Most marketing efforts only focus on top-of-funnel leads. This means that leads are not being properly moved through the funnel and on to the next stage of conversion. The purpose of this post will be to examine the way that the marketing funnel is approached and to identify how to better nurture bottom of funnel leads through SEO content.
The marketing funnel must be addressed from a multi-staged approach and not an in and out approach. Many marketers are under the assumption that once you draw leads in through the top of the funnel, they’ll pop out the bottom as loyal customers. The funnel is not a customer tube that you stick leads into and automatically create customers. With that thought in mind, your marketing efforts have to reflect the right intent during each stage of the funnel.
Most marketing content focuses on drawing in prospective customers, but then drops the ball when it comes to closing the deal. The SEO content at the top of the funnel is designed for large numbers of traffic and not the specific needs of individual leads. Yet, the top of funnel gets all the attention. The fact is, bottom-of-funnel leads need nurturing and content tailored to them just like top and middle funnel leads.
The reason the bottom of the funnel is often overlooked is that there is a basic assumption that leads that reach the bottom of the funnel are essentially already converted to customers. While understandable, this logic is flawed. Just because someone shows interest in what you’re selling doesn’t mean you’ve closed the deal.
Think of how many people wish-list items or add them to their cart without actually clicking checkout. In brick and mortar stores you would call them window shoppers, but in the digital space, these are called bottom-of-funnel leads. Instead of thinking of the bottom of the funnel as the off-ramp for prospective customers and clients, you should be giving them that extra attention to get them across the finish line that is conversion.
Before we break down how to go about getting the bottom of funnel leads across the finish line, we want to make sure you understand the intent and purpose of your marketing funnel as well as the different stages of the marketing funnel. This will help you to generate the right type of content for each stage of the funnel, in particular content that is focused on getting bottom of the funnel leads to fully convert.
We know this might seem a little “marketing 101” to some readers, but understanding the transition of leads through different stages of the funnel will improve your success. The point that many marketers and businesses miss is that the needs of leads change greatly from the top of the funnel through the middle and at the bottom. This means that the same tactics won’t continue to work and that the same content that drew in the leads will necessarily convert them to customers.
If you continue to use the same content throughout the funnel, then you can pretty much guarantee that your lead conversion rate will not be at its optimum potential. Your lead conversion rate, or sales conversion rate is the metric that tells you how many of your leads become customers. Take stock of this metric and measure it as you grow your content and your bottom-of-funnel focus and see how it improves. You may be surprised by the results.
The purpose of the next section is to break down the stages of the funnel and illustrate how content and leads are managed. This will help to understand the purpose of the next stage of the funnel and how each piece is connected.
By now it probably seems like we’ve been overly critical of top-of-funnel-focused marketing, but the truth is, we’re not suggesting that top of funnel not be a focal point, just that it shouldn’t be the only focal point of your content and SEO strategies. Understanding how to manage and nurture top-of-funnel leads is what will eventually get you to the bottom of funnel leads that you want to close on.
The top of the funnel is the largest portion of the funnel. It’s where you take in leads at the initial stage of conversion. This is normally known as creating brand awareness. This is where the bulk of your marketing and content creation will be focused. The goal is to make as many people, not leads, aware of your business. People only become leads once they are aware of your business and then show some form of interest.
Content for the top of funnel is generally focused on telling people what your brand does and offers. Think of it as the introduction to your brand and why they should consider doing business with you.
The key difference with top-of-funnel content as compared to later-stage content is that top-of-funnel content is not designed to sell people anything, remember, we don’t even know if they’re interested yet. Instead, the focus is on educating people as best as possible. As people learn about your brand and what you have to offer, their interest builds and they move on to the middle of the funnel.
Since the top of funnel is targeting pretty much everyone in your target audience, you must produce a lot of content of varying types to reach and engage them all. This is where key parts of your marketing strategy come into play. Knowing how to define and target the correct audience will narrow down the amount of work you have to do to push leads through the funnel and on to the next stage.
In short, this is the point where people become leads. Keep in mind that they are interested in what you have to say but not necessarily what you are selling. To use a popular metaphor, they are looking at the hook in the water but they haven’t bitten yet.
It’s your job at this point to try and show them what you offer that they might need. Now you’re still producing content for them, but the target of the content needs to be tailored to showing off what you offer so that they will consider buying. As they are considering buying, there will naturally come questions that they want to be answered. That is also part of your job, answering the questions. While explaining your brand and what you do, as well as answering questions, you should be trying to build the confidence and trust of the potential customer. Explain why you can meet their needs and how your brand is the better choice for their needs.
Content-type usually shifts here to specifically address the needs of the customer and what you can do for them. In this case, you’re likely looking at content like emails, educational resources, and some light marketing to try and see if they are interested in buying your products. Again, at this stage, you are trying to nurture leads to move them further through the funnel, not particularly force-feed your goods and services.
Your goal is to persuade, but not push. Instead of thinking about it like trying to land a sale, one trick is to think of it as though you are a motivational speaker and you are trying to get them psyched up about what your brand can do for them.
Your efforts at this stage can be much more targeted than at the top of funnel because by now, these potential customers know enough about your industry for you to talk in-depth about what it is you offer and what you can do. Just like the funnel itself, your focus should be narrowing as you move closer to a conversion.
Once leads reach the bottom of the funnel, you can liken it to shoppers with a cart full of items who are still deciding whether they need to make that purchase before heading to the checkout counter. Often unsure buyers have unanswered questions or concerns that need to be addressed. Rather than pushing them towards the checkout counter, your job at this time is to ease their mind, address their concerns and make them want to check out on their own.
