Let’s be honest with each other. As much as we value our customers, services, and products, we still need to please the bottom line. This is where conversion strategy comes into play. In a previous post, I pointed out that successful online businesses create content that speaks to customers at all stages of the sales funnel. Today we’ll deconstruct the sales funnel, identify the best stage-appropriate forms of content, and use this information to increase conversions.
Why Does It Matter?
Good question. Creating content for customers transitioning through the sales funnel helps them get on the fast track to taking action. Simply put, neglecting to connect with readers at each crucial stage will cost your business potential sales. By paying special attention to the needs of customers at each stage of the funnel, we’re able to develop a variety of content designed to exceed those needs and help them take the next step.
Not All Sales Funnels Are Equal
Before reviewing each stage, it’s necessary to note that not all sales funnels are equal. It’s likely that you’ll need to create a funnel designed specifically for each of your business’ buyer personas. Don’t make the assumption that every customer wants or needs the same thing – it’s a mistake that will inevitably alienate other customers and, before you know it, you’ll be talking yourself out of a sale.
Instead, create custom sales funnels based on each buyer persona and answer the following questions.
- Why do customers come to my website?
- Why do they stay?
- Why do they take action (subscribe, contact, and purchase)?
- Why do they come back?
A Buyer’s State of Mind
To properly map the buyer’s journey, it makes sense that we need to delve into the buyer’s state of mind. Without taking this step, we have no way of knowing why a particular piece of content performed well (or not at all). Gigi Griffis at Kapost wrote an interesting article about mapping the sales funnel. In it, she introduces the need to assess a reader’s goals, needs, and desires when developing. Specifically, each buyer persona should detail the buyer’s emotional state, their individual characteristics, and their goals when viewing content. These are key factors to keep in mind as we travel through the sales funnel and back.
The Break Down
A very basic sales funnel typically has three sections: a beginning, middle, and an end. At each stage, brands need to develop an appropriate call to action. Obviously, you’re not going urge a brand new customer to “buy now” – they’re not ready for it. But, you might request they visit your blog or subscribe to your email newsletter.
Similarly, loyal customers have probably already seen your blog, but have they left a review or provided feedback? Before we proceed, take a look at the following sales funnel and think about the most appropriate call to action for each section.
The Beginning: Awareness
I call the beginning of the funnel the “Curious George” stage. It’s your brand’s opportunity to convince a passerby to “stop on in” to your virtual marketplace. Since the beginning of the funnel serves as your brand’s “customer vacuum” – aiming to grab as many customers as possible – making a variety of content available for consumption is a top priority.
For customers who either don’t know you exist or simply don’t care yet, the following types of content provide a good brand introduction.
- Press releases
- Social media content
- Guest blogs
At this stage, the goal is to reach as many potential customers as possible with content related to your brand. Publishing press releases about company-specific news is a good way to start, but ongoing lead generation and brand awareness will only occur with a steady mix of content platforms.
Learn where your customers “live” online. Do they use Facebook or LinkedIn, or visit YouTube frequently? Are they likely to engage with your content on social media or do they prefer to visit blogs? Where do they look first for information? What are they looking for, and how will your brand fill that need? By answering these questions, you can begin to strategically place your content in front of your ideal customer and pique curiosity about your brand.
The Middle: Interest
Sadly, the middle of the sales funnel is commonly ignored when creating content. These are the readers who have absorbed your content, but still aren’t sure about your brand. Neglecting this segment of your audience is a very costly mistake. It’s here that customers begin to make conscious decisions about your brand, weigh their options, and choose whether they will take that all-important next step. If you want to improve your odds of turning these customers into brand advocates, you need content created specifically for those in the middle of the funnel, such as:
- Case studies
- In-depth articles
- Email content
Meatier, in-depth content is valuable content. It demonstrates your brand’s authority, provides readers with helpful information, and encourages them to further engage with your brand. This content acts as the “clincher” for readers as it inspires them to take action and become more committed.
The End: Action
In the action stage, otherwise known as the end of the funnel, your brand’s content needs to provide customers with the information needed to solidify your company’s value in a reader’s mind. It’s in this stage that brands are able to truly shine by communicating quality and value. By incorporating the following types of content, brands provide customers with a one-of-a-kind user experience guaranteed to keep them coming back for more.
- Product or service reviews
- Product descriptions
- Comparison charts
Basically, this content provides customers with the information needed to further interact with your brand and become loyal brand advocates. Once a customer completes the action stage, however, your work is far from over.
Once your brand has a new fan, you’ve got to treat them right if you expect to keep them. After all, customers have a variety of options when looking for products or services. If they’ve chosen to invest in your brand, you need to show heartfelt appreciation. Consider sending a thank you note, making a phone call, or requesting feedback from your customer. This extra dose of love will make an impactful impression likely to be shared with your customer’s friends and family. As a bonus, you’ll receive valuable feedback and testimonials, which can further promote your brand, generate leads, and increase conversions.
Do you have advice for reaching customers throughout the sales funnel? Share it with us!
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