By Dale Scott

A friend zone is one of the boys’ biggest fears. You’ve probably heard the story — it’s a situation when a girl decides that you are only a friend, so you are no longer a dating option. To put it simply, it’s a genuine heartbreaker for all men.

But you might be wondering now what the heck has friend zone got to do with content marketing? The question is completely logical, but rest assured that content marketers have their own friend zone — and this post will show you how to leave it.

Content Will Not Do Enough

Content marketing is what we use to approach potential customers and make them notice our brands. However, lots of businesses don’t make that extra move and convince prospects to engage. No matter how good your content may be conversion rates will remain low as long as you don’t turn leads into full-time customers.

You should look at it like this — a website visitor reads a great piece of work but doesn’t know what to do next and leaves your page. The solution is simple because you are the one to show him the way by including calls to action, lead magnets, and email marketing to the content. Let’s see four easy tips on how to do that.

Tip 1: Build a Sales Process Online

As a path creator, you control the user experience. You need to come up with a sales funnel that guides prospects to the purchase as their final destination. A typical sales funnel has 4 phases and you will design content so as to fit the features of each step. Here are the four phases:

  1. Awareness: The first thing you need to do is to enable users to find your website. They usually do it via Google search, so you need to craft high-ranking content to boost brand awareness.
  2. Consideration: The second phase of your sales funnel should address potential customers. These are the people who are aware of their problems or needs, but now they are just considering potential solutions. For this reason, they subscribe to the email lists and become leads.
  3. Decision: At this stage of the process, your leads know the problem and how to fix it. Right now, they are only checking out all available options to solve it.
  4. Purchase: If you take leads to this phase, it means they already made a purchase. Now you design additional content to explain how your products work and try to cross-sell more items.

We made an example for the project management software company to explain how things work:

Awareness Stage Content

An average client is not really sure what the problem is, so he conducts a search “how to work faster as a team.” Therefore, you need to write a post such as “10 Ways Project Management Tools Speed Up Team Work.” 

Consideration Stage Content

Now that the prospect knows the problem, he wants further explanations. Your response could be a post entitled “How to Improve Productivity Using Collaboration Dashboard.”

Decision Stage Content

Your leads will soon become customers if you prove that the whole team will get used to the project management tool smoothly. Article suggestion: “A One-Day Training to Teach Your Department to Use Jira Software.”

Purchase Stage Content

Now that you’ve already sold your software, you should try to upsell: “5 Reasons Why 2018 Upgrades Make Jira More Efficient.”

Tip 2: Think About the Clients’ Evolution

Content marketing revolves around features and preferences of your audience. For this reason, you should pay close attention to their behavior and think about the way they change and evolve over time. This will give you enough material to scan an average buyer persona and determine the right kind of content for every segment of the sales funnel.

You can learn a lot about your target audience through face-to-face communication and phone interviews. Conduct a little research to find out what inspired them to buy your products or services and don’t forget to discuss potential problems or shortcomings.

If we go back to the Jira project management tool, the third-phase client could ask you what makes this software so much better than similar tools. You could say that all tools have the same basic features, but you added a set of advanced features to this product.

While it really sounds like a convincing argument, think about what happens if your client owns a small-sized company. In this case, the prospect probably needs basic features only and is more concerned about the price than expert-level features.

The whole point is that you must know how average customers think and behave in order to convince them to go from one phase of the stage funnel to another. And if you don’t do that, you’ll end up stuck in the friend zone forever.

Tip 3: Use Lead Magnets to Boost Subscriptions

Content marketers use lead magnets to expand the base of subscribers. It’s essentially a quality content that website visitors are willing to ‘buy’ with their email addresses. You grant them access to the content as soon as they complete an opt-in form.

The opt-in is a form of consent given by web users, acknowledging interest in a product or service and authorizing the third party to contact them with further information. It’s a formal confirmation that the website visitor moves on from the awareness phase to the consideration stage.

An average lead magnet consists of three elements:

  1. The call to action: This is a clearly visible content segment that catches the eye of the reader and invites him to take concrete action in relation to your post.
  2. The opt-in form: This is the subscription form where people leave their emails.
  3. The pay-off: This is where you pay back the prospect for subscribing. At this stage, you provide leads with superb content.

Tip 4: Take Care of Your Leads with Supreme Content

You’ve probably figured out by now that customer journey is a long and time-consuming process. Since almost 70% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally, you need to be patient and keep providing subscribers with relevant content.

Doing so, you gradually build the feeling of trust and interest among prospect, preparing them for the final move you’ve been hoping for all the time – conducting a purchase. Each email should have a call to action and invite receivers to engage.

Of course, you don’t want to push them too hard because it chases prospects away. Keep your messages amusing and informative until the moment you decide it is time to seal the deal. There are many ways to keep the subscribers alert and informed about your brands, products, or services:

  • Send notifications about new posts, events, or case studies.
  • Let them know you wrote a guest post or syndicated content.
  • Send them links to positive online reviews and testimonials.
  • Tell them your opinion about the latest industry trends and hot topics.
  • Get them acquainted with new apps, techniques, and ‘know how’ releases.
  • Compile a list of answers to frequently asked questions about the brand.
  • Send them information about new products, discount offers, or promo coupons.

With all that being said, you might wonder how many emails is enough. It’s a good question but extremely difficult to answer. However, most customers are okay with receiving 4 to 5 messages a month, so feel free to indulge them.

The easiest way is to launch a drip campaign and send automated emails according to the predetermined schedule. Each email should be carefully designed to match the expectations of target customers, while automation only helps you to handle hundreds or even thousands of subscribers a lot simpler.

Drip campaigns consist of several messages where each one is the next logical step towards the end of the consumer journey. Here is how an average drip sequence works:

  • A welcome note to thank receivers for subscribing. It usually contains links to social network accounts and basic data about the brand.
  • A consideration email that reveals the problems your subscribers are dealing with.
  • A compilation of your evergreen content. Using Google Analytics, you can track down the most successful posts and put them together in a simple but well-designed format.
  • A special offer for the receiver. This is where you take action and invite subscribers to buy your products. Don’t be too pushy and follow the 80/20 rule. Namely, 80% of your emails should be informative and educational, while 20% should directly advertise a product.

If you come up with a nice drip campaign, you can expect to get out of the content marketing friend zone. And that’s exactly when real business begins!


Just like school boys, content marketers are also afraid of the friend zone. It’s a terrible situation in which you constantly create good content, but just can’t seem to improve conversion rate. This is bad for your business and has the power to minimize profitability in the long run.

In this post, we showed you how to leave the content marketing friend zone immediately. Don’t hesitate to use our tips and let us know in comments if you have other interesting suggestions to share with our readers!

Photo credit: Disgusted woman rejecting man from Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock