February 22, 2012
By Karon Thackston © 2012, All Rights Reserved
Does your marketing lead anywhere? Is there a plan and a purpose behind your content, or do you just toss something out there and see what happens? While there is a place for general content marketing that keeps us in the forethoughts of our prospects, there is also a need for funnels that strategically guide readers through from introduction to sale.
While there are many ways to construct a content marketing funnel, this easy 3-step model will get you started quickly. Before you begin, you'll want to consider these questions:
1. What result do you want to achieve? At the end of the funnel, what should happen? Are you looking to make more sales of a particular product, for example? When you systematically implement a process that supports that goal, you can instill a marketing funnel that guides prospects to the specific information you want them to see and in the order you want them to see it.
2. What obstacles must be overcome in order to reach this goal? There are friction elements for every product and service. What makes people hesitate before taking the action you want them to take? How can you overcome those obstacles?
3. How can I educate prospects and provide valuable content related to my desired result? This is a win-win. By educating prospects, you're offering them information that they both want and need while also guiding them toward your desired result.
Once you have answers to the questions above, it's time to set up your funnel. During every phase, keep your end result in mind. If you aim to increase the number of product sales, remember to use that in each of the 3 steps.
Step 1 – Write an Article
If you ask me, the primary goal of any article should be to offer excellent content. I'm not a fan of shallow pieces that are penned just for the sake of trying to increase backlinks.
Think about the result you want to achieve (say, getting people to purchase a particular model of leaf vacuum). Also consider the obstacles you must overcome to accomplish this goal (not being able to see the product firsthand, competitor's products, etc.). How can you educate prospective customers and/or provide valuable content that will encourage them to ultimately purchase? One step at a time, that's how.
Start with an article pertaining to this model of leaf vacuum – maybe about the product's unique features or benefits, a comparison between your product and manually collecting the leaves from a large lawn or commercial property, etc. Use the link in the Bio or the About the Author section of your article to point people to the next step in the funnel. You might link to the product page of your site or another web page if you feel it is more applicable.
Step 2 – Free Short Report or Ebook
Once on your site, visitors would find an invitation to download a free report, ebook, whitepaper, case study, or other piece of content. This piece would go into a bit more detail about the product and how it would benefit the prospect.
Remember to keep your focus on the reader, not on your product or service. The goal of the ebook or report is not to create a brag fest that's all about you. It is to highlight how the customer will benefit after using your product or service.
Throughout the short report, offer calls to action for both purchasing and receiving additional information. Those who have seen enough and are ready to buy can then click immediately to your shopping cart or contact page. Others who still need a bit more convincing can request the content available in Step 3.
Step 3 – In-Depth Content
Whether you choose content in the form of DVDs, CDs, full-length ebooks or other options, Step 3 should provide in-depth information. After a prospect chooses to opt in for the third link of the funnel, you'll want to home in on your desired result and reinforce what you've already provided through Steps 1 and 2.
You can also incorporate incentives to buy into Step 3, such as discount coupon codes, free upgraded shipping, additional service options not available to others, etc.
Not everyone communicates the same way. While some make quick decisions based on limited facts, others want numerous questions answered before feeling confident enough to buy. When you set up a content marketing funnel that purposefully walks prospects through from introduction to purchase, you ensure that every customer gets what s/he needs. More conversions are bound to follow.
Karon Thackston is the President of Marketing Words, Inc., and has over 25 years of combined experience in marketing, advertising, copywriting, and SEO copywriting. Want to learn more about excellent SEO copywriting and content marketing strategies? Subscribe to Karon's Marketing Words Copywriting Blog today for insightful articles and more.
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