SalesFunnelStages_240The sales funnel, sometimes called the marketing funnel, is a visual representation of the journey buyers take from being one among many in your target audience to becoming a loyal customer. The concept is depicted many ways, but the overall idea is that the journey is composed of stages — and each successive stage contains a smaller group of people.

What can business-to-business marketers do with this idea? Plenty. Smart marketers employ the content types that are most effective at each stage in the sales funnel.

A recent survey of B2B marketing executives* investigated which content types are effective at moving prospects from one funnel stage to the next. The study divided the sales funnel into five stages. Here’s what the executives reported to be most effective at each stage:

1. Awareness | This stage sits at the top of the funnel and represents everyone in your target market.

Prospects who don’t yet know much about you — maybe not even your company name — are more affected by social media and blog posts than those in later stages of the sales funnel.

(However, advertising and PR—while not content types—are usually the go-to marcomm strategies for creating awareness because they give marketers more message control than afforded by social media and blogs.)

2. Consideration | This stage represents prospects that are considering your products, and comparing those products and your company against other vendors.

Prospects at this stage are most affected by white papers, research reports and your company’s website.

3. Purchase | An even smaller group, these are prospects who are nearly ready to buy, but haven’t quite pulled the trigger. They may have even contacted your sales team at this point.

Buyers ready to make a decision are most affected by your company’s website, case studies and web-based events.

4. Loyalty | These are your actual customers — don’t forget about them. You need to keep them interested in you — both to make future purchases and to recommend your company and products to other prospects.

Existing customers are most affected by newsletters, email and social media.

5. Advocacy | This is a very small group. These people are your advocates — cheerleaders even. If you provide them with the right type of content, they’ll help spread the word.

Advocates are most likely to share social media, blog posts, videos and case studies.

Looking for help with your content marketing strategy or content development? Contact your CCC account manager or email Susan McPherson at smcpherson@cccinc.com.

*Source: Regalix, “State of B2B Social Media Marketing 2015,” Feb 9, 2015