Want to get more high quality opportunities for your sales team?
Duh, who wouldn’t?
The problem is, your sales team is over-extended and doesn’t have the time for more outbound strategies. And a website alone isn’t enough to generate a flow of high quality leads.
You need something more.
Enter the sales funnel.
In a nutshell, a sales funnel is a content system for attracting, nurturing, and converting leads into customers. The beauty of it is that it works in the background, while you and your team stay hard at work with your day-to-day tasks.
Phases of a sales funnel mirror the 4 stages of a buyer’s journey:
It’s likely that you and your team are already building strategies around each of these 4 stages. But are you using content to move prospects along in their buying journey?
- Did you know that content marketing generates 3x more leads and costs 62% less than outbound marketing?
- And according to this study, 67% of respondents said they rely even more on content to research and inform purchase decisions than they did in prior years.
Modern customers are savvy, and as you can see from these stats, they’re moving from phase to phase of the buyer’s journey via content — now more than ever.
But if the content you create is going to move people toward a sale, it has to be intentional and match the phase of the journey they are in. Content has to answer a prospect’s deepest questions, solve problems for them, and position your brand as a trusted authority.
In this article, we’re going to discuss each stage of the sales funnel, and what prospects need in order to move on to the next stage. Hopefully, you walk away knowing how to create irresistible content for every stage of your sales funnel.
“Most prospects aren’t ready to ‘marry’ you right away. Consider ‘courting’ them before you ask them to make a long term commitment to your brand.”
The Awareness phase, or “top of the funnel”, is where you catch a consumer’s attention by calling out the problems they are experiencing. Sometimes, you’re actually helping them find the words to describe the problems they don’t know how to describe.
Most of the time, consumers aren’t ready to buy at this stage, so consider it more like a courtship than a marriage.
Your Awareness content shouldn’t ask for a sale, but rather it should help them solve a problem, make their life easier, or just give tremendous value in some way.
By solving a problem for your ideal customers and empathizing with them in this content, you’ll effectively lead them to trust you enough to take the next step with your brand.
Here are a few examples of Awareness content that moves people to the Consideration phase.
Consistent blog content is one of the most valuable content that a brand can create to supplement it’s marketing efforts. But it’s important that blogs aren’t just “informational.” The purpose of the content that you churn out is to solve problems for people and establish your brand as a trusted leader in the space.
For creating blog topics, consider the questions that your ideal customers want answered, but don’t know the answers themselves. What are they searching for? What do they really want to know, as it pertains to your area of expertise? How can you help them solve a problem?
These are all questions that we ask ourselves when we are creating blog content for Knowmad or our clients.
Search Engine Marketing
Another crucial part of your “top of funnel” marketing strategy should be Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Your blog strategy goes hand in hand with your SEO strategy.
Your prospects are likely going to Google or Bing, looking for the very thing you offer. In order to be found by more people in their search queries, you must find favor in the eyes of the almighty search engines.
To do this, create content that answers big questions, then optimize it for search engines so it will show up when the question or topic is searched for.
When browsers find a high quality piece of content that you’ve created, it establishes trust in their eyes that you are a brand they can trust.
With 3.96 billion people worldwide on social media, this medium has become a highly effective tool for building an audience and establishing trust.
Though there are many social media platforms these days, and each of them are unique in their own ways, social content should follow a similar pattern as other Awareness stage content. Provide useful material that solves problems and establishes trust.
The beauty of social media, though, is that it gives us an opportunity to engage directly with people. Create content that meets people where they are, but also encourages them to engage with your brand.
Once a prospect has reached the Consideration stage of the buying journey, they have indicated that they trust your brand and they like what you have to say. You no longer need to convince them of these things, rather, your content should reaffirm it.
Great content at this point in the buyer’s journey continues to help them, affirm your expertise, and help them make informed decisions.
We still aren’t selling at this point. Just helping. People aren’t going to be persuaded to buy from you by strong-arm approaches anymore.
In Consideration phase content, it’s great to be clear about what your company does and the problem you solve, but mostly, continue to be the guide for your prospect.
The High-Value PDF
Often in the form of a whitepaper, e-book, or guide, these high value documents go deeper than blog posts, and provide a bit more insight or practical help than a blog would.
