Content, in all its forms, has become an intrinsic part of the shopper journey —a powerful tool to engage and inform shoppers from discovery to purchase and, ultimately, advocacy. Yet, many brands still struggle mightily to execute a content strategy that takes into account the needs of the customer and the goals of the business.

Often times, content is produced for the sake of producing content without a holistic approach to a comprehensive strategy that engages, educates, and inspires the customer at every step in the journey. Complicating matters, multiple teams within an organization (ecommerce, marketing, merchandising, and social media) often produce customer-facing content in various forms in silos, without collaboration, a shared vision, or a consistent messaging strategy. This is a waste of resources and can result in disjointed messaging to the intended audience — the consumer.

Ultimately, every piece of content should be produced with a specific purpose: to either support a shopper who lands on your site, or to encourage and help her through the actual purchase process. The goal and the challenge are to meet the needs of the customer with the right content at the right time. This is especially important given the fact that consumers use multiple devices and channels to discover, engage, and shop your brand.


Using the shopper engagement & content funnel for your content strategy

We’ve all seen versions of a traditional marketing or conversion funnel, but let’s look at it from a different light and see how it can be a helpful tool for content planning.

Taking a full-funnel approach to content planning will help you consider the purchase intent of the customer and where the customer is within the conversion funnel. This, in turn, will align content themes or topics and determine the most appropriate content distribution methods for each phase of the shopper journey.

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Top of the funnel: awareness

At this stage, shoppers are just beginning their journey. Top-of-the-funnel shoppers are in research mode looking for brands, products, or services that meet their needs. They may or may not have heard of your brand, and they may be first-time visitors to your site.

Here are some key considerations for top-of-the-funnel content planning:

Target Market & Persona

First consider your target market and demographic (age, gender, location, etc.). What motivates them, what are their needs, and what pain points can you help solve for them?

Purchase Intent

Keep in mind, purchase intent can be low for top-of-the-funnel tire-kickers. They are gathering information and inspiration and aren’t yet to the point of making a product selection.

Core Strategy & Goals

Think about your main business goals for top-of-the-funnel shoppers while being mindful of the customer’s needs. Most likely, one of your key goals will be to move them down the funnel by providing content that is helpful as they explore your brand and products.

Customer Examples

Some examples of content themes that inspire and educate top-of-the-funnel shoppers include:

  • Pier 1’s brand story, “Discover More About Our Artisan Finds,” that speaks to its unique finds and products
  • Marks and Spencer’s editorial content and style guide that inspires brides-to-be with tips in choosing bridesmaid dresses
  • Lancome’s video library and makeup tutorials that demonstrate how to achieve certain looks

Distribution Methods

Top-of-the-funnel content increases awareness by driving shoppers to your site, then builds their knowledge about your brand and products when they get there. Consider the following distribution methods to reach, educate, and inspire shoppers:

  • Social media posts and stories
  • Blog
  • Editorial style pages
  • Digital catalogs & lookbooks
  • Homepage
  • Email
  • SEO
  • Video Marketing

Middle of the funnel: interest & evaluation

Middle-of-the-funnel shoppers are in the interest and evaluation phase. They have a better sense of what they want and are narrowing down their choices. It’s in this phase that they start doing product comparisons and look closer at product details and reviews. Most likely, they are already familiar with your brand and may be returning visitors.

Here are some key considerations for middle-of-the-funnel content planning:

Target Market & Persona

Consider the different types of personas within your target market and their information needs at this phase in the shopper journey. Keep in mind, some customers are visual learners while others prefer to read product details.

Purchase Intent

Purchase intent increases in the middle of the funnel, where customers are continuing to gather the details and information they need to get to a decision to purchase or pass.

Core Strategy & Goals

The main goal for middle-of-the-funnel shoppers is always to nudge them closer to conversion.

Customer Examples

  • Eastern Mountain Sports’ guide on how to choose a kayak
  • Callaway Golf’s robust product detail pages with videos and tech specs to help shoppers make an informed purchase decision
  • Brooks Running shoe finder that helps shoppers find the right shoe for their needs and feet

Distribution Methods

Middle-of-the-funnel content needs to help shoppers evaluate their options and find the right product. The following distribution methods and shopping tools are effective ways to do just that:

  • Buying guides & product finders
  • Blog posts
  • Category page
  • Comparison tools
  • FAQ pages
  • Product detail page
  • Quizzes
  • Ratings & reviews
  • User-generated content
  • Video

Bottom of the funnel: conversion

Bottom-of-the-funnel shoppers have the highest purchase intent. They are almost ready to purchase, so your strategy for this group should focus on content that nudges them even closer to conversion. They are already familiar with your brand and products. They are also very likely to be returning visitors or past purchasers and have already added an item to a shopping cart. Here are some key considerations for bottom-of-the-funnel content planning:

Target Market & Persona

Bottom-of-the-funnel shoppers are close to a purchase. They’ve taken several steps to get to this point in the shopper journey. They may still be trying to decide whether to buy one product over another or be debating about purchasing from you or another retailer.

Purchase Intent

Purchase intent is high for bottom-of-the-funnel shoppers.

Core Strategy & Goals

The main goal for bottom-of-the-funnel shoppers is to win the conversion and get them to purchase from your site.

Customer Examples

Distribution Methods

Bottom-of-the-funnel content placed within the path to purchase can help drive conversion. The following content and distribution methods can help move customers to a purchase decision.

  • Customer service pages
  • Demos
  • Product user guides
  • Promotions and coupons
  • Ratings & reviews
  • User-generated content
  • Video


At some point in the journey, nearly every shopper will go through the fundamental phases of awareness, interest & evaluation, and conversion. Understanding your audience, their purchase intent, and needs at each phase of the shopper journey can take your content planning to the next level so you can deliver the right content at the right time.


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