When you’ve created content, you’ve done about a third of the work of content marketing. The other two thirds comes from distributing it widely after you’ve made it. The best content with no audience is nothing but a wasted opportunity.
I’ve already talked about that a bunch, so I’m not going to drive that point home any further. Instead, let’s talk about how to use your content to drive users to a better understanding of their problem, what steps they should take to fix it, and how your product is the natural answer for this.
In other words, let’s talk inbound marketing, but with a CrowdTamers flair.
Planning your funnel
When you know the result you want, you need to figure out the steps to get your audience to that result. The end goal for any marketing is “give me money,” but content generally won’t get your audience all the way to purchase on its own unless you’re selling impulse-buy B2C stuff.
There are two ways to construct your funnel: start with the buyer’s journey and think about what would make them progress from one stage to the next, or start with the goal and work your way backwards to the start.
Most startups I have worked with don’t have a full understanding of that buyer’s journey, so they often need to work backwards from the end.
Content can often get you signups or demos for a SaaS product, or perhaps a store registration if you’re an ecommerce storefront. Let’s take a hypothetical B2B SaaS app that enriches CRM data to help sales teams better close deals.
Start with the end
You want a signup and a demo for your product. That’s the goal. The content that you need to get the visitor there might be a clear value proposition for how connecting this data enrichment service to a user’s CRM results in a 50% increase in successful closed deals. That’s a case study, likely, and you could perhaps embed some best practices in there, too.
Make it email-gated so that the audience needs to sign up to access your full report on how to increase sales close rate by 50%. That’s the last stage in the funnel.
But people won’t sign up for your guide the first time they visit you. You need some content before there in the funnel. People who haven’t made up their minds that they need to try an enrichment service for their CRM, what problems do they tend to have?
Common problems might be: how to increase your successful connect rate. How to attribute your deal flow’s true first source accurately, common mistakes made in CRM configuration, and how to configure your CRM to eliminate bad fit leads before passing them on to sales.
In other words, blog posts. But those people have all identified a problem where their CRM is not performing up to their expectations. Go even earlier in the buyer’s journey and they’re wondering why their sales team isn’t hitting goal. Content that might be good for someone at the pre-discovery stage of content is more viral stuff: reasons why Glengarry Glen Ross’ famous Always Be Closing statement doesn’t work in the modern B2B sales world, 5 fun sales contests you can run to drive sales, 3 tricks to build better sales forecasts, and so on.
There’s a complete journey, built backwards. Going forwards, it looks like:
- find someone who might have your problem (their sales team is not doing great),
- help them realize that their CRM is part of the problem, and then
- show them how data enrichment can help solve the problem that you’ve helped them realize they have.
But how do you bring these people to your website without having their email addresses, and how do you know when to try and move them down the content funnel?
Ads, of course, and retargeting.
Supposing that you have all of the content you need, you can build a funnel like this quickly. Make sure that you have Facebook, Google, and Twitter pixels all in and working correctly. Then you’re going to create 4 different ads for each stage of the funnel in any combination of the above 3 networks.
Supposing that, to start, you run your ads on Facebook only, that means you’d need 12 different ads; 4 at the top, 4 at the middle, and 4 at the bottom. Make sure that you’re tagging your ad links with UTM variables so that you know what traffic sources are driving engagement and re-engagement.
Top of the Funnel
So you start by building some ads to drive traffic to the content that you think will appeal to a top of the funnel audience. Use a tool like HubSpot or Sumo.com or any of a host of others to try and get site visitors who have come to your website to sign up to join your newsletter / blog mailing list / whatever. Generally, include either a footer signup reminder (as I do) or, if you want to be more aggressive, try a welcome mat or exit mat.
If they do sign up, make sure that you send them to a special thank you page after they do. That’s important for retargeting.
Once you’ve done that, you want to target people who have been to specific pages in your blog—the ones that the ads were directing traffic to.
You can get pretty silly with the specificity of your targeting, but one thing that you do want to make sure is that if someone has signed up from your blog—that is, if they’ve seen your thank you page—they don’t get retargeted. At least, not with this campaign. 🙂 Click on “Add Exclusions” and make sure that if they’ve been to /thankyou.html or wherever traffic is excluded from this retargeting audience.
Middle of the funnel
Experiment with how quickly you want to try to promote your audience from Stage 1 content to Stage 2 content. It might be they need to read 3 stage one pieces of content before they’ll commit to a more in-depth second stage content kind of material. Maybe it only takes 1. Regardless, the goal is to then create another campaign which uses your new retargeted audience and that messages them with the next stage of content in their buyer’s journey; in this case, that’s “help with CRM problems.”
Bottom of the funnel
Then you want to build another retargeting audience; people who have seen the Stage 2 Content and haven’t seen /thankyou.html should be steered to your email-gated content. Get that signup. Keep in mind, maybe you will find that there needs to a Stage 3 or Stage 4 before the gated content because the buyer’s journey is longer than 3 stages.
Once they’ve seen the end of your content funnel, if they’re not converting, I tend to remove them from the audience. They’re kicking the tires or just interested in the space, but they’re not gonna buy from you.
Learning from your content retargeting funnel
This is one of the best tools I know of for a bunch of different new business lessons:
- Test new campaigns and messaging on small-scope audiences to see if they resonate before rolling out a nationwide campaign
- Model your buyer’s journey with data
- Prove the value of content to drive conversions
- Discover new audiences for your content & your product
When you have a blog that’s a big organic success and gets tens of thousands of visits a week, you can skip the first or even the first two stages of this retargeting funnel and just nudge people along to convert after reading about you.
This process (create content, test how to drive traffic to that content, and then learn how to get those visitors to sign up) is immensely powerful to take your company’s inbound marketing practices to a whole new level.
Hope this is helpful! Let me know if you have a question in the comments or hit me up @trevorlongino on the Twitters. 🙂