Customers; without them, your business is a sock without a foot, a bun without a burger, a solution without a problem.
You’re probably already well-aware how important customers are to your business, and you’re probably also familiar with the battle to find potential customers and convert them into loyal followers.
What you might not be so familiar with, however, is how you can use content marketing to generate leads and guide them through the sales funnel.
Over the next six articles, we’ll cover each stage of the sales process and demonstrate how content marketing brings potential customers one step closer to your business.
First, let’s look at the sales funnel.
Welcome to the sales funnel
From making a potential lead aware of your business through to them becoming a customer who’s loyal to your brand, the entire sales process is covered in the funnel’s six stages:
Awareness > Discovery > Evaluation > Intent > Purchase > Loyalty
While acknowledging that leads will disappear and lose interest along the way, the sales funnel is a helpful point of reference for bringing potential leads increasingly closer to becoming customers, and loyal ones at that.
At every stage, your company’s content can encourage customers to continue their journey and take the next step.
So, let’s begin with stage one: awareness.
The trouble with adverts
Traditionally, marketing and advertising campaigns directly promote the product or services of a company. They focus on their unique selling points, the features or price of their offering, and their expertise in the industry. These campaigns take many forms, from television adverts to website and social media ads.
As the world grew more accustomed to the proliferation of these campaigns, facing so many adverts had an unexpected side-effect on the population — ‘ad blindness’.
A phenomenon that has been popularised in the 21st century, ‘ad blindness’, or ‘banner blindness’, refers to the subconscious aversion to adverts. It is a behaviour that has been particularly highlighted by research into the routines of internet users.
The results of website usability tests, which involved tracking the gaze of their subjects, demonstrated that the majority of subjects instinctively ignored information that was presented in banners. These findings suggested that this was a learned behaviour in response to these banners being used by most websites to display advertisements.
It’s not just while using the internet that people set up their subconscious ad-blocker. How many adverts do you think you see every day? 50? 100? 500? Maybe even 1,000?
If you’re shocked to find out that, on average, we see 5,000 adverts every day, your subconscious ad-blocker is working just fine.
‘Ad blindness’ isn’t just a subconscious behaviour, either. When was the last time you sat through a full ad break of your favourite TV show without making a cup of tea or picking up your phone? Even if you stream your favourite programs, the chances are you tune out during the ads, or skip them when given the option.
In short, what we’re saying is, if you’re sending out adverts that look and feel like adverts, people are probably ignoring them. You need to consider a more indirect approach.
A more indirect approach
So, the subheader might be a little on the nose, but that’s exactly what content marketing is — an indirect approach to raising awareness of your company.
It’s only stage one of the sales funnel, so you don’t need to worry about hyping up your product or service or pushing leads to convert too early. Instead, you need to seep into the minds of your audience through a method that doesn’t seem like outright advertising or marketing.
Content marketing is a way of getting your messaging, and your company, in front of a diverse demographic, giving them something useful, and starting to sow the seeds of trust. Through your content, you should offer the reader something valuable: a useful industry insight, a tip to overcome a common problem, or a list of helpful resources.
In doing so, you not only have a positive impact on the reader, but also make your content shareable and increase the chances of each reader referring it to a friend. As your content is shared, your company is being placed in front of an ever-increasing audience, and your brand is becoming more familiar to people who may have previously never heard of you.
And that is why content marketing is perfect for stage 1 of the sales funnel.
Next time: stage 2 — discovery
In the second instalment of our sales funnel series, we’ll be analysing how content marketing helps new audiences and potential leads discover more about your company and your offering.
Until then, if you want to start raising awareness of your business through quality content, we’d love to help, so get in touch with the Prize Content team today!