Content Marketing Throughout the Sales Funnel

I think it’s safe to say that readers on Small Business Trends are typically a fairly savvy, ambitious bunch.  We know that it takes hard work and smart strategy to make things happen.  On occasion, we’ll begrudgingly admit that there’s even an element of luck to it all – “the right place at the right time,” we’ll say.

That being the case, you already know that to do anything well, you have to have follow-through.  And that rule most certainly applies to content marketing.  However, many ambitious small business owners end up dropping the “content marketing ball” at various places throughout the sales funnel.

I’d like to cover the four major ways in which many of us are slipping up:

  • Aiming for the wrong target.
  • Forgetting about gamification.
  • Failing to create brand advocates.
  • Disregarding the value of repeat customers.

A Lesson in Target Practice

Unfortunately, many businesses are screwing up from the get-go by aiming for the wrong target.  Remember, content marketing is about having a conversation.  If you aren’t positioning yourself in the places where potential customers are talking, then there’s no way your efforts will be effective.

For some businesses, Twitter is king.  Others might rely heavily on Pinterest.  Figure out where your clients are.

Gamification Really Does Work

So why have you forgotten about it?  The principles of gamification are simple, and incredibly easy to employ in your content marketing strategy.  You’re already sharing your own content in blog posts and guides, through Tweets and Facebook posts.  Why not incentivize the re-sharing of your content?

Give discounts, promotional codes, and freebies to those who share your stuff.  Not only are they helping you self-promote, but they’re also more likely to be your repeat customers.

Remember: gamification is typically useful only to those businesses that are already established.  This isn’t a strategy for companies that are new to the races.

Where Are Your Brand Advocates?

If you’re making sales, especially if you’re making repeat sales, then you clearly have something good going for you.   So, why aren’t you encouraging customers to become advocates for your brand?  Start using your social media profiles to encourage your customers to share your brand with friends.  While gamification can help, you can’t rely on this technique solely.

Encourage customers to create their own content about your brand.  Sound scary?  It shouldn’t be.

A Field Guide to Brand Advocates Infographic

According to the above graphic from BzzAgent, brand advocates are twice as likely to create online content about your brand than the average web user.  Also, they are usually genuine and free communicators.  Get these people on board.

Coca-Cola has some pretty amazing brand advocates.  Coca-Cola CMO, Joe Tripodi, wrote in April 2011:

“We estimate on YouTube there are about 146 million views of content related to Coca-Cola. However, only 26 million views were of content that we created.  The other 120 million views were of content created by others.”

Talk about advocacy!

Where Are Your Repeat Customers?

If you think your business doesn’t lend itself well to repeat customers, think again.  You’ve already used content marketing to go through all the hard work of earning first-time customers.  It only takes a little more work to make them repeat customers.

Depending on the nature of your business, some customers may drop off the map after the sale, but that doesn’t give you the excuse to drop the ball.  Use an effective email marketing strategy that targets your different types of customers.  Keep tabs on how long it’s been since a customer has purchased from you, and know what their needs are one week later, one month later, one year later, etc.

Without being obnoxious, make sure that you’re emailing them offers and information on how you can meet those needs.  Also try implementing a loyalty program.  This is a great way to encourage customers who might not otherwise be inclined to do repeat business.

Stop Dropping the Ball!

These are just four of the big areas where I see clients slipping up.  Of course, pitfalls are everywhere.

What areas do you consider to be the risky disaster zones where we can lose all of our hard work in the blink of an eye?


Amie Marse Amie Marse is the founder of a small content generation firm based in Lexington, KY. She’s been a passionate freelance writer turned business owner for over 7 years. Her philosophy is that the essentials of content marketing do not change from the small business to the Fortune 500 level, and that creativity trumps budget every time.

5 Reactions
  1. Amie Marse: I have been a content creator for 10+ years as a blogger. I interested to hear about your work in Kentucky. Do you think it is time to “flip the sales funnel” as described in Joseph Jaffe’s book?

  2. From what I have been seeing, many businesses today still see content marketing or content in general as an SEO tactic rather than a major strategy for their online marketing campaign. This has resulted in them creating average content purely for link juice rather than insightful content that delivers on value.

    It is important to show ourselves why valuable content matters and which type of content perform better. Tracking how every content piece or effort that we put into content marketing in terms of number of leads and sales generated is crucial in keeping us going into the right direction. Thus, I would add “Failing to Track the Returns of Content Marketing” to the list.

    Nevertheless, this is a very interesting food for thought. Thanks for the article, Arnie.