“Selling is really about having conversations with people and helping improve their company or their life” - Lori Richardson
Gone are the days when “content” applied to a few flyers, product brochures, and manuals distributed to prospects and customers.
Today, content is used to create experiences across the sales funnel, starting right from the consumer discovery stage till a deal is closed – it’s much less a good-to-have, and much more a sales strategy.
- The Need for Powerful Content
- The Tangible Benefits of Using Powerful Content in the Sales Funnel Stages
- The Difference Between Great Content and Great Content for the Sales Funnel
- Creating Content for the Awareness Stage of the Sales Funnel
- Creating Content for the Engagement Stage of the Sales Funnel
- Creating Content for the Purchase Phase of the Sales Funnel
- The Powerful Content Checklist
The Need for Powerful Content
Think about the last time you bought a product you really love, from a company you truly believe in.
Especially when it’s a product you’re invested in buying (maybe because it is of sentimental value or just because it’s priced high), the conversations you have with the brand matter right up to the actual sale, and even afterward.
For example, it makes a difference when Apple creates beautiful, high-definition ads for its phones. It makes a difference when Dyson creates branded content videos showing you how to use its products. And, it does make a difference when Starbucks follows up its claims of customer satisfaction by replacing your unsatisfactory drink.
These brands know that you’re attached to the purchase you’re making from them (again, either by sentiment or price), and they use conversations and content to build an unbeatable brand experience that makes all the hype worth it.
That is why using these products makes customers feel a certain way. The pride of owning an Apple product, the joy of using a Dyson product, and – in India, having chosen Starbucks over the many inexpensive alternatives – the status of sipping on a Starbucks coffee, means something to their customers.
These experiences cannot be built without content, and it’s much the same when you’re trying to close a deal for your product or service.
Why should a prospect buy from you over your competitors? No doubt that a couple of the reasons you come up with will be the superiority of your product – but without properly “packaging and presenting” your product, your audience will never feel the value.
A competitor who’s better at marketing and selling their product will beat your revenues, and that is a fact!
The Tangible Benefits of Using Powerful Content in the Sales Funnel Stages
You’re looking at all the points we’ve made and might be thinking – is it worth the time and effort investment, giving the sales funnel processes a content overhaul just to create great experiences?
So let’s look at some of the tangible benefits you’ll see when you make great content a part of your sales funnel strategy:
1. Greater Brand Discoverability
Consistently putting out great content on the internet helps more and more people discover your brand.
The keyword here is “great” – when you publish and promote content that is truly useful to your audience (either by way of adding knowledge, entertainment, or direction to their lives), the more likely they are to engage with it and share it, increasing your brand’s discoverability and brand awareness.
2. Better lead quality
Powerful content is true to your brand and your audience, which means it helps draw in the right customers and gently keeps away those who will not actually purchase from you.
This is done in many ways: In advertisements, luxury brands do it with prestige marketing and undisclosed pricing, value brands do it with splashy pricing announcements, and so on.
In other content avenues such as blog posts and videos, it’s taken care of by look and feel – designed to be attractive/relatable only to those whose tastes, aspirations, and preferences marry with the brand.
3. Increased Conversions
Great content supports the sales process. We’re talking social media, email marketing, brochures, text messages, and more – whichever channels you may choose to communicate with your prospects, using well-crafted and well-timed messages that encourage them to move forward will help boost your conversions.
4. Better ROI
Great content creates a backbone for and amplifies your marketing and sales strategy. When you run an ad on Facebook and bring people to your website, your website content, videos, case studies, and blog posts help create legitimacy.
When you publish and promote case studies, blog posts, and product elements on social media, you create thought leadership. All of these tie into greater brand awareness, brand engagement, and goodwill, pushing the impact of your marketing and sales activities manifold.
5. Increased Brand Loyalty
As we demonstrated earlier, great content helps create branded experiences that forge a connection with your customers.
As we know, that connection is what helps keep customers coming back – it’s why most B2B companies rely so heavily on their customer success teams to nurture customer relationships.
Using great content helps you create that connection right from the sales journey and increase brand loyalty.
6. Increased Advocacy
Who doesn’t love a great sales process? Even in B2B procurement, buying a product or service can be a process of anticipation – it is, after all, someone’s job and purpose in your client’s company.
Creating a great sales experience with thoughtful, well-timed communication will increase the chances of them sharing their experience with others and talking favorably about your brand.
The Difference Between Great Content and Great Content for the Sales Funnel
Did you know that according to a survey, 73% of consumers report feeling frustrated when a website offers content (ads, promotions, etc.) that has nothing to do with them?
We can sum up the difference in one word: purpose. The purpose of content created for the sales funnel is to move each prospective lead from one stage to the next. As we mentioned earlier, it’s akin to a long-term sales strategy.
