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How to Craft an Effective Content Marketing Funnel

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A content funnel is a well-structured path prospects go through to become customers. Read on to learn to create an effective marketing content funnel. 

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Content marketing is made up of so many moving parts, from content creation to publication. However, the fact that you have well-optimized content on your websites and social media channels does not necessarily translate to sales and profit. 

Creating an effective content strategy for the different stages of the purchasing decision is most often what makes the difference. The key is to make the process of guiding your target audience to conversion well-structured and strategic to avoid losing them at any point during the sales process.  

The content marketing funnel is a system that helps you plan, create, and distribute engaging content that attracts more customers and converts your target audience. Read on to learn more about how the content marketing funnel works and how you can use it to take your content strategy to the next level.

What Is a Content Funnel?

A content funnel is a well-structured path prospects go through to become customers. It starts with introducing your company and products or services, then engaging prospective buyers in the middle stages of their journey towards purchase decision, and finally turning them into paying customers. 

A content marketing funnel helps marketers visualize and map out content for every stage of the buyer’s journey. Content marketing should be strategic, and your goals at every stage should reflect those of your potential customers or target audience.

A marketing funnel is a critical aspect of a content marketing strategy. The question is, why? 

How Can a Content Funnel Strategy Help Your Marketing?

A content funnel strategy can be highly beneficial to marketing efforts as it helps ensure potential customers are engaged at every step. Below are some of the ways a content funnel strategy helps your marketing efforts:

Track and Measure the Success of Your Marketing Efforts

With a well-defined funnel, you can easily identify where your potential customers are dropping off, which parts of your content need more attention or improvement, and which strategies work best for you. 

Furthermore, with an effective content funnel, you can easily identify where your potential customers are coming from, what channels drive those leads, and which are most effective for converting them into paying customers.

Visualize and Map Out Content for Each Stage of the Buyer’s Journey

Understanding how your content funnel works allows you to create a customized content marketing plan for each part of the customer journey. This helps ensure you provide value throughout the entire experience and build relationships with customers that will last beyond their first purchase. 

Deliver Relevant Content to Target Audience at the Right Time 

The content funnel strategy is a great way to focus your marketing efforts and ensure you create content that resonates with your target audience. With the right strategy in place, it can be an invaluable tool for driving more leads and sales for your business. 

By understanding the different stages of the customer journey and creating content that speaks to each phase, you can ensure your target audience is engaged throughout their experience, retain existing customers who spend more and offer more benefits to the business. 

Generate More Leads and Conversions for Your Business Over Time

A content funnel strategy helps raise brand awareness and provides customers an easy way to find what they need quickly. A content funnel strategy can be essential for driving leads and conversions for your business over time. 

By understanding the various stages of the buyer’s journey, marketers can create content that effectively engages prospects at each step, resulting in increased sales and higher ROI.

Stages of the Buyer’s Journey 

Stages of the buyer's journey

By understanding the various stages of the buyer’s journey, marketers can create content that effectively engages prospects at each step, resulting in increased sales, brand visibility, and a higher return on investment. 

The buyer’s journey can be broken down into three main stages, as well as a post-buying stage relevant to a marketing strategy’s success. They are:

Awareness Stage

At this stage, potential customers are just discovering your products or services. Every buying decision presumably starts with a desire to solve a pain point. This desire invariably leads a prospect on a search, during which you must attract their attention and provide them with the information they are looking for.

For example, at the awareness stage, a buyer might ask questions like: “how can I create more space on my phone?”, “how can I write faster?”

Consideration Stage

During the consideration phase, your target audience researches different options and decides which best meets their needs. The buyer is much more aware of the solution they are looking for and is much more aware of what they want, although they have yet to commit because they are not sure what the solution is. 

The buyer’s questions at this stage change and become more solution-focused, such as: “how can I use a phone cleaner to create more space?” and “can I use AI to write faster?” 

Decision

At this stage, the buyer is ready to make a purchase decision. They are ready to act on all the information gathered in the last two stages. They evaluate and decide on the best course of action and the right “plug” to provide the chosen solution. 

