Inbound marketing is growing in popularity, as it provides eCommerce stores with a unique opportunity to attract new shoppers and improve conversion rates. Most inbound marketing strategies begin with an effective content marketing strategy. One effective way to outline your inbound marketing strategy is to use a sales funnel – a diagram that notes each step of the process, starting with your content and ending with customer satisfaction.
What is a Sales Funnel?
A sale funnel (also known as a “buying cycle”) represents the four or five main stages a customer experiences as they decide to make a purchase. Sales funnels differ from business to business, but most follow the same general outline. The stages commonly represented in sales funnels are:
Between stages one and five of your sales funnel, your goal is to attract your customer’s attention, get them interested in your company, offer them a product they want to buy, then close the sale. Many businesses mistake closing the sale as the final step of their sales funnel, but offering quality post-sale customer service is important if you wish to establish repeat customers.
Content Marketing for Each Step of Your Sales Funnel
There are many strategies you can use to work through your sales funnel, but content marketing is among the most effective. We are going to discuss how you can use content marketing to establish an effective sales funnel and improve your conversion rates.
1. Use Interesting Content to Get Shoppers’ Attention
In order to increase your traffic, you have to attract new site visitors. Without interesting, applicable content, it will be difficult for customers to find your brand.
Create content that will interest your readers, and post it on your store’s blog. Your content should discuss topics your target audience will be interested in, and it should be search engine optimized in order to attract the most readers. Consider doing a keyword search to find topics your target audience is searching for, and figure out a way to apply those keywords to your brand.
After you’ve written effective content, share it on social media. Follow the same strategies you would for any other content marketing strategy. Your goal is to attract the attention of as many readers as possible, and point them in the direction of your store or products.
2. Use Your Content to Establish Interest in Your Brand
After your customer finds your brand, you may still have some convincing to do if you want to convert them into a customer. During the second stage of your sales funnel, your content should aim to solve a problem of your target audience. For example, a store selling vitamins might discuss a problem that can be fixed by taking one of their supplements.
When establishing interest, your main goals should be to:
- Demonstrate how your company is better than your competitors
- Indicate the value in your product, and how it can help solve a problem
- Establish leads by getting emails and newsletter signups
Ideally, your content should identify a problem area of your reader, and offer a solution. A company selling vitamins might offer an article titled “How to make your hair grow faster,” and offer supplements like biotin as a solution. This offers applicable information to your reader, and gives them a reason to visit your store and investigate your supplements.
3. Increase Your Reader’s Confidence in Purchasing a Product
Your customers will be interested in your product after stage two of your sales funnel, but they may still need a push. Buyer’s guilt is a common problem among online shoppers, as they debate whether or not to make a purchase. At this stage, your goal is to minimize buyer’s guilt and improve your shopper’s confidence in making a purchase.
During the third stage, you should use customer reviews and buyer’s guides to reduce buyer’s guilt. Some common concerns shoppers have include:
- Credit card/identity theft
- Poor customer service
- Receiving a product which isn’t true to its product description (or is broken)
- Not receiving a product at all
Each of these concerns is valid, and it’s up to you to dispel them. Proper product reviews, descriptions, videos, photos, and testimonials can help you increase your shopper’s desire for a product and reduce their buyer’s guilt.
4. Display the Value of Your Product to Finalize the Purchase
Once your customer is interested in your product, they’ll begin comparing prices and quality between your brand and others. All shoppers want to get the best deal, and during the fourth stage of your sales funnel, it’s your job to display the value of your product.
One excellent way to show value is through pricing guides/price comparison widgets. These can help your shopper determine whether or not your products are within their price range. You can also use this to show them other products they may be interested in. For example, a company selling digital cameras may want to offer less-expensive cameras in their price comparison tool, in order to show shoppers other options which may be in their price range.
Product reviews are also extremely useful in the fourth stage. If other customers have noted the quality and value of your product, other shoppers will be more inclined to make a purchase. Product videos are also an effective way to display the value of your product. According to Lemonstand, 73 percent more shoppers will buy a product after watching a video about it. Your shoppers are very likely to turn to YouTube and other video sharing sites if you don’t include product videos on your site, so take advantage of this very effective strategy.
5. Offer Excellent Customer Service Post-Sale to Create a Repeat Customer
Your sales funnel doesn’t end after you’ve converted a shopper into a customer. Repeat customers are much more cost-effective than attracting new customers, and your goal is to indicate your appreciation for your new customer in this final step.
The best way to show your customer you appreciate them is through excellent customer service. Excellent customer service creates repeat customers, so make it an important part of your business. One great way to improve your customer service is through email surveys – after your customer has received their product, send them an email asking for feedback. Invite them to review their product, and offer them a reward in return – many companies offer a “points system,” where customers can earn points to spend by reviewing products they’ve purchased. You should also offer surveys in order to get a better idea of how you can improve your customer service or your products.
How do you use content marketing for each stage of your sales funnel? What are your inbound marketing tips? Let us know in the comments below!