You’ve invested in the resources to create content, and it’s working. Sort of…maybe. You’re seeing increased traffic to your website. Organic search rankings are going up. It’s all good. There’s just one hiccup – and it’s a big one.
Where are all the sales? Additional revenue isn’t proportional to the rise in your search visibility and traffic. It’s the logical time to ask, “How do I actually make some money with all this content I’m being told I have to create?”
This is where some marketers might play a trump card and say, “Well, we’ve done our part. Maybe you need even more content.” Or something like that.
Not us. This is where we will say only two words.
Sorry, not my job
Search engine optimization and content are the two most powerful lead generation tools in your marketing toolbox. Without a sales funnel, though, they’re like having a whole bunch of arrows, but no bow to send them to the target.
Content’s job is to raise awareness.
- It educates
- It removes objections
- It positions you as an authority
- It helps insert your product or service into a prospect’s worldview and validate their decision to buy from you
- It makes constant, gentle connections that differentiate you from everybody else out there
Content does not sell your product for you.
If you study successful content, you’ll see that it very clearly does not ask for the sale. Use yourself as a litmus test. Think about the most useful and persuasive content you’ve come across lately. A website article, a podcast, social media, or statistics in an infographic.
Did it try to sell you anything?
Hey, that’s my job
Your sales funnel is the right tool for this job. And it’s not so much a tool as it is an engine that’s fueled by content. It’s a simple engine compared to what’s under the hood of your car, but they both share a common affliction. They don’t work very well – often not at all – if one of their components is missing or malfunctioning.
Here’s how a sales funnel is supposed to work.
- Pour prospects and content in at the top. It’s widest there so it can accommodate without much restriction. This first stage of your sales funnel is all about Exposure. Don’t add the wrong fuel here. Prospects likely haven’t come because of your product. They’re looking for a way to solve a problem (which, of course, your product or service will do for them). Social media posts and articles on your website that focus on Awareness are the types of content that accomplish this best.
- The funnel narrows a bit now. It facilitates coziness with certain prospects. They’ve decided they like the content. It’s helping them insert your product or service into their life. This is the process of Discovery, and it can only happen if the content is the right match for a prospect. This content continues to rely on articles – but they become more specific and educational, often challenging prospects to seek out further focused offerings. Webinars or eBooks to ignite Interest are a wise content addition here.
- The immutable laws of physics come into play. Your sales funnel constricts even further, accelerating movement and facilitating further interactions with content. Prospects acknowledge at this point that it’s time for Consideration. They must decide if they will get a return on the investment of the time they’ve spent with your content. Often the best type of content for this will require actual consideration, such as a paid webinar or a membership fee to see things unavailable to the public. It establishes and confirms Desire.
- Prospects have now reached the narrowest point of the sales funnel. Your authoritative content has convinced them that you understand their problem. Complementary content has proven that your product or service is the right solution. Even more content has convinced them to consider you enough to make a preliminary investment. Prospects have reached the point of Conversion. This is important: You did not convert them. They converted themselves. The content that works best for this process usually involves interactivity that allows a prospect to experience their new role as a customer.
Your content has successfully helped prospects become customers.
All hailing frequencies open, Captain!
Content is practically useless if you don’t have your sales funnel in place. That funnel doesn’t have a physical existence. Well, maybe it does. It needs to be so clearly visualized and established that you are able to use it to guide the course of prospects with the content you offer them.
We tell our clients it’s important to know their “why” – to be able to tell the story of what makes them unique.
Content must follow this rule, as well. Each piece of content must have a clearly defined purpose for its existence on your website. Why is it there for prospects, and where in the sales funnel will it help them go? If a piece of content can’t answer “why,” it shouldn’t be on your website.
It’s not content. It’s a distraction.
2 more ways content powers your sales funnel
Congratulations, you made the sale! You also know that this is just the start of the relationship. There’s still much work to be done – especially to retain customers and get them to buy from you again.
Your content shares this responsibility. There are 2 more pieces to a successful sales funnel that usually aren’t included in discussions about them. Content for these 2 pieces help you keep your engine running smoothly.
- Customers crave interaction during and after the sale. Content manages customer relationships, deepens satisfaction, and enhances the post-conversion experience.
- Customers want reasons to return, and to share their experience. Content facilitates retention and helps to re-validate buying decisions.
We sometimes wish the marketing world hadn’t decided to call it a “Sales Funnel.” It has similar characteristics – the shape, in particular. If you ask us, it’s more like transformation engine. Prospects enter and interact with content. It creates a kinetic energy that propels them forward (not down). At a certain point they’ve consumed enough content to undergo a physical change. Sort of like the process of internal combustion, only they don’t catch on fire. They become customers.
Here’s why your transformation engine––er, sales funnel needs content. Is it up to the task? We can look under the hood and help you give it a tune-up.