How to Move Prospects Through The Sales Funnel with Content
One of the main challenges of each and every sales representative faces is filling the sales pipeline. In a nutshell - there are never enough prospects, and converting them into hot leads is difficult and makes the pool even smaller.
The current state of advertising
Traditional advertising is dead, you might have heard this running through your marketing department already, but what exactly does it mean from a sales point of view?
An average person sees 4000+ ads a day and has developed a screening process, which means they don't even recall seeing them, much less what tantalizing message you crafted for it. The rise of ad blindness basically means that ads are simply not an effective option anymore to attract potential customers.
What are the factors that will make a new acquisition and an old customer trust you?
The first mention goes to brand awareness. Brand recognition is critical since customers are a lot more keen on buying from brands they identify with and trust. It also secures your position in the industry. Here, your company blog can become a real asset for raising awareness - not just in the moment you are sharing it, but also as an investment in the long run.
Brand awareness goes hand in hand with brand authority. Delivering quality blog posts on a regular basis will make you an authority in your field, and since nowadays everybody can declare themselves an expert, you want to make the difference.
To achieve this objective, it's necessary to pay attention to your audience needs, write about topics that are interesting to them. Keeping the focus on your specific product niche and changes in your industry, and publishing consistently boost your credibility.
Last but not least, creating a relationship between the customer and your company will ensure their trust and loyalty. As I mentioned before, content adds value and allows you to create an emotional and personal bond with the customer.
People educate themselves before purchasing
Data about what influences the choices of decision-makers clearly demonstrates the need for content creation. 80% of decision-makers choose to get brand information via online articles, rather than making decisions by relying on ads. 60% of them says that brand-related content will help them make better product choices
Having a proper content marketing strategy in place will make your lead generation efforts much easier and more successful. Making sure that the piece you are sharing is high quality and properly SEO optimised, will lead to a good ranking on search engines and ultimately, give you higher visibility.
Typically, the search for a possible prospect begins with search engines like Google. And even though some users look for particular products, many people look for much more general information on how to solve their issue. Unless your site is optimised for these queries, prospective clients will not find you.
Be warned! Leading more traffic to your website is not enough to guarantee more sales. Visitors also need to be converted in buyers.
A well-projected strategy will help you push your leads through the sales funnel. The detailed research by Hubspot’s helps us better understand the customer journey.
The consumer decision stages
Top-of-funnel written content, that mirrors the awareness stage, is usually more standard and answers basic questions. This content will be useful for capturing your possible prospects’ attention and convincing them to undertake the journey with you.
Middle-of-funnel content attracts people in their comparison stage. These are readers who are aware of an issue and are evaluating different solutions. At this stage, the question is: Will it be you or your competitors?
To ensure that the answer is a resounding ‘YOU’ during their decision phase, you need great bottom-of-funnel content that encourages visitors to take those crucial steps towards becoming a buyer.
Customer retention is one more fundamental stage of your sales lifecycle, and valuable content plays an important role here as well. Constant activity on your owned channels is what is going to keep customers engaged and loyal. In the long run, the end game here comes down to deepening the loyalty that you've gained.
Different types of content serve different purposes in your customer journey.
Now that we have a clear idea of why it's necessary to have a good content marketing strategy, and how it can improve your sales performance, let’s find out what type of content serves what purpose in your funnel.
According to research by Statista B2B marketers thought that blog posts were the most valuable content in terms of moving prospects through the sales funnel.
Gated content is valuable in a generation strategy. By asking for details such as email or phone number in exchange for content you can vet leads, and secure a way to contact those with a genuine interest.
This type of content usually comes in the form of e-books, webinars and downloadable PDF cheat sheets. To optimize performance, position your gated content in the consideration stage of the customer journey. At that point, your audience will have a clear overview of their issue and about what your business offers making them more likely to fill in a form to access your offer.
Case Studies can win you deals. Explaining to customers how you helped other people solve an issue similar to the one they have will be a turning point in transforming your curious lead into a happy customer.
Studies can be used during the entire customer journey, from the awareness stage when they are defining the problem and searching for suitable ways to overcome it until the decision step when you can convince them that your solution will be both successful and satisfactory for them.
Build relationships with influencers
In the world of blogging, one of the most important activities that every good writer needs to take care of is the exchange of blog posts or articles. Publish your articles on sites that are influential in your field, or the other way around, have opinion leaders write on your website.
This will not only result in your brand having more authority and credibility, but it will also land you a fresh dose of qualified leads.
To complete the picture, we have to mention “how to” articles as well. These pieces let you share your valuable knowledge with prospects, thereby earning their trust. By describing, step-by-step, how to achieve a goal that is relevant in your industry, you prove your expertise and demonstrate that you’ret the best pick as the answer to your visitors’ prayers. And once they’ve confirmed this, they’ll be ready to invest their money and adopt your product as a solution.
If the above reasons weren’t enough to convince you of the effectiveness of content marketing in boosting your sales, here is a great infographic from "A Guide to Marketing Genius: Content Marketing".
According to this great research, content costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates 3x more leads.
Writing better content than your competitor helps you achieve your business goals in the long term.
The digital noise on the internet is high, so you need to make an effort to be heard. Valuable content creation helps your website rank better on the SERPs and build expertise within your field.
Once you succeed in attracting visitors to your website and building trust with them, you'll have a much higher chance of walking these future customers through the entire sales channel. And if your readers are ready to purchase, you´ll be able to approach them with inbound sales techniques that result in higher ROI and more satisfied customers.