The best way to think of your content marketing is as a funnel. It’s wide at the entrance where people first come into contact with your brand and narrows as you build relationships with them and they become your customers. At the wide entrance, they’re just casual web surfers looking for information online. What you want your content to do is to attract them, pull them in, and move them through the funnel. As the funnel narrows, they become loyal fans of your content brand. 

There are many ways a web surfer could enter your funnel. They may bookmark your site or subscribe to your blog. They might befriend you on social media or share your content. If you’re marketing through email, a prospect enters your funnel by signing up for your list so you can send them updates, newsletters, contest entry offers, discount offers etc. 

Content can serve many different purposes. You need to identify the specific purpose for which you’re building a loyal audience. Ask yourself what you want your content to achieve for you.

The content itself shouldn’t be promotional in nature, but just informational. If a reader likes your content, they’ll check out the advertisements as well.

Your content’s purpose may be to build awareness of your brand. You may simply want your website to become a household name on the Internet. There’s great value in turning your site into the go-to source for specific information on your niche.

Another purpose is to get people engaged with your brand. When people interact directly with a brand, they feel like a part of it, which creates a level of loyalty.

Some marketers use their content after a sale to keep in touch with their customers. As part of their sales process, marketers offer to sign customers up to a list or some other service where they offer free helpful content. This creates many more opportunities for future sales and brand loyalty.

Your content can also inform customers before a sale to help them make the right purchase. You can offer information on choosing products such as yours and include comparisons or reviews to help them decide. Although they may not choose yours, you’re building a relationship with them that can result in future sales.

Your strategy may be a combination that includes a number of the above options. For example, you may want to drive traffic to your website or blog but also indirectly sell your products and services through your content.

When deciding on your particular purpose, refer to your business objectives. Your content strategy needs to be in tune with them. If your business objectives aren’t well defined, define them first before extrapolating a content marketing strategy.

When the goal is to establish a reputation as a source who provides only relevant, high-value content, then you never let your audience down. If you can accomplish this, your customers will always come to you to get their needs met, even while they’re being bombarded by content and advertising messages from others.