The content marketing funnel is the process of creating a long-term relationship with your customers. In this post, we’ll walk you through the steps of building a content marketing funnel, so you can see how it’s done and apply it to your own business.
In the simplest form, it is any model that attempts to describe the steps a person takes on their way to becoming a customer. The problem with this simple description is that it leaves out what makes the content marketing funnel so powerful, which is the “marketing” part of it.
In other words, it describes how you target and convert your prospects by using various forms of digital content. If you want to market your digital content effectively and efficiently, then understanding the process can help you do that.
Content Marketing Funnel ToC
- Marketing funnel
- The social media marketing funnel
- Content marketing funnel
- Email marketing funnel
- Top of the funnel marketing
- eCommerce marketing funnel
Stages in the content marketing funnel
Top of the Funnel Content
People who are at the top of the funnel will be starting their buyer’s journey. The top of the funnel is also sometimes referred to as the awareness phase or stage. The goal here is to get people who have never heard of your brand to become aware of it.
Content that you create in this phase should be educational and entertaining, without being pushy. For example, if you run a fitness blog, you might write an article on the benefits of exercise and how they can improve one’s overall health. You wouldn’t want to promote your exercise equipment brand yet because your readers aren’t ready for that information just yet.
Top of funnel content can include:
The top of the funnel is also known as awareness.
The top of the funnel is also known as awareness. It’s where you get more people to find your brand. The purpose of the top of the funnel is to generate interest about your brand.
At this stage, you want people who are looking for solutions similar to yours but don’t necessarily know about your specific product or service.
A blog is a great place to demonstrate yourself as thought leaders in your industry and show off how much you know about your products and services.
Videos are a great way to demonstrate your company culture, promote your business, explain your product, and tell a story. Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
If you have a business that does its own manufacturing (like our client Gilded), it can be useful for potential customers to see the space where the magic happens. If you make unique products, this is also an opportunity to show off why they’re special — maybe there’s a secret ingredient or specialized technique involved. This strategy has worked wonders for companies that sell handmade goods on Etsy and other marketplaces. And if you want potential candidates to see what they’d be working with if they chose to apply at your company, videos can be a great way to do that too!
Remember when I mentioned how important it was for people to know who they were buying from? That applies here as well! Behind-the-scenes footage is one of the best ways for prospective clients and customers to get a feel for what it would actually be like to work with you or buy from you — especially if you do something independently creative or artisanal like Gilded does. Videos are also great for showing off your company culture: what kind of values does your business stand for? What makes you different from or better than other businesses in your industry? The possibilities here are endless!
Quizzes and polls
Acquiring new customers is a lot easier when you know exactly where to find them. The Top of the Funnel content that you create for your brand is what helps attract leads at the start of their journey. And even if your business’ TOFU efforts don’t result in conversions right away, they can still be very useful in helping to nurture leads through the middle and bottom of the funnel later on down the line.
But getting web traffic to your website can sometimes be tough. If you want to drive more people to your TOFU content, there are two types of posts in particular that you should consider using: quizzes and polls.
An infographic is a visual representation of any topic, created to improve understanding and convey information more effectively. Infographics can be used in all types of content marketing, including blog posts, social media, and email, but they are especially effective on social media. Because an image is easier to process than text-heavy content, infographics make it easy for your audience to understand the message you’re trying to get across.
Because an infographic is more easily digested than other types of content (and often easy on the eye), they are also more likely to be shared across social networks like Pinterest or Twitter. This helps readers find you organically and boosts your credibility as a source of information
Social media posts
Social media posts are a great way to get your content out to a large audience. Think about it: how often do you quickly scan through social media? How often do you share a post with someone else?
It’s easy for people to scroll through and share social media posts, which is why it’s essential that every marketer has some kind of presence on social media. From Facebook to Twitter, from LinkedIn to Pinterest, from TikTok to Clubhouse—get on as many platforms as possible, and post regularly. As we’ll discuss in detail later, the more places your content lives online, the better it will be at getting found by people searching for related topics.