A buyer’s search at this stage might look a bit like this: “best phone cleaners for Android 2023?” or “best AI writing tools?” 

Retention 

This is where you convert a paying customer into an advocate for your business. This involves more action on the part of the business. While not strictly a part of the buyer’s journey, it increases the potential of making more profit.  

It starts with creating a wholesome customer experience, following up with them, and making them feel valuable to your business. 

According to PwC, 63% of customers in the US say they will share more information with a company that offers a great experience. This opens more opportunities for marketing and product/service improvement. 

Phases of a Content Marketing Funnel 

Phases of a content marketing funnel

Marketers usually align the phases of a content marketing funnel with the stages of a buyer’s journey. This means that the stage a potential buyer is at in their journey towards making a purchase determines where they fall on the content marketing funnel and what kind of content will be targeted at them.

The phases of a content marketing funnel are categorized thus:

  • Top of the funnel (TOFU)
  • Middle of the funnel (MOFU)
  • Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)

Top of the Funnel (TOFU)

TOFU: Top of the funnel
MOFU: Middle of the funnel
BOFU: Bottom of the funnel

Top-of-the-funnel content is designed to attract potential customers or spark an interest in a concept or idea related to your product or service. This content is created at the awareness stage on the assumption that your audience has no idea of your business; they are only aware of their problem. Hence, your focus should be on helping them solve their problem and providing value.

TOFU marketing involves more informative and educational content than “salesy” content. You can use different types of content and content forms at this stage. Content types such as blog posts, how-to guides, video content, social media posts, infographics, ebooks, whitepapers, and thought leadership content such as webinars and checklists are effective as top-of-the-funnel content. 

However, when creating content, you must ensure that whatever content you choose resonates well with your target audience. You can decipher what your target audience would like by carefully considering their demography, interests, and preferences. 

Once you put out content, you must also continue tracking the traction your content is making and how prospective customers interact with it. This will allow you to determine what is working and what isn’t.

You can measure the effectiveness of your content using the following metrics:

  • Traffic from referrals and organic traffic
  • Social media engagement measured through likes, comments, shares, and saves.
  • Mentions by influencers within your industry
  • Website engagement
  • Bounce rate
  • Subscriptions to newsletters, podcasts, or Youtube channels, as the case may be.

If you focus  on organic site traffic, you can use your ebooks, how-to guides, and checklists as magnets for lead generation. 

Top-of-the-Funnel Content Formats

How-to Guides/Blog posts 

How-to guides and blog posts are easily the most sought-after top-of-the-funnel content. You create them to provide your audience with information on a specific topic related to their problem.  

Blogposts and how-to guides are written to target your audience’s pain points or explain a concept that they would need to understand. Over 85% of shoppers start their search online, so a blog post can help bring people to your site.

Infographics 

Infographics are a great way to communicate a lot of information in an engaging and visually appealing manner. They make data easily digestible, as people prefer visuals to text-based content. 

This is because the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text

You can use infographics to simply explain complex concepts or ideas. They also highlight survey results, facts and figures, and industry trends. They are helpful as TOFU content as a prospective customer can easily scan through vital information that will help them better understand their problem and what solutions are available.

Videos

Videos are effective top-of-the-funnel content as they help to briefly communicate a lot of information. You can use different types of videos for the awareness stage; explainer videos, how-to videos, product reviews, and live-action tutorials are all great options here. How-to videos teach users how to perform a process or use your product or service.

84% of people say they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video. To create effective videos, keep them brief and captivating by weaving a compelling narrative that ties into your product or service. Entertain your audience with a captivating story.

Social Media Posts

Social media posts are a great way to reach a wider audience and attract new prospects. You can use social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn to share content related to your product or service. 

Most of the time, short bits of information with interesting images work better on social media than long-form content.  Although users do not necessarily search for information and educational content on social media, you can still capture your potential customers’ interests through social media marketing.

Ebooks

Ebooks can be a powerful tool for lead generation by attracting organic traffic. You can create a list of individuals interested in your product or service by offering an ebook in exchange for contact information or email addresses. 

