I got to have coffee last week with two hot shot business strategists here in Denver, and we talked content marketing and business strategy for two hours. It was so great I actually forgot to buy myself a coffee. #nerds
My buddy Greg of System.ly was telling us about his awesome version of the customer awareness spectrum as it relates to automated email funnels, and it involves (at least) three separate funnels to help capture and nurture customers at different stages of their journey.
Did that give you heart palpitations just now? THREE automated email funnels???
If you’re like many of my clients, the answer is yes. Honestly, the clients I’m working with right now have focused their energy so much on blogging and creating content that if they even have an email welcome sequence, they’re ahead of the curve.
Email is where the selling happens in our content marketing strategy — so if you’re missing that piece, you’re almost certainly missing out on sales.
But when I’m working with someone, laying out their content strategy and plugging up those email holes with a new automated funnel, I almost always see their eyes start to glaze over. They get that frightened deer-in-the-headlights look as the thought crosses their mind, “That’s a lot of emails I have to write and program into my autoresponder…”
And, if you’re anything like most people, that’s when the overwhelm sets in, and the result is that nothing actually gets done. The emails don’t get written. The funnel doesn’t get created. Because it seems like a LOT of work.
(FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve got something like 15 Asana tasks from Jamie, my Infusionsoft guru, right now of stuff I’m supposed to write for MY funnel, so I speak from experience…)
So what do you do? How do you know where to start? And how do you get past that overwhelm to start actually working your content marketing strategy?
It’s all about the money, money, money…
I think — and Greg agrees — that the best place to start is with the part of the funnel that is going to make you money. That means creating a lead magnet, email series, and pitch that will actually sell your product or service.
And that means focusing on the people who are the most aware of you and ready to buy.
Now, take two seconds and think about this in relation to your own business (assuming you don’t already have multiple funnels for the different stages of customer awareness):
- Is your main lead magnet designed to attract people who are ready to buy?
- Do your lead magnet and subsequent emails get them a small win and show that you are the expert they can trust?
- Do you end the sequence of emails with an ask or pitch to get them to buy?
If you answered NO to any or all of these questions (or if you’re missing a piece of the puzzle here) THIS should be where you start with your content marketing strategy.
Because the best blog posts in the WORLD will not garner you a successful business if you’re not doing the follow-up on the back end.
The list fallacy
You’ve probably heard people say, “The money is in your list!”
And while that’s true, to a degree, if you want that money, you have to actively get it OUT of your list. Because saying “The money is in the list” is like saying, “There’s gold in them thar hills!” They’re both true, and it’s also true that if you want the money, you have to work to get it.
I worked recently on a Strategy Session with a guy who has an enviable business situation going on: He’s got an awesome, very tiny niche with very little competition. He’s getting massive natural SEO without doing any optimization. And he’s been consistently churning out good content and a valuable newsletter which has garnered him a list of 10,000+.
And he’s struggling to make the kind of sales he wants.
So when we dug into what’s going on under the hood in his content marketing strategy, I realized he almost never asks for the sale. He’s got a bunch of evergreen products, but he doesn’t promote them much, and therefore, his sales just kind of trickle in.
The good news is that with a few simple tweaks to his process, I predict he’s going to see MASSIVE results. But it’s all going to hinge on him taking action to create that funnel that actually leads to a sale.
He’s got the lead generation part down. He’s got a welcome sequence. He’s giving away tons of great content and free goodies. But he’s missing that key component that will direct people to become customers.
Analyzing your content marketing strategy holes
The funnel analogy is a good one here, because if your funnel has holes, your leads are escaping and not becoming customers.
If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of work you think you need to do to create all those funnels all those experts are telling you to create, my tl;dr advice is this:
Focus on creating the funnel or plugging the holes in your existing funnel that will directly lead to a sale.
Once you’ve got this and you can tell that it’s working, you can focus on building funnels to capture leads at different stages of awareness.
But starting with the most unaware people first, for example, is going to be a losing strategy if you don’t already have a successful method in place to convert them to customers.
Want a handy-dandy printable version of that customer awareness spectrum, along with examples of what kinds of content to create at each stage? Just enter your info below to grab it.