As much as I hate the term “sales funnel” (along with most sales and marketing jargon), it is a useful idea to keep in mind when creating a website and developing the right content marketing to attract and retain customers.
The sales funnel is a metaphor for a “funnel” to monitor the sales process. (Think wide at the top and narrow at the bottom.) The funnel represents the many people who may need your product or service at the beginning of their search, and then the very focused group of prospects towards the end who, after a fruitful sales and content marketing journey with you, have purchased your product or service.
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content, such as blog posts, videos, infographics, and social media, to attract and reatin a clearly defined audience. The objective is to provide valuable information and content at every stage of a potential customer’s buying cycle, in order to drive profitable customer action.
The AMX site’s main navigation categories are an intuitive pathway that uses relevant content to help guide customers through the buying process.
Take the AMX website for example. The site’s main navigation categories are listed as: “Learn,” “Plan,” “Buy,” and “Support.” It is an intuitive pathway that uses relevant content to help guide customers through the buying process. By literally handholding a customer through this process — i.e., learn about AMX products, plan ahead, buy AMX, and then chat with our support team afterwards — results will come. Specifically, results like traffic, leads, and sales.
Here’s how to align content marketing with your sales funnel in a digital space:
Step 1: Attract
A potential customer has a problem, desires a solution, and realizes a solution exists. Your first step is to attract these potential customers to consider your product or service as a possible solution and to learn more about your solutions. This can be done through SEO-optimized content on your website (which will drive prospects from search) such as blog articles, guest blog spots on other online sites, eBooks, and social media content. By driving traffic to your website through blogs, forums, and social media, you are guiding your customers through the discovery process and giving them the information they crave.
Step 2: Convert
Here’s our next scenario: while searching for specific audio keywords in Google, your potential customer has stumbled upon your company’s site. They click on an infographic that leads them to a blog authored by one of your engineers on audio systems in open spaces. Now, your potential customer is hooked and wants to learn more. Wouldn’t the end of that blog be a great place for a call to action (CTA) to direct them to the next step in the sales process? Such as a request for more information. All content should have a purpose. Including a call to action at the end of a blog post or infographic will encourage prospective customers to move closer towards the purchasing stage. Try a CTA like this: Want to learn more about audio systems in open spaces? For more information click here.
Step 3: Qualify
After you’ve collected a potential customer’s contact information, you can employ your sales efforts to reach out and provide more relevant information that’s targeted to their specific needs. Utilize other content on your website that provides a more specialized expertise, such as case studies, whitepapers, special reports, or FAQs. Direct them to your website for reinforcement. We are traveling further down the more narrow part of the sales funnel here. Use content that will highlight you and your company as the experts in the field, and ultimately lead to a sale.
Step 4: Retain
Now that you’ve qualified your lead as an actual customer, make sure you are still creating enough up-to-date and relevant content to satisfy their need for information after they’ve purchased. Continue to provide them with informative blogs, newsletters, emails, and social media content. Provide quality support, maintenance, and training – the materials they require to continue to be successful. This is where you can use content to turn your customers into loyal brand advocates who proactively recommend your brands or products without being paid to do so. And that organic advocacy is priceless.
Kelly Perkins is a marketing expert at AVI Systems. She believes in genuine people, music with feeling, good books, useful technology, smooshed-face dogs, and spicy food. Follow her on Twitter @AVI_Kelly.