how to create a successful content marketing strategy
16 Minute Read

An effective Content Marketing Strategy is about taking a Marketing Funnel approach. In this blog, we will cover each step of the funnel and explore how you can develop a successful Content Marketing Strategy for your brand.

‘Content’ is a word that has become a standard part of our day to day language. The phrase ‘Content is King’ has been adopted by big and small brands alike, regardless of the industry or part of the world. The reason that content has become such an essential part of all businesses today is that it determines whether a brand will succeed or not. At its core, content is supposed to engage an audience with meaningful and valuable content that will attract customers to the brand.
In today’s digitally connected world, it is more important than ever before that you can get the right message across to the right audience at the right time. The right audience here refers to good leads and has a high chance of converting into paying customers.

To succeed at reaching the right person at the most opportune time, it is vital to have a content strategy that has been tailored to go with your brand. The content strategy you develop to market your brand can only get developed adequately after you have identified the specific business goals you want to achieve and understand the Customer’s Journey. Once you have identified what consumers want and what you want your brand to accomplish, you will understand what kind of content you should be creating and publishing online.

It is vital to have a content strategy that has been tailored to go with your brand

Apex Pro Media is no stranger to designing a content strategy and has created content strategies for various clients, and each one is tailor-made for that specific brand. We recognise the importance of content as a crucial factor to the success of any business and use our knowledge and experience of crafting content strategies to make success a sure thing for the brands. In this article, we will break down the different elements that go into developing a Content Marketing Strategy with a Content Strategy Funnel. Then, we’ll go over what types of content align with the different parts of the marketing process and which audiences are meant for which type of content.

The importance of a Content Marketing Strategy

Although it is widely accepted that Content Marketing can drastically impact how businesses can attract, inform, and engage consumers, many marketers can get stuck asking the question, “What content should I create to get the results I want?” What type of content you should be creating is even more critical when we consider that the average consumer typically views three to five pieces of content before they decide to reach out to a brand and make a purchase.

As mentioned earlier, to get the best results out of Content Marketing, a clear understanding of the target audience is essential. By having a good understanding of the mind’s of your intended audience members, you can define your marketing goals and set priorities accordingly. You can then develop a detailed roadmap based on the expectations of your target audience and ensure that all marketing efforts are goal-driven and are targeted at the right people. Using a documented content strategy will minimise the chance of any efforts going to waste and ensure that all the work done by your team will translate into real and tangible results.

Customer’s Journey through the lens of the Marketing Funnel

‘The Marketing Funnel’ is a model that helps marketers visualise the way people move through the various stages of the Customer Journey. The marketing funnel is similar to the concept of the ‘sales funnel’, with prospective customers starting at the top of the funnel at the moment they become aware of a need. This is followed by the customer considering different products that can meet that need and ending at the point when they make up their mind over which product/service they want to buy. From the perspective of marketing and content strategy, it is vital that you have a good understanding of how your customers flow through the marketing funnel in order to get the most out of this model.

‘The Marketing Funnel’ is a model that helps marketers visualise the way people move through the various stages of the Customer Journey.

In theory, people move from one stage of the funnel to the next in an orderly and linear fashion. However, in reality, people can move from one stage to another multiple time before they ever spend any money. For example, someone might first read a blog post about a product, get interested in looking for alternatives, then go over the prices of different products, then forget about it entirely and only come back to the initial blog post after two weeks and only then make up their mind to make a purchase.

Stages of Customer Awareness

Stages-of-Customer-Awareness

Outside of simple day-to-day transactions or impulsive purchases, people do not typically make a purchase decision just like that. Before a customer gets to the stage where they are willing to spend money to buy something, they generally go through a number of steps prior to that, with each step bringing them closer to making a purchase decision. This is the Customer’s Journey of awareness, starting from a point where they don’t even realise that they have a problem or need something, all the way through to the point where they have narrowed down the product/brand they want to buy from. Each stage along this journey comes with increased awareness of the options available to the customer. Thus, to increase the chances of a customer deciding that your product is right for them, your content needs to be designed with the goal of nudging your prospective customer’s further along their journey towards the direction of your brand. Content that is able to do this is not aimed at just getting people closer to making a purchase. It should also:

  • Start forging a relationship with your audience long before they might become customers.
  • Position your brand as being a trustworthy and reliable source of help
  • Pre-position your product or service as being the logical and best solution to a problem.

