While you want to establish trust and authority with your audience, content that helps you meet business goals also fills your sales funnel with interested prospects.
So, if you’d like your content to be share-worthy and generate leads, this post is for you. Read on for three ways to supercharge your sales funnel.
1. Eliminate fuzzy funnels
If your current sales funnel is vague and amounts to something like, “I’ll get people onto my email list, and then when my bank account gets low, I’ll make an offer,” don’t worry; you’re not alone! But as a Copyblogger reader, I know you can do better.
At its most basic, your sales funnel is an intentional path that turns a website visitor into a paying customer — and then into a happy, repeat customer.
Your sales funnel might be an email autoresponder that utilizes marketing automation. It helps your audience get to know your business, builds credibility, and makes an introductory offer.
Here’s my main point: if you create content to generate new leads, you first have to establish what your sales funnel looks like.
Draw out your sales funnel, digitally or with good old pen and paper.
- What are the steps that turn a website visitor into a paying customer?
- How do they hear from you?
- What offers do they receive and in what order?
2. Give your audience a “little slice” as your opt-in
To fill your sales funnel with the most qualified prospects — your ideal customers — give them a “little slice” of your product or service for free.
Here’s how the “little slice” technique works:
- For each offer in your sales funnel, identify the problem it solves for the customer.
- How can you take a “little slice” of that problem and solve it for free in your opt-in gift?
Let’s first look at an example of what not to do
Imagine you’re a weight loss coach. You need an opt-in gift, so you decide to make a PDF with “5 Healthy Recipes.” Unfortunately, this recipe PDF attracts all sorts of different people. (Or, as is the problem with lots of generic content, it attracts no one!)
So, now you’re filling your sales funnel with people who might want weight loss advice, but also busy moms, broke students who need quick meal ideas, bodybuilders, diabetics, and anyone else interested in healthy cooking.
When you eventually make an offer for your weight loss program, there are only a small percentage of people in your funnel who are seriously interested in losing weight. Everyone else has problems that you’re (probably) not solving.
Contrast that example with the “little slice” technique
This same weight loss coach might offer a free seven-day weight loss jump-start challenge as an opt-in, which then leads to an offer for her paid weight loss program.
That “little slice” opt-in attracts prospects who are interested specifically in weight loss and who also want to participate in a program to help them reach their goals.
These prospects are much more likely to buy a full weight loss program than the random mix of people interested in “healthy recipes.”
The “little slice” technique works for all types of businesses
A software business might offer a free trial or free plugin with a portion of their product’s functionality, which leads to an offer for the full product.
The “little slice” technique attracts the right people into your sales funnel because your content focuses on a central problem that you solve with your products or services.
For each product or service in your funnel:
- Identify the problem it solves
- Take a “little slice” of that problem and solve it in an opt-in gift
The next step will show you how to extract more “little slices” for additional pieces of content.
3. Create content that attracts your ideal customer
As you know from your own experience, you’re not always in buying mode. Sometimes you’re searching online because you’re ready to buy, but most of the time you just want information, connection, or entertainment. It’s the same for your prospect.
Writing content that your ideal customer wants to read (and share!) starts with identifying which phase of the sales funnel he is in.
Sales funnels can get really complex, but there are essentially three major phases:
- Awareness Phase. The prospect has symptoms, may realize he has a problem, but isn’t looking for solutions (he might not even know that solutions exist).
- Consideration Phase. The prospect knows he has a problem and knows solutions exist, so he’s actively researching solutions.
- Buying Phase. The prospect is actively evaluating solutions to choose the best fit.
We’ll focus on the first two phases, which is when the majority of leads will enter your sales funnel. (You’ll want to handle leads in the Buying Phase differently — by tracking visits to a pricing page and making it easy to get answers to last-minute questions.)
Imagine the type of person who is attracted to the blog post with the headline “Why So Tired? 6 Little-Known Causes.”
This post attracts a reader who feels tired and wants to know why she might feel this way. This reader is most likely in the Awareness Phase.
She has symptoms but isn’t sure about the underlying cause — so selling her directly on your “Quit Caffeine” course wouldn’t work because she doesn’t realize caffeine consumption is related to her tiredness.
Now imagine the type of person who is attracted to the blog post with the headline “How to Quit Caffeine for Good.”
This post attracts a reader who already knows she needs to quit caffeine. She’s probably in the Consideration Phase because she’s looking for a solution to her problem.
You’ll want to bring both types of readers into your sales funnel, but you’ll communicate with them differently.
Readers in the Awareness Phase want to read about their symptoms, the underlying problem, other people who have the same problem, and that there are solutions to fix their problem.
For this phase, consider creating content related to these questions:
- How can you help them solve a little piece of their problem for free (“little slice content”)?
- What are the symptoms they’re experiencing and what’s the impact on their lives?
- What’s the underlying problem that you recognize as an expert, but they don’t?
- What does a beginner need to know about Problem XYZ?
- What are the first steps to solve Problem XYZ?
Readers in the Consideration Phase know they have a problem and are looking for a solution.
They’re attracted to:
- Case studies — how others like them have already solved this problem
- Review posts that compare various solutions, including yours
- Buying guides that help them make a smart decision
- Content that addresses objections
- Implementation tips, advice, and FAQs
Content that is more likely to be shared isn’t only about your specific product or service; it’s beneficial guidance related to the type of product or service you offer.
Make a list of content topics based on the ideas above and remember to include topics that provide a “little slice” of your opt-in gift, as well as topics that address the concerns of prospects in the Awareness Phase and prospects in the Consideration Phase.
Plan this content into your editorial calendar to meet your ideal customers’ needs.
Over to you …
When you follow these three methods, you’ll find that your content attracts more of the right customers who also want to share your useful content.
How do you make sure your content helps convert prospects into customers? Share in the comments below.