Isabella Barbato
May 4, 2016

Leveraging content to move audiences down the funnel

It's a misconception that content can only influence potential customers in the upper levels of the purchase funnel, write Isabella Barbato of Outbrain.

Isabella Barbato
Isabella Barbato

Even with all of the growth that has taken place in the industry, some marketers still struggle when it comes to justifying the ROI of content.

A common misconception, and one that continues to pervade companies of all sizes, is that content is an asset created to influence only top-of-funnel actions, and can’t directly translate into sales. Many still question whether you can really leverage different content formats to bring prospects from brand awareness to consideration, intent, and lastly, action.

That’s easy to understand when 'content marketing = traffic' has functioned as the equation. Because sure, content marketing is a very effective way of driving targeted audiences to owned pages.

But that’s not all.

Lately, we’re seeing more and more brands successfully tackle cross-funnel customer journeys with smart content strategies.

How are they doing that? A few ways:

  • Long-form video engagement
  • Mobile-optimised content
  • Clear CTAs
  • Content landing pages.

In return, they’re delivering on leads, making sales and giving greater meaning to content ROI.

Putting banners to bed

Armed with content, it has made sense up until now to seek effective channels like display or even paid social for driving cross-funnel engagement. But unsurprisingly, marketers have struggled to produce lasting levels of engagement with push formats like popups, pre-rolls, and banners, as they are disruptive and offer very little value to audiences who may not be ready to move through the funnel. 

After all, the 'in-feed' and 'opt-in' environment is a much more intrinsic and natural way to capture audience attention.

So, what’s been working then, for these successful brands?

Capturing the interest moment by creating in-feed experiences.

Today, global fashion brands like Reiss are using content discovery to authentically capture audience attention by being in the feed and delivering value in an opt-in manner, ultimately increasing their average order value by 36 percent.

It’s about letting audiences proactively choose to engage with your content. 

Capitalising on the moment of interest

It’s clear, from examples like the one above: Marketers are learning to understand how content can help them find audiences that might not necessarily be searching for their brand, but can be nurtured to take action and make purchase decisions with them.

And as it has become harder than ever to win the attention of consumers who are blocking, skipping and ignoring ads, knowing how to reach them at the right moment with the right content is of utmost importance.

Ultimately, it’s about providing value beyond an ad message.

So, how do you capture your audience's attention?

There really are only three opportunities, or as we like to call them, “moments”:

  • The intent moment: Users are after specific nuggets of information and will search to find useful content that addresses their query.
  • The influence moment: Audiences go online to interact with family and friends or to follow their favourite brands and celebrities on social platforms.
  • The interest moment: Online browsing, video viewing, and reading the news take

The last one in particular, the “interest” moment, is the moment of discovery, and together these three moments make up your “prime time.”

You’ll need an effective strategy across all three stages in order to gain the attention of your audience.

Channeling audiences from 'funnel' to 'tunnel'

'Funnel to tunnel', a marketing mantra coined by Angeli Beltran, Mead Johnson’s digital marketing and CRM director, describes the necessity of not only using content to drive prospects through the funnel, but also using it to drive continued engagement, keeping them in that customer tunnel, while producing outcomes for their companies.

According to a study by Kissmetrics, new customer/user acquisition can cost up to seven times more than customer retention. Yet, many content marketers are so focused on driving audiences through the funnel and casting the net as far as they can that they often forget the lifetime value of an audience member who has already chosen their brand.

Isabella Barbato is head of marketing for Southeast Asia and India with Outbrain.


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