Sales Funnel Stages And Content Marketing: 5 Things You Need To Know
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5 Things You Need To Know About Sales Funnel Stages And Content Marketing

The idea behind a sales funnel is that at the top, you have lots of potential customers. As they travel down the funnel, some drop off and their interest wanes. By the time they reach the bottom, all you have are drip drops of paying customers. This concept may not necessarily be the most effective though. Ideally, what you want to do is widen your funnel. Open up the bottom, so that more customers can fall into your arms and convert into sales. But before you start to tweak your sales funnel, you first need to understand how it works.

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1. First Things First: Clients Have To Find You

In reality, companies aren't selling their products and services. They are selling the emotions behind them. And when it comes to content marketing, you draw prospects into your funnel by appealing to their feelings. When they encounter your brand for the first time, you want them to be pleased. They should associate your brand with a powerful positive physiological response. You may be tempted to say purchasing decisions are based on logic, but that’s rarely true. For instance, even the most stoic and practical among us can be driven to tears by a sports team. Produce a piece of content that appeals to their feelings. Keep it simple, an infographic, a funny picture, a gif, a meme, something that they will gladly 'like' and 'share'. Make it about the client, not the brand.

2. Engage With Your Sales Prospects

There’s a saying in the advertising world. It suggests that if you want a customer’s attention, you should either amuse them or annoy them. I prefer the former. The first time your prospective client meets your brand, they should end up in tears of laughter. At the very least, you want a little smirk of amusement. Mention your brand in a subtle, indirect way. Video sketches are a good way to do this. For instance, produce a video that humorously highlights the pitfalls of becoming an eLearning professional. For example, talk about the downsides of other eLearning authoring tools or systems, pointing out all the pain points. Generate solidarity from eLearning pros all over the world. Don’t mention your brand at all, just make it light, humorous, entertaining, and open ended. You can close with your logo and an invitation. Ask them to talk to you about their eLearning authoring tool drama, to share their story. This will invite prospects to engage with the video, ask questions, and spread it to their friends.

3. Close The Deal In Style

You now have direct access to all of the prospects that respond to your content. You can get in touch with them on a one-on-one basis. Offer them a trial or demo. Invite them to visit your site to learn more about your products. At the top of the funnel, messaging can be more general and mass-oriented. By the time your prospects are neck-deep inside the funnel, they want to buy. All they need is a friendly nudge to tip them over the edge. Handle them very carefully at this point, so that you don’t spook them or scare them away. You need your most charming sales people to use their powers of persuasion. Whenever possible, get the prospects to deal with you in person, over the phone, or via video conferencing. This makes it easier to develop rapport that converts into a sale.

4. Widen The Neck Of Your Funnel

The best option for a sales funnel is a drawstring. Rather than creating a bottleneck that stops movement, it’s better to widen the neck and let more people through. Content marketing is an excellent way of doing this. At a physical shop, customers crowd at the door or line up for hours, as they wait to get in. You can lose a lot of customers that way. With inbound marketing, you can address your customers in small groups. Think about the message you want to share, then divide into smaller executions. You can take one sales idea and tweak it for different demographics, locations, or eLearning pain points. Then, you can publish a broad range of content that appeals to different customers and everyone feels like you are speaking directly to them. That way, you might get a hundred paying customers at the bottom of the funnel instead of just ten.

5. Next Steps Towards Conversion

Your sales journey doesn’t end once your customer buys. You want them to come back and buy more products and services. Better yet, you want them to tell their friends and get you even more leads. Follow up the sale with a thank-you note. Keep it specific, mentioning the customer’s name and the product they bought. Give them some space to enjoy the product, a week or two, so they don’t feel bullied. Then, follow up with similar products they might like. Offer them a discount if they refer a friend. Sign them up for a loyalty program. You can implement all this using a few lines of automated code. Simply set the parameters so that each customer feels you are directly speaking to them. Make them feel valued and they will do the same for you.

The marketing funnel is not a new concept, but it can be adjusted for the online world. Begin with an emotional piece of content to get your prospect’s attention. Make them laugh, and avoid tooting your horn overtly. Customers are less likely to share content if it feels like an ad. Encourage prospects to talk back to your content, so that you can engage them on a personal level. Make the neck of the funnel wider, and once you have your customer’s interest, hold on to it, especially after they leave your website.

Are you interested in exploring the basics and benefits of content marketing? Download our free eBook The Ultimate Guide To A Winning Content Marketing Strategy to get more tips and tricks on how to determine your KPIs and measure your marketing success, as well as tips to qualify your leads, and tap into the power of smarketing.

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