How To Build A Content Funnel

CONTENT FOR AWARENESS

This is the ‘brand’ building stage. As a small business it’s unlikely that you will have the money to make yourselves into a household name, but it is possible to become well known in your local area. You can do this by making sure you are featured in online listings and appear on Google Maps (see here). 

You can also do display advertising on a pay-per-impressions basis (see here)  or pay-per-click advertising (see here). If you don’t really have a budget for advertising, you can also build awareness by writing articles and posts for social media and posting good quality content to specialist groups and sites such as Outbrain. See the list of these types of sites here. 

The diagram shows the types of places you can post content.

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How it works:

Your new prospect sees one of your articles or posts on a third party website, social media site, blog, press release etc. He/she notices that there is a link to follow, usually leading to your site or to a purpose built landing page.

 

How To Build Awareness with Content

STEP 1: Stay In Tune with Your Market

To generate and build interest, you need to be in tune with what’s going on in your market and what your sorts of content potential customers are interested in.

Find the

STEP 2: Build Out Profiles and Pages

Spend a little bit of time developing a logo/brand image that matches the requirements of the site and set up profiles and pages as required. This is often a bigger step than people realise, as capturing the essence of your business in a couple of sentences is very hard. A common mistake is that this ‘strap line’ evolves over time and changes from platform to platform. Whilst not fatal, this can seem a bit amateurish for your potential customers if they find you in more than one place. You’d also be amazed at the time consumed by trying to get it ‘just right’. So think about this before you start and stick to it! We promise you it’ll save you A LOT of time in the long run.

Also make sure you put a photo of yourself (or your business figurehead) in if there’s a space for it. People are much more comfortable interacting with real people.

Top Tip

DON’T USE CORPORATE SPEAK. Use normal natural language to describe yourself and your business. Use a conversational tone that’s appropriate for your type of business. Image you’re chatting to someone (or better still your ‘customer avatar’) on the bus and describing yourself and your business.

STEP 3: Research a List of Topics

Spend a little time thinking about what your prospective customers want to know about. The things that will add value to their concerns and issues. You might want to revisit (or do) the Customer Avatar exercise and also the ‘Before and After’ Worksheet. These will help you get some ideas of content that will work for your potential customers.

Don’t forget that it doesn’t all have to be posts/articles. It can also take the form of quizzes, lists, infographics, videos or any other form of communicating that will work for your customers. Make a real effort to vary your content medium, as this will make it much more interesting for potential customers.

Make a deliberate effort to get in tune with your market. Go to the places your potential customers will go, sign up to Forums, comment and review things. Spend time on this and you will pick up on the ‘zeitgeist’ of your market. This makes is much easier to ‘tune in’ to what your potential customers are thinking and so what are the hot and trending topics are.

Top Tip

STAY TUNED

 

STEP 4: Write Your Content

Blog posts should be between 400-600 words long, articles need to be around 1,000 words and other content should be crafted to fit the platform. For example, tweets can only be 140 characters long – and you will need to remember to include the link to your ‘landing page’ within that count. See ‘All About Twitter’ here.

Make sure you have thought about your ‘tone and style’. Do you want to be chatty? Authoritative? Informal or formal? What’s your approach going to be – journalistic/newsy? Technical? This obviously has to fit in with what you’re selling and also has to be authentic to your and your business. Trying to adopt a ‘learned’ style when you’re natural inclination is to be chatty will be hard to keep up and make the content production process more difficult than it needs to be.

Always include images and try to make them either original or at least a bit quirky and not obviously ‘stock’ images. The happy smiley business people ‘thing’ has been done to death.

Make sure you produce a Content Schedule so that you can be consistent and produce content in a timely manner. Writing (and other content production can get pushed to the back of the admin queue – so it’s really important to make time for it. The Awareness stage can seem like writing (or producing) for writing’s sake as it WILL take time to get results – people signing up to find out more.

AVOID THE ‘ME ME ME’ SYNDROME. Write about what’s in it for your customers. How will their problems be solved or life improved because of you?

We’ve all read the kind of stuff:

‘I left corporate life, after a highly successful career getting 1,200% returns on people’s investment funds, to set up Beautiful Balls. It came to me one day in a particularly boring meeting when I went into a little daydream. I saw a beach with a happy family but they seemed bored. I was suddenly inspired, what they needed were some wonderful beach balls to play with, and so Beautiful Balls was born’.

Hopefully you don’t need us to tell you why this doesn’t work. It narcissistic and it paints a picture of someone who may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Doubtless in her own world  she’s a nice woman trying to impress on her potential customers that she’s got the business smarts to run a reputable and successful company. But….well you can make up your own mind.

