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3 stages to building an effective inbound marketing funnel

Posted by John Aikin
on October 4, 2023


Let's focus on content.

So, you've got limited resources - time, money, staff, etc. - and you want to get the most out of all of these as you interact with potential customers. More often than not we spread our resources too thin and end up trying to do too much with too little in an effort to address everyone's needs. With this "hope and see" approach it's no wonder site visitors don't convert and our marketing colleagues get more and more disheartened.

Knowing is half the battle

But if you knew what kind of content your visitors were seeking, that would help in making better decisions in how to spend those precious resources. We can help you in identifying customer needs. Everyone looking to make a purchase, regardless of size or type of product, can be divided into 3 broad categories. A buyer in each category has their own unique behaviors, questions, and needs. This is known as the buyer's journey, let's look at those now.

Awareness Stage

This is the first stage on the buyer's journey. In the awareness category, the buyer has realized and expressed symptoms of a potential problem or opportunity. They realize they have a need or situation that will require the making of a purchase.


  • "I have a sore throat, fever, and I'm achy all over. What's wrong with me?"
  • "My car is making a periodic funny noise from under the hood."
  • "Our computer isn't working right."
  • "We can't solve this problem at work - is there a software that helps?"

Activities/key terms:

  • Research
  • Troubleshoot
  • Upgrade
  • Update
  • Improve

Information needs:

  • Research focuses on symptoms
  • Seeking out experts or consultants who can assist with the broad question

Marketing implications:

Within your expertise, outline their questions AND answer them. Provide solutions to their problems AND display your expertise in these kinds of problems. At this point, buyers are looking for information and direction and encountering experts on this topic/in this field will help move them along to the next buyer stage.

Consideration Stage

Buyers have clearly defined and given a name to their problem or opportunity. They now know what they are looking for and know how to seek it out or ask for it.


  • "I'm pretty sure I have strep throat. What are my options for relieving or curing my symptoms?"
  • "My car needs a new water pump. How soon do I need to do something about this, and what are my options?"
  • "We need new laptops for the entire team, including peripherals and carrying bags. Can we get a deal on all of these together?"
  • "I think we need a more advanced CRM. What should we do?"

Activities/key terms:

  • Solution
  • Provider
  • Tool
  • Supplier
  • Service

Information needs:

  • Research focuses on methods of addressing/fixing symptoms
  • Seeking out experts or consultants who can provide acceptable solutions

Marketing implications:

Within your field, speak to your knowledge and expertise with solutions to their defined problems/opportunities. At this point, buyers are looking for someone who can assist them OR fix their specific issue for them, and someone who understands the broad landscape AND the specific issue they are experiencing will help them move to the next buyer stage.

Decision Stage

Buyers have defined their solution, strategy, method, or approach to addressing their problem/opportunity. All of their work and research have led them to the point of deciding to buy.


  • "I can see my primary care physician, go to the ER, or the walk-in clinic. Which is the most cost effective and efficient for my needs?"
  • "A water pump should be replaced sooner than later because when it dies it can cause other, more expensive problems. Should I go to the mechanic down the street or to the dealer?"
  • "We can buy these at the box store, or have them built especially for us. Which will meet our needs at a price we can afford?"
  • "HubSpot has a free CRM, while Salesforce is quite pricey. What implications will this have on the bottom line?"

Activities/key terms:

  • Compare
  • Versus
  • Pros & cons
  • Camparison
  • Review

Information needs:

  • Research focuses on finding the best cost or deal
  • Seeking out experts or consultants who can provide the best value in addition to the product or service

Marketing implications:

This is the point where the buyer has already decided to make the purchase and is now working out which options offer the most value for their marketing dollar. If the added-value is high, a buyer WILL be willing to spend more than the lowest price. On the other hand, all things being equal, a buyer will often spend the least possible for the same product. CONTINUE TO SHOW YOUR VALUE. You've already set yourself apart as an expert in your field and assisted the buyer in identifying their problem/opportunity. Close the deal by highlighting the value they will see by making their purchase with your organization.

Choose your content

Now that we've examined the Buyer's Journey and your inbound marketing funnel content topics we can see the "say something about everything" approach won't work since you've got buyers at 3 distinct phases in their decision-making journey. The question for the overworked marketing executive is how do you tailor your message for each type of buyer? How do you speak specifically to each of these different buyer stages?

Review the sections above, use the key terms they are searching for, address their questions, and provide content highlighting your value and expertise. And don't be afraid to be very overt in how you address each type of buyer. We are no longer bound by the need for subtlety. If you want to address buyers in the consideration stage, you can create content such as, 

  • "Strep throat again? 3 of the best remedies to get healthy quickly."
  • "5 reasons why you should replace your dying water pump, and SOON."
  • "Looking for new laptops for your organization? 3 metrics to evaluate when purchasing for a business"
  • "The ultimate guide to implementing a CRM: features, benefits, and more"

Knowing what your visitors are looking for will not only help in identifying customers needs, it will get you that much closer to meeting those needs and turning them into clients.

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