The posts themselves can take any number of forms, too. They can be text-based (like this article), or they can consist entirely of images or videos or audio clips like podcasts. There really aren’t any limits!
Types of content at the top of the funnel
The top of the content funnel is where awareness is built. At the top of the funnel (TOFU), you are casting a wide net over your target audience, which means that the content created at this stage will be more general and broad-based in nature.
According to Rock Content’s educational platform, Rock University, there are three types of content that fit perfectly into this phase:
What is the Middle of the Content Funnel?
Middle of the funnel (MOFU) content is a key part of the customer journey and is about creating relevant, actionable content to guide prospects further along in their buying journey.
Not sure what middle of the funnel content is? Simple: it’s an umbrella term for any content that aims to establish your company as a thought leader, draw prospects in further, and help them move onto the next step in the customer journey.
“Okay, so what does that mean?” you might be asking.
Middle of the funnel content comes in many shapes and sizes. It could mean blog articles or website pages full of useful tips and tricks, infographics or eBooks with industry-related data, whitepapers or case studies that show off your expertise—even videos and webinars are other examples of MOFU assets.
The point is to create helpful content that leads potential customers one step closer to making a purchasing decision.
MOFU content is all about educating your ideal prospects with content that meets them where they are and provides information they need to make a purchase decision.
Examples of the Middle of the funnel in content marketing
Retargeting is a type of marketing that shows ads to people who have visited your site or app before. With retargeting campaigns, you can reach out to customers who have expressed an interest in your product or service but did not make a purchase at that time. You can further target them with e-books, whitepapers, webinars, etc.
The first step of retargeting is collecting customer data from your website analytics. This can help you identify which visitors are most likely to convert into buyers and target them with ads accordingly. To do this, you’ll need a list of people who have visited your website within the last 30 days (or any period determined by the length of time in which they will be willing enough to view these advertisements).
Blog content that is focused on exploring the solution to a problem
As you’re starting to explore the solution, you can write blog content that is focused on exploring the solution to a problem. You’ll want to keep it short and sweet—if you are writing content less than 1,000 words long, this is your best bet for most people. This type of content will help educate your audience about what they need and why they need it. It also gives them a glimpse into how you might be able to help them solve their problems.
You can use these blog posts as landing pages for ads or even create an entirely new website just for this kind of content. For example:
Editorial content (e.g. TV commercials, newspaper ads, etc.)
The value proposition is the problem you solve, and it’s a basic requirement for any business. You can think of the value proposition as “the reason why people should buy your product.” It’s what sets you apart from competitors and makes people want to buy from you instead of them.
The best way to describe the value proposition is by using an example: Let’s say that you own a jewelry store with diamond rings in stock that cost $10,000 each. Your business has several competitors who sell similar diamonds at lower prices.
In order to differentiate yourself from these other stores (and sell more rings), one thing that might help would be if someone were writing articles about how diamonds are actually worth only $5,000—from an expert source such as Forbes Magazine—and publishing them on their website or social media platforms regularly over time before Christmas season starts when demand for engagement rings goes up significantly everywhere around the world!
Live or recorded webinars
You can run webinars using tools like GoToWebinar, WebinarJam, and Zoom. These tools will help you run live or recorded webinars where you can share educational content with prospects who are interested in learning more about your services.
- They offer a low-cost way to reach prospects who are actively looking for information on your subject matter expertise
- You can gauge interest by asking people to provide their email address when they sign up for the webinar (if there’s no interest, then don’t waste time putting together a presentation)
- It gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself and build rapport with potential clients
What is the Bottom of the Content Funnel?
The bottom of the funnel consists of prospects who have already passed through the top and middle.
The BOTCF consists of prospects who have already passed through the top and middle. These are people who are ready to buy. They know enough about you to feel comfortable with their decision and are ready to take action. The main task of this stage is to convert them into buyers.
The main task of this stage is to turn them into buyers by offering the final steps on their path to the purchase, such as pre-order forms, discounts, or other incentives.
