How To
10 min read

A Content Marketing Funnel: All You Need to Know to Build It Right

Mariana Krasteva

June 2, 2022

Did you know that your sales reps have only 5% of your potential buyer’s time over their journey? In the age of information, the power of decision-making has shifted dramatically from the sales rep to the customer.

With vast amounts of information at their fingertips, buyers have taken control over the opinion-forming process. More than three-quarters of customers contact a sales rep only after they have done their own research online.

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To boost your conversion rates and sales, you have to develop an effective strategy that markets your products or services without always having the chance to communicate with the buyer live. This is where content marketing comes into play. We’ll walk you through all stages of the content marketing funnel, the most effective types of content, and ways to measure your success.

First things first: What is a content funnel? 

The idea of buying your products or services hardly ever comes to your prospective customers’ minds out of the blue. The process of arriving at a purchase decision involves a path of considerations and steps. This is exactly what the buyer’s journey is about, and to achieve good conversion rates, you need to guide your prospects from the moment they first look at your site, to reading your blogs and emails, to finally setting up a call and becoming your customers. A content marketing funnel is what empowers you to do this. 

A content funnel is a set of stages that a prospective customer goes through on the way to becoming your brand ambassador. Creating a successful funnel means producing well-targeted content that can attract potential customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey. 

The content funnel is an effective way to manage the marketing process, from attracting new customers to retaining them. The content in each stage supports the customer journey, pushing your leads closer to a purchase. An effective funnel can help determine what type of content you should create at each stage of the sales process.

The 4 stages of a content marketing funnel

The content marketing funnel consists of the four following stages: awareness, consideration, decision, and loyalty. 

Content Marketing Funnel serves to attract and guide your leads from prospecting to becoming your brand promoter

How can you best meet your potential customer’s needs and expectations at each particular point of their journey? 

Let’s go through each stage and discuss the most effective approaches you can apply to build a content funnel that successfully markets your brand.

1. Awareness stage: Establish a brand presence 

This is the top of your content marketing funnel, where potential customers are not yet aware of your brand and the solutions you offer. Your goal here is to build brand presence and generate leads, which you can achieve by following these strategies: 

  • Become a recognized brand in your industry

Keep in mind that at the top of your funnel, prospects are searching for answers, insights, and trustworthy resources. Positioning yourself as a leading industry expert and authority will help build trust with your brand, which is the foundation of establishing relationships with your prospective customers.

  • Educate potential customers about your product or services

Educating your prospects is another way to create trust, which is essential to creating loyalty. An educational strategy will enable you to provide the right information at the right moment. What are your products or services? How are their features relevant to your prospects' problems? Making a complex service or product easier to understand helps your potential customers get to know your brand. Moreover, educated clients show a higher engagement and retention rate. 

Educating your leads is an important element of building trust and loyalty

  • Increase brand awareness and engagement

Potential customers care about how you can help them solve their issues. How would your products or services benefit them? Positioning your brand as a possible solution to a problem increases engagement and enhances brand awareness.  

  • Make sure content is SEO-focused

Even the most comprehensive, well-targeted, and well-written content will turn out to be useless if a search engine can’t find it. What can you do to make sure your content is seen by the right people? SEO-focused content production can help increase your visibility, rankings, and traffic. With your content in front of more prospects, the chances are you generate more leads and conversion. 

Need some help building a content production system? Read our blog on how to create an SEO-driven content strategy!

What types of content should you create in the awareness stage?

As we already mentioned, at this stage prospects aren’t ready to make a purchase decision, but they’re looking for information. Establish your brand as an expert and bring value to potential customers by creating informative content, such as:

  • Blog posts and articles 
  • Videos, including how-to, informative, documentaries, and brand videos
  • Educational webinars
  • Social media 
  • Whitepapers and e-books
  • Tip sheets and checklists

If you find it difficult to come up with a blog idea, you can utilize our Free Blog Post Ideas Generator that will help your content creation process by suggesting a list of topics. We’ve got you fully covered with tools that enable you to automatically create complete blog content – from outlines and intros to full blogs.