Ignoring bottom-of-funnel leads or rushing to conversion can harm your conversion rate.
It is at this point, and not the top of funnel, that you need to be the most involved in your potential customer’s journey. You should be involved throughout the process to some extent, but most top of funnel tasks can be automated processes until they show some actual interest in your brand. There are many marketing automation tools to simplify the process of generating interest in your brand. This doesn’t mean you can be hands-off during the initial process, but it means that you can let automation assist you until you’re ready to focus on leads that have shown interest.
By the time leads reach the bottom of the funnel, your role shifts to less of an educational and informative role and more of a facilitator role. Your goal figuring out exactly what the customer wants from your business. From there you can begin to explain how your product or business can meet their needs, while simultaneously addressing problems and promoting confidence.
Next, we’ll talk about how you go about the process of nurturing bottom of funnel leads to complete the conversion process.
Now that we’ve broken down the funnel into sections and explained how the marketer or salesperson’s role changes at each stage, we can talk about how you go about nurturing bottom-of-funnel leads. We will also discuss the types of SEO content that most appeals to these potential customers.
Like we talked about when explaining the narrowing of the funnel, the content you produce for bottom of funnel leads should be equally as narrow or focused. You’ve already drawn them in, now you need to treat them as unique entities and address whatever issues they have.
It’s not about keywords and content volume at this point, it’s about custom-crafted content that identifies a problem or needs the lead has. Your content then needs to position your brand or a product from your brand as the solution to that problem or the answer to that need. Lastly, your content should highlight how you stand out from the competition and why you are the best option.
This part of the process is about getting to know the customer and what they want or need from your business. The types of content you create for this process can be wide-ranging from blog posts that talk about problems that your products can solve, to demonstrations of how your products solve potential problems. Rather than trying to sell your product, you’re trying to show why it has value. You’ve already done all of the self-promotions at the top of the funnel. Now you’re worried about sealing the deal.
Direct product comparisons are a great content tool at this point to convince leads why your product is best. In terms of SEO, the content is not about being keyword-heavy or designed to drive traffic, it is written for a particular niche, the customer that knows what they need and is already looking at their options. Your keywords should represent very specific things and your content should be as focused and relevant to that topic as possible. There is no room for broad sales pitches and generic statements at this point.
Once you’ve identified the problem, your objective is to propose your solution to the problem. Notice that we didn’t say a solution or the solution, but your solution. The key with this is identifying yourself as a standout in the space, not just another alternative that’s out there in a sea of products. If you’ve got to put on a clown costume and start juggling to stand out, then do it. Tell the customer, without trying to sell them, why your product is the solution to their problem.
You can use customer testimonials, business ratings, actual tests from those in your industry, or any other validation of your product that gets the point across. A common example that we see is vehicles that achieve a high crash safety rating. They will often make this a key selling feature over other amenities because it sets them apart from the competition and it is not something that can easily be replicated.
It’s true that not every business can boast such accolades but every product has something that stands out and makes them better than another. Say you sell antivirus software, you don’t have the best detection out there or the fastest, but your software is easier to use and compatible with any system. This gives you key points to highlight in content and if you know that a potential customer wants something that is user-friendly and will work on any system, then you know exactly how to propose your solution.
The key to picking the type of content to use for this phase of the process is in knowing what your potential customer wants to know. If they want to know how to use your product, then how-to guides and videos are the perfect content medium to capitalize on bottom of funnel leads and nurture them towards conversion.
You can even offer free education tools to give your leads resources to grow into your product before they ever complete the purchase. The amount of time spent on this type of content will be worthwhile as it can be used again and again to help customers with your products. Live demonstration videos are again useful at this point too.
This is the point in the funnel where you’re helping them make up their mind. Bottom of funnel content is also called decision making content and by the time you’ve identified the problem and put yourself forward as a solution, it’s now time to show exactly why they should choose your products and not only should they choose your products, but that they want to choose your product.
One of the best types of content to showcase this comes from your customers, showcasing user experiences through testimonials, videos, and ads will help to demonstrate firsthand why your product is the right choice. Customer success stories are one of the most popular options. You see these all the time for products like exercise equipment, diet plans, and health products. They show a before and after photo and explain how the customer got those results.
The same type of approach and content can work here too. It’s all about saying “yes those other options exist, but we are the right one for you.”
Once you’ve refocused your funnel strategy to focus on nurturing bottom of funnel leads as well as top and middle, you’re probably wondering “well how will I know if it’s working?” There are numerous key metrics to take a look at that can tell you how successful you are with your marketing strategy.
As we stated near the beginning of this guide, your conversion rate is one of those metrics that you can measure by comparing leads to customers and determining what the percentage is. Some tools can help you do this as well. Other metrics to look at include your total ROI for marketing leads, your earnings per lead, or how many products each lead is buying, as a side note, the retention rate is also a good indicator of success. Additionally, you can look at how often customers look but don’t buy, such as when they leave items in the cart but don’t check out. If the percentage of checkouts goes up, then your bottom-of-funnel content is working.
Managing your leads throughout the funnel is an ongoing process. As your leads move through the funnel, the approach you take and the content you produce needs to change as well.
The way you use content and SEO in bottom of the funnel lead conversion is entirely different from top of funnel content. If you’re struggling to develop lead-specific content to make those conversions, then it’s a good idea to consult with an SEO agency to see how they can help you produce more targeted content.