The 1966 book ‘Breakthrough Advertising‘ by Eugene Schwartz is considered to be a Copywriting classic. Even today, it is considered to be a great resource for teaching Marketing and Copywriting concepts. The Five Stages of Awareness of the Customer Journey was first outlined in this book as a way to enable marketers to create content that resonates with their audience and helps get the optimum number of conversions. The stages of awareness of a Customer’s Journey are:

  1. Unaware stage
  2. The problem aware stage
  3. The solution aware stage
  4. The product aware stage
  5. The most aware stage

Stages of the Marketing Funnel

The models of Marketing Funnels used by different marketers all generally follow a similar structure and flow more or less the same way.  The basic components of every marketing funnel are:

  • The Top of the Funnel
  • The Middle of the Funnel
  • The Bottom of the Funnel

While it is true that most people pass through the various stages of the funnel in a disorganised and non-linear fashion, having a clear understanding of each stage is required in order to have clear messaging and content at each stage of the funnel.

Let’s look at each stage of the Conversion Funnel in some detail and how to do it right.

Strategising with Content Marketing Funnel

You need to have a clear plan to guide the process of content delivery for each stage of the funnel, enabling you to meet consumers wherever they are in the funnel.

Top Funnel Content – TOFU

Your content marketing in Top Funnel should be aimed at people who are clueless about your brand. The goal of your marketing here should be to inform and educate people about your company and its reputation. The content for the top funnel should be designed to inculcate trust in your brand, as well as enlighten people about the ways your product can solve their problems. People will only believe that you have a solution for them when your content is about something that they actually care about.

You can accomplish this by using these content formats:

  • Blog posts (that are optimised for SEO)
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Social media posts

You might have already written marketing content that fits into some of these formats. To determine whether a piece of content fits here, ask yourself two questions;

Does this content address a potential pain point the audience might have?

Does this content involve any interests that your audience cares about and can relate to?

If you answered yes to both of these questions, then the content belongs in the TOFU category.

Keep in mind that the goal of TOFU content is to increase awareness of your brand and build trust with an audience. You can judge the performance of your content and see if it’s meeting people’s expectations by tracking the following metrics:

  • Number of pageviews 
  • The amount of organic traffic to the content
  • Time spent watching videos (for video content)
  • The number of subscribers and listeners your Podcast has so far

Middle Funnel Content – MOFU

One proceeds to the Middle Funnel after they have realized having a problem – a pain point or an unfulfilled need. This stage can be divided into two smaller stages; realising a pain point exists (pain awareness) and spreading awareness about the solution to that pain (solution awareness).

Pain Awareness

The pain awareness phase occurs when a potential customer realises that they have a problem that they have been experiencing but did not realise it properly until they view content that makes them aware.

The messaging that you need to put out for this stage of the funnel is relatively simple. It boils down to. “This is a problem you have, and here’s how we can fix it for you and do it better and more economically than any alternative”.

MOFU content can be put into these basic content formats:

  • Microsites
  • Email series
  • Webinars
  • Guides and tips
  • Whitepapers

You can assess your existing content to see if it fits in the pain awareness stage or not. You can determine this by asking yourself;

Are you addressing a specific problem that people are experiencing, and does your product solve that problem?

Are you teaching your audience how to solve this problem using your product?

If you answered yes to both of these questions, you can file that content in the pain awareness drawer. You can make this content more engaging and informative by publishing practical examples of how your product helped solve problems for real people.

Solution Awareness

This is the stage where a potential customer has realised that they have a need that hasn’t been met so far. When they start to look for products and services that can meet those needs, they enter the ‘solution aware’ stage of the funnel. The potential customer feels a specific pain that is new to them, and they start looking for ways to solve the problem.

In the MOFU stage of the customer’s journey, your content should focus on the way your brand and its offerings solve specific problems. People can solve some problems by themselves, but it would take too much effort and resources for them to do it by themselves. Inform the audience that you can solve their problem at a much lower cost with the added expertise the company has accumulated over time.

Content formats that are suitable for the solution aware phase are:

  • Landing Pages
  • Case Studies
  • Comparison Pages
  • Product Reviews and Testimonials from Customers

Content of these types will make the reader aware of your products and services and how they can be used to solve their problems. The reviews and testimonials from people who have already used your products can be especially effective at convincing potential customers about the value your brand can provide, increasing the chances of successfully converting a potential customer into a paying customer.