This list provides an opportunity to further engage with them by sharing valuable content related to their specific problems using various content marketing funnels.

Whitepapers 

A whitepaper is a report or guide on a technical subject. They provide more in-depth information than you can find on a website or on a social media. Whitepapers are also effective top-of-the-funnel content, providing a detailed analysis of complex topics. 

They demonstrate a product’s or service’s effectiveness by presenting facts, figures, and research to support a claim. A well-written whitepaper provides readers with information they cannot find elsewhere, increasing its value. 

Landing Pages

Although not a content format per se, the content on your landing pages can do an excellent job of getting the attention of your potential customers. A landing page is a standalone page on your website created for a specific marketing purpose; it is usually a response to a CTA link. 

Hence, your landing page must be well-optimized for conversion since this is where your customers will get to know your brand while you offer them something in return. Your landing page should make a good first impression with great visuals and catchy headlines. 

Your landing pages can also feature some social proof material to keep a visitor to your site interested. However, you should know where to draw the line between actively pitching your business and showing proof.  

Webinars

Building trust with your potential customers is crucial to eventually converting them. There are many ways to build trust as a brand, including establishing yourself as a thought leader through webinars. 

If your target audience believes they can get accurate and valuable information from you, they are more likely to stay with your brand. Webinars have a 15% conversion rate, which is much higher than the conversion rate of some other marketing efforts, such as cold calls and emails. 

Checklists 

Checklists outline the different components of a specific concept or the various steps of a process. Use checklists to provide information on something your potential buyer might need. 

For example, as a content marketing company, a keyword research checklist is valuable information your target audience might want. Providing them with such details automatically puts you on their radar. 

Tips for Creating Top-of-the-Funnel Content

Understand Your Buyer Persona

Your buyer persona is the most important thing to sort out before creating TOFU content or a marketing plan. According to Shopify, a buyer persona is a fictionalized characterization of your best customer(s) based on information about them and how they use your product or service.

You must understand details such as your buyer persona’s age, gender, and income, and how all these influence their purchasing decisions. Creating a complete picture of your buyer persona helps you to develop more targeted content that will likely resonate with your target market. 

Research

Once you understand your buyer persona, it gets easier to know what they need. However, it is still necessary that your conclusions be data-driven. Hence, you will need to research what questions they are asking and the common problems they have. 

You can gain insight into your audience’s needs through the suggestions Google gives when you’re typing in the search box and the People Also Ask section. Sites like Quora, Reddit, and wikiHow also reveal what your customers care about. 

Work your SEO Tactics

The hallmark of TOFU content is that you are acting on the assumption that the buyer has never interacted with your business before. How, then, do they find you? Optimizing your content using the best SEO practices increases your visibility and reach. 

Conduct keyword research, build links, and ensure your site architecture follows Google’s guidelines

Don’t Pitch. Yet. 

Remember that your primary goal at this stage is to create awareness and educate your target audience. Trying hard to sell at this stage might be counterproductive and cause the buyer to lose trust in your brand. 

There is nothing wrong with including some lead magnets and calls to action in your TOFU content, just don’t sell hard. 

Utilize Storytelling and Visuals

Stories are captivating and keep your target audience interested in whatever you intend to say. Although the goal of your content may be to educate and offer value, it’s essential to avoid sounding overly academic. 

Tell stories your buyer personas can relate to. Boring content doesn’t help your audience, and it sure doesn’t help your brand.

Another way to make your content appealing to the reader is to include visuals such as images and infographics. This way, a buyer does not have to spend time trying to figure out the exact solution to their problem; it is already broken down in a visually appealing manner.   

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)

TOFU: Top of the funnel
MOFU: Middle of the funnel
BOFU: Bottom of the funnel

Next in the content marketing funnel is the middle-of-the-funnel content (MOFU). At this stage, the buyer is in the consideration stage, and the goal shifts from educating your target audience and providing general information to teaching them more about your solution. 

Buyers are now more open to interacting with brand-specific content, unlike in the awareness stage, where such content might cultivate distrust in the buyer. This is where you show the buyer how your product or service, which is the solution to their initial pain point, works.

