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3 Key Stages in the Inbound Marketing Funnel

By Sara Beth Jonassen
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Inbound-Marketing-funnel-graphic.jpgFor any strong inbound marketing plan to be effective, it must address the 3 stages of the buyer’s journey:

  1. Awareness Stage
  2. Consideration Stage
  3. Decision Stage

According to Hubspot, the “buyer’s journey is the active research process a potential buyer goes through leading up to a purchase.”

Keeping a model for this process in mind helps us as marketers to deliver exactly the right content, at exactly the right time.

At each stage in the buyer’s journey, your prospect has different needs and questions.

As you can imagine, knowing exactly what needs and questions your prospect has at each stage will help you to curate and present the most relevant content available. So, let’s get to know these 3 key stages in the inbound marketing funnel!

Stage 1: Awareness

The awareness stage is the very first step in the buyer’s journey, and it represents the majority of traffic funneled to your website. Here, the prospect is becoming aware of their problem and educating themselves about the nature of the problem to help them define it.

It’s important to note that the prospect is a not ready to purchase a product or service at this stage; they are merely learning more about an arising need or symptom in order to clarify it for themselves.

So, what kinds of content should you deliver to your prospects at this stage? Content that clarifies their questions, expounds on their problem or opportunity, and introduces them very lightly to potential solutions.

Here are a few good content formats for the awareness stage:

  • Analyst reports
  • Research reports
  • eGuides and eBooks
  • Editorial content
  • Expert content
  • White papers
  • Educational content

 

Stage 2: Consideration

After your prospect has more information about their problem or opportunity, they enter into the consideration stage.

The consideration stage is an exploratory time. The prospect has a clearly-defined problem, and needs to investigate all the available solution options. They are now committed to researching and understanding all available approaches and methods of solving the problem or attaining the opportunity.

Good marketing will deliver content that is more developed and thorough, covering approaches and methods to solving the defined problem or opportunity.

Try using these content formats for the consideration stage:

  • Comparison white papers
  • Expert guides
  • Live interactions
  • Podcasts/videos

 

Stage 3: Decision

Now that the problem or opportunity is clearly defined and all the possible solution options have been explored, your prospect enters the decision phase. They now know exactly what solution they require, and they know what method and approach they want to use to get there.

Here, your prospect is busy comparing available vendors and products that match their method and approach, whittling down a long list into a short list of options. They are busy researching supporting documentation, date, benchmarks, or endorsements to make or recommend a final decision.

This is a great time to offer compelling reasons for your prospect to go ahead and forge a relationship with your company! How? By serving up just the right content, of course!

Content to include at this stage in the buyer’s journey is much more valuable and exclusive. These include:

  • Vendor comparisons
  • Product comparisons
  • Case studies
  • Trial downloads
  • Product literature
  • Live demos
  • Personal consultations

If you carefully define and develop relevant content for each stage of the buyer’s journey, you can guide your prospect seamlessly through the marketing funnel – and create a loyal customer at the end! 


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