After a few too many late nights and long days, you finally gave that new product or service of yours the nudge it needed to get out into the real world and start earning you some cold hard cash.
But, wait a minute…
Where are those much-anticipated sales numbers you were hoping for? Sure, you see a few come in here and there. They’re not anything astronomical, however. Especially considering the grit and determination it took for you to sit down, power through that dreaded writer’s block, and knock out sales materials like the hard-working entrepreneur you are.
So, what the heck is the problem?
Well, as Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, explains:
“How do we get found in search engines? How do we get people to talk about us on social? We better be interesting and helpful, and we better do that on a consistent basis.”
Think simply dishing out copy and tossing it onto your sales page will do the trick? Not quite. Good content is what’ll help you actually take home the gold.
Oh boy. I can see the puzzled look on your face right about now as you’re wondering: What’s the difference between copywriting and content writing? To put it simply, and in a way that’s not only easy to understand, but also delicious:
Copywriting is to content writing what eggs are to cake.
Copywriting (aka the eggs) is what makes your product or service appealing to your reader. It involves a thoughtful combination of words and phrases that’ll increase their desire to take a specific action. From purchasing your product, subscribing to your email list, liking your social media post, and so on.
Content writing (aka the cake), on the other hand, is what lured your reader to your site in the first place. It involves creating and sharing valuable, free pieces of information to convert and attract prospects into customers. And, customers into loyal repeat buyers. It’s how you can easily position yourself and your business as a trusted resource and hub of information within the industry.
Make sense now? Great. I know the last thing you want to do, however, is sit down and write even more than you already are. But, hear me out. You don’t have to be a master wordsmith. All you need to do is get to producing content that’s not only valuable, but is also catered for each stage of the sales funnel. Reason being, your ideal customers have different needs as they’re at different stages of the sales funnel while on their journey to buy from you.
All that said, I’m about to share with you the insight you need on how to successfully unite your sales funnel with quality content that sells. That way, you can get your prospects moving in the right direction to help elevate those conversions!
First, let’s get a refresher on that sales funnel.
You’re probably familiar with this version:
Am I right? I thought so. It describes the basic process by which people, like you and me, become motivated to show you their wallet. Although, it’s essential you acknowledge your funnel might look very different from this one depending on your industry, business model, product or service, pricing, and ideal customer.
For example, some B2C customers spend very little time in the middle of the funnel compared to B2B customers who require far more nurturing, engagement, and relationship development before a purchase is made.
Regardless of the type of business you’re in, this seems to be a popular funnel for many. And, the flow of it goes as follows:
- Discovery: the prospect must be made aware of what you offer—whether it’s a product or service. Unless you’re a big name brand like Apple or Coca-Cola, you’ll have to put a lot of effort into making your ideal customers aware of your offering.
- Consideration: at this point, the prospect is clearly paying attention to what it is you’re putting out there, and they’ve expressed an interest in your product or service. They’re not, however, ready to chat it up with a salesperson.
- Conversion: the prospect is still with you and you only have one job left to do—close the sale!
- Retention: you’ve added them to your roster, and at this last stage of the funnel you simply have to work hard to keep them.
Talk about a quick refresher! It all sounds pretty easy, right? The problem is, how will you give your ideal customer the fuel they need to move throughout this theoretical journey towards the purchase of your product or service? By writing content they’ll find not only valuable, but also influential—making it easier for your offering to rise above the crowd of rivals.
What kind of content can you create that unites with the different stages of the sales funnel?
If you want to move your prospects from one stage of the sales funnel to another and convert them to paying customers pronto, producing relevant content at every stage of the funnel is a must.
But, as you probably know by now, there are so many different content options available to you, which makes it challenging to laser in and determine which will serve up the perfect recipe for success. While there are no rigid rules when it comes to the types of content to produce for each stage of the funnel, let’s walk through some of my favorite recommendations.
Discovery Stage Content Ideas:
Chances are, you don’t know all the businesses that exist in your community (unless you live in a small town!). So, there are probably products or services you’d buy in a heartbeat, but you have no idea they’re out there. Your ideal customers are the same way. They can’t buy from you if they don’t know you even exist.
Therefore, what you need to be doing is writing content that does any of the following: answers their questions, gives them solutions to their ultimate problem(s), and even provides them with tools and resources to meet a specific need. And, the following content pieces will help you do just that:
- Blog posts—think about problems your ideal customers typically try to solve, questions they need answered, and things they may be looking for to address their urgent needs. Then, use those to build up your list of blog post topics.
- Guest blog posts—looking for a quick and painless way to drive traffic to your sales page? Get out there and offer to write content for similar blogs in your industry. You’ll not only get the chance to promote your business, but you’ll also position yourself as an authority figure.
- Webinars—these provide you with a virtual opportunity to educate and interact with your audience. And, allow them to see you in action versus merely a headshot that exists on your website! As with most top-of-the-funnel content, just remember to concentrate on solving a problem for your people versus babbling on and on about your product or service.
