Beyond brand awareness – how to use content to move people through the sales funnel

When people think about content marketing, they’re usually thinking about the top of the funnel. At this stage it’s all about raising brand awareness, getting your name out there, ensuring people know who you are, what you do and the fact that you’re an expert at it.

But filling a sales funnel is just one job. You also need to ensure that as many people as possible continue down that funnel and ultimately end up working with you. And content can help. Here’s how.

Attracting attention and raising awareness

This is where it all starts. You want to get people’s interest, attract their attention with something interesting or valuable or entertaining – or all three. This is where blogging and video content is useful, and where social media comes into its own. 

In this phase it’s absolutely not about the sale but more about giving your readers what they want and establishing a connection that will hopefully get them interested enough to move to phase two. 

From a brand perspective it’s about positioning, establishing brand personality and values, and being very clear about the value you can offer.

Generating interest and engagement

Having caught the eye of your audience, you now want to engage with them. You’ll probably want to continue to produce valuable, interesting content but now you also want to give them a bit more information about you.

This is where your website is a powerful tool. Someone might have seen a social media post and clicked through to a blog post, for example. From there, you might craft a clever call to action (CTA) inviting them to explore one of your services or find out more about your team.

At this stage you could also encourage them to sign up for a newsletter so that you can serve them more content that will be helpful and interesting to them – ideally in a personalised stream. You could use a white paper or other helpful download such as a guide or template to get those email details.

Offline this is where a brochure can be helpful, providing your audience with a way to find out more about you as a company.

Preparing for consideration and evaluation

While low ticket items might be purchased on a whim, where there’s any real commitment involved in a buying process – for example because there are large sums of money involved, or the outcomes are critical – you will find yourself being carefully evaluated as a business.

People evaluate in different ways. Some want social proof – they’re the kinds of people who will value testimonials and case studies. A well written case study will demonstrate both the features and the benefits of what you do in a real life context that is hugely beneficial – especially for brands with a complex or intangible service offering such as tech businesses.

Other people like to try before they buy. In this case you might consider offering free resources that will genuinely add value while giving them a taste of what they might expect when they work with you. 

The same goes for a low price point offering. As an example, our website audit guide is free to download, while our website health check is just £45+VAT – ideal for someone trying to work out whether they want us to write their website copy.

“Content isn’t just about lead generation and closing sales, it’s about building relationship and that continues even after you’ve got the business.”

Winning business at the intent stage

Hopefully by this time you’ve got some really great leads sitting near the bottom of your funnel – people who would like to do business with you. But you may still have some work to do to get them across the line and content can help here too.

For example, if you need to pitch for business then a pitch deck is a vital tool. While the substance of a pitch deck is the most important aspect, it also needs to be well written and designed. You’ll need to hone your message and communicate as much information as you can in as few words as possible in order to make the right impact.

For other businesses you might need to submit a proposal or template. If you regularly submit client proposals, consider creating a flexible template that you can use as a base. This will ensure that messaging is consistent no matter who prepares the proposal, and will save lots of time too.

Meeting expectations at the buying stage

The deal is done and you have a new customer or client. Congratulations! But don’t leave it at that. Content isn’t just about lead generation and closing sales, it’s about building relationship and that continues even after you’ve got the business.

 Imagine you’ve just bought a fancy coffee maker for your office. Wouldn’t you appreciate a really well thought out user manual, or a top tips guide for making the best cup of coffee? Or say you’ve bought a new caravan – a guide to the best campsites in the country wouldn’t go amiss, would it?

In a service based industry, consider what content you can create to make the onboarding process smoother for your client. A welcome pack with a process guide, next steps, contact details of the team looking after their account and so on will make them feel well looked after.

For our blogging clients, we’ve created several articles on subjects like what blog data to analyse, how to maximise the return on investment for your blog, and how to socialise your blog so as to get more eyes on it. These now serve two functions, because they’re also available as blog posts – serving that top of funnel purpose too.

Building loyalty through aftercare aftercare

Is that the end? Of course not. Even once the money is in the bank, there are still ways that you can maintain your relationship with your customer or client and benefit both parties. 

Your job is to continue to add value, which is the purpose of most – if not all – content. In return, your customers and clients will hopefully do more business with you, or give you a great review or testimonial, or tell their friends and colleagues about you.

If you think of content as a way of adding value and building relationships, you’ll see that it is so much more than a way to get attention for your brand. And as you invest time, energy and budget in creating content for every stage of the customer journey or sales funnel, you’ll find that you have to worry less about how much you put in because so much more will be getting through to the end.

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