The path consumers take to becoming customers can be likened to marbles traveling down a funnel. At the top of the funnel, many marbles are present—these are consumers who are aware of a brand, but not yet prospects or leads; as the funnel narrows, fewer marbles can fit—these are prospects and leads. And at the end of the funnel are the customers. At the same time, holes in the funnel cause marbles to fall out—these are potential customers lost before closing the sale, and an indication that the funnel is leaking.

To close these gaps and drive more marbles to the end of the funnel, strong content can help – and complete the conversion from prospect to buyer.

If you’re a small business struggling to think of topics for your blog or social media posts, consider the point along the funnel that your company is losing leads, and then write content that addresses your audience’s needs or questions at that stage.

Scenario: You need more traffic.

If leads are slim, the audience needs to be grown to increase the likelihood that some will decide to do business with a company. How do you use content to get their attention? Localize something that’s popular in the news or on the web—capitalize on hot keywords to become part of the conversation.

For example, an HVAC company can give energy conservation tips during a heatwave or a cold snap. A landscaping company can offer ideas for protecting plants and grass during a drought. Be timely: How can you solve an existing problem or answer the questions you know your audience is asking right now? Seasonal content that’s related to a current trend or issue will be relevant and more likely to attract eyeballs to your brand and website.

Be timely: How can you solve an existing problem or answer the questions you know your audience is asking right now?

Scenario: Your audience isn’t connecting; they’re not sharing, clicking or coming back.

This requires content that grows a company’s reputation as a true expert resource. Offer useful how-to information in a personal, approachable tone. Describe how to change the filter on a furnace or how to prune a tree—you’ll gain trust, and readers will rely on your company for a solution when they need help. They’ll also share this content with their friends and family if they feel it could help their connections.

Scenario: Your readers or visitors aren’t taking action.

If a company is in dialogue with leads who aren’t making the leap, generating content that answers the most common questions consumers ask before they purchase can spark them to take action. What do people want to know when they call, email or submit a “contact us” form on your company’s website? Proactively provide those answers to remove the obstacle between a consumer’s evaluation stage and his or her decision.

Another method is to assess whether the company’s website or blog has effective calls to action that drive the user to the specific next step in the journey to becoming a customer. Use this real estate to tell consumers what they need and how your company can deliver.

Tell relatable stories and give examples of ways your company’s product or service solved someone else’s problem or made someone’s life better.

A final approach is to share other customers’ successes. Tell relatable stories and give examples of ways your company’s product or service solved someone else’s problem or made someone’s life better. Whenever possible, include data.

Scenario: You just don’t know what to write about.

Posting fresh content on a regular basis requires a lot of topic ideas. Here are a few ways to grow your list.

  • Think about the messages you deliver to customers most frequently. A dentist who tells patient after patient the importance of flossing daily should write about it. An auto mechanic who stresses not to ignore the “check engine” light when it’s illuminated can describe the types of problems that it could indicate. If you ever say, “I tell people all the time…,” create content about that topic.
  • If your website utilizes a search function, use Google Analytics to see the most popular search terms on your company’s website, and focus on those topics.
  • Ask friends and family what they want to know more about your business.
  • Ask employees for tips and answers they give to customers most frequently. What do they notice that more customers should know, do, fix or prevent?

Publishing useful information that consumers can use and share will ensure the time you invest in content marketing is valuable, because it will translate to more conversions. Be strategic when you select your topics, and you’ll be sure to reap rewards.