People are coming to the bottom of your content funnel because they’re ready to purchase. The main task of this stage is to turn them into buyers by offering the final steps on their path to the purchase, such as pre-order forms, discounts, or other incentives.
Pre-order forms are a straightforward way for visitors on your site to let you know that they’re interested in purchasing what you have. Discounts and incentives are ways for companies to entice customers who may be still deciding whether or not to make a purchase. Examples of incentives include free shipping or pay-one-get-one deals. The path to purchase refers to the steps users take before making a decision about buying what you’re selling (using Google search, going through product reviews, etc.). The importance of the path to purchase is that it informs how you should present your product and what offers would be most effective at turning a prospect into a buyer.
Slideshare, webinars and guides are great for informing people about products or services, but sometimes people need to actually see examples of what you’re talking about in order to move forward.
Designed to help customers make an informed decision, content that goes into the bottom of the funnel is typically used by people who are close to making a purchase. At this point in the sales journey, your prospects need to see what you mean, they’re not going to want you telling them. It’s up to you as a marketer or business owner to provide content that helps these customers make their decisions.
Video as an example.
Video content is a great way to demonstrate a product or service for customers at a final purchase stage.
- Video content is a great use for bottom of the funnel. If you have a product or service that can be demonstrated in video, you can use videos to show your customers how it works and answer any final questions they may have. For example, if your company sells a new type of blender, you could make an instructional video showing customers how to set up the blender and use it to make smoothies.
- You can also use video content as a way to keep customers engaged during the sales process. For example, if your company sells software to help people organize their finances and you are writing articles about budgeting, you can post videos on social media showing people how to create budgets with your software.
How to Build a Content Funnel that Works?
Set a clear goal.
As in many aspects of life, the most important step is to define the problem before you look for a solution. You need to be clear about what you want to achieve with your content strategy, as well as how you’re going to measure your success. Not sure where to start? Here are some general rules for setting goals:
Identify your buyer persona(s)
It’s not enough to identify your audience. You also need to know where they are in the buyer’s journey. A single piece of content can take a reader from one stage of the journey to the next, but you have to know where your reader is before you can get them there.
There are three stages in the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration and decision. Your audience will progress through these stages until they make a purchase or abandon their quest. You probably already have an idea of which stage is most important for your product or service, but it’s helpful to go over what each stage represents and how it affects the content you create.
Create an offer and landing page
The next step is to create offers and landing pages for each stage of the funnel.
We recommend using a different offer and landing page for each stage of the content funnel. This will give you the opportunity to build trust with new subscribers and then later use that trust to sell your product or service.
Choose strategies to drive traffic
Once you’re ready to start promoting, there are plenty of options for getting traffic to your funnel. Here are a few strategies you can use:
Track and measure results.
Once you’ve built your funnel and implemented it, the next step is to measure how it performs. To do this, we’ll need to define what results in it should achieve, choose a tool to track those results, then analyze and optimize them. First, let’s talk about defining the measurement goals.
The most important thing is that you’re measuring something that will help you move towards your actual business goals. If you just started a new startup selling dog collars for $40 each, and your goal is to sell 100 of those dog collars in the first month after launching your product page online, then traffic volume (the number of people who visit your website) isn’t all that useful to know—you want to know how many of those people are buying dog collars from you. When starting out with content marketing for a new product or service offering for the first time or for an established business reaching a new audience with content marketing for the first time, one measurement goal should be centered on measuring sales volume itself: How many people are responding to the content they see by buying something?
Use these tools to build a content marketing funnel
The best way to manage your content funnel is to let data guide your decisions. Tools like Google Analytics can give you a wide variety of insights into which content is performing well and where there might be room for improvement. You can also use tools that show where people are clicking on your website—like heat maps—so you know exactly which areas of your page are most effective. If you have some pages with low organic traffic, consider using pop-ups to drive more leads and get people moving through the sales funnel faster.
