Content Marketing Sales Funnel That Will Work For You

by Nedim Talovic · Updated 15 Aug 2021

Sales funnel is a path that enables you to see how customers have been acquired.

Customer acquisition would be much harder without sales funnel because that’s the place where you analyze the whole sales process.

For example, you can find answers to the following questions:

  • Which marketing channels drive more traffic?
  • How many leads organic traffic brings?
  • Which type of the traffic converts better?

You’re the one who designs a sales funnel of your business. The following photo is an example how it’s generally used.

Traffic - Leads - Sales Source: AudienceOps

In this blog post, we’re focused on content marketing sales funnel, but you should know that there are other types of sales funnels such as social media sales funnel and many others.

#1 Generate Traffic

Content marketing sales funnel starts with the traffic.

Everything is useless if you don’t have traffic on your site or blog. In this stage of the sales funnel, you need to figure out how to drive the traffic to your site or blog.

It’s possible in various ways and here are the most important three:

  • Organic search
  • Paid search
  • Social media

Organic search is, of course, the one that requires lots of efforts and patience, but other two marketing channels are also important.

It’s well-known that B2C companies that blog generate 88% more leads per month than those who don’t.

B2B companies that blog generate more leads

Although content marketing is not equal to the blog, we usually think about the blog when we say content marketing because the blog is the most used medium in content marketing.

So, why avoid blogging when it generates so many leads?

Organic Search

As I said earlier, organic search is the most useful marketing channel because it brings lots of benefits in the long terms.

Once you get positioned on the first page, you’ll probably stay there for a while. On the other side, the moment you stop paying clicks (paid ads), your traffic immediately will go down.

“The problem” with Google rankings is that your content has to be very long. According to the photo below, top positioned pages have about 2,000 words which isn't easy to achieve.

Content Total Words

You have to publish 200 - 300 articles to see real benefits because you can’t expect great results if you have only 10 - 15 articles. 250 articles with 2,000 words are exactly half million written words!

The following photo from WordStream shows how important organic search position is.

CTR vs Organic Search Position

If you’re positioned in the first position, you should expect about 30% organic search CTR.

On the other side, if you’re on 6h position - your search CTR is going to be about 5%. Another reason why writing in-depth articles matter is long-tail keywords.

Generally, phrases that contain more than 4 words are considered as long-tail keywords.

Long-Tail Keywords

The beautiful part about long-tail keywords is that they have a high probability of conversion. What’s more, it’s easier to rank for “red Nike men running shoes” than for “shoes”.

So, always write in-depth content with lots of long-tail keywords, but be careful - your content mustn’t be over-optimized.

Paid Search

I’ve already told you that organic search is great because of its long-term benefits. But, paid search is also great because you can pick right keywords to target.

For example, you can avoid those keywords who are not commercial and you can focus on those who bring lots of money.

According to the photo below, how much money does it cost to advertise depends on the industry your business is in.

AdWords CPC Data

For example, Legal Services is very expensive so if you are an attorney you can expect lots of money to put in the Google Ads.

Although you’ll see how traffic increases immediately, you won’t see great results at first. It takes the time to optimize keywords and figure out which works and which doesn’t.

What I really found useful is adding negative keywords. Here’s how. Click on Search Terms in the Keywords tab.

Search Terms Tab

There, you’ll see the list of terms that your targeted keywords appear. For me, this is the most useful when advertising on Google.

Search Terms

For example, once you figure out that some phrase has lots of clicks but zero conversions you can exclude it from further appearing in the Google search results.

Social Media

Content length isn’t important only for ranking on Google. Content length also has an impact on the number of shares across different social networks.

It’s interesting to see how articles more than 3,000 words have the highest number of shares.

Average shares by content length

On the other side, articles between 2,000 and 3,000 words have no shares at all, according to the photo above.

How many organic reach your posts will get, depends on the number of likes your page has. For example, Facebook up to 1,000 likes has the highest reach.

That makes sense because small pages deserve to appear in news feed.

Facebook Organic Reach

Pages with more than 25 million likes have the lowest organic reach. The problem with organic reach is that it decreases all over the time.

The photo above suggests how Facebook stock price increases while organic reach decreases. It actually suggests that Facebook wants to push you to advertise.

Facebook Stocks and Organic Reach

One of the things you have to worry about is the time when you promote the content. For example, Twitter users should expect the highest CTR on the weekend.

Twitter Activity by Day

On the other side, the lowest CTR is on Fridays. I’m not sure why, but anyway, I suggest you testing it on your own.

#2 Capture Leads

Once you drive traffic to your site, you need to start to think about converting those visitors into leads. Here, I’ll show you 3 techniques that you can follow to generate leads:

  • Popup
  • Content Upgrade
  • Blog post footer

Popup

Popups are very annoying but very efficient so you must add them on your site if you want to capture lots of new leads.

Here’s how one popup from Aweber looks like.

Ready to become an email marketing pro?

You’re probably interested in conversion rates, so here are some benchmarks from the real life example. Nikki uses both a popup and a sidebar form.

