It used to be so simple. Customers bought from your business because it was local to them, because they were loyal to the brand or because nobody else was selling the product. In our digital age, attracting and retaining customers is a competitive game of tactics at every single step – and that’s long before you’ve persuaded them to make a purchase.
You need much more than a great product to attract customers to your website. From sparking an awareness of your brand and building initial trust, through to making buying decisions and finally reaching the conversion stage, outstanding content that’s carefully written and presented is the key to success in an online market that’s more saturated than it’s ever been.
The conversion funnel illustrates the five crucial stages of this process – and marketers need to give serious consideration to each of them in order to drive customers to the most important one. Getting users into your conversion funnel in the first place is a challenge in itself – but keeping them there as the funnel narrows is no less difficult.
Statistics show that on average, a customer engages with between three and five pieces of content before making a purchase. The right piece of well-placed content can make all the difference between losing a customer before getting anywhere near ‘buy’ and funnelling them through to the next stage.
Here is the content you should be placing tactically on your website for each stage in the conversion funnel:
This is the first phase of content marketing, simply using high-quality relevant content to fly the flag for your brand. At this stage you’re trying to acquire customers indirectly. For customers who sit at this point in the funnel, the chances of them coming across your website by searching specifically what you offer are relatively low, so you’re going to need something else with which to hook them in.
The main objective for just about any piece of content you produce here should be education – in more than one sense. On the one hand you are educating customers about your brand, your product or your service. This may not be as simple as letting them know that such things exist; at this point you may need to make the reader aware of the problem which your brand solves.
On the other hand, you should be using content to position your brand as an educational resource more broadly. This is what makes blog posts, articles, in-depth guides and infographics the most important content you can produce at the awareness stage.
This type of content is one of the mainstays of SEO strategy – by finding out what your target users are Googling and answering their questions around the subject of what your brand offers, you position your website as a trustworthy and authoritative source. With enough high-quality content it will lodge itself in the mind of the reader long before they consider buying from you.
It’s not just about written content though – at this stage, social media posts and videos are an excellent way to increase awareness of your brand. If they are carefully considered they can be just as useful and informative as longer-form content and bring the same benefits.
Interest and consideration
At this point, you’re no longer sending content out onto the web in the hope that a proportion of its audience will find it useful and relevant. You are directly targeting the customers that you believe your brand can offer something to. The problem you used your stage 1 content to educate them on will prove useful here – customers should start to associate your brand with the solution that it offers via case studies, descriptive how-to content and demonstrations of your product.
It’s particularly crucial at this stage that content isn’t overly sales-y; customers are becoming familiar with your brand, but you might not be on their trusted list just yet. Trying too hard to make a sale at this stage with excessive linking or pushy copy risks undoing the work that you’ve put in up to this point.
Your customers are well into the funnel at this stage, meaning that in their eyes, your brand has the edge over its competitors – but they’re not quite over the line. As counterintuitive as it may seem, this is the stage where easing off on the selling tactics can work wonders for turning casual browsers into paying customers.
The main objective of your content here is persuasion – not that your brand or product is worth their time, as they’ve already decided that, but that many other satisfied customers have gone before. Testimonials and reviews, which should be prioritised at this point, have a unique value in the sense of validation and authenticity they can lend to your product, giving customers the sense that people just like them have gone through with the same purchase and been pleased with the result.
Source genuine reviews either via your own website or a third party review site. When quoting reviews directly on your own site, feel free to correct grammatical errors or minor mistakes as long as it does not change the overall sentiment being expressed.
With customers so close to clicking ‘buy’, you might think that this stage of the funnel is the easy part – but ensuring your product copy really does its job involves getting the balance just right. The most important thing to remember here is that customers only read approximately 28% of the text on your product page, and that therefore reams of paragraphs will only hinder your sales effort.
Your customer wants clear and easy-to-read product descriptions to push them over the purchase line, so single out what’s genuinely important about your product and present it in no more than a few bullet points. One or two concise sentences on why your product is worth buying is acceptable – but ensure that it’s not overly descriptive and use verbs to induce a tangible sense of action in the reader. You want them to picture themselves using the product.
It’s also worth seeing how you can create a sense of urgency without being aggressive. Quantity limitations such as “only X left in stock”, time limitations or even copy which links the product to an upcoming event (such as “perfect for Father’s Day”) are effective ways to do this.