Content marketing and where it sits in the marketing funnel

Content marketing is a strategic approach to getting branded materials in front of, or in the hands of, your target audience, largely in the top and middle of the marketing funnel.

"Content is King", or so it's often said.

But why is that? And what exactly is 'content'?

Content includes (but is not limited to):

• ebooks
• PDF guides
• downloadable catalogues and
• brochures
• tech specs
• how-to videos
• video explainers
• lists
• templates
• knowledge articles
• reports
• infographics
• podcasts
• case studies
• testimonials
• whitepapers
• blogs
• demos
• on-demand webinars
• FAQs

Collectively, your content should be interesting, informative, and maybe even inspiring. It's there to guide potential customers towards you, and to establish your credibility and build trust once they start to consider doing business with you (see this article for more on the kind of content you should be creating for your audiences).

It's 'King' because it can attract people to your website, generate leads, showcase your skills and know-how, and even nudge people into becoming customers depending on where in the buyer's journey they are.

Content marketing is a strategic approach to the creation and distribution of high quality, relevant information that your audiences will find in some way helpful, and forms part of your overall digital marketing efforts.

Where's it used in the marketing funnel?

Well, it can be used at the top of the funnel in the Awareness stage - for instance, with the right research, it's possible to identify search engine queries people are performing that are relevant to your business and to then produce content matched precisely to these searches so that when these people are scouring the internet there's a chance they'll encounter your material and make it onto your website.

But it also has a major role to play in the middle of the funnel, the Consideration stage. Here, potential customers that are already aware of you are scoping you out and trying to decide if your products or services are any good and will satisfy their needs. They need to know you're bona fide. Content supplied in the middle of the funnel can delve into subjects in greater depth and should seek to add value to your audience.

It's important to make sure your content travels by sharing it in all the right places - your website, organic social media, Google Maps listing and even with digital ads.

Now, we LOVE the psychology of marketing, so here's something about sharing free content that you need to know: it invokes the influence principle of Reciprocity. When someone accepts and uses the content you make available without charge, it creates a mental sense of indebtedness in them. Nobody likes that feeling, and in a bid to pay it back, they're more likely to buy from or do business with you at a later date (all else being equal, like price and quality etc, compared to your rivals) because you gave them useful stuff and knowledge for free.

So, if you weren't already persuaded that you need content marketing in your toolbox, you should be now! Just remember, it's only one component of your promotional marketing efforts and works best in conjunction with others.