2. Consideration stage: Meeting a potential customer’s need with content 

Now that your prospect found helpful answers, they are doing heavy research on your product. Can it solve the problem that you helped identify? What sets it apart from other offerings? 

The consideration stage is the heart of inbound marketing. You can keep leads interested by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. The goal here is to cultivate trust and increase your chance of the prospect shortlisting your service or product. That's why you need the right content.

How to create content for the consideration stage

First, put yourself in the shoes of your prospects. To help you better understand your audience, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What are their concerns? 
  • What are the different options they’re considering as the solution to their problem? 
  • What are their deal-breakers?
  • What factors will determine their final decision?

Understanding your audience can help you create content that speaks directly to their concerns and narrow your target audience to qualified leads who will use the solution you offer.

Next, plan your content to include as much information as possible about solving your prospect’s issue. However, try not to push your product or service too much as it could lead to a negative impact. Ideally, your solution should be presented as one of the options that can solve your future customer’s problem.

Let's take a look at examples of content to incorporate into your content creation funnel during the consideration stage:

  • Case studies
  • E-books
  • Product or services videos 
  • Comparison guide 
  • Customer reviews
  • Product webinars

3. Decision stage: Turning leads into customers 

This is the time to convert your visitors into buyers. 

In the decision stage, customers have a thorough understanding of the problem they’re facing. They are also aware of the possible solutions and offerings. Now, they want to identify the option that will work best for them. 

How can you help them make the right decision? Understanding the needs of your prospects at this stage will help you provide them with content to guide them in their decision-making process. After you’ve educated your potential customers, presented your potential solutions to their pain points, and introduced them to your product’s features and benefits in the previous two stages, offer them ways to gain hands-on experience using your solution.

Leads need to get a more practical idea of how your brand will help them. The following types of content will support potential customers in the decision stage:

  • Product demonstration webinars
  • Personalized live demos
  • Free trials
  • Consultations
  • Coupons or promos

As this is the stage where you convert your leads and close the deal, using effective calls to action is crucial. Make them specific and clear to help your leads understand the value they’ll gain from purchasing your products or services. 

4. Loyalty stage: Retain your customers and turn them into your product promoters 

At this final stage, customers are so happy that they return to you regularly and recommend your products or services to friends and family, becoming your brand advocates. How can you achieve this ultimate goal?

The best strategies to retain customers and turn them into promoters combine operational and emotional approaches: 

  • Add value to keep clients from leaving your brand for a competitor offering similar products. Focus on increasing value instead of just adding features.
  • Lower customer effort by designing easy-to-understand paths. Adopting omnichanneling and promoting self-service are effective steps to provide low-effort customer experiences.
  • Ensure outstanding customer service to establish your brand as a preferred partner.
  • Build an emotional connection with your customers by showing them respect and care. Make your customers’ problems your problems and their success your success.
  • Benefit from the power of loyalty programs. Offering rewards and other incentives is a successful strategy to engage and retain customers.

You may ask why it’s so important to increase retention. It places your customers at the very bottom of the marketing funnel and turns them into brand promoters bringing in more sales. It costs 5 times more to win a first-time customer than to retain a loyal one. And on top of that, more than a third of loyal clients would prefer to pay more and stay with your brand instead of jumping to your competitor.  

Knowing the best players in retaining customers and building loyalty can help you recreate some of their strategies to enhance your brand. With the highest customer satisfaction, the global leader in customer retention is Amazon. Their success stems from creating highly personalized user experiences, utilizing the sense of urgency, and nurturing their loyal customers with loyalty programs offering free shipping, returns, and other benefits. On the other hand, ranking second, Apple relies on delivering innovative and easy-to-use products to add value for their customers. And Lyft registered a 17% surge in customer retention in 2021 as a result of creating excellent experiences for both drivers and passengers. 

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The hub and spoke model 

The concept of a content marketing funnel is effectively demonstrated by the hub and spoke model as a method of structuring your content to support prospective customers along their journey. 