When you speak of ‘content’ in general, it applies to an entire spectrum of communication – marketing collaterals, ads, blog posts, and videos, papers, testimonials, and so on. While these can and should be used where possible within the sales funnel, you must consider where they would make the most impact towards your end goals.
The first step to creating content for each stage of the sales funnel, then, is to identify the purpose.
Creating Content for the Awareness Stage of the Sales Funnel
As we’ve outlined above, the goal of the awareness phase is to capture the attention and interest of your relevant audience. The wider is your top of the funnel, the more prospectively interested people you can pull into your orbit.
The purpose of powerful content in the awareness phase:
- Generate interest in your product category and product
- Create curiosity about your product in the minds of your audience
- Establish a brand-level connect – or relatability – for your audience
To be able to generate interest and curiosity, the first step is always to know your audience.
What do they do for a living, what are their aspirations, where do they come from, and do they have family, or are they young and unattached? What are their pain points with respect to your product?
Knowing the answers to such questions tells you what you should be talking about to meet your goals – your product and your brand!
Type of Content to be Created in the Awareness Phase:
- Creating brand experiences: Talking about your why, your purpose, vision, goals, etc.
- Introducing your product: What it is, what problems it solves, what your main value proposition is for it
Creating Content for the Engagement Stage of the Sales Funnel
The engagement phase of any sales funnel is usually the longest.
This is when prospective customers take their time to research your product, compare it with competitors’ products, check out reviews and price comparisons, and also consider the best channel for buying your product.
Even in a B2B buying cycle, much of the research is now done online – during the engagement phase.
The more relatable and helpful content you create during this phase, the more prospective customers you can push towards making a buying decision.
The Purpose of Powerful Content in the Engagement Phase:
- Educate the audience about your industry so they can make better purchase decisions
- Talk about your product and what sets it apart, how it can help your audience achieve their goals or address their pain points
- Encourage the audience to make a purchase
In the awareness phase, the most important first step was to know your audience. In the engagement phase, you need to dissect and segment your audience.
You’ll always have different buyer types or buyer personas, and you need to create content that appeals to them all (they will have different aspirations, needs, and hence different thought processes and questions that need answering). Make sure you are relatable to them all while staying true to your brand!
Type of content to be created in the engagement phase:
- Talking about your industry: Market happenings, latest developments, news pieces, etc.
- Helping your audience with regards to their pain points: Advice, how-to, tutorials, and guides, etc.
- Talking about your product: Introducing people to the features, differentiation, and unique selling points of your product
Creating Content for the Purchase Phase of the Sales Funnel
The purchase phase of the sales funnel is the narrowest part of the sales funnel for a reason: in the transition through every stage, from awareness to engagement and from engagement to purchase, a lot of what you thought were prospective customers actually drop off.
There are multiple reasons for this, from them not being invested in the purchase decision in the first place, to them having chosen a competing product instead.
What content does is try to address every pain point, concern, or query that potential customers may have, so that fewer of them – only the unqualified ones, really – drop off from each stage.
In other words, content acts like a really attentive, proactive salesperson.
The Purpose of Powerful Content in the Purchase Phase:
- Address any purchase-level concerns that prospective customers may have
- Reduce the time and make it easy for customers to jump from content to purchase
- To prevent any prospective customers from jumping ship to competitors or dropping off at the last minute
In this phase, you need to switch from content that is informative & engaging to content that is actionable. Anyone in this phase of the sales funnel is ready to make a purchase decision – it’s your content’s job to make it as easy and quick for them to do so.
More importantly, it’s your content’s job to reassure them that they are doing the right thing by considering making a purchase.
Emailers and SMSes with case studies/success stories, transactional messages, and personal touch are your best bet in this phase.
Types of content to be created in the purchase phase:
- Transactional messages – such as with drip email marketing
- Showcasing how you’ve made an impact with other clients, or how other clients leveraged your products
- Promotional messages – any campaigns, offers, etc. that you might be running
The Powerful Content Checklist
As you can see, there are a lot of expectations pinned on the content you’ll be creating for the sales funnel – actual, tangible expectations. That is why your content needs to be in its best shape: steer away from wishy-washy, generic content that doesn’t really meet any ends.
To make things easier, we’re sharing a quick checklist.
Powerful content is:
- Driven by a purpose
- Tied to a metric
- Easy to understand
- Written with your audience in mind
- In sync with your brand tonality
- Unique to your brand
- Crafted singularly for each platform
- Cohesive across platforms
- Consistently published/shared
- Easily discoverable
And with that, we hope you’re all set to create powerful content for each stage of your sales funnel! A good place to start is to dissect your audience, then dissect your sales funnel and the various ways & places in which you can best leverage content across it, to serve that audience.
Note: If you have multiple products with completely different audiences, you may need totally different content for each.
If you have any questions on how to create great content across the sales funnel stages, feel free to get in touch! You can simply drop a line in the comments section below and we will get back to you.