Creating a successful marketing plan is about finding balance. Balance between tactics that drive massive awareness and tactics that engage potential consumers at a deeper level. When seeking reach, it’s not uncommon for marketers to experience limits to the scale of effectiveness when utilizing popular digital tactics such as banners, native or social ads. While great at building brand awareness and reinforcing brand messaging, they are less so effective at capturing engaged users to drive consideration.
Enter rich content, or value-add content. Beyond a blog post or 30-second video, this content not only garners clicks, but it also keeps users coming back for more. It can be educational, entertaining, informative and actionable. It most effectively exists as part of an ecosystem or hub that engages its readers over time and naturally guides them to brand consideration. A 2017 Conductor study showed that users are 131% more likely to buy from brands that educate them.
Leveraging value-add content as part of an inbound marketing strategy helps:
- Increase awareness by showcasing brand capabilities and thought leadership
- Generate more qualified interest and leads by educating customers
- Improve SEO reach and overall brand visibility
- Drive customer retention by strengthening their brand affinity and maintaining relationships with them over time
Brands that find it difficult to take the leap to content-based strategies often struggle to define the type of content they should produce and how to leverage it. Adopting a full-funnel, multi-channel content strategy is the first step toward success. At each stage, unique content themes can drive new interest and guide customer research.
The Funnel-Based Content Strategy
When developing a content marketing strategy, brands should consider the customer mindset at each stage of the funnel and create valuable content that moves them towards purchase. Full funnel marketing meets customers where they are, with the right messaging, at the right time.
Follow these best practices to create an effective content strategy, which includes types of content to produce and how to measure success.
Top of the Funnel Content
Customers at the top of the funnel are just beginning their decision journey with a brand. Often referred to as the awareness stage, they have very limited knowledge of a potential brand and its products or services. Brands should use this opportunity to create content that educates them about who they are and what they do.
To actively engage with customers in the awareness stage, while balancing your allocated budget and resources, strive to regularly produce content in the form of blogs, podcasts, videos, social media, infographics, newsletters or videos. Focus on conveying valuable, relevant information in bite-size, easily digestible formats (think: a 30-second video as opposed to a two-minute video tutorial). These act as “teasers,” motivating customers to seek more information. You’ll also avoid the common mistake of information overload that tends to turn them away. At this stage, a content marketing strategy should increase both brand awareness and engagement rates while driving more traffic to your website as well.
Middle of the Funnel Content
At this point in the decision journey, customers have had some brand exposure. More importantly, they have identified a problem that needs to be solved. As customers move into the middle of the funnel, also referred to as the consideration phase, they will conduct research to better understand what solutions are available to them.
During this phase, aim to educate customers about what makes your products or services unique. To start, create two pieces of content in the form of white papers, quizzes, surveys, free downloads, webinars or even small events, which are often highly effective at showcasing offerings while also providing a solution to a customer’s problem.
The consideration phase means customers are more inclined to provide personal details such as name, email and phone number to access gated content. Take advantage, but be sure that the gated content is high quality and customers feel rewarded. Ultimately, this will help boost brand perception.
Success at this point in the funnel allows you to more actively engage customers while driving lead generation, growing email lists and expanding retargeting efforts.
Bottom of the Funnel Content
Customers at the bottom of the funnel, or purchase stage, have nearly decided on a solution. Before they complete a purchase, they do further research on the product or service that will meet their needs. Weighing the pros and cons, customers often choose brands that clearly differentiate themselves.
Develop a strategy that leverages a few assets that best exemplify your products and services such as demos, free trials, testimonials, comparison and spec sheets, webinars or mini-classes. These pieces should answer any questions the customer has about your product or service and position it as the obvious choice. Success will maximize customer lifetime value, garner a higher customer retention rate and generate higher buyer frequency and repurchase metrics.
It’s more important than ever for brands to create authentic relationships with customers. A well curated content marketing strategy is a crucial component, the best of which ultimately turn customers into brand advocates. By leading with value-add content, you can radically transform your marketing and sales processes.