04 Jan How to use content marketing to turn prospects into customers

 Despite all of the fuss around content marketing in the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that a huge misconception still remains – people are still under the impression that content marketing = blogging and this just isn’t true.

In reality, blogging is only one part of a wider content marketing strategy, which can help you to:

  • Turn prospects into leads
  • Transform leads into customers
  • Keeps customers engaged, making them high-ticket, multi-buyers.

If you’re already blogging – congrats! Your content marketing strategy is well on its way to achieving the magic formula mentioned above. However, you’re not all the way there. Not by a long stretch.

Blogging has a very specific role. It isn’t a catch-all content marketing function. The truth is, a lot of companies and marketers try to get their blog to do a lot of things it isn’t suited to. This is where their content marketing strategy starts to fail. In order to really turn those prospects into loyal customers, you need to go back to the beginning.

The basic marketing funnel

Let’s return to marketing school for a minute. To turn ice cold customer into a fully-fledged customer, they need to pass through three stages:

  • Awareness – an individual must become aware of you as a business and also aware of a specific problem or need they have.
  • Evaluation – the individual now evaluates the choices available to them, including your competitors.
  • Conversion – once through the evaluation step, the prospect is now at the purchasing stage. This is when conversion skills are needed to turn that prospect into a loyal, high-ticket customer.

All of these stages are impossible without the one before it. The funnel stands as a whole.

Now, let’s apply this to content marketing. Content can be positioned at each step of the marketing funnel to cater to a customer’s needs at each stage. Let’s break it down even further.

  • Content at the top of the funnel needs to increase awareness
  • Content in the middle of the funnel needs to facilitate evaluation
  • Content at the bottom needs to lead to conversion

This is called the Content Lifecycle. So what is the role of blogging in this scenario? Blogging is great at increasing awareness, but not so much at encouraging evaluation and conversion, so its true place is at the top of this funnel. Therefore, other content types are needed at the other points of the funnel. Let’s take a look at the different types of content that might work at different stages.

Top of the funnel

At this point, the consumer likely has no idea who you are, or how you can solve their problem. They might not even know what their problem is yet. They might not be ready to commit (in terms of providing personal details) so you need content which has a low barrier to entry. This kind of content should educate, inspire and entertain.

Therefore, these content types work well:

  • Blogposts
  • Infographics
  • Social media updates
  • Microsites
  • Digital magazines/books

You definitely don’t need to employ all of these, just a few will do. Remember: the aim of the game is to make consumers both aware of their problem, and of your position to solve it. A great example would be a brand like Whole Foods – who draw attention to a particular offer or sale on produce whilst also providing valuable information around it.

A lot of the time, this is where brands stop trying. They think this is enough to get consumers evaluating and converting.

It isn’t.

It’s time to take things up a notch.

Middle of the funnel content

Your aim here is to take those aware clients, and transform them into leads. In contrast to the top of the funnel, individuals here might be a bit more willing to part with information in return for free content. This kind of content can be referred to as a “lead magnet”. Here are some examples of different content types which work at this point of the marketing funnel:

  • Educational resources (such as whitepapers)
  • Software downloads
  • Quizzes
  • Surveys
  • Webinars

But once you’ve got these leads, now what? You need to convert them.

Bottom of the funnel content

It’s time to close the deal. How can content help you do this?

  • Demos and free trials
  • Testimonials
  • Events
  • Mini classes
  • Comparison sheets

The common theme running throughout these content types is that they help your customer to differentiate between you and your competition. Accounting software company, Xero, is a particularly valuable example – offering not only plenty of customer stories but comparison sheets and bite-size demos to entice leads.

In conclusion, top of the funnel content – and blogging – is absolutely important. But without the rest of the structure there to back it up, you won’t see the results you want.

 

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