Customer journeys are the bread to content marketing’s butter.
The main goal of content marketing is to attract, engage and convert a customer by providing high-value solutions to customers at every stage of their buying journey.
That’s why, according to Semrush, 87% of marketers create content for each stage of the customer journey.
But how do you deliver valuable content that guides customers towards a conversion?
Don your adventurer’s hat as we search for the holy grail of content marketing success: a smooth, successful content marketing funnel.
What is a content marketing funnel?
The content marketing funnel addresses the three fundamental stages of a customer’s journey, from initial interaction through to conversion.
Though their names vary from one source to the next, the three stages are generally recognised as:
- The awareness stage (top of the funnel)
- The consideration stage (middle of the funnel)
- The decision stage (bottom of the funnel)
At each stage, customers have a range of possible intents - recognising these is key to effective lead nurturing.
This is where your content funnel comes into play.
By mapping out your content goals (and how these goals align with user intent at each stage of the customer journey), you can begin to develop a more purposeful strategy that satisfies the informational needs of your customer time and time again.
The awareness stage
As the starting point of the customer journey, the awareness stage is often prompted by the potential customer being confronted by a problem.
Customers at this stage are not ready to be sold to - attempting to do so can cause them to quickly jump ship. They are incredibly receptive to a source that helps them identify and solve their issue, though.
Enter your brand.
If you provide these users with information that helps them understand and tackle their issue, your content is far more likely to resonate with readers. As a result, visitors will be far more likely to make an unconscious mental note of who you are and what you do.
Let’s say, for example, that a customer is experiencing headaches. This problem is front of mind for them, and they’re keen to learn more. The customer lands on the blog post, ‘4 Possible Reasons You’re Experiencing Headaches’ - this blog post helps the customer to contextualise their issue and provides greater clarity around how to find a solution.
The aim of content targeting the awareness stage is to educate, define, contextualise and clarify. This, in turn, guides them gently down the funnel by preparing them for the next stage of their journey: sourcing their solution.
Our favourite awareness stage content:
- Blog posts (tips/advice)
- Topic guides
- Quizzes and checklists
The consideration stage
Customers in the consideration stage of their journey should have begun aligning your brand and solution with their own needs.
Result! All that’s left to do now is kick back and let the conversions flow in, right? Not exactly.
Your job as a content creator is now to prove that your brand and solution is the right fit for their needs. This may involve taking a slightly more direct approach, allowing you to introduce your products or services with a little more transparency and purpose. You want to make this interaction between reader and brand as frictionless as it can be.
Let’s return to our earlier example of our poor ol’ customer. Though their head is still hurting, they were relieved to learn that their computer screen was most likely the culprit. The blog post suggested special glasses to counteract this and, keen to learn more, the user clicked through to a relevant product guide.
To serve as the ultimate consideration stage content, this product guide should be rich with informational value on how the glasses solve the issue at hand. Note how education is still the primary purpose here - the goal of content at this stage isn’t to push the sale, but rather to strengthen user-brand relationships and earn trust by demonstrating expertise and authority.
Our favourite consideration stage content:
- Case studies
- Product guides
The decision stage
Once your customer has been nurtured through to the bottom of the funnel, they’ll be in the decision stage - time to win that conversion.
It’s safe to assume that, at this point, the customer desires your brand and solution. After all, they’re still here, aren’t they? Your job as a content creator, then, is to leverage that desire and inspire the customer to convert.
Sounds easy, but it’s tough to execute.
Think of this as the more ‘traditional’ approach to marketing - you want to shout the loudest about why you’re perfect for the customer, and why you’re better than your competitors.
Never sacrifice value in the process, however. Don’t tell customers you’re the best; show them you’re the best.
Compelling product or service descriptions with an irresistible call-to-action are powerful tools in the decision stage. For the best chance of conversion, though, you’ll need to further strengthen customer-brand trust through the use of user-generated content.
Sorry to break it to you, but your customer trusts other customers far more than they trust your brand. So, back up your claims of greatness with authentic examples of how you’ve provided real-world solutions to real-world customers. Often, this is enough to inspire a customer to seek this same solution.
Our favourite consideration stage content:
- Reviews and testimonials
Identifying your brand’s content marketing funnel
If you’re still with us, it’s possible you understand how the general content marketing funnel works, but you’re unsure how it pertains specifically to your brand.
What stage is your customer at? How do you know?
A good place to start is auditing your existing content. Keep a record of every piece you’ve created and categorise it by content type. This should enable you to identify which current content aligns with which stage of your customer’s journey.
Further optimise and expand your existing content with this new information in mind. Approach it through the lens of a content marketing funnel:
- Who are you talking to?
- What stage are they at?
- What information do they need?
- Have you provided that information (and more)?
- How will you guide them further down the funnel?
To inspire fresh content ideas, never underestimate the power of our trusty sidekicks: keyword research and user personas.
Perform comprehensive keyword research to obtain a list of search queries, then take the time to categorise them by type - are they informational, comparative, transactional?
With your keywords segmented, consider what keyword type best suits each stage of your customer journey. To do this, simply establish the intent of each search query.
Use this strategic keyword research to inspire new topics for your content (for a more purposeful approach to keyword optimisation).
Lastly, utilise user personas to better understand how your users’ habits, preferences and behaviours impact their experience at each stage of the journey.
Through a combination of data and customer surveying, take the time to consider each stage of the content marketing funnel from the perspective of as many user types as possible to maximise your success.
With informational value user intent at its heart, content marketing is perhaps the most effective method for nurturing a user from first encounter to first purchase. Take the time to create targeted content that aligns with the content marketing funnel and your brand will reap the rewards.
For purpose-driven content that resonates at each and every stage, leave it to the professionals. Get in touch with Paragraft to learn more about how we can level up your brand authority with first-class content.