Or slightly more subtly:

‘Beautiful Balls is a small artisan ball maker located in the backstreets of Brighton. We are dedicated to using the very best organic and free-range plastics,  which are burst-proof, even if your 3 year old pokes it with a sharp pin. The paints and dyes we use are also organic and lead free and are 100% guaranteed not to fade after prolonged contact with water, especially sea water. We’ve patented the air valve for our blow-up balls, which has been specially designed by people who used to work for James Dyson. This patented technology means that you can get more air into the ball with less puff and it stays longer. We are delighted with the end results and we’re sure you will be too.’

This falls into the classic trap of describing product features. You can see that a lot of thought and effort has gone into the design of the product, but is that really what a potential customer is interested in? Really? The usual advice is to try and focus on benefits – but this also tends to fall into the trap of being product-centric. People aren’t interested in products. They’re interested in what result they are going to get with them. As an old business aphorism says: “Black & Decker don’t sell drills, they sell holes in the wall”. So think about it,  what are you actually selling?

Top Tip

The skill (and art) is to talk about the customer and how your product (service) will make their lives just that little bit better. Use the ‘Before and After Worksheet‘ to help with this.

STEP 5: Creating Landing Pages

A landing page is what the name suggests – a place for people to ‘land’ when they’ve clicked a link in a piece of your content. Many people make the mistake of taking people to their home page from these links. This is bad practice. You need to take people to the next stage of the journey you’ve designed for them. Landing people on a home page is rather like sending someone to a train station and saying ‘Go somewhere’ without giving them the destination. It’s annoying.

There is also a type of landing page known as the ‘sales’ page or ‘squeeze’ page. These are often very long pages that are designed to pique interest and hold off on the ‘gratification’ of the punchline until you’ve read a long, long page of information.

Surprisingly, research shows these types of pages are highly effective at getting the ‘conversion’, more so than short-form pages. Why? Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that once people are hooked in, it’s human nature to keep going until the punchline -which in most cases with these type of pages is the price. If you’re interested in the offer and all the ‘good’ things it’s going to do for you, it’s quite hard to pull yourself away until you know what it’s going to cost. Human psychology is geared towards wanting to make a choice – in this case ‘shall I buy this?’ and then craving the information needed to make that decision. That’s why it works!

Writing these types of pages is an absolute art and expert copy writers charge a fortune for them.

CONTENT FOR INTEREST

Awareness and Interest overlap can overlap as it does very much depend on what type of product or service you are offering. For example, if you are an e-commerce site – i.e. selling lots of products in an online shop, then you’ll need a more sophisticated approach that separates awareness (all about your brand and what you stand for) vs. interest (about specific produce/service offerings).

Generally speaking, you build interest around specific offers which you use funnel techniques to promote. As an example, to get people interested in a particular type of service, you may offer a free White Paper download which is designed meet two aims:

  • get them to opt-in to an email list by giving you their email address
  • tell you that they are interested in a particular product/service (segments them)

With these two things you can email them with specific offers that you already know they have an interest in. This is very valuable. To do this successfully you need to offer targeted specific content that has a real value to people who have expressed an interest in it.

The idea in this part, is to keep people engaged and interested by offering them continuous additional free value until they move to the next stage of the funnel (Action). It can take months and even years for people to eventually buy something from you. But if you continue to keep them interested with free value, eventually they will take action. As an aside, a lot of this is best managed with Email Marketing – so do take a look at the Email Marketing Workshop.

You need to keep your content fresh and relevant. See below for Tips and Steps.

 

 

How to Build Interest with Content

STEP 1: What's the Competition Doing?

To build interest in a specific product or service, it’s good to be in tune with your marketplace. Who are your competitors and what are they doing? Is there anything you can emulate or better improve on? See if you can learn any tips or tricks from the type of content they are writing and producing.

Go to our Competitor Analysis Workshop to get the inside track on who your online competitors are and how to find out what they’re doing.

STEP 2: Gather Social Proof and Statistics

Make an effort to find out useful and interesting statistics about your product or service. These help to spice up content and appeal the logical side of the brain.

Also request and gather ‘social proof’. This can be in the form of testimonials, reviews, ‘as seen on’ logos, or ‘as featured in’ (name newspaper or authority website).

The aim of this is to show your visitor that they are making a smart move by opting in to what you’re offering.

STEP 3: Design Your Free Offers

Core to the idea of sales funnels is the idea of a ‘Lead Magnet’. This is the freebie giveaway that offers real value for which people are willing to exchange their email. This is the minimum requirement you must have for any of your site visitors. Without it you are unable to move the conversation forward. You may get a million ‘hits’ to your site, but if you can’t follow-up and engage it’s worth very little to you in the longer-term.

FInd out more about Funnels.

So, think of a list of free things you can give away. They need to be directly related to a specific offer (thing you want to sell) and should be as specific as possible. So for example, if your a Mortgage Broker,  rather than writing an authoritative White Paper on ‘General Mortgage Trends in 2016’, you should be doing something more like ‘The Lowest Mortgage Rate We’ve Seen This Year and How You Can Get It’. This can then be linked into a free review of some sort that will enable you to do follow-up and find out specifically what that person needs.

