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Given the dynamics of online marketing today, buyers don’t really make a quick dash into and out of your shopping cart like they used to. More often, the buying process is gradual.
That’s why you need to have a good understanding of the marketing funnel, an important component of selling products and services via the web.
What’s a marketing funnel?
A marketing funnel is a way of looking at the customer journey from top to bottom-from when a potential customer becomes aware of your video-on-demand offerings to when they place their order (and possibly, beyond).
The buying process has stages, which can be metaphorically represented as a funnel.
While some marketers prefer to construct funnel stages with five (or even more) stages, the simple way to understand the model and market your content accordingly is to look at it as just three stages and understand each stage has a smaller population than the one before it.
How to effectively execute funnel marketing
The key to success in applying the funnel mentality to your marketing is to move prospects to the next stage. If they enter at the top, you try to move them to the middle. If they enter at the middle stage, you try to move them to the bottom.
It’s achieved by having a conversion strategy for each stage.
Your conversion strategy for each stage calls for presenting the appropriate content to satisfy the prospect’s needs based on their current state of mind.
When discussing the marketing funnel, we will first give you a textbook overview of each stage as it relates to online video business in industry. We’ll go over the types of content used in each stage and how they work. After that, we will tell you the tips and tricks that would actually work best for your specific video business, based on what we’ve seen works best with Uscreen customers. Throughout explaining the marketing funnel, we will consistently use two Uscreen customers as examples to drive our points home and show you how’s it’s done best: Naturally Sassy and .
Top of the funnel content (ToFU)
Top of the funnel content should pull prospects into your funnel.
When a visitor first comes to your video website they become aware of your brand and the challenges your video subscription services address. Don’t succumb to the temptation to sell at this stage of the funnel. Focus on informing and problem-solving.
Generally speaking, examples of top of the funnel content that may work for your video-based business include:
All of this content should aim to educate, entertain, and inspire. Also, it should be freely and instantly available without fees or even the need to complete opt-in forms.
A perfect example of a VOD that uses a good combination of blog posts, social media updates and videos is Naturally Sassy . The brand is fully active on all of these fronts, and produces content that is primarily entertaining and useful for absolutely free.
There are ways to do the same thing using video content too. For example, does a great job of giving people free content with the intention of purely entertaining them, but also setting up the perfect funnel to lure prospecting customers back to his dance tutorial VOD website.
Check this video out:
He produced a dance routine that’s engaging and fun to watch (says 4 million viewers!). Then at the end of the video , he prompts the viewer to watch a tutorial for that awesome dance choreography they watched and loved. Genius, right?
He does this for all his video tutorials.
He also includes the tutorial preview in the video description.
Now, while not all 4 million viewers who enjoyed watching the video will want to necessarily learn the choreography themselves, a good enough amount of people would be interested to at least check out the preview. And those who click to watch that tutorial preview video will officially be transported to the next part of the funnel…
Middle of the funnel content MoFU
In the middle of your funnel, your content should continue to be free. However, you probably will want to qualify the prospect ever so slightly by attempting to extract some information from them as “the price of admission.”
The information required may be nothing more than an email address and name. However, you have the prerogative to present fields in your forms requiring additional information. This is the best way to grow your email list and nurture leads.
Remember, this is the consideration (or evaluation) stage. Having information about your prospect should enable you to better answer their questions and serve their needs.
Generally, you aim to create leads with middle of the funnel content and do so with a form of content commonly called “lead magnets.” Lead magnets are the subject of the lesson that follows, so you’ll gather additional insights there.
Your middle of the funnel content can be anything you believe is valuable enough to extract a small price, that is, contact information.
For now, let’s simply look at practical content types to offer for this stage of the funnel:
Take Naturally Sassy again. On her video website , she has also included a 28 Day Sculpt Plan ebook. This captures the attention and emails of those showing interest but are still not so solid on their decision to buy a subscription to her VOD.
Everything we just explained about the middle funnel so far is the textbook way to execute it.