The hub is a piece of pillar content consisting of sections dealing with individual sub-topics. Each of these sections is linked to a corresponding spoke, a series of more specific and in-depth articles that address a customer's potential problem. Organizing your content in such a way adds value and makes it easier for customers to find the information they need.

The hub and spoke model is an efficient way to structure your marketing funnel content

Creating a hub and spoke set of content requires pre-planning of the hub and all spoke articles in advance. Once built, you can use these articles as spokes of other hubs related to similar topics.

Customers interact with content in each stage of the funnel. They skim content to find sections relevant to their search and read them closely in the awareness stage. Leads can interact with your content by reacting or leaving comments. As you continue down the funnel, you should provide more interactive content such as live question and answer sessions at the end of your webinars. 

Customers are willing to devote almost an hour of their time if you make your webinars more interactive. This is impressive if you compare it with the few minutes spent reading even the most engaging blog.

The importance of using calls to action

A call to action is the heart of your content, telling people what to do next. Usually, it’s a short phrase aiming to drive the user to the next step in the funnel, like signing up for a newsletter, booking a demonstration, or purchasing a product.

For example, if a visitor lands on a blog article, a clear CTA will encourage them to continue interacting with the brand. 

How can you increase your chances of inspiring prospects to complete the desired action? Avoid CTAs that are overly general and vague. Also, clearly indicate the desired step you want them to take and set expectations of what exactly will happen after following your CTA. 

Examples of CTAs for all stages of the content creation funnel

Awareness stage

  • Save my spot (for a webinar)
  • Get your free e-book
  • Download your free checklist
A CTA in the awareness stage 

Consideration stage

  • Get a free case study now
  • Sign me up
  • Watch a video
A CTA in the consideration stage

Decision stage

  • Start your free trial today
  • Get a free demo
  • Become a member
A CTA in the decision stage

If you are finding it difficult to incorporate the right CTA into your content, check out our Free Website Call To Action Generator and learn the most effective placements of your CTA.

How do you measure success with a content marketing funnel? 

Now that you’ve created your content, it’s time to make sure it works. Here are some key metrics to assess your content funnel effectiveness:

Conversion rate

This indicates the percentage of visitors that accomplish the desired action. Calculating the content funnel conversion rate may be complicated due to different buyer journeys and funnel paths. Google Analytics offers easy calculating of your conversion rate by setting your goals and tracking achievement. Note that figures between 3-5% are generally considered a good conversion rate.

Engagement rate 

This reveals how the audience is interacting with your content through social sharing, likes, and comments. This metric is calculated by Google Analytics as the percentage of your engaged sessions, which means that your visitor has stayed more than 10 seconds on a page, completed a conversion action, or viewed more than one page of your site. Good engagement rates for B2B and B2C websites are at least 63% and 71% respectively.

Cost per lead

This metric shows the cost-effectiveness of your lead generation. It’s calculated by dividing the total cost of your lead-generating campaign by the number of new leads and varies across industries. If the figure is too high related to your product or service cost, you’ll have to reconsider your lead-generation strategy.

Time on page/site 

As the name suggests, this is the time spent by a visitor on a single page or site before they move on to another one. It’s the total duration of sessions divided by their number and is easily tracked by Google Analytics. Generally, 52 seconds is considered a good average of time on page. If people are spending time on your page, then your content is interesting and performing well. 

Bounce rate

You can measure success by the percentage of single-page visits on your site when a user leaves after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate is an indication that your content doesn’t match prospects’ expectations, and you’ll want to revise your content marketing strategy. The figure you should aim for is anything between 26-40%.

Takeaway 

A content marketing funnel is a set of stages that attracts as many potential customers as possible, moves them through a structured flow of relevant content, and ultimately converts them into buyers of your product or services. 

To sum up, here are the key elements corresponding to the four stages of the the content funnel:

  • Get the customer’s attention
  • Make sure they know who you are
  • Give them a reason to buy from you
  • Make sure they buy from you again 

The most effective content marketing funnels built on companies’ websites have been proven to provide high conversion rates. Read our guide on creating a content marketing strategy from scratch to develop your successful SEO content marketing system!


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