Winning With Content Marketing Throughout The Purchase Funnel

We all put a lot of time and money into our content marketing throughout the purchase funnel, but how can we show a return on that marketing investment?

I’d like to explore everything we do with content throughout the funnel to find the opportunities for improvement, so that we can prove the ROI of our content marketing activity.

Content Marketing and Aggregated Marginal Gains

Over the past decade, Sir Dave Brailsford, the sport scientist and MBA, has coached Team GB’s Cycling Team to twelve medals in #London2012, and further twelve medals in #Rio2016. He was deeply focused on process-improvement techniques.

For Brailsford, winning came from thinking small, not big, and adopting a philosophy of continuous improvement through the aggregation of marginal gains, rather than trying to bring about a single big change.

By thinking small, Team GB avoided obsessing about perfection in one area, and instead focused on its progression via small wins, and compound improvements.

The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.

aggregate marginal gains in cycling

The image above is a humorous cartoon that appeared on the Internet, but by experimenting in a wind tunnel, Sir Brailsford searched for small improvements to aerodynamics. And by analysing the maintenance area, he discovered that dust was accumulating on the floor, undermining bike maintenance. So he painted the floor white, which helped spot and eradicate impurities.

He hired a surgeon to teach his athletes about proper hand-washing so as to avoid illnesses during competition, and they avoided shaking hands with others during the Olympics! They were precise about food preparation. They travelled with their own mattresses and pillows so they could sleep in the same posture every night.

They searched for small improvements everywhere and found countless opportunities for improvement. Taken together, these gave them the competitive advantage over their rivals.

So, if aggregate marginal gains can have such dramatic results in cycling, what can it do for content marketing?

Content marketing is not dissimilar to cycling: It works to a clear goal upfront (win and retain customers,) to grow and sustain business.

Like cycling it works on a process and can be improved with multiple adjustments “in the funnel.”

Overview of Winning with Content Marketing Throughout The Funnel

A successful approach to having the right content in place throughout the purchase funnel requires a rigorous content audit, and the best way to audit your content is bottom up, following the approach we use at Watertight Marketing.

For this to work, you need to banish the idea you have of a classic sales funnel. This is because a sales funnel distorts the view of how marketing works. People just don’t come through a funnel from top to bottom. Instead, they leak out the sides. So a colander is a better image.

By accepting this, you put yourself in the right frame of mind for improving your content marketing.

So, please delete the mental image you have of a sales funnel and replace it with an image of a Bucket, several Funnels and Taps, as in the Watertight Marketing diagram below.

This mental image of a bucket, funnel and taps gets you much closer to how your content marketing really works, and how your buyers really move through their journey to purchase.

It also helps you to understand why approaching your content marketing from the bottom up is more effective… because there’s no point in pouring money into top and mid funnel content when you have funnels and a bucket with a hole in them. That’s just a waste of money.

To work out where you’re wasting valuable money, you need to rigorously evaluate the quality of your content at each intersection with customers, using a scorecard and rating your content’s effectiveness at each level, on a scale of 0-10.

This matters hugely, because identifying your content weakness and scoring it really helps focus your efforts. In particular, it helps you prioritise your efforts.

This content auditing process might feel like a huge amount of work. It is, but the payback is much bigger, and the clarity you get in your priorities will make you a content marketing rock star.

Where previously you were wasting money because you were leaking customers due to poor content, you’ll be getting an actionable focus and a return (ROI) on your content.

Often what we do by default is trying to improve the one thing that would change everything for the better. But no, think about it: If it was that easy you’d already have the answer. It isn’t and it isn’t for good reason: it doesn’t exist.

The proof that the marginal gains works in business is in the roll-call of brands who use it: Apple, Toyota, Nissan. These brands understand that focusing on process-improvement techniques are awesomely powerful.

To demonstrate this process, I’m running a workshop for The Content Marketing Association on 1 March, so why not come along and try it for yourself?

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