As the title here suggests, this content should be highly valuable in the eyes of the reader. This is where it is really helpful to understand your ideal clients, so you can create helpful content they’ll salivate over. Teach everything you know in these guides, they’re still going to need you at the end of the day.
Every year there’s a debate about whether email marketing is still relevant or not, but I assure you that it is alive and well. A consistent email strategy enables you to stay in touch with your prospects, provide value directly to their inbox, and paint pictures of success.
There are a myriad of different types of emails you can send, and by dropping value in your prospects’ inboxes consistently, you further affirm that trust they placed in you earlier. The more you can affirm their trust and be a valuable relationship for them, the greater your chances of nurturing them to a sale.
“The right message to the right people at the right time.”
Now that a prospect is very familiar with you and has been in your ecosystem for a while, they may be ready to make a decision. It’s time to start telling them more about how you can help them!
Great Decision stage content is still empathetic and helpful — your sales funnel content should never deviate from those guidelines. But now, it’s time for you to show what you can do for them, even show what you’ve already done for others like them.
The “bottom of funnel” content is all about delivering the right message at the right time.
Often, the FAQ pages are treated as an afterthought — I know I’ve been guilty of this! But if people are looking for answers to very specific questions they have about your product or service, they are likely very close to making a decision.
Treat your FAQ page as if it is a big deal, because it is. Think hard about the questions that your ideal customers would likely have for you face-to-face before they decide to do business with you. If you answer those questions successfully, you will help them overcome the last objections to doing business with you!
This might be one of our favorites here at Knowmad. We love to write case studies of our favorite projects with clients. Once prospects have grown to trust you and like hearing from you, they may still be a bit skeptical about whether you can deliver on your promises once they’ve committed to you.
How convenient that case studies are intended to do exactly this! A great case study highlights your success and allows you to show your customers how you can help them, rather than just telling them.
If successful, case studies will cause prospective customers to raise their hands and say, “I want those results, too!”.
At the final stage of a buyer’s journey, and the bottom of a sales funnel, lies the Action stage. Some marketers don’t include this stage and stop at the Decision stage, but I think that disregards critical final questions that a prospect may have: How does this product or service work? How much does it cost? How can I get it?
If you lead prospects to the 1 yard line, yet fail to answer their final questions, it would be pretty painful to watch them leave, in search of a competitor who can answer those imperative questions.
So, finally, your Action stage content should eliminate any last, hindering questions that a prospect might have before doing business with you. In this content, it’s important to clearly call them to action and lead them to the next step: a purchase.
A product demonstration video is one of your best sales tools. When your prospects are interested and curious, but hesitant, a demo video can be really effective at getting them over the hump.
A great product video piques interest, demonstrates proof, and combats concerns — all of which a hesitant prospect needs to become your next customer. Here’s a great resource from HubSpot outlining how to make a product video, along with a handful of really awesome examples!
By the time a prospect is ready to make a purchase, one of the last things they’ll double check is the price of the product or service they’re interested in. If your pricing page stinks, you’ll lose out on a good bit of revenue!
Here are some pointers for your pricing page: make the price clear, make the copy easy to understand, address fears and doubts, and last but not least, the most important part...call them to action!
With bottom-of-funnel content like this, your prospects are so close to buying. Make it super obvious how they are to take the next step with you, don’t assume that they will “automatically” know.
How about more sales conversations?
Now that we’ve discussed content for every stage of the sales funnel, I hope you can see the value that well-thought-out content brings to your sales and marketing approach.
The beauty of it all is that, when you’ve got these content funnels optimized and working in the background, they generate leads while you sleep.
Imagine growing your contact list, engaging more people, and getting more quality leads, without having to work double time!
A system of content that attracts, nurtures, and converts leads into customers could be your greatest ally and a key to taking your business to the next level.
We do sales funnels at Knowmad. If you’d like to learn more or discuss whether this approach is a good fit for your business, we’d love to chat with you.
Jeff is a StoryBrand Certified Guide, so he understands how to attract the right attention to your products and services using clear and effective communication. Jeff’s futuristic thinking makes him a strong visionary; he finds and is excited by the potential for growth in every brand.