Every day, the digital world gets easier to navigate. At the same time, there’s more and more information to sort through.
To filter the volume of content online and find the information they are looking for, the vast majority of people refer to search engines. In fact, nearly 90% of people encounter business content online through search engines, according to research from Clutch.
People’s curiosity about a topic motivates their search. That curiosity provides a window of opportunity for your company to convert into paying customers.
Content marketing helps your business move people through the purchasing process
Depending on the search terms people use, you can identify how likely people are to purchase your product. With that insight, you can then produce content that best engages them about the topics they’re actively looking for information on.
Through effective content marketing, you can impact the shape of your target customers’ purchasing process; everything from introducing your business through to closing on a sale.
The Role of User Intent in Consuming Business Content
People use online searches for various reasons: learning about a product, researching a company, or comparing prices.
Each action search audiences take relates to their place in the “conversion funnel,” a tool businesses use to identify how close a customer is to purchasing a product.
Getting a potential customer into the funnel doesn’t happen with strong-arm tactics, self-aggrandizing marketing and sales content. Instead, the best approach is to engage and attract them through compelling content.
Clutch’s survey shows that the leading reason audiences consume business content is to stay informed about industry trends. That puts them squarely in the awareness stage – they are searching the internet to learn more about something.
A smaller subset – roughly 20% – consume business content to decide whether to purchase a company’s products or services. These consumers are a valuable, higher-converting group.
How to Engage and Guide Customers Through The Funnel
Content marketing is about earning consumers’ confidence in your brand, which can potentially lead to a sale.
To establish trust with your customers, you will need to produce content that speaks directly to their interests and needs, or answers the issue or concern they are searching about.
This means you need to understand the intent of their search, which you can determine by identifying their place within the conversion funnel.
One approach to accomplish this is keyword research. The terms that people search online often reflect their interest in purchasing a product.
Top-of-the Funnel Content Informs People About Their Topic of Interest and Your Brand
People at the top of the funnel – in the “awareness” or “interest” stages – search broad or vague terms.
The intent of this sort of search is to know more about a topic. The type of content you produce for people at these stages, then, should be informative.
A couple of examples of this sort of content are:
- Infographics: A snappy visual can tell a story quickly and have a better chance to engage the consumer.
- How-to pieces: People search for answers. Content that provides tips or instructions, such as “how-to” article, guides people further down the funnel. A “how-to” video or podcast can reach consumers who don’t have the time or desire to read longer pieces.
Do not expect these customers to purchase on their first visit to your site. People rarely move from “what is this?” directly to “do you take credit cards?”.
It’s still important, though, to engage top-of-the-funnel audiences. If you can manage to provide relevant and valuable information to their interests, your business will be top-of-mind when they are ready to actually complete a purchase.
“Bottom of the Funnel” Intent Easier to Gauge
The more specific the search term that people use, the easier it is to gauge their intent.
People who use specific, long-tail search terms are further down in the funnel, in the “desire” and “action” stages.
These searchers are concerned with the logistics of a partnership, such as cost, product specifications, or customer reviews.
Though closer to a sale, you still need to engage these prospects without sales and marketing tactics.
Two strategies that help to “convince and convert” these sort of potential consumers are:
- Owned site content: Create content on your site such as blogs, product descriptions, and dedicated landing pages that directly address concerns of high-intent visitors. The goal of this content to reduce the number of steps between interest and desire and the action of purchasing.
- Optimized off-site content: Guest blogging directs traffic to your site directly through linking and indirectly through improving your site’s SEO. Other content you should optimize are company reviews and testimonial pages. Ensure that the third-party “neutral” content provides a quick and easy path to your product/service page.
Content Marketing Creates Valuable Inbound Traffic to Your Site
Successful content marketing requires engaging content that satisfies consumer’s need for information while gently guiding the consumer toward the point of purchase.
Developing multiple content pieces for consumers who fall within each level of the sales funnel, and optimizing your content for the broad or specific search terms that identify consumer intent and interest, can maximize your ROI through increased sales.