A popup appears 60 days per site visitor, at a delay of 2 seconds, and the form is always visible, according to Aweber.

Sidebar vs Popup

However, the popup has a subscription rate of 5.5% and the sidebar has only 0.4%.

Personally, I think that subscription rate is too much and it will definitely go down once your traffic increases, but everything around 2% is still perfect.

Content Upgrade

Another way of capturing traffic is by using content upgrade which I found the greatest type of lead acquisition.

Firstly, you should identify your top visited blog posts by opening Behaviour - Site Content - Landing Pages report in Google Analytics.

 Behavior - Site Content - Landing Pages

Once you see your top visited pages, you should consider adding a content upgrade.

The content upgrade is nothing else than offering additional content in an exchange for email address.

For example, I’ve written an article about content marketing quotes, but I also let people download the most important sentences in content marketing.

Content upgrade example

Once they click on DOWNLOAD they will see a modal dialog (popup) where they need to enter an email address as well as name.

Content Upgrade Dialog

“The problem” with content upgrades is that people are very curious.

Lots of them will be interested to see which sentences and bits of advice are the most important.

Finally, after you create content upgrades for your top pages you can move on other less visited pages.

Blog Post Footer

Developers usually add comments section after the text, but you can consider adding a box with an extra offer.

Here’s how QuickSprout offers explosive SEO secrets worth $5,000 per hour.

Explosive SEO Secrets

Of course, this form will have fewer conversions because not every visitor will scroll until the end of the blog post. In other words, this offer is below the fold, but no worries. It might be worth adding.

Generally, you can use heat maps and scroll maps to see where is the best place to put an offer. Here’s how Yandex Scroll Map (free tool) looks.

Yandex Scroll Map

Finally, I just want to say that there are tons of ways to capture leads, so you should test everything and find what works the best. Generally, I think that would be popups and content upgrades.

#3 Acquire Customers

The third stage of content marketing sales funnel is to acquire customers from your leads. What you need to do at this stage is to initiate communication.

Here are some ways of starting a communication:

  • Drip campaigns
  • Webinars
  • Cold calling

Let’s see explore all these ways.

Drip Campaigns

Drip campaigns are set of automated emails that are based on specific actions or just a timeline.

At the moment you acquire a lead, you simply start sending automated emails in order to convert a lead into the customer.

Here’s the photo from Drip which explains how drip campaign workflow works.

Drip Workflow

Every drip campaign should following the following three rules:

  • Educate
  • Build authority
  • Sell

You need to figure out which emails you want to send. For example, the first email could always be a welcoming email - you can offer a free piece of content like eBook.

This way, you’ll educate your potential clients about the problem you have. After that, you must continue educating them with the next few emails.

Maximizing the results is possible when you send emails on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Wednesdays, according to CoSchedule.

The best day to send email is

But not only that because the time of the day matters a lot.

Subscribers are likely to open email after 12 p.m, and the most active hours are 2 - 5 p.m.

Email opens by time of day

Simply said, make sure that your emails are top positioned in a time of the maximum user's activity.

Email Inbox

At the moment you build authority, you should offer your product or service.

That can be a free trial version or 1-on-1 training so you can provide an assist with your app or whatever else you’re offering.

Webinars

Webinars are great for two reasons.

Firstly, that’s where you show the product, and secondly, it’s the place where you get questions from potential customers.

Most companies run more than 1  webinar a month.

 Most companies run more than one webinar a month

Maybe that seems too much, but I’d always recommend you to record a webinar and play it multiple times. You only have to be there when Q&A session starts.

According to ON24, the best days for attracting more attendees are Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Midweek webinars attract more attendees

But not only that, hosting a webinar at 11 a.m. will maximize the number of attendance.

Time of day makes a difference to attendence

As for the webinar length, webinar attendees usually watch a webinar for 55 hours in 2017.

Webinar attendees watch for almost a full hour

You can even mix drip campaigns and webinars by sending a registration link in one of your newsletters.

Cold Calling

According to Close.io, if reach 15% decision-makers you’re doing fine because 15 percent is a standard, but reaching 30% tells us that you’re doing a great job.

The same source tells us that you should be able to qualify 50% leads. A qualified lead is when you got a chance to talk to and discuss with a decision maker.

Next, you’re pretty good if you close 50% of the people who qualify. What really increases a close rate is when potential customers are already familiar with your company.

That’s why content marketing is great.

Kissmetrics Landing Page

The photo above shows how Kissmetrics collect leads and ask for the data like name, email, phone, company name, and other useful information.

However, keep in mind that every field will decrease a lead rate - you have to find a sweet spot. If you don’t have enough information, your leads will be less quality but you’ll have more leads.

Conclusion

Sales through content marketing require producing tons of content which tell us that content marketers must be patient.

Unfortunately, lots of business owners are not patient and they think content marketing doesn’t work. It does but takes lots of time and efforts.

Although lots of people say that the biggest trouble is converting leads to sales, I think that driving traffic is the most challenging. I think once you do it, you can easily figure out what your audience is interested in and what the audience doesn't care about.

Finally, test everything and you’ll definitely increase the sale.