At this stage, buyers evaluate their options to see what best solves their problems. You have already captured their attention; what is left is to nurture them to see them through to the next stage of conversion and retention. You should also endeavor to connect emotionally with your audience at this point. 

The major metrics for measuring the effectiveness of MOFU content are conversion rates and the number of leads generated.

Middle of the Funnel Content Formats 

It would be beneficial to start this section on the note that the lines between content forms suitable for TOFU marketing and MOFU marketing can sometimes blur. Marketing experts are not in agreement on what fits into what box. Some content forms can be tweaked to work in both funnels. 

However, based on our expertise and extensive research on content marketing, we find that  “product-focused” content works better as MOFU content. On this note, we find the following content formats to be the most suitable for middle-of-the-funnel content:

Case Studies 

Case studies showcase or describe how your product or service has helped users, aimed at demonstrating to potential customers how it can fulfill their current needs. Case studies essentially highlight the functionality of your product or service from the user’s point of view. 

Hubspot reports that over eighty percent of online buyers read reviews before making a purchasing decision. Case studies serve as social proof to your customers that you are doing what they need and doing it right. Case studies can also work well at the bottom of the funnel. 

Product Overviews 

A product overview tells all there is to know about the product you are marketing: its features and packaging, purpose, pricing, where you can get it, and promotions, if any. While this type of content aims to spotlight your product and hype it up to a potential buyer, you must not make false or exaggerated claims. 

Stick to the facts regarding what exactly the product is and what it can do, and do it in simple, easy-to-understand language that your audience can quickly grasp. Ensure they understand the result you are trying to sell to the customer. 

Explainer Videos 

An explainer video is like a product overview in video format. Most businesses have landing pages with short videos showing site visitors their product, service, or business idea. You can use these videos on other marketing channels like emails or social media. 

An explainer video typically should be of high quality, be short and straight to the point, show how the consumer’s problem is solved, and be relatable to your buyer persona. 

Product Comparison Guide 

This is another very useful content format that is valuable for middle-of-the-funnel marketing. Product comparison guides help consumers compare their options and determine which product best suits their specific needs and budget. 

Many people would do online research before making a purchase decision. During this process, they are bound to come across several products or service providers offering the same solution. The buyer might get confused, so including product comparisons in your content strategy is a good idea. 

Testimonials and Reviews 

Testimonials and reviews are primarily user-generated content that helps you build credibility and trust as a brand. Testimonials are a way to show the buyer in the evaluation/consideration stage how effective your product or service is from the point of view of other customers. 

Testimonials also help to build an emotional connection between the person making a review and the brand. 

Free Tools 

Offering your customers something they need without immediately asking for something else in return is an effective way to reel in a potential customer. 

For example, if you are a food delivery company, offering a free recipe kit for different types of foods and people with different dietary requirements helps to keep the buyer interested in your brand. They are more likely to purchase after you have offered them something they want. 

Emails 

Email marketing techniques such as newsletters and nurture emails help build long-term relationships with potential customers. A customer who has subscribed to your newsletter and received valuable tips from you already has your brand at the top of their mind.

Email marketing is also as effective as MOFU content in that there is room for a lot of branding and customization of your content. 

Tips for Creating Effective Middle-of-the-Funnel Content

Self Promote 

When planning your MOFU content creation, ensure your brand is at the center. The idea is to get them interested in what you are offering specifically. Hence, as much as possible, make your offering clear. 

Filter Leads 

Also, at this stage, you are still trying to nurture leads and see whether they eventually make a purchase. However, some leads never intend to make a purchase, and it is always necessary to filter them out at this stage. 

Including an extra step requiring input from the lead is an excellent way to filter your leads. For example, if someone is visiting your site solely to gather information, they are less likely to sign up to get notified of a new line of products. They are not interested, or more accurately, not interested enough. 

Repurpose TOFU Content 

Some of the content you have created to spark interest in your product or service is still relevant and valuable at this stage. Instead of investing time and other resources into creating new content, you can repurpose your old content. 