- Bite-sized downloadables—think checklists, tip sheets, and even a one-page guide that doesn’t sell your product or service, but simply helps your customer out with a challenge they’re experiencing. These can also be used to up your email subscriber list while assisting you with lead generation efforts. All you have to do is ask them to enter their email in exchange for the piece of content!
- Social media posts—our friends at Closer’s Cafe know all about this one! Today, social media is no longer an option for businesses because people rely heavily on their social networks to scout out advice, referrals, and check out reviews. If you want to look like you have it all together, develop an active presence on the networks that make the most sense for your business. This will also help your search engine ranking.
Consideration Stage Content Ideas:
Here, people are finally getting warmed up to your product or service. Best of all, you’ve kept around those who are sincerely interested, and weeded out those who aren’t. Now, it’s time to set yourself apart from your competitors! After all, this stage is all about showing (not telling) your audience why your product or service is the one for them.
The following content pieces will help you tackle that, and propel your people onto the next stage:
- Case studies—you can’t go wrong with dishing out cold, hard proof that your product or service really does all you say it will. And, that it’s helped real people! Therefore, focus on sharing case studies that tell a story about stand-out customer experiences, reveal the problem they were experiencing, and how your product or service helped solve it.
- Long-form downloadables—remember earlier when I mentioned bite-sized downloadables? Well, now’s the time for you to do a deep-dive into your content. Whether it’s formatted as an eBook or whitepaper, provide your audience with invaluable information (think how-tos, etc.) they can’t find easily elsewhere.
- Demo videos—if you have a difficult-to-understand offering, more often than not, people will want to see how it actually works before buying. Demo videos give you a chance to show your product or service in action, as well as shine the spotlight on its benefits. Take a look at some of the best in the business to get some inspiration for creating one of your own.
Conversion Stage Content Ideas:
Your ideal customer is now very familiar with your product or service, has researched all they need to know, and even put you up against competitors to see how much your offering stood out. Now, all you need to do is politely give them a kick in the rear—motivating them to take action!
And, the best way to do this is by proving to them it’s worth their time and investment. Even though I have only one favorite at this stage of the funnel, you’ll want to read my reasoning below:
- Customer testimonials—according to an infographic by Vendasta, reviews produce an average of 18% uplift in sales. Clearly, there’s no way you can do without them! So, go ahead and let your current customers serve as your best salespeople of all time by featuring their reviews on your sales page. You can also consider sharing them as posts on your social media accounts!
Retention Stage Content Ideas:
You made the sale! Now it’s time to celebrate and move onto the next one. Um, not quite. The last thing you want to do is toss your new customers off to the side and focus solely on bringing more people into your business.
Instead, put a little extra elbow grease into the Retention Stage by creating the following content pieces. Once you do, you can rest easy knowing you’ve done all you can to keep that customer roster of yours strong!
- Welcome email series—create a welcome email newsletter specifically for customers, allowing you the opportunity to share special offers (upgrades or new product/service info), how-tos, mastermind group links, and even just check-in on a regular basis to nurture your relationship with them!
- Insider guides—dish out all they need to know in an easy-to-read guide so they can print it off, place it on their desk, and make sure they squeeze as much as they can out of your product or service for maximum success. These can also be shared in one of your welcome emails!
How can I actually create quality content?
You now know of my favorite content recommendations to produce at each stage of the sales funnel. But, how can you ensure you actually create quality content so you can grab hold of even more sales? After all, content writing is pretty different from copywriting.
For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of tips just for you:
- Know your audience—this is the secret to propelling your ideal customer through the sales funnel. If you don’t know who they are, what problems they’re experiencing, and their specific needs, you won’t know how to communicate with them in your content pieces effectively.
- Craft a winning headline—it’s the window display of your content, helping lure your ideal customers in to read all about what it is you have to say. Serve up some numbers, answer the infamous “So what?” question, speak their lingo, and you’ll be golden.
- Help your readers solve a specific problem—always make sure of this! Your content isn’t a place for you to pitch your product or service. It’s a place for you to connect with your people while providing them with valuable insight they need to get to where they want to be in life.
- Write conversationally, not formally—when you’re writing, envision you’re sitting across from your ideal customer over a bite to eat or a cup of coffee. I bet you wouldn’t spew ridiculous jargon or stuff your sentences with an unnecessary amount of fluff, would you? I didn’t think so. Be friendly and engaging, and people will be much more likely to want to do business with you!
For more helpful tips, be sure to check out this post on the topic of copy versus content writing.
In the end, as soon as you’re able to develop a crystal clear image of who your ideal customer is, understand the sales funnel, and how you can unite each stage with killer content, there’s no doubt you’ll see a consistent uptick in conversions.
If you’re curious about additional content ideas that weren’t shared here today—especially for the discovery and consideration stages of the funnel—be sure to grab hold of your free copy of the 20 Opt-In Bait Ideas to Leverage More Conversions. All you need to do to get it is enter your email in the box to the right of the screen, and it’s yours!
What’s your favorite content piece to write? Or, is there one we didn’t mention? Drop us a note in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!
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