Here are some ideas:

  • report/guide
  • a diagnostic quiz that tailors advice to responses and emails this out
  • an infographic
  • a video that explains how to do something (‘how-to’ videos are very popular)
  • cheat sheet/handout
  • Software download/trial
STEP 4: Write Your Content

The advice is broadly the same as for the Awareness stage:

Make sure you have thought about your ‘tone and style’. Do you want to be chatty? Authoritative? Informal or formal? What’s your approach going to be – journalistic/newsy? Technical? This obviously has to fit in with what you’re selling and also has to be authentic to your and your business. Trying to adopt a ‘learned’ style when you’re natural inclination is to be chatty will be hard to keep up and make the content production process more difficult than it needs to be.

Always include images and try to make them either original or at least a bit quirky and not obviously ‘stock’ images. The happy smiley business people ‘thing’ has been done to death.

Make sure you produce a Content Schedule so that you can be consistent and produce content in a timely manner. Writing (and other content production can get pushed to the back of the admin queue – so it’s really important to make time for it. .

AVOID THE ‘ME ME ME’ SYNDROME. Write about what’s in it for your customers. How will their problems be solved or life improved because of you?

We’ve all read the kind of stuff:

‘I left corporate life, after a highly successful career getting 1,200% returns on people’s investment funds, to set up Beautiful Balls. It came to me one day in a particularly boring meeting when I went into a little daydream. I saw a beach with a happy family but they seemed bored. I was suddenly inspired, what they needed were some wonderful beach balls to play with, and so Beautiful Balls was born’.

Hopefully you don’t need us to tell you why this doesn’t work. It narcissistic and it paints a picture of someone who may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Doubtless in her own world  she’s a nice woman trying to impress on her potential customers that she’s got the business smarts to run a reputable and successful company. But….well you can make up your own mind.

Or slightly more subtly:

‘Beautiful Balls is a small artisan ball maker located in the backstreets of Brighton. We are dedicated to using the very best organic and free-range plastics,  which are burst-proof, even if your 3 year old pokes it with a sharp pin. The paints and dyes we use are also organic and lead free and are 100% guaranteed not to fade after prolonged contact with water, especially sea water. We’ve patented the air valve for our blow-up balls, which has been specially designed by people who used to work for James Dyson. This patented technology means that you can get more air into the ball with less puff and it stays longer. We are delighted with the end results and we’re sure you will be too.’

This falls into the classic trap of describing product features. You can see that a lot of thought and effort has gone into the design of the product, but is that really what a potential customer is interested in? Really? The usual advice is to try and focus on benefits – but this also tends to fall into the trap of being product-centric. People aren’t interested in products. They’re interested in what result they are going to get with them. As an old business aphorism says: “Black & Decker don’t sell drills, they sell holes in the wall”. So think about it,  what are you actually selling?

Top Tip

The skill (and art) is to talk about the customer and how your product (service) will make their lives just that little bit better. Use the ‘Before and After Worksheet‘ to help with this.

STEP 5: Creating Landing Pages

The advice for the Interest stage is the same as for the Awareness stage. If you are writing content to get people to do something, (opt-in or buy) then you need to make sure that they get specific added-value content for what they’ve expressed an interest in.

A landing page is what the name suggests – a place for people to ‘land’ when they’ve clicked a link in a piece of your content. Many people make the mistake of taking people to their home page from these links. This is bad practice. You need to take people to the next stage of the journey you’ve designed for them. Landing people on a home page is rather like sending someone to a train station and saying ‘Go somewhere’ without giving them the destination. It’s annoying.

There is also a type of landing page known as the ‘sales’ page or ‘squeeze’ page. These are often very long pages that are designed to pique interest and hold off on the ‘gratification’ of the punchline until you’ve read a long, long page of information.

Surprisingly, research shows these types of pages are highly effective at getting the ‘conversion’, more so than short-form pages. Why? Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that once people are hooked in, it’s human nature to keep going until the punchline -which in most cases with these type of pages is the price. If you’re interested in the offer and all the ‘good’ things it’s going to do for you, it’s quite hard to pull yourself away until you know what it’s going to cost. Human psychology is geared towards wanting to make a choice – in this case ‘shall I buy this?’ and then craving the information needed to make that decision. That’s why it works!

Writing these types of pages is an absolute art and expert copy writers charge a fortune for them.

CONTENT FOR EVALUATION/DECISION

 

 

 

How to support decision making with Content

STEP 1:
STEP 2:
STEP 3:
STEP 4:
STEP 5:

CONTENT FOR ACTION

 

 

 

How to Support Action with Content

STEP 1:
STEP 2:
STEP 3:
STEP 4:
STEP 5: