Customers at the top of today’s sales funnels are invisible to businesses, researching, reading, and evaluating companies without ever picking up the phone. The sales funnel itself has started to look less like a well-defined funnel and more like a maze full of possible touch-points. And marketing—particularly content marketing—has a larger share of that sales funnel than ever before.
So what does this mean for content creators? How do we adapt to the changing sales funnel? How do we engage, inform, and entertain our invisible audiences, turning them into visible leads?
At least part of the answer to that question is addressing each stage of your sales funnel with consistent, quality content that focuses on your users and what they need at each stage of the buying process.
Pause for a moment and think about that:
If we want to turn invisible audiences into visible leads we’ll need to:
- Address each stage of our sales funnel with consistent, quality content
- Focus on users and what they need at each stage
Thinking about our audiences in stages
When you start a content marketing project, it’s important to know who your target audiences are. If your audience is web-savvy moms of toddlers, you need to understand and write for web-savvy moms of toddlers. If your primary audience is retirees, you need to understand and write for retirees.
But in addition to knowing who the target market is, it’s also important to know how that target market feels and what they need at each stage of your sales funnel. The top of the sales funnel, for example, is probably full of people who don’t know or trust you yet. Depending on your industry, product, reputation, etc., these top-funnel prospects might be curious, excited, hesitant, or suspicious of you right from the start. And you’ll want these prospects’ first impressions of you to build that curiosity, feed that excitement, calm those hesitations, or build trust respectively.
And as those emotions and needs shift throughout the buying process, content should shift with them. If the middle of your sales funnel is full of anxious, hurried customers, your content will look different than if your middle-funnel customers are feeling inquisitive and relaxed.
So, how can you make those content shifts throughout your sales funnel?
First, you have to know what your customers are feeling, which means putting some up-front thought, strategy, and research into your content marketing for every stage of your sales funnel.
Today’s homework: lay a foundation for funnel-focused content
Here’s a little exercise that will help you lay a foundation for content that reaches people at each stage in your buying cycle:
- Grab other sales and marketing professionals from your team and set aside an hour and a white board.
- On one side of the white board, write the stages in your sales process.
- On the other side of the board, connected to each stage, start to describe your target market.
What is their emotional state at this stage in the process?
What are their most pressing questions at this stage in the process?
What is the step they need to take to get from this stage to the next?
To really dig deep with this, you’ll want some user research, personas, and content strategy—and we definitely recommend those things, but even without the in-depth strategic foundation, this exercise can be eye-opening and wildly useful.
So, what are you waiting for? Toss it up on the calendar.
Content experts talk about the top of the funnel
Not tired of me yet? Want a little more insight on the top of the funnel? Check out our interviews with content marketing experts below or download our free eBook.
Have an insight of your own?
We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments!