I spend hours helping clients tighten up their communication planning. Many wrestle with how to get a consumer to cross over from landing on their blog to taking a desired action aka making it through "funnel forest" (see video above). They suffer from drop off, bounce rates, and sometimes a pipeline that's really clogged in the center.

But why are these customers getting bogged down? Every marketer produces content with the intent of enhancing the “customer journey.” Their objective is to quicken the reader's decision to buy. In this analogy, the content acts as the path that guides the reader through the decision process. The trouble is, most marketers spend more time producing content -- aka stones for the path -- than they do thinking of how the stones should be laid out, whether they're in order, and if there are major gaps. They need to instead stop and consider how the customer will engage with their content, in what manner, and in what order.

In our efforts to win the game called “he who has the most content wins,” many content marketers have forgotten our role in guiding customers through the buying journey. Simply put, they have forgotten to build a solid path.

So now that we've identified the problem, what do we need to get a potential buyer to convert to becoming an actual buyer without any unnecessary gaps, holes, or detours? The answer is sequential content planning. 

Sequential content is content that successfully leads the reader from one desired brand interaction to the next. Each piece of content addresses a reader need and organically encourages and/or directs the reader to continue onto the next piece of relevant content. The result? Multiple page views, better engagement, increased search rankings, and ultimately a consumer that is more likely to take action.

To get there, we need to assess the materials we currently have. In most predicaments, we need stones/bricks/stories of a multitude of shapes and sizes to form a sturdy path to take our reader swiftly to the other side (conversion). In content marketing those stones are assets, stories and resources. To ensure the rationale behind the content pathways we build, we should ask ourselves questions like:

  • Do we have the right variety of messages and insights to be helpful?
  • Have we considered the appropriate mix of current and evergreen content?
  • Do we have the appropriate formats and the most beneficial channels to engage?
  • Are there areas of oversaturation?
  • Are there other areas that require bolstering?
  • Are there opportunities for bigger, richer “think” pieces?
  • Should we consider new media, or a new platform, or partner?

Or, do we just need to repurpose some of the great pieces we already have?

If you don’t know the answers to the questions above, you’re not alone. Three-quarters of the brands that I work with are just beginning to ask themselves: “So what’s next?” They’ve got a lot of content, they know they need an organizational solution that makes content more accessible to customers, they know that what they need to do is assess what they should keep, revise, chuck, and add… they just don’t have a term for it.

The good news? You now have a name for the solution to your problem. The bad news? The solution, while simple, is time-consuming. It requires an audit and an awful lot of honest reflection that could benefit from outside perspective and original ideas.

When you start to look at all the content you’ve got, and start pondering what’s next, the question shouldn’t be “what should I throw at my customer next?” The real question is do you have the (stepping) stones to take them on the journey?

  1. The Content Pyramid - The New Method for Content Planning.
  2. Why Stories Should Matter To Sales- How To Put Your Content To Work.
  3. Lesson: Writing Stories That Sell - Step By Step Guidance On How To Make Sure Your Content Converts Prospects Into Customers.