’s crucial to clearly monitor how well it’s working.
This is surprisingly uncommon. It’s thought that more than 50% of marketers have no idea or are unsure about how effective their content marketing is. That means learning to accurately measure the success of your content will put you ahead of the competition.
It can help you quickly identify issues, do more of what’s already working, and understand your audience better. Here’s how to do it.
Set Clear Goals
Before anything else, you need to define what ‘success’ means for your content marketing. This means taking the time to figure out some clear goals and think about what you want to achieve for your business as a whole. Some ideas could be:
- Gain lots of new customers
- Increase the presence and authority of your brand
- Increase the number of visitors who are engaged with your brand
- Drive more sales
Many of these goals relate to one another; for example, increasing engagement will likely lead to more sales if you have a well-built content marketing funnel.
Once you’ve decided on some goals, it’s time to work out what to measure.
Decide What to Measure
Traffic is an important metric because it shows how well your content is pulling in readers and building awareness of your business. Traffic alone doesn’t mean much, but it is an important stepping stone to growing an audience of engaged potential customers.
Platforms like Google Analytics and Ahrefs make it easy to track how many people are visiting your site each day and how this volume of traffic is changing over time. It can help you figure out which pages are generating attention and which ones are failing to do so, where your SEO is working, and what your audience is interested in.
As well as tracking raw numbers, it’s also important to look at where your traffic is coming from. Social media posts? Google search results? Links from other websites? This can help you better understand your audience and optimize your overall marketing strategy.
Not all leads are created equal. To get the most out of your content marketing efforts, you’ll want to attract leads with a good chance of becoming qualified and buying something. There are some good ways to measure this.
Traffic that goes to checkout pages can be safely assumed to be good quality leads. These visitors have taken the final step before making a purchase, so they’re probably very close to becoming buying customers if they haven’t already.
Pages with a low bounce rate and high conversion rate are also attracting good quality leads since the visitors are staying on the site and completing the desired action instead of leaving.
By looking at the types of pages that attract good quality leads, you can learn about who your ideal visitors are and what sort of content tends to draw them in. This helps you build your entire content marketing strategy more effectively.
Google Analytics can help you track which visitors turn into customers, which can help gain a clearer picture of which pieces of content are generating sales. A good metric to focus on here is assisted conversions.
This tracks the number of conversions that a given channel (such as paid ads or organic search) helped bring about. It’s another effective way to find out which channels and which content pieces are doing their job and leading to sales.
Exposure and Authority
It’s important to gain a rough idea of how many people are viewing your content and how well regarded your brand is. Obviously traffic can help with this goal to an extent, but there are other metrics you can track.
SEO rankings are a good indicator that your content is reaching its audience. Pages that rank high in Google’s results for a relevant search term are not only generating lots of traffic, but it’s also the right traffic from people who are actively seeking out the information.
Tools like Ahrefs can also help by assigning your site a Domain Authority score. This is a measure of how well-regarded your site is by Google, and means your links to other sites will be worth more from an SEO perspective.
Another thing to track here is inbound links. If lots of sites are linking to yours and bringing traffic with them, this shows that other websites consider your content valuable and worthy of sharing. This data can help you create more high authority content.
It’s all well and good ranking high in Google’s results and pulling in lots of traffic, but are your visitors actually engaging with your content, or are they just stopping by and quickly moving on?
Metrics like bounce rate, average session length, and pages per session in Google Analytics are all good indicators here. They can show you if visitors are spending a lot of time on your content and whether they’re using it as a springboard to the rest of your site, or leaving after the first page.
Another good way to measure engagement is via social media. Posts that visitors find engaging and valuable will likely result in more likes, shares, and comments compared to content that leaves visitors underwhelmed.
By carefully tracking these metrics it’s possible to see how well your content is aligning with your goals. This will help you make tweaks where necessary, learn more about the behaviour of your audience, and create more valuable, engaging, and effective content.
Building a successful content funnel takes some work and is an ongoing task, but it’s a crucial part of any marketing strategy and is well worth spending time on. To find out how 93X can help you with your funnel and many other aspects of B2B marketing, contact us today.