You should also keep in mind what kind of content will work best at each stage. For example, when someone is browsing a site, they’re not quite ready to buy but want to learn more about the company and get a sense of its brand identity. At this point, blog posts that offer tips or advice could be useful; alternatively, an infographic might be an effective alternative if it conveys the right information in a visually appealing way.
Connecting Content Marketing Through the Funnel
Measure to understand how people move through the funnel.
The best way to understand how people move through the funnel is to measure how they move through your site.
You can use tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and custom-made analytics dashboards—as well as A/B testing software—to measure things like: How much traffic your website gets What content gets the most traffic Where the traffic is coming from (including by geographic region) What content leads to conversions How long it takes for someone to convert Which paid search keywords convert at the highest rate
Personalize for each stage of the funnel.
Personalizing content for each stage in the funnel is more effective than generalized messaging. The most basic way to personalize content is through segmenting buyers into different lists, then creating content that speaks directly to each buyer persona.
For example, if you’re a gym owner, your top-of-funnel buyers are those who have expressed interest in joining your gym but haven’t taken any action yet. Your middle-of-funnel prospects are individuals who signed up for your introductory offer or free trial, and they’re currently considering their options. Then you have bottom-of-funnel prospects who are interested in purchasing a membership from you but need more information before making a decision.
You could create content specifically for each type of prospect using the following messaging:
Use a diverse content strategy.
It is important to have a diverse content strategy as this allows you to reach your audience at various stages in the buying process. Your content should meet your audience where they are and how they want to interact with you. There will be times when a blog post or a video on YouTube will work better than an email, but there will also be times when an email or a Facebook post will do the trick.
Content marketing requires strategy and research in order to hit the mark. You need to know what kind of content you need, who it is for, what type of content works best for that audience at that stage in their journey, what types of content you have already produced, and what types of content can actually be created by your team given the resources and time available.
Keep it simple
The moral of the story? Keep it simple. Your content isn’t going to resonate with every person and in every stage of the funnel. The best you can do is keep your messaging as consistent as possible while tailoring it to fit a few different audiences.
When you’re thinking about how to engage with people in every stage, don’t overthink it—there truly is no right answer! Do your best, then ask for feedback and adjust accordingly. If you have a hunch that something will work and you want to give it a shot, don’t let anyone stop you!
Don’t just promote your blog or white paper.
Marketers who want to share their content with the world shouldn’t just promote their blog or white paper. They should use a variety of formats to connect content at different stages of the funnel.
Some formats, like videos and case studies, can help prospects see results from your product and how it solves a need they may have. Other formats, like infographics and e-books, are great for educating people about a new market or jumpstarting research about an industry problem you can solve. You’ll need to create a content strategy as diverse as your audience — so your efforts will always be both relevant and impactful.
It’s also important that whatever you create is valuable: Make sure it’s consistent in tone and quality across all channels, including social media where you engage with prospects directly.
Prioritize content quality over quantity
Quality is always more important than quantity. Your readers are smart and will recognize when your content is helpful, so you can’t hide behind a facade of constant publishing. But it’s also important for them to have a variety of content, so they don’t get bored with your writing style or the types of posts you provide. For example, if all you ever do is write blog posts like this one, they’ll begin to feel repetitive and readers may start to lose interest.
However, it’s not enough just to throw low-quality content out into the world at random intervals–you need to create high-quality content on a consistent basis in order to keep your readers engaged and interested in what you have to say!
First, let’s get a basic understanding of what we mean when we say storytelling.
Storytelling is the practice of sharing information through an engaging narrative that readers can relate to and respond well to…There are many reasons why storytelling is such a powerful tool for content marketers. Stories are engaging because they appeal to our emotions. Because most people respond to stories much better than other forms of content, stories help marketers hold the attention of their audience and get them more excited about their message.
In addition, stories help people relate to the content better than simple facts and statistics. By telling a story about a customer or client who has used your products or services, you allow your target market to imagine themselves in that person’s situation and see how they could be helped by your solution as well…