Both B2B and B2C industries are planning to significantly step up their game throughout 2017. The majority of marketers are dead-set on producing more content to enhance their efforts across the board.
Businesses frequently come to us for advice when their in-house content marketing strategy isn’t quite yielding the desired ROI. All too often, the reasoning behind meager results is the branded content is mismatched with the appropriate stages of the buyer’s journey.
Plain and simple, for content to be successful, it must appeal to the right people at the right time.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how great your messaging is. If it’s not properly geared to guide people down the sales funnel, it won’t gain traction, and will leave your ROI with plenty to be desired.
The buyer’s journey typically encompasses three major stages:
- Discovery – This is where prospects become aware of a prevalent issue in their life and begin looking for viable solutions. In their search, they need to find you.
- Consideration – The potential customer is in the process of narrowing down the best possible options to address and resolve their pain points. In many cases, this is where meaningful content is needed the most.
- Decision – The soon-to-be customer has just about made the choice to go with you. However, they are looking for ways to justify their purchase before making it official.
Content for each stage needs to be approached from the proper angle. With each piece you produce, your end game should be to educate and drive profitable consumer action.
Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done. Let’s talk about how you can position your strategy to adhere to customers in all aspects of the cycle.
This area is all about bringing awareness to a certain problem in the market and making first impressions.
We live in a fascinating time where all the information we need is literally at our fingertips. That being said, it’s almost a guarantee that the first step consumers take is going on the internet and exploring their options.
Perhaps the best types of content to produce here are educational blogs, case studies, e-books, etc.
REI does a fantastic job with their website’s blog.
The reason it is such a powerful part of their content strategy is because they know their audience down to a tee. They know exactly what types of questions people are asking and address the appropriate needs and concerns.
If you’re just starting out, this task can be quite difficult. Producing useful content for the discovery stage requires a great deal of research.
Another extremely vital piece of the puzzle is keyword research. Including the proper terms and phrases is what makes it simple for people to find your content. Moz’s Keyword Explorer is a great tool to use for this purpose.
This stage is all about making yourself visible and establishing credibility. Take your time. Your content here essentially serves as the foundation for your entire sales funnel.
Educational content is essential to reel prospects into your messaging. Once you have gained valuable attention, your focus during this stage of the buyer’s journey needs to be keeping your leads engaged on a more personal level, while providing more granular information.
The consideration stage is arguably the most important part of a content strategy because this is where leads are getting serious about making a purchase and thinking critically to find the perfect fit.
This is your opportunity to really let your brand persona shine through and relate to consumers eye-to-eye.
While your content should still be educational during this portion of the journey, you need to be offering solutions in an authentic way that stresses further action. In other words, your content should be more solution-based, rather than identifying a specific problem. Keep in mind, this type of material is meant to show people why your product or service is the answer they are looking for.
You will need to get more in-depth and show viewers what you are all about. Consider crafting interactive content such as courses, