What is a content marketing sales funnel?

what is a content marketing sales funnel

Don’t know your content marketing sales funnel from your conversion rate optimisation?

(… And still kinda wondering if they’re both kitchen utensils?)

I hear you, fam.

Every industry has its own lingo, and it’s definitely hard to keep up with all the different Kardashians language.

Just ask my husband. The second he talks tech, I feel like he’s started speaking gibberish.

But when it comes to copywriting and content marketing, I’m all over it.

Cracks knuckles.

Which is why today I’m going to walk you through exactly wtf a content marketing sales funnel is …

… and how you can use it to supercharge your sales and success.

I promise to use normal words (and avoid slick marketing lingo), if you promise to grab something yummy to nibble while you’re reading.


Let’s goooo.

The definition of a content marketing sales funnel

Okay, so that this actually makes sense (and you don’t instantly forget what I’m talking about – like I do with every other techy convo I have with El Husbando), I’m going to go slow and break content marketing sales funnels down word by word.

Content: Stuff you create for your audience to read, watch and/or consume. Can be blogs, vlogs, videos, infographics, social media posts, ebooks, eguides, newsletters, webinars and more.

Marketing: Actions you take to promote your business. Can be done via heaps of different pathways, including advertising, PR, social media and …

Content marketing: Content you create to support your marketing and biz goals.

Sales funnel: A marketing experience designed to pull in prospective customers and then convert them into buyers.

So, when you put it all together, a content marketing sales funnel is an online journey that uses content to guide your audience from stranger to sale.


Why’s it called a funnel?

Good question.

But basically, if you picture a funnel, there’s a huge opening up the top, right?

This is the top of your funnel, where your goal is to attract lots of eyeballs. But, as you progress through the funnel, your audience gets smaller and smaller as you weed out all the time-wasters and tyre-kickers, before you finally have a group of targeted, relevant humans that legitimately want to buy your offering.

And that’s your sales sweet spot.


How does a content marketing sales funnel work?

Okay, bear with me while things get a little complicated.

Content marketing sales funnels have multiple steps and stages and every digital marketer has their own secret herbs and spices recipe for the ‘perfect’ content marketing sales funnel.

But most of ‘em (mine included) look a little something like this:


Stage one – The introduction

What you’re basically saying: Hello, world! We exist (and you’re gonna love us)

What you’re doing: Capturing your dream customers’ attention with purposeful content.

You’ll probably hear this content being called: A read magnet.

It looks like: An Instagram post, a blog article or even a Facebook ad.


Stage two – The invitation

What you’re basically saying: Like what you see? I’ve got more where that came from.

What you’re doing: Turning a one-off chance encounter into a budding relationship by giving your audience an irresistible reason to opt-in to your mailing list.

You’ll probably hear this content being called: A lead magnet or opt-in incentive.

It looks like: A free ebook, eguide or webinar.


Stage three – The superhero sequence

What you’re basically saying: Got a problem? I can solve it.

What you’re doing: Serving your shiny new newsletter subscribers a strategic email sequence (i.e. a set of pre-written automated emails) that builds their trust and keeps them engaging by helping them solve a problem or problems.

You’ll probably hear this content being called: A nurture sequence or ‘warming up’ your audience.

It looks like: An email or newsletter.


Stage four – The decision

What you’re basically saying: Is that a wallet in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

What you’re doing: Serving tailored content that shows your customers it’s a total no-brainer (and completely safe) to buy from you.

You’ll probably hear this content being called: Social proof, sales letters and sales copy.

It looks like: An email and/or landing page.


Keep in mind that this isn’t a 24-hour transformation.

An entire content marketing sales funnel journey usually takes place over weeks and even months.

But it’s worth it.


Why is a content marketing sales funnel so powerful?

There are two psychological principles that underpin why content marketing sales funnels are so nifty.

The first is the concept of reciprocal altruism. This is a fancy way of saying that when we’re given something, we’re more likely to return the favour and give something back.

In a content marketing sales funnel, you’re giving your audience free content. This primes them to, later, return the favour by investing in your product or service.

The second psychological principle says that likeability is the best predictor of a brand’s success. The more likeable your brand is, the more you’ll sell.

(Side note: This is one of the reasons I specialise in personality-driven creative copywriting! Likeable brands get the fans, baby.)

And one way to be super, dooper likable? Deliver free, value-drenched content that showcases your knowledge and expertise!

Cool, huh?

It’s essentially supercharging your chances for success!

Content marketing sales funnels float my boat because:

  • They’re focused on relationship-building.
  • They’re designed to help add value to your audiences’ lives.
  • They can be automated. Simply set and let the sales roll in!
  • They aren’t as pushy or confrontational as other marketing and sales tactics.
  • They put your customers in the captain’s chair and allow them to feel empowered.
  • They’re like catnip for conversions!

So, how can you use a content marketing sales funnel in your business?

A great place to start is to research the burning problems your dream customers are struggling with.

Are you a graphic designer? If so, have a think about why your clients really need your services. It’s not just because they want a pretty logo; it’s because they want their business to stand out from the crowd so they can attract their dream customers.

Are you a business coach? Consider what your clients really want from you. It’s not just practical guidance on streamlining their systems and processes; it’s a way to make their lives easier and their businesses more profitable.

Once you know what your dream customers are struggling with, you can tailor content to fulfil their emotional needs … or hire a creative copywriter (like me!) to do it for you!

Curious what your content marketing sales funnel could look like?

I like your style! Head on over here, cutie.

  1. Alison Wolf says:

    Such great suggestions for a content marketing strategy

  2. NICHOLAS Mc Donald says:

    I’m in Auto Sales. How can this work for us in reaching out to prospective customers to get their attention and their interest?

    • Hey Nicholas,

      You’ll want to capture their email address at the beginning of the buyer life cycle. So, ideally, when they *almost* want to think about buying a car, or are researching car brands. You could do a car comparison guide targeted at a set audience, or you could do something fun like a quiz that matches them with the best car for their personality. There isn’t much fun, interactive content in the automotive industry at the moment, so there’s a lot of potential. Then your e-marketing will be focused on educating your leads on why your car brand/dealership.

      Hope this helps!

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