For example, you can create a resource page or a newsletter from the blog posts and how-to guides you have previously made. 

Never Forget Your CTAs 

Always leave a quick link for your audience to follow at the end of each content. A compelling call to action is the final element that ties your efforts at this stage together. Also, through CTA links, you can measure the success of your MOFU marketing efforts. 

Bottom of the Funnel Content 

TOFU: Top of the funnel
MOFU: Middle of the funnel
BOFU: Bottom of the funnel

Your primary focus at the bottom of the funnel is to convince potential customers that you are their best option. This is where you seal the deal, and the buyer decides. It is safe to assume your audience is already interested in your offer. 

You would have successfully filtered out some dead leads, and what is left is to offer specific and targeted content to convince the buyer to make a purchase. Your target audience is informed and only needs to be sold on the advantages of choosing you over others. 

Your goal at this stage is to position your brand as the ONLY option to the buyer, build trust, and speed up purchases. The metrics for measuring the success of your BOFU content include revenue gained, the return you make on your marketing investment, the number of subscriptions, or the number of free trials people sign up for. 

Bottom of the Funnel Content Formats 

Free Trials or Demos 

Free trials allow your audience to discover all your product’s unique features at no cost. Free trials also allow you to get some commitment from the user, as you can request details from them or ask them to fill out a survey to access the demo. 

Free Consultation  

Another content format you can use at the bottom of the funnel is offering your audience free consultations to help them get to the end of their problems or assess what kind of solutions they need. 

Coupons and Limited Time Offers 

You can tap into a potential buyer’s fear of missing out by creating a promotional offer that offers them your product or service at a reduced cost for a limited period. Limited-time offers are usually very compelling pieces of content that are intended to accelerate the purchase decision. 

Tips for Creating Bottom-of-the-Funnel Content

Targeted Content 

Bottom-of-the-funnel content is for people who are already close to buying. You have exposed them to your brand and only need to convince them that your brand is their best bet. There is no need to beat around the bush by giving generic information. Your content must be as targeted as possible. 

Use Strong Marketing Copy 

BOFU content must be very compelling; one way to do this is to use strong copy. Your copies must be relatable, catchy, and easy to understand. Do not mistake a poetic or high-sounding copy for a strong copy. A strong copy stirs something within the buyer, causing them to take action. 

Make an Irresistible Offer

It is not enough to tell a potential buyer to buy; you should make them want to buy as soon as possible. This is the place for mouth-watering offers. For example, many SaaS companies offer one month of free use for people who subscribe. Some companies put a time limit on such offers to make people take action.  

Note, however, that making that first sale should not be your ultimate goal. As a brand, you must also focus on retaining your customers. Apart from the fact that returning customers spend 67% more than new customers, they are also the biggest advocates of your business. 

Hence, it is also crucial that you create content specifically for this purpose. There are various effective content formats that you can use, including announcements, updates, performance emails, personalized emails, hacks, and educational tips. 

Tools for Creating a Comprehensive Content Funnel Strategy

Understanding the interaction between the buyer’s journey and content marketing is crucial to creating an effective marketing funnel. An effective marketing funnel, however, takes time and effort. You can simplify the process by using marketing funnel tools that help you map out your customer’s journey and create a funnel that works for your business. 

Marketing funnel tools help you design and build a marketing funnel for easy visualization. They are also valuable for helping you measure the success of your funnel, testing out new strategies, and improving the overall customer experience. 

Below are some of the best marketing funnel tools available today: 

Wrapping Up 

Creating an effective marketing funnel strategy is finding a way to reconcile your goal of making a sale and retaining your customers with the buyer’s goal of solving a problem. As a business owner or content marketer, you must create the right content for your customers at every point in their journey. 

Beyond making a sale, you should also aim to create an emotional connection between your brand and the buyer. That way, they do not feel like they are being pushed in a particular direction. 

It’s essential to keep in mind that your content should align with your buyer’s journey. Ensure that you use the most effective tools to realize your ideas, from developing your marketing funnel to producing content and measuring its impact.

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