But honestly, a measurable amount of our customers don’t do it this way and it works out well for them too. We’ve seen a few of our best customers take a much simpler approach to middle funnel content marketing.
For instance, let’s look at TMilly’s YouTube choreography video again. While he uploaded the beautifully filmed choreography to entertain and create brand awareness (top of the funnel), he uploaded a tutorial preview video targeted at those coming to YouTube specifically searching for a Tinashe – Flame dance tutorial (middle of the funnel). He also created it for those who watched the beautiful choreography and thought “hey I wanna do that!”
In the description below, he adds the same link for people to get the full tutorial, and adds an end screen to his video website.
Bottom of the funnel content
Your challenge at this stage is to help the prospect make a smart decision.
It’s probably safe to say a prospect at this stage has consumed some of your ToFU and MoFU content. BoFU content often includes:
- Features the benefits of learning a craft or watching your videos.
- Outlines what your video products will deliver.
- Presents some valuable samples.
- Requires joining your mailing list to watch and/or receive additional information.
- Indicates what’s involved to succeed. E.g. X amount of money, Y amount of time, Z amount of practice.
- May help steer the wrong type of customer to another solution.
- The call to action is sign-up, try, buy, commit (or maybe opt-out).
- Consider the “tripwire” approach, which means an initial sale asks for a small commitment. E.g. One-month trial, $7 getting started booklet, etc.
All of the content types listed for this stage, the most popular form of BoFU content among Uscreen VOD websites are free trials and promo discounts. Honestly, nothing works as well as having someone trying your video content out themselves for free. Both Naturally Sassy and TMilly use free trial CTA as their main BoFU marketing efforts:
The bottom of the funnel is not the end of the process
- Satisfy the customer with ongoing value nurturing.
- Retain the customer to generate renewals and upsells.
- Delight the customer to inspire word-of-mouth referrals.
- Empower the customer to become a willing advocate for your brand.
It’s important to understand a sale is not the end of the line-especially in a subscription-based business model. If you want to grow your revenues, your goals should be more ambitious:
For metaphorical purposes, these important “post funnel” activities are often depicted as an hourglass-instead of a funnel. In other words, connected to the bottom of the funnel, which goes from wide to narrow as it moves vertically south, is an inverted funnel that does the opposite.
Satisfied customers that drip from the bottom of your funnel become catalysts for expanding your clientele.
Retention-based sales and marketing is an important and big topic we won’t delve further into here, but it’s worth noting the crucial role it plays in a video subscription business model.
Measure your results
In marketing, intuition has its merits, but can only take you so far. In the age of digital marketing, the most effective marketers make data-driven decisions to perpetually refine their marketing funnel and improve results.
- Establishing meaningful metrics
- Putting the process in place to capture data and produce reports
- Taking action based on outcomes. (Including: Expanding what works, aborting what fails, and experimenting with tactics in the middle of the spectrum.)
Doing so requires:
Uscreen already has an analytics backend feature that collects all these important metrics for VOD owners, but if you will be using another host you video website and OTT apps, just make sure you’re collecting all the data that matters.
Here again, we’ll refrain from a deep dive on the topic, but briefly present some sound ideas for getting started with metrics to assess the marketing funnel you put in place for your video sales process.
- Website traffic
- Traffic sources
- Additional website metrics: time on site, page views, bounce rate
- Search rankings, inbound links
- Social shares and engagement metrics
- Subscriber growth
- Conversion rates
- Email metrics (open, click-through and opt-out rates)
Consider measuring the following, per funnel stage:
Warning: don’t allow this stuff to spook you if it’s new to you. You may not have tools, or tolerance, or time. However, to improve your sales and marketing, please do understand, you need to measure what matters.
Start small and expand gradually. If you don’t measure website traffic, give it a go. When you put email marketing in place, examine the reports. Over time, you’ll catch on.
The reason to look at your marketing challenges in the context of a funnel is you must understand the relationship between the awareness, consideration, decision, and post-sale stages; you need to develop content appropriately; and to expand your sales, you need to continuously refine your funnel.
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