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Does your company have a full funnel content strategy?

Do your sales and marketing teams have a full funnel content strategy – a process for moving your ideal prospects from awareness to consideration and acquisition?

An effective content strategy isn’t just focused on inbound marketing – generating leads to fill the top of the sales funnel – which is where many B2B marketers invest the majority of their efforts. Why? Because it feels natural for them to do so. After all, they’ve been doing it for decades.

In contrast, a full-funnel content strategy includes content aimed at prospective buyers at all points along the sales funnel. This includes the critical but often overlooked middle of the funnel, where 90 percent of the “nurturing” must take place to move a prospect from interest to preference and a sale.

Nurturing, defined

In content marketing, nurturing is the process of moving a prospect through the sales funnel by providing them with content that is tailored to their informational needs at each point in their product research and selection process. In the process, it establishes trust and ideally positions your company as a valuable resource.

Ultimately, the goal of nurturing is to foster prospects and help them move through the decision process until they are ready to buy. It even extends beyond the point of sale, because customers continue to have information needs after they have purchased a product.

Without a plan for nurturing, content goes to waste, ignored by prospective customers who don’t understand how it applies to their needs. Sales leads also go to waste, because salespeople don’t want to spend their time talking to prospective customers who are not yet ready to buy. Prospects may receive a single phone call or two from a salesperson. But once he or she determines that the prospect is not ready to buy, this lead and numerous others like it will simply be ignored.

That’s too bad, because with even a modicum of structured nurturing, many more leads could be turned into sales.

Growth Cycle Marketing

Content-focused lead nurturing, which I call Growth Cycle Marketing, is all about building relationships with prospects at every stage of their buyer’s journey, even before they buy anything from you. It means developing content, based on your prospective customers’ needs, that moves them efficiently through each stage of the buying cycle – from initial interest through the sale, and beyond.

Building a relationship isn’t about attracting just anyone. You can attract your ideal customers with the right content and targeted messaging that’s focused on their needs. An ongoing, interactive relationship generates leads and filters out poorly-qualified prospects, bolsters your sales pipeline and, over time, builds brand trust and customer loyalty.

Here are the five stages of the lead nurturing process, with the content purpose and common content types mapped to each stage:

Stage 1: Awareness

  • Content purpose: Educational, instructional. Supports prospects in the information-gathering segment of their customer journey.
  • Content types: Blog posts, videos, infographics, an informative website, guides, e-books, checklists, templates, white papers and presentations
Stage 2: Consideration
  • Content purpose: Help prospects get answers to their questions. Provides proof of thought leadership and validates that your company has the solutions to their problems.
  • Content types: brochures, spec sheets, case studies, testimonials, reviews, webinars and calculators. 
Stage 3: Acquisition
  • Content purpose: Serve up catalysts that will encourage the prospect to buy.
  • Content types: Discounts, free trials, assessments, audits, demos.
Stage 4: Retention
  • Content purpose: Keep your new customer happy. Help the customer get up to speed quickly and smoothly with their new product or service.
  • Content types: Newsletters, loyalty programs, excellent customer service. This is a great time to solicit testimonials and case histories from them.

For more information on content-focused lead nurturing, download Cultivate’s eGuide entitled Are Your Leads Ending Up Just South of Nowhere?

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Robert Wendt has 30 years of experience in direct mail and marketing communications and is an expert on content marketing. As president and owner of Cultivate Communications, he’s helped countless companies grow their businesses using inventive sales and marketing strategies.

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