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How to Use Content Marketing to Fill Your Sales Funnel

September 25, 2019

Content marketing is not about doing another marketing campaign. It’s about creating a culture of using content to drive results that matter – results like traffic, leads and sales. Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs recently completed a study showing that 55% of the most successful B2B marketers surveyed said their content marketing budgets would increase in 2019 compared to 2018 – evidence that the content marketing train is still moving and building momentum.

Why does content marketing continue to grow in popularity? And why do we at Brandpoint place such high value on this strategy? Because good content marketing tactics affect all levels of the sales funnel and drive results.

As the Vice President of Sales at Brandpoint, I’ve seen firsthand how a steady flow of consistent and quality content can seamlessly move leads through the buyer’s journey.

So, what tactics work best for each level of the sales funnel and why?

Traffic generation

This portion of the funnel is all about casting a wide net and getting new prospects to want to learn more about your brand or business. These types of content pieces are designed to attract your potential target audience through search engines and social media channels. Casting this wide net will fill the top of your sales funnel and start the discovery process for your potential clients.

Types of content:

  • SEO-focused website content
  • Blog posts, on-site articles and resources
  • Infographics
  • Social media content

traffic generation example

This blog post by Moz appears when you search “best free SEO tools” — it’s lightly branded, of course, but it still offers helpful answers to the searcher’s query.

 

Prospect conversion

Taking your prospect to the next level and getting them to take action is the goal at this stage of your sales funnel. This content typically contains a strong call-to-action or is gated so that you can capture a potential client’s contact information.

Types of content:

  • Landing page copy and assets
  • Gated assets, like eBooks, checklists, templates or resources
  • Social media content

Lead generation

Qualified leads are a salesperson’s dream. At this stage of the sales funnel, you are looking to get just that.

Typically, a potential client who is showing interest in the content you are writing will need to provide contact information to download or receive the content. Creating content that your target audience wants will result in a better qualified lead and ultimately a happy client.

Types of content:

  • eBooks featuring more advanced, mid-funnel content
  • White papers
  • Email nurture content
  • Webinars and online courses

lead generation content

Here is an example of a free eBook we created used as a lead generation tool.

 

Customer acquisition

At this stage of the sales funnel your goal is to give the potential client information about your brand or business that will tell them why they should do business with you: Who are you and how will you solve my problem?

One thing to keep in mind is that not all leads are created equal. You may get some people who download an eBook and just want the info and have no interest in your product. However, you might see someone use your Contact Us form asking a very specific, product-focused question. Be ready with a lead scoring system to make sure prospects follow along their buyer’s journey at the pace they want.

This is the very bottom-of-the-funnel type of content that can be very branded and even promotional. This is also a great opportunity for you to upsell or cross-sell your potential client.

Types of content:

  • Blog posts with a strong CTA
  • On-page content that speaks to common sales objections
  • Newsletters
  • Email nurture content, either from marketing or an individual person from your company
    • Note: This can be a “created” person rather than a specific employee
  • Social media content, with focus on community and engagement

Customer retention

Now that you have acquired a new client, you must create content that will satisfy their need for information about your business. Here you can use content to turn your clients into brand advocates.

Maintaining a relationship with your client is a good idea for many reasons, and it’s an effective way to keep the marketing flywheel spinning. Happy, engaged clients will become influencers of sorts, leading to renewals, referrals and shared and earned media placements.

Types of content:

  • Blogs that include detailed, step-by-step instructions or answers to common struggles
  • Case study landing pages
  • FAQs or on-page glossaries
  • Newsletters with company or product updates
  • Email communication, both from marketing and from individual sales reps
  • Social media content

amazon's case studies

Amazon shows off the effectiveness of its AWS Cloud Adoption Readiness Tool with this case studies page.

 

How to get started

The first thing to do is to make sure your sales and marketing teams have a direct line of communication with each other. When your company prioritizes alignment from the top down, the customer journey for prospects will become so much smoother.

Encouraging collaboration between teams, whether it’s scheduled meetings or quick emails, will help both sides of the company to get in the habit of keeping the other in mind.

One idea is to meet to discuss common sales objections – sales teams speak with customers directly on a regular basis, so they hear questions and concerns straight from the source. If sales keeps marketing in the loop on these things – like reasons prospects don’t convert – marketing can create content and campaigns that answer these problems.

Another major type of content to fill your sales funnel comes in the form of email cadences. Using automation software, leads can be nurtured at all steps of their journey and personalized to what audience they fit into. Here are a few different situations where you could create email campaigns to nurture your leads to get them closer to making a purchasing decision:

  • After someone downloads a gated asset
  • A contact form submission with a low lead score
  • Leads gained from attending or hosting an event
  • Cold outreach for outbound leads

Strategic content marketing = increased sales

The sales funnel is universal for any brand or business that is looking to sell products or services. Rather than rely on traditional marketing methods, consider marketing your brand or business with content. The results may surprise you.

Brandpoint outlines how to use many of these tactics to impact your sales funnel in an eBook about The Customer Journey.

 

This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated for relevancy.

September 25, 2019

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