"Content" has become something of a buzzword in ecommerce and greater web marketing - everyone knows they should be creating it, but figuring out what to make and how to prove its value is the great challenge . Conversion funnels connect marketing efforts to actual sales, offering a visual representation of how campaigns convert prospects into customers. Creating the right content for every stage of your conversion funnel is the key to driving sales, engagement, and and optimizing marketing spend..

Content creation
For content to be considered "successful," it first needs a purpose. While content for each stage of the sales funnel targets a slightly different segment of your audience, it all needs to work toward a common goal. Some key questions to ask about every piece of content:Every bit of content you produce should answer these questions:

  • Are tone, message and design in line with company branding guidelines?
  • Does it reinforce our credibility on subjects related to core product offerings?
  • Does it generate awareness that can ultimately lead to a sale?

While viral buzz and page views are great, they're only positive if they bring in and nurture the right users - aka converting users. With that in mind, the ultimate goal of content is to show visitors why your product or service is the answer to their needs, and when done well, it invites them to learn more.


Spreading the word

The first stage of a sales funnel is awareness - using content to inform people about your brand. While there are many ways for people to find your content, a few specific channels work best:

  • Social media - Followers like to see a steady drip of new and engaging information. Every new social media post is both a reminder of your company's message and an opportunity to be seen by new potential customers. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr are effective ways to inform large numbers of people that you have something new and exciting to show them.
  • Content promotion - Getting the right people to promote your content is key to maximizing visibility. Syndication feeds, blogs, and other information sources with large audiences can expose your brand to thousands of potential customers. Establish relationships with other content producers and turn them into content partnerships.
  • Organic traffic - Search engine traffic is still the best--and easiest--bet to reach your target audience. Go after the right keywords and make sure your content is optimized for search engines. Many of your other marketing efforts will help SEO, because the more links, the higher you'll rank.

Get them involved
Once a user arrives, they want to see a website that reflects the content that brought them there in the first place. Make sure that your brand voice and look are consistent across the site and in every piece of content you distribute. A well-designed, clean and informative landing page goes a long way to building trust.

Make it easy for users to follow you. Prominently display share and follow buttons for your social media pages. Give them a simple, obvious and unobtrusive way to sign up for an email newsletter. Most important, give them reasons to sign up such as special promotions, discounts, or early access to new products.

Gathering metrics at this stage is an important part of determining a campaign's effectiveness. Analyze the number of visitors who complete your call-to-action, where they came from and the costs of your campaign, then calculate your ROI for your marketing campaign. A 2013 report from Marketing Sherpa revealed that ecommerce businesses receive an 11 percent conversion rate from organic traffic on average.

Stay front-of-mind
You have their attention from emails and social media. Now keep your store in their mind with a steady trickle - not a deluge - of communication. Send out email blasts, regular social media posts and newsletters. Show them case studies and testimonials from satisfied customers: the best way to convince someone that you're the best solution to their need is to provide them examples.

Convince your customers that they want your product, then remove as many barriers as possible between them and the buy button.

Content creation is the best way to disseminate your message and brand.

While you should continue to provide the type of content that established credibility and initially engaged them, turn their attention to your product offerings.

Nudge them past desire and into sales by offering discounts for first time customers, free-trial periods, demos or promotional giveaways. Often, the allure of a great deal or free item is as enticing, or even more enticing, than the product itself.

Once they hit the buy button, the onus shifts away from content and onto a speedy checkout and intuitive shopping cart. The easier it is for them to check-out, the less likely they are to abandon their cart at the last minute. If they do abandon their cart, have a system in place for sending abandoned cart reminders. Once the order is complete, update them on the delivery status of their shipment.

At this point, they get entered into your current customer nurture stream. Continue to send them informational content, newsletters, loyalty or rewards programs, and product news. Make sure to always take learnings from content initiatives and apply them to each stage of the funnel.

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