You can categorise the content that belongs in this stage with the following questions:

  • Is the content addressing the product category directly?
  • Is the content showing the readers what they should look for in the options they are considering while searching for a solution?
  • Is the content positioning your product as a better choice than the competing products?

The best way to send out a call-to-action for MOFU content is to give the reader the option to opt-in to receive further marketing content. If a potential customer joins your mailing list, you will be able to communicate with them directly, which you can then use to send BOFU content (more on that in the next section). You can track your performance of your MOFU content by tracking metrics like:

  • The number of people who opt-in vs the number of people who don’t opt-in
  • The qualified leads you to get from the people who opted in
  • The number of email subscribers
  • The number of pages viewed per session
  • The number of new visitors vs the number of returning visitors

Bottom Funnel Content: Most Aware Stage

Content Marketing in Top Funnel should be aimed at people who are clueless about your brand.

After your potential customers have gone through your MOFU content, the next step in the customer’s journey is the purchase stage. By the point of Bottom Funnel, potential customers are aware of your brand and are actively considering a purchase. For this final stage of the funnel, you need to be able to convince them that your product is the best choice available to them because it is better than competing products. The content formats that should be used in this stage of the funnel are:

  • Product Demos
  • Product Videos
  • Free trials or free but limited use of your product

In this stage, the customer has become well aware that your product might be what they have been looking for to solve their pain point.

People can be actively considering different options and trying out the free trials or limited feature versions of products and services from various brands, in order to determine which product is the best fit for them and their specific problem. The message you need to convey to people in this stage should reinforce the fact that while other products can help with their problem, your product will be the most effective and worth spending money. Use this information to develop a template of what type of message you will be delivering in your content for the product aware stage. You can determine whether a piece of content belongs in this stage by asking yourself these questions:

  • Is the content directly positioning your product as being the best solution to a specific problem?
  • Is the content informing the audience how your product works?
  • Is the content highlighting how your product is superior to other products in the same category?

Finally, the last thing to do for the product awareness stage is to determine the expectations of people who have come this far. Your content for this stage should be able to meet those expectations, with the end goal of BOFU content being the conversion of a prospect into a customer of your brand. You can track the content for this stage with the help of KPIs such as:

  • Conversion Rates
  • The Number of Sales Made
  • Demo Conversions
  • Revenue Generated
  • Number of Inquiries from Interested People

Conclusion

create a successful content marketing strategy (2)

In conclusion, it needs to be emphasized that developing a comprehensive Marketing Funnel using the information provided above is no easy task. Properly crafting your plan for each stage of the funnel and integrating them so they all complement each other takes time and research, and it is a process instead of a one and done deal. The Marketing Funnel Strategy you develop today might not be as effective a month from now, which means that you need to treat it as a process that you will be actively addressed as long as you’re in business. Creating a good Marketing Funnel isn’t easy, but it is an opportunity to drive considerable improvements in the performance and efficiency of your brand and become better at closing deals.

Managing a complete Funnel Marketing Strategy is not simply a Marketing Strategy, it is an entirely different approach to how marketing is done. It requires up close and personal collaboration with your entire team to properly utilize the full range of marketing capabilities of all your campaigns.

You don’t have to do all the hard work by yourself. Get in touch with Apex Pro Media and leave the nitty-gritty work to us while you manage the increased business that will come as a result of an effective Marketing Funnel Strategy.

Summary:

Content marketing is a core element of any brand’s success.

The Marketing Funnel is a way to visualise each step of the customer’s journey, from the moment they first become aware of a need, all the way to when they make a purchase.

The five stages of the customer’s journey are:

  • Unaware Stage
  • The Problem Aware Stage
  • The Solution Aware Stage
  • The Product Aware Stage
  • The Most Aware Stage

The Marketing Funnel is a way to break down these stages of the customer’s journey into the following three parts:

  • The Top of the Funnel (Awareness)
  • The Middle of the Funnel (Consideration)
  • The Bottom-Funnel (Most Aware)

A Marketing Funnel Strategy will help you get the most out of your content strategy, and it should guide your entire marketing effort.

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