What’s Missing From Your Content Distribution Strategy? The Marketing Funnel
Think about your last big purchase. I’m going to take an educated guess that you didn’t just make it blindly. You probably spent a significant amount of time researching brands, reading product reviews, and weighing your options. You wouldn’t buy a new car after seeing one TV commercial, right? The commercial might play a part in the decision, but it’s only one touchpoint on much a longer journey.
The same can be said for just about any high-consideration product—airplane tickets, laptops, B2B software. Whatever the industry, you can’t win over your audience with a single piece of content. Marketers have to navigate many different channels—search, social, email, corporate websites, blogs, etc.—to make a meaningful impact.
When looking at the interplay between these channels, it’s incredibly important to map them to different parts of the marketing funnel. The way you distribute content and connect with your audience should evolve down the funnel. Because if you understand the most opportune ways to distribute your content, then you’ll compel your audience to take the right actions at the right time.
First impressions matter. When establishing the initial connection, always consider your audience’s mindset. At the top of the funnel, they’re in discovery mode, so brand awareness and thought leadership content such as blog posts on trends, tips, and challenges will help you start a relationship.
On the distribution side, I’d recommend using social and content discovery platforms such as Facebook, Outbrain, and Nativo. Since these tools reach people as they scroll through news feeds and digital publications, you can catch them when they’re open to reading or watching new content.
Conversely, jumping for more targeted distribution tactics or hyper-focused content too early in the customer journey might backfire. Not only could it lead to poor results, but it could also waste your budget if you’re investing in paid distribution for an audience that isn’t there yet. Instead, aim to peak interest and find people in their prime discovery phase.
As an engaged audience moves into the consideration phase, you’ll want to build trust with more specific content topics and themes. The objective here is to educate people on products and services, as opposed to just relevant ideas and insights. Gated content like e-books, data reports, and webinars are effective at this stage. The same goes for case studies, which include tangible, tactical details about how you’d work with a potential customer. (We aim to strike a balance between all of these content types on The Content Strategist.)
The trade-off is straightforward—offer nuanced content that’s a little more specific in exchange for someone’s contact details. Email capture is a key factor for moving your audience into the decision phase. Now, the conversation can be more of a two-way street.
By the time readers reach the decision phase, they’ve taken time to research and explore all possible solutions. At this pivotal point, they begin to evaluate their options.
Away from the exploratory nature of social feeds and publications, this audience is knowledgeable about what information they’re looking for, and are hungry for more specific, pointed content that will educate and validate their decision. People at this stage of the funnel look for content that demonstrates your expertise in the industry. Think of analyst reports and expert guides. Serving up these detailed topics will help to build trust and engagement.
Remember those valuable emails you captured earlier in the funnel? Now’s the time to leverage CRM data to reach those individuals with content that compares your company to competitors. It’s a strategic way to feed users information about benefits and differentiators before they go looking for it. Weekly or monthly email newsletters are effective at the decision phase because they set up a steady cadence with an audience that already has a degree of trust.
Now comes the final sprint. Similar to the decision phase, email is your friend. A newsletter acts as a great vessel for product updates, trial offers, and demos. More traditional channels such as sales and field marketing tend to get involved around this time, but newsletter campaigns should be sent strategically with the ultimate goal of convincing users to make a purchase or sign a contract.
View the content creation process in the context of the larger customer journey framework. Marketing channels—and content published on those channels—can drive people toward a central destination, like a blog or website, where you control the whole user experience.
However, keep in mind that content and marketing channels are not created equally. You wouldn’t purchase a plane ticket with the same speed and ease as you would a toothbrush. Sure, we all make that impulse buy here and there, but if you work for a company investing in content marketing, you know the process is a bit more complicated than that.Image by Eduardo Sanchez / Unsplash