Use this content marketing guide to visualize how your ideal prospect wants to engage with your business through content that naturally leads her to take action.

There are a number of ways to conceptualize how content marketing captures the attention of your ideal prospect, builds interest in your business and converts them into a customer: AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action), New Marketing Funnel (awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, advocacy). Chose a marketing funnel concept that works for you.

1. Top of the funnel content

Online assets are often found by prospects at the top of the funnel from a search, social media or an industry blog. At that point prospects are introduced to your brand, enabling them to explore and begin the relationship.

Top of the funnel content:
How to content
Press releases
Entertaining content
In-person Events
Video presentations
Slide share presentations
Downloads via email capture

O intriguing content, where art thou?

One client’s content marketing includes a blog designed to attract people to their site from social media, forums, blogs and wherever their ideal prospect is likely in the right mindset online.

To illustrate, one post was titled “Top 10 Superhero Rides of All Time” – an entertaining piece aimed at young automobile owners who are into movie and comic book superheroes – yes lots of ‘em as we discovered. Within a few days of publishing this piece, we saw a ton of social media sharing and commenting.

Some readers clicked links to a service or product page and some followed the social media profiles. These actions are success indicators for a top of the funnel piece of content of course, but here are a few more: fans, subscribers and links.

Top of funnel content is uniquely able to build up a pool of followers which can be tapped for prospects periodically or whenever the temperature is right for the bait. And it’s often the only type of content that builds deep links – critical stuff if search rank is important and planned for in advance.

2. Decision making content

Prospects who want more than surface level stuff may want content that helps them make an informed decision. Decision making content includes:
Product launches
Expert interviews
White papers
Product/service demos and info
Competitive comparisons
Evaluation criteria
Buyer’s guides
RFP info
Case studies and stories
ROI calculators
Research reports
Social media groups and forums

Hmm, I might need a guide..
Hmm, I might need a guide..

Prospects at this stage in the funnel are usually close to buying but aren’t sure who to buy from yet. It’s important at this stage to “wow” them with your expertise, help them with their issue from a warm personality. Build up a level of trust in your brand is the key.

Recently I organized a webinar for a client because we knew that a hot topic in their industry was not being addressed adequately. As a result we were able to engage a large number of prospects, answer their questions and continue the conversation with many of them who wanted more.

Basically we nailed it because we included other industry experts who are favorable to my client’s brand and that allowed us to spell out the company’s uniqueness in a very natural way all while helping the attendees make good decisions about their business. A win-win for all involved.

Decision making content gets ideal prospects to the site, increases time on site, generates qualified leads, and can get shared in social media and/or publicized by industry influencers.

3. Purchase content

Prospects who have done the research and are ready to buy are looking for indicators before purchasing. Purchase content includes:
Best corporate fit
Customer service
Procurement info
Implementation info
Mental triggers
Offer strategies
Items in stock
Shipping time frame
What’s next (after the sale)?
Strategic emails

I've got the money if you've got the indicators I want.
I’ve got the money if you’ve got the right indicators.

This is where money is made or lost. Certainly start by answering common questions buyers have at this stage right on your site and in an attractive, winsome way – maybe by video. Keep in mind that some people do not want to talk on the phone for various reasons (fear of being “sold to” for one).

Years ago I followed Jeff Sexton’s conversion tips; here’s one I still use for purchase content. When you have prospects on your site thinking about buying, you want to attack any lingering doubts by placing assurances right in their view at the moment of decision. This might mean placing your money back guarantee right by the Buy Now button and in the shopping cart. Or, reveal your vast number of Facebook followers near the contact form as social proof.

There are numerous mental triggers and offer strategies that influence people to buy or take action, so use this type of content to build trust at critical decision moments in the buying process.

Utilize retargeting emails and/or remarketing for people who have entered the shopping cart but did not buy or people who reached a qualifying page of your site and yet did not make contact.

Purchase content turns skeptical prospects into customers, intercepts prospects attempts to dismiss the sale and increases orders, repeat orders and revenue.

4. Customer advocacy content

When you have a new customer, your goal for them might be loyalty or repeat business and when you have a repeat customer, you want to encourage advocacy. Customer advocacy content includes:
Social media sharing

excited and I just can't keep
so excited and I just can’t hide it…

Customer reviews, testimonials and social sharing can be the life blood of your business, but you’ve got to make it easy to do. For local based businesses place a Yelp or Kudzu sticker on your door and give customers instructions on how to leave a review.

For service businesses ask for a video testimonial or use before and after photos with the customer.

For product businesses ask for reviews after the customer has had time to get positive results and guide them on how to leave the review.

Referrals can also come from prospects and business associates, but you’ll need to get creative and offer something valuable yet free with a contingency in order to get the referral. (I’ve seen several strategies work to get online referrals.)

The bottom line is to build these requests into your workflow and then track referrals, social media mentions and repeat business.

How does your content funnel work?

Quickly evaluate your content marketing funnel (Top of the funnel, Decision, Purchase and Advocacy content):

  • Which content category gets the most positive feedback from prospects/customers? ___________
  • Which content category gets the least positive feedback or which is your weakness? ___________
  • Which content category and types need to be filled or addressed first? ___________

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Get a FREE content marketing evaluation or more importantly, you may need a content marketing strategy for your business, call me.

Tom Shivers
Tom Shivers

I'm a ecommerce SEO consultant and President of Capture Commerce. I've managed digital marketing campaigns for scores of clients since 2000 and found that every business is unique with its own challenges and opportunities. When I see that I have contributed to the success of a business by helping them grow, it makes me feel awesome! That’s the coolest thing and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to do this.

    10 replies to "4 Categories Of In Demand Content That Brings In The Biz"

    • Sean Cox

      Very helpful, thank you! I’ve saved this article and will be referring back to it–gotta definitely fill in my gaps!

    • Nishkarsh Sharma

      Top of the funnel content seems to be the best category. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Heather Stone

      Hi Tom,
      Great distinction, Tom and thanks for sharing this on BizSugar. Of course, there’s a big difference sometimes between content that brings in traffic and content that brings in business. Real food for thought!

    • Tom Shivers

      Thanks Heather!

      Awesome Sean, find out where your people are falling out of your funnel and patch it up.

    • Tom Shivers

      Nishkarsh, although top of the funnel content is important, the traffic it brings can be meaningless if your ideal prospect isn’t thoughtfully lead through your site’s content to make better decisions and influenced appropriately to become your customer.

    • Emory Rowland

      I love the way you break this down, Tom. Yeah, top of the funnel seems to be the more entertaining category then you move down toward purchase – this could be a nifty infographic.

    • Tom Shivers

      Thanks Emory. Know any infographic makers so I can feed it through my top of the funnel?

    • Emory Rowland

      Tom, I don’t really other than the software. I had a fiverr guy make one that was surprisingly good and might work for this.

    • Tom Shivers

      I’ll have to check that out.

    • Matt Jackson

      I think visitor awareness is vital – in order to be able to determine the right category of content, you need to understand how aware visitors to a certain page are of the industry, the concept, and the product itself.

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