In this new digital age, customers are becoming busier, wiser and more skeptical than ever before. And in order to keep up with the changing customer profile, the traditional sales funnel has had to evolve and grow to accommodate these challenging new factors.
The traditional sales funnel followed the simple model of attention, interest, decision and action. You got the customer’s attention at the top of the funnel, peaked their interest with alluring information on the product or service you were selling, nudged them to make a decision and they then took action. Simple.
But with the internet now at our fingertips, with droves of information available and more automation in the buying process than ever before, the traditional sales funnel is no longer effective in many sales situations. A study by Google and CEB reveals that customers are often almost 60% of their way through the buying process before they interact with a actual salesperson.
With apps allowing us to make purchases wherever we may be with just a few taps of a smartphone or tablet, the salesperson is often not even factored in the buying process. Therefore a need to re-evaluate the methods of ‘closing the deal’ through new age sales and marketing techniques is prominent.
The Evolution of The Sales Funnel
So if a salesperson is no longer present to pitch the value of a product or service to the customer, how do we get that message across? Through content marketing.
Content marketing allows us to offer the same information that would be delivered at each stage of the sales funnel, guiding the buyer virtually through the buying process instead of physically.
So how does content marketing fit into the new evolved sales funnel for the digital buying process?
The top stage of the evolved sales funnel, at the awareness stage the buyer knows they have an issue which needs a solution. Making them aware of the solutions available to their problem is what this stage is all about, and content can play a large role in this, especially for the digital buyer.
Expert advisory articles and blog posts as well as other informative content will help to position your brand as a trusted and reliable source of information on the issue.
After the awareness stage, when the buyer has been made aware of the various solutions to their issue, they move onto the evaluation stage of the funnel. They now start to evaluate the best choice to fulfil their need, and content can again guide them in making this decision.
The content at this stage needs to be nurturing, reinforcing your product or service as the best solution. Case studies, white papers, guides and demonstrative content show how your brand is the best choice to solve the customer’s issue.
This is where the ‘closing’ really comes in. The customer has been made aware of the solutions and has made a decision on which is the best one for them, now it’s time for them to commit to their choice.
At this stage, you should be sharing content that provides clear guidance on how to commit to the purchase as well as offering incentives to encourage commitment. Trial offers, discounts, etc are all great ways of nudging the customer to make the commitment, as well as reminding them why they have made the right choice by showing them reviews or testimonials at the commitment stage.
Content is growing in value as the digital age progresses, with the content we share now driving buying decisions in place of physical sales people. For the smarter and more sceptical digital buyer, trusted content sources are what provide the foundation for their buying decisions. Therefore, it’s now more important than ever for brands to form a content marketing strategy that works in line with the sales funnel to drive future customer buying decisions.