By now [hopefully] all of us know the importance of clear, concise content when it comes to promoting our brands. This week, we thought we’d take a look at the larger content marketing movement, and how the different types of content out there work together to put a brand in front of its target audience.

When it comes down to it, content marketing is related to the sales funnel. This infographic by Content Marketing Experience really hits the nail dead on the head.

STAGE 1: Awareness of Need

Bring the pain, show the gain. The first step of the digital content marketing funnel is to show the customer what the problem is, and why they should be bothered to solve it. To this end a clever content marketer should produce explainer and intro videos, well-researched infographics with a target reader in mind, and social media/PR announcements. Gamification, if relevant, is always a welcome addition to digital marketing strategies as well.

STAGE 2: Consideration Research

Once potential customers are made aware of their need, they will naturally gravitate towards types of content that are more advanced than introductory videos and infographics. Useful resources like how-to guides and white papers can answer the more in-depth questions your customers might have. Think of Stage 2 as answering the five Ws of the digital marketing funnel.

STAGE 3: Analysis & Comparison

Okay, if you’ve reached this point of the funnel, then you’ve passed the first hurdle: convincing your customer that they should be interested in your services or products. But you haven’t convinced them to buy your brand. This only happens after they can look at comparison charts and tables (read: infographics and presentations), product demo videos, and webinars/tutorial videos that demonstrate your expertise.

STAGE 4: Purchase

When you do manage to convince them that your brand is the right one, you still have to convince them to actually buy. Don’t let them off the hook! This is when well-documented case studies, testimonial videos, and product reviews can really make or break the sell. These content types should supplement the other content types in the first three stages of the funnel, not supplant them. Online customers are getting smarter and more knowledgeable with each passing year, so always go for the soft sell over the hard sell.

STAGE 5: Loyalty

Eventually, you’ll prove that your brand is best. You just have to be persistent. But resting on your laurels is the fastest route to low retention. Instead of constantly focusing all of your content resources on attracting new customers, make sure to support your existing content with weekly blog posts, email newsletters, and social media updates.

The problem we see with a lot of small SMBs is that too many of them are focusing on cheaper, quicker content types, like social media updates, blog posts, and newsletters without understanding that those content types feed existing customers. Investing a little more upfront in infographics and explainer videos can go a long way in attracting new customers.