These days, it’s relationships that define and sustain a brand. Countless research studies have proven that businesses that connect with their customers on a more personal level are much more successful than competitors that don’t. And one of the most effective ways to make those connections at scale is through content. 

But there’s more to it than just creating content and hoping your prospects see it and identify with it in some way. You have to tap into the customer journey and how content plays a part within it. 

The journey your customers take when interacting with your brand is synonymous with the sales funnel. Your sales funnel is essentially the way your inbound leads identify your brand, interact with it, and consider it to solve their problem (but more on that in a bit). 

However, most leads don’t enter your funnel with the same level of knowledge about your brand or at the same stage of their journey. Here are some ideas to help you meet your prospects and customers where they are at each stage of the funnel.

What Is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel, also known as a purchasing funnel, is a marketing model that describes the journey shoppers take from prospect to brand loyalist. It is composed of four separate stages — awareness, consideration, conversion, and loyalty — with each stage encompassing various behaviors, questions, and challenges that marketers can use to optimize their strategy and better move potential and current customers from one stage to the next.

There are multiple ways to conceive of the sales funnel. For example, some marketers break it up into five or six stages, while others see it as a three-stage journey from the top of the funnel to the middle and then the bottom. The purpose and associated marketing tactics, however, are almost always going to be the same, as are the benefits of working with a funnel model as a way to give structure to your marketing practices.

The Four Stages of the Sales Funnel

Using the four-stage model mentioned above, let’s take a quick look at how each stage fits into the larger idea of the modern-day sales funnel.

Awareness

When prospects know they have a problem that needs to be solved and are discovering your brand as a possible solution.

Types of content to use: 

This kind of content will help get your brand seen by prospective customers and help showcase a little bit about what you do and who you are so you can spread brand awareness

Consideration

When prospects know that your solution exists and are in need of further information as to whether it’s the right fit for their needs.

Types of content to use: 

  • Product descriptions
  • Demos and tutorial videos
  • Case studies
  • Reports
  • Whitepapers

The content listed above is crucial in helping to showcase your brand’s selling points. Often in the consideration phase, your prospects are also looking into your competitors, so make sure you create content that depicts your competitive edge and why your product is the best solution out there. 

Conversion

When prospects have become qualified leads that are seriously considering your product as the solution to solve their problem, however, they haven’t pulled the trigger….yet. 

Types of content to use: 

  • Customer testimonials and reviews
  • Influencer reviews
  • Product or service comparison charts

These leads are super close to partnering, so it’s important to share with them resources that will give them that last nudge to make the right decision. 

Loyalty

When leads become paying customers and require ongoing engagement to become brand loyalists and advocates.

Types of content to use: 

  • Promotions and special offers
  • Loyalty and referral program
  • Customer showcases
  • FAQs
  • User-generated content

It’s always crucial to acquire new customers; however, retaining your existing customers is more cost-effective. Also, there’s nothing like a happy customer to help you get new customers. 

To make effective use of the sales funnel, you’ll want to optimize content at each stage to align with where the prospect, lead, or customer is and encourage them to do — or continue doing — business with you.

Creating Your Sales Funnel

Just as there is no one-size-fits-all definition of the sales funnel, there is also no one-size-fits-all way to incorporate it into your marketing practices. That being said, there are a few steps that you can take to create a sales funnel for your brand and start benefiting from the model.

Step 1: Know Your Audience

Hopefully, you already have well-researched customer personas that cover the wants, needs, preferences, and demographic anomalies of your core audience. Your approach, and especially your content, will be geared toward these personas, so make them as clear as possible from the get-go so you can accurately target your messages.

Step 2: Focus on Awareness

You can’t move someone down the funnel if they don’t know you exist. Use social media, paid ads, email marketing, and other tactics to reach more of your audience and pull them into the funnel, being sure to qualify leads as you go to see who’s worth investing more effort into.

Step 3: Build out Your Website

Your website is a crucial tool in managing a productive sales funnel. The content you share on there is obviously key, but so are landing pages and forms. Make sure all of the building blocks are in place and do regular audits to ensure you’re not inadvertently putting any obstacles in the way of conversions.

Step 4: Employ Email Marketing

Email marketing is huge in sales funnel success. Opt-in newsletters, drip campaigns, and automated workflows will all serve you (and your customers) well and should be high-priority tactics for making headway with prospects, leads, and customers.

Quick Sales Funnel Tips

  • Find the cracks. Your funnel probably won’t be perfect right away, and that’s fine. Always be on the lookout for gaps in your sales process and solve them as you go.
  • Update content consistently. Publish new content regularly, and update old content to make it more relevant and easier to find.
  • Touch base with your key audience. Check in with top customers for feedback, and to ensure you’re meeting their needs. If they have suggestions for how you can do better, strategize and try to incorporate them.
  • Consider your UX. Your site should be as seamless to use as it is pretty to look at. If it’s not, you could end up losing people in the funnel when they otherwise would have continued moving forward. 

If you don’t have a sales funnel that’s working, then follow these tips to reshape your funnel and turn things around. Don’t forget to tap into your highest quality content that addresses the needs of your audience so you can see your funnel churn out more and more new customers.