The Content Funnel: How to target customers with the right content at the right time

by Stratton Craig

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In 2015, the Content Marketing Institute discovered that despite 76% of B2C marketers reporting that they used content marketing, only 37% said their strategy was effective. And the story was no different for B2B marketers, with less than half (44%) claiming they had no clarity in what effective content marketing looks like. This was not ideal, considering successful content marketing is the gateway to high levels of consumer engagement; something which the Content Marketing Institute claim was cited the most (91%) by businesses talking about their goals.
With this in mind, this blog post focuses on the effectiveness of the Content Funnel; a five-stage concept which will help you to deliver the right level of content at the right time to prospective customers, who, if all goes to plan, will turn into loyal customers. Here’s how it works… (and for the purpose of demonstration, let’s call our prospective customer Dave.)
Step one: getting potential customers ‘on the radar’
Step one is all about AWARENESS.
Dave is interested in buying a brand-new TV. Having gained a general idea about the features he wants, he’s landed on your website. Determined not to miss out on your latest deals, Dave subscribes to your mailing list and likes your Facebook page.
That’s it, you’ve got him – stage one is complete.
Step one content:
Once a prospective customer is on your radar, it’s time to create content that feeds the spark and continues to engage the customer without forcing a sale (that’ll come naturally later).
Warm welcome emails work well if they include lots of calls to actions, or perhaps you could extend a special offer across social media.
Step two: The ‘toying with the idea’ phase
Step two is the CONSIDERATION stage.
Dave has found the perfect TV on your website but it’s expensive; can he justify exceeding his budget for a few extra features and screen inches?
Luckily for you, Dave has been actively trying to learn more about your business and has concluded that you are a trustworthy brand which clearly knows its stuff.
Step two content:
The reason Dave concludes you’re clued up about the TV industry is because of your Q&A pages, blog posts, product highlight videos and detailed product descriptions.
When your customer hits step two, this is the ideal time to consider voucher codes and offers, as long as you’re not overdoing it and coming across too forceful. It’s also a really good time to think about customer reviews and how best to use them – in many cases it’s simply about giving potential customers access to all customer reviews, and making sure you’re responding to them in a manner that’s on brand.
Step three: ‘The moment of truth’
Step three is the DECISION.
Dave has used the information he’s gathered in the first two stages of his journey to decide that, indeed, it is the TV he’d like to purchase.
Step three content:
Although you’ve successfully gained a new customer, your content shouldn’t stop providing value after the purchase is made.
Instead, you should use content to help your new customer get the most out of their new product/service e.g. through case studies, ‘how-to’ videos, testimonials and best practice guides etc.
Step four: ‘Make it or break it’
Step four is known as the POST-PURCHASE stage.
It’s been a few weeks since Dave’s purchase but he still regularly checks your social media pages and reads your email newsletters. When he was reading through your latest posts, he spotted a DVD player which he would like to purchase.
Thanks to engaging in regular content, Dave isn’t considered a ‘one-time purchaser’, he’s in fact turned into a frequent customer or repeat buyer.
Step four content:
The post-purchase stage is the vital opportunity to connect with your audience and keep them interested in your brand. It’s all about becoming a resource in your marketplace through leadership pieces, newsletters, webinars and frequent social media posts, so that consumers stay engaged and in turn make more purchases from your brand.
Step five: Rekindle!
Step five is when the dreaded DORMANCY occurs.
Time has passed and Dave has lost touch with your brand. The emails are no longer of interest and have sometimes made their way into Dave’s spam folder. You’re no longer top of Dave’s mind when it comes to electronic goods.
This situation is far from ideal – especially since you were so successful in engaging with Dave in the right ways throughout the previous four stages; it’s time to win him back!
Step five content:
To rekindle with previous customers, you need to examine your buyers’ preferences and purchasing behaviours to review any changes. It’s then time to reword, restructure or revitalise your content to ensure you’re offering new value.
Make sure your content is current and relatable and then it’s time to begin the whole cycle again with brand-new prospective customers. Now you now the steps, getting cracking on your content planning.

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