William Ballard, a regular contributor to Entreprenuer.com, is a solo entrepreneur and business owner in Ontario, Canada. A former network-marketer, William definitely knows how to go from original business idea to established business operation. His business tips and marketing wisdom has been featured on Entreprenuer.com as well as many other online business websites. William is a husband, writer and author. In his spare time you can usually find him reading or making notes for his next book. But above all else, William loves spending quality time with his loving wife. She truly holds his heart.
I am sure you've heard before that “Content is king”, but I disagree. Content is only Queen, while context is the real King. Focused content, geared to each area of the buyer’s journey, makes up the ruling marketing monarchy.
When you publish vast amounts of content, you may fill up your website, and it may even draw a lot of traffic to your website. But, if it's not helping you convert those visitors into leads and nurture them into customers, you're missing out on a huge opportunity.
Content Marketing and the Buyer's Journey
Capitalizing on that opportunity is as simple as aligning your content strategy with your buyer's journey.
Write a Lot of Top of the Funnel Pieces
One thing that you need to understand from the get-go is that one size doesn't fit all when it comes to content. In other words, you need to target your content to each persona, and their place in the funnel.
In order to make your content royalty, you need to provide lead generation magnets; blog posts and landing pages that are going to cater to each visitor's stage in their journey to buying. Depending on your buyer personas, and how long your sales cycles are, your buyer's journey may be as simple as 3 tiers: Introduction, Education, and Decision.
Free Resource: Download These Buyer Persona Examples & Templates
Even though your products or services may be able to assist multiple markets and multiple types of clients and customers, that doesn’t mean that your marketing messages match with every potential prospect.
For example, let’s say that you sell bicycle equipment and/or bicycle accessories.
With products and services like these you can cater to a couple of different markets (probably more) such as regular consumers who are just looking for a way to fix their broken bikes or to make their bikes “cooler." You could also market to B2B type prospects that are interested in your products to enhance their own products and services.
Well, obviously you wouldn’t market to businesses the same way you would market to consumers. Their pain points, concerns, and goals are completely different. Content should be created to address both of your target markets and their unique buyer's journeys.
Write top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) pieces that address their basic questions. If a consumer broke a chain on their Schwinn 10-speed, they might be searching the web for "best chains for a Schwinn 10-speed." If you wrote an article to answer that question, it would be considered top of the funnel in the following conditions:
- It answered their questions, and gave them the best options available, even the ones you don't sell. (if this applies)
- It provided real guidance on what they should look for when replacing Schwinn chains.
- It offered them resources to continue their education on the subject.
Notice: It's easy for someone to search Amazon.com for a "chain for x-model Schwinn" and pick the cheapest one, or the one with the best reviews. Someone searching the Internet for the "best' chain is looking to educate themselves on the subject, not instantly buy.
TOFU content shouldn't introduce them to purchase options, unless there are no other educational opportunities available. It should be focused on education, not selling.
In this example, offering a call-to-action to download an eBook on "10 Things to Know Before You Change Your Schwinn chain," would be a better offer than "buy this replacement." One thing to keep in mind, if you have an up-sell opportunity, for instance a complete chain replacement kit, the eBook would be a good time to introduce that option as well.
Bottom line: Use your blog for a majority of TOFU content. It will attract organic search traffic, and bring you the possibility of growing your leads.
Write Your Premium Content Pieces with Funnel Position in Mind
Now, that you know that you need to diversify your content and marketing messages to cater to each persona that you are attempting to attract, you need to harness your attention to the particular order in which your content/messages are delivered.
You need to “Keep First Things First”. Start out with the Top of the Funnel offers and then work your way down the funnel to Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) offers that nurture your leads. Finally, focus in on the Bottom of the Funnel offers that get your leads warmed up and ready to buy from your brand.
Make sure to place your premium content pieces at the hot spots of your funnel. In fact, it is highly important that you familiarize yourself with your funnel before you plan your content strategy.
It has been said that the best leaders are ones that will never ask you do something that they haven’t done themselves. In fact, it is very difficult to lead someone where you have never been yourself.
So take the buyers journey first so you know exactly when and where to make the best offers to your prospects. When you do this, you’ll know exactly how to push your prospects buttons and get them eager to buy from you.
Mix in MOFU Blog Articles, with CTA's to MOFU Content Offers
You can think of this process as Information-Based Marketing.
You see, it usually takes a prospect 3 to 4 times of reading different marketing messages before he or she starts pulling out their wallet and buying. You could probably testify to this fact.
I am sure you didn’t purchase a product or invest in a service the first time you were introduced to that particular product or service’s marketing message. Why would your prospects be any different?
When we say, “Mix in MOFU blog articles with CTAs that go to MOFU content offers”, what we are talking about is writing a blog post that has a call-to-action for a prospect to click on a button. This CTA will lead them to a landing page where you may offer a free downloadable e-book or report, or even a video series.
This information-based marketing strategy has worked for centuries and works in multiple types of businesses and markets.
For example, let’s say you are an author and you just released book four in a series of books that you are wanting to hit #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers List. You may be trying to market your new book to a market or to a prospect that isn’t familiar with your work or the past books in your series.
What you could do is write a blog post that will persuade your reader to follow through with a call-to-action that will lead your blog reader to a landing page. On the landing page, they can fill out a form and be able to download a PDF version of your first three books in the series FREE.
This allows that prospect to get familiar with your work and creates a sense of intrigue for your new book. That is just one example, but there are many more.
Introduce Premium, BOFU Offers for your MOFU Leads
This is the part of the funnel where you use content to create a sense of urgency for the reader/prospect. In other words, these last few bits of content or marketing messages need to answer product or service questions, provide a sense of scarcity, as well as give them reason why they should buy from you.
In these last bits of content you need to make it perfectly clear how they can buy, and how secure the buying process is, as well as make it absolutely impossible for them to think twice about why they shouldn’t buy.
Before you get to this third phase (bottom) of this content marketing funnel, you need to make sure that the top and middle sections of the funnel are perfect. The key to this whole system is make sure that your prospects are 100% informed about your product or service and highly persuaded or convinced that they need your product or service above everyone else that is in competition with you.
This means that not only are you going to have to become a content writer but you are also going to have to learn the art of copywriting or salesmanship in print.
An example of this last tier of the funnel could be providing case studies or success stories of current and past clients or customers that have used your products or services and whose lives and businesses have been changed for the better. These types of content are persuasive and highly converting.
By now, you already know that matching content with the buyer's journey is extremely beneficial to your marketing efforts. With multiple top-tier content, you gain more leads that you would normally miss out on when only having one top tier lead generation content message.
When you apply this content funnel system in your marketing efforts you will gain more sales from highly qualified leads who are educated and ready to make the buyer's decision. This allows your sales teams to concentrate on high-value leads while at the same time allowing your website and marketing automation to disqualify or nurture the new leads to the SQL point.
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