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How to drive customers through your marketing funnel using content

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Relevance on the necessary ingredients for creating a watertight content marketing funnel

Why do we make content?

The session began by asking attendees why they made content, and we were pleased to see answers corresponding to every stage of the marketing funnel. Engagement and storytelling ranked the highest, while other popular answers included education, selling products/generating sales, brand awareness, creating a dialogue, enhancing brand messaging, boosting SEO, making people feel like they belong, entertaining and creating a buzz.

Then Niki asked whether some common content faux pas had occurred within our attendees’ companies, with 66% of people saying that they had been asked to upload a video taken on an iPhone to their brand’s social media account, and 54% saying that they had been rushed to publish content immediately for an imminent event. Each situation points to confusion about creating appropriate content for different stages of the funnel.

Content’s place in the user journey

The classic content marketing funnel contains three stages: awareness, evaluation and conversion. However, as Relevance specializes in targeting HNW and UHNW individuals, we have adapted the model to fit our target audience. Relevance’s marketing funnel is broken down into six stages instead – pre-awareness, awareness, interest, desire, action and retention – which can be roughly broken down into notice me, consider me and buy me.

The pre-awareness stage is particularly relevant to our elite audience, who we have found often start out wanting to treat themselves but without any particular product in mind, meaning they are extremely open to being tempted by any brand that appeals to them.

Of course, the client doesn’t think of themselves as within a funnel. Instead, their journey in their mind is more likely to go as follows:

  1. I want to treat myself – how should I spend my money?

  2. I’ve decided what type of product I am looking for, but which brand to choose?

  3. Is this brand’s product really right for me?

  4. Can I afford it? Is it a socially acceptable purchase? What will it do for my status?

  5. Where should I buy it, and am I getting the best possible price for my product?

  6. Do I still love it, and would I buy it/something else from the brand again?

It is very important to think about the entire user journey and create content for every stage – otherwise the risk is that you will be beaten by a competitor who has a more complete content marketing funnel. Sometimes we find brands get caught up in the awareness stage and never move past it, but this can see potential customers leaking out of the funnel at a later stage, never committing to that purchase, and so wasting earlier efforts.

What does content look like at different stages of the funnel?

We can see from the diagram above the type of content that needs to be produced at each stage of the marketing funnel, but what can be harder to gauge is what this content needs to say. Niki broke it down as follows:

  1. In the pre-awareness phase, you need to let your audience know that you care about the same things as them, featuring people who you believe to be your ideal customers in your adverts.

  2. The awareness phase is for allowing people to get to know your brand slightly more, showing them what you stand for.

  3. At the interest phase, content can become a little less ‘Hollywood’ and a bit more real, going behind the scenes and showing the audience how this brand can meet their specific needs and values.

  4. This leads on to the desire stage, where your content should be showing the uniqueness and high quality of your work.

  5. In the action stage, you should be focusing on how easy it is for clients to purchase and do business with you, including ‘store-finders’ and product configurators.

  6. Lastly, content in the retention phase of the marketing funnel should show that you know and care about your relationship with your customers, including your commitment to customer service.

How to get your awareness content noticed

Many people encounter the same problem when starting out – namely that their ‘notice me’ content simply isn’t getting noticed. So why is this?

The main issue is that the audience at this stage is passive. They are on whichever platform they are on – let’s say a social media channel – to entertain themselves and to stay in touch with their loved ones, not to hear from your brand. It is very much their world, as we can see on the diagram below. As they move through the funnel, the audience becomes more captive, and more willing to listen to your brand tell its story at your own pace. However, to begin with, you may need to use a few extra tricks to grab people’s attention.

  • Trick one: As mentioned before, it is important to convey that you care about the same things your audience cares about – that you are the same as them. Find out what they are passionate about – whether that’s the environment, incredible technology or anything in between – and show that you care too.

    Patek Philippe: the new Twenty~4 Automatic

    The whole working-from-home thing – Apple

  • Trick two: Produce content that looks utterly amazing, that people simply can’t drag their eyes away from.

    Graff – Tribal

  • Trick three: Use optical illusions to get your audience’s attention and create interesting on-screen movement – this type of content often makes people look twice.

    Sunday Times the most creative ad ‘Icons’

Why does some content cost more than others?

Generally speaking, ‘notice me’ content tends to be most expensive because it is your brand putting its best foot forward to impress. This means costly, glossy production, not to mention the fact that this content is designed to reach a wider audience – typically photographers, videographers, actors and models will charge more for wider-reaching content.

Meanwhile as you move to the ‘consider me’ phase, content production tends to get cheaper – your brand is showing its more real side and allowing their target audience to get to know it on a deeper level, targeting a smaller group of people. During ‘buy me’ the content cost falls somewhere between the first two stages – it is less glossy, but should be ultra-personalized and interactive where possible.

Implement regular content audits: don’t let your efforts go to waste

Niki asked our webinar audience when they last conducted a content audit, finding that the majority had not audited their brand’s content in over 12 months.

At Relevance, we recommend doing a content audit at least twice a year to assess what is working and what can be improved. With so much effort going into creating and promoting this content, it is vital to regularly evaluate its success and how it could improve in order to keep the marketing funnel running smoothly and your leads converting.

Great content takes time... and money

Ultimately, good content boils down to targeting the right audience, at the right time, in the right place; three things that sound simple but can prove very difficult to get right. You will likely find that your business requires a specialist to help you create a truly watertight content marketing funnel. Remember that content is an investment – not an unnecessary expense – and, as long as it is financially viable, to spend at every stage of the customer journey; done right, you will be rewarded by a healthy ROI.

Rumble Romagnoli is chief executive officer at Relevance.

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