Although this article is directed to smaller software houses, it doesn't matter if you are a small or large software house. No matter your size, you need a content funnel, skillful distribution, and value matching in your persona.
When you are a small company and have limited human resources, it is difficult to develop processes that will allow you to create high-level inbound marketing. Aside from people, you also have little time, low-quality leads, and very few processes.
Many software houses’ foundations are based on specific people. When one of those individuals leave, the company will significantly slow down in development, or they will just have to close it completely.
8 Steps to Plan Your Content Funnel:
- Make a content funnel sketch
- Follow the down-top approach
- Answer those simple questions
- Hire a marketing expert
- Plan your content funnel alone
- Sell from the beginning to the end
- Automate and save time
- Start today and plan your content funnel
1. Make a Content Funnel Sketch
The title of this article is not a clickbait. You really can create your strategy in 8 easy steps.
Let's start with the basic questions:
- Why do you need this strategy?
- Do you want more leads?
- Do you want more programmers?
- Do you want more website traffic?
Take the time to write all this information down, literally in the form of loose thoughts. You will need this data later to create the concrete.
At this point, you've probably written down 2 goals. This happens often and it's natural. But let’s be honest, even in the greatest circumstances, it’s difficult to handle more than two priorities at once.
Maybe I can even guess your two goals:
- Increase sales
- Increase organic traffic
These goals may sound extremely general, but that's not a problem. We'll refine them in later steps.
Your main goal will probably be long-term depending on your industry. Inbound marketing in a software house is a job that will not bring profit immediately. Profit probably won’t start for a month or two even if you aim for semi-annual or annual marketing activities.
2. Follow the Down-Top Approach
Let's focus on the above-mentioned goals and think about one thing. Are there ways to intensify activities enough to speed up the whole process? Thanks to SEO, abstracting from the color of the hat is a long-term effect.
Our "top approach" is precisely the use of relevant key phrases and positioning of those phrases. The "down approach" is a bit of a workaround for the system that I offer you.
There is a whole spectrum of actions you can take to reach your client. You can catch them at a later stage of decision-making, you don't have to lead the customer by the hand.
These are all tools that set up the perfect campaign scenario. We know that well-known and reputable software houses can afford it, not novice players.
- Google Ads
- Landing Pages
- Appropriate Timing of Outbound
If you are involved in marketing and are reading this, you are aware of the power to apply these outreach tools.
3. Answer Those Simple Questions
In this section, I will simplify as much as I can about creating personas, personalizing content, and finding the USP of your software house. However, that doesn’t mean you should skip these questions, they will prove to be crucial when creating your content funnel.
- Is the content marketing I create mainly inspired by the actions of competitors or correlated with the needs of clients?
- Do programmers in my company share any knowledge? (Writing blogs, lightning talks, podcasts, etc.?)
- How do I redistribute content published in the recent past?
- Can I involve programmers in cooperation with content creators?
Answer these questions in your head or take the time to write them down. A true reflection will help you narrow down the next steps you must take to plan your content funnel.
4. Hire a Marketing Expert
You’re probably wondering, should I hire someone right away? The answer is yes. Moving away from creating a decent, long-term marketing strategy based on SEO, content, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook Ads, or analytics will hurt you in the future.
It can be daunting to decide what marketing agency you want to work with. Taking the time to read online reviews and look through a verified, unbiased list of the top digital marketing agencies is a good place to start.
Take the time to read through company descriptions, former clients, and notable projects to fit the best fit for you business.
Clear, short-term actions you can take today will start to show effects as early as next week (this includes paid advertising and remarketing).
Although, it is better to focus on creating a good foundation, hiring someone with two or more years of experience will help accelerate your time to reach results.
A marketing expert or agency will provide appropriate content distribution, take care of or delegate tasks related to ads, and handle your remarketing and SEO efforts.
You don't have enough resources for an additional person yet? Relax. Whether you’re alone or have the support of programmers willing to share knowledge, you can do a lot.
Here are a few action items you could do:
- Create a culture in your software house that gratifies those who share knowledge or are keen on giving feedback
- Hire technical copywriters
- Write content on your company blog as often as you can
- Answer questions on Quora
Choose one of these ideas and make the necessary plans to implement them. Then, watch as your content funnel grows.
5. Plan Your Content Funnel Alone
The place where you are is temporary and you will soon be able to outsource some elements of your marketing needs. But at this stage, the lion's share of the business rests with you.
That is why planning blog entries, creating drafts, and brainstorming things to spare is a great idea. The moment you have to "put out fires" like “Oh no, it's Wednesday again and I have nothing to publish on LinkedIn!” is unreasonable.
Are you wondering if you should be on all social media platforms? If you are in a close relationship with your clients, you know their needs, concerns, and what they like to read.
It is still good to do unique value proposition (UVP) and persona work but consider these alternative ideas.
Generating leads on Facebook is more difficult than on LinkedIn. Instagram will refresh your company image as a potential future employer for developers.
When you need leads because you don't have projects, don't focus on Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram. Focus instead on Quora, LinkedIn, Dribbble, or even Medium.
6. Sell From the Beginning to the End
What you have previously read is top of the funnel (TOFU). At this stage of content marketing, research says it is almost impossible to get a lead or make a sale. This is the stage where you have just met your future client. Don't count on anything here.
There are two more levels to your content funnel.
After dedicating your time on TOFU efforts, you'll move on to MOFU and BOFU.
What is in the Medium Stage of Creating a Content Funnel?
The next stage is MOFU, similarly to the middle part of your content funnel. Here you will find reports, guides, webinars, email courses, ebooks, and case studies.
This is a very important moment when you can solve the specific problems of your clients and show that you understand their needs and doubts. The probability of sales increases, but there’s still a small chance that a client will appear who asks you for a big development team.
Don't Let the Hot Lead Slip Away
The next stage is the bottom of the funnel (BOFU). Testimonials will play a huge role in the case of your software house. If you are able to show your future client tangible evidence in the form of satisfaction of current or past clients, you are in the right spot.
However, these testimonials must be embedded in the context of your future client. Do not show e-commercial projects to someone who comes to you with a fintech project.
Show specific numbers and data. Be transparent and you will gain their trust. Remember that a customer is just a person like you who has a specific problem — however, you are their solution.
Three-Level Marketing Sales Process That Work
When your prospect has passed through the funnel, there is a huge probability that you will get the desired lead. Get to know them, let them think, and just sell at the end.
At this point, it is extremely important not to let your client forget. That is why you should start today. You already have the middle level of remarketing and the third level is personalized remarketing.
7. Automate and Save Time
This is a very short part of the whole process. The moment you know what to do, know how much you need it, and know who will do it, look for automation implementation. Hire an external copywriter, content creator, as well as use a Facebook and LinkedIn post planner; there are many solutions out there.
Use hashtag generators or create forms with ideas for posts. Try, test, and automate the content creation process as much as possible. The creative work alone will tire you out, not to mention the repetition in the procedures that you can automate.
8. Start Today and Plan Your Content Funnel
You are not going to change the entire marketing campaign of your software house today, but you can start by organizing your content creation processes.
Open your Trello, Asana, Google Docs, or Google Sheets and write exactly what you need and what you do not have. The first step is easy, and you can do it today.
Your Content Funnel is Well on Its Way
Although it may seem daunting now, these 8 suggestions will help you kick off your journey in planning your content funnel.
Now that you’ve learned about these different methods, chose one or two to begin with and then expand your efforts.
Within no time, your content funnel will see the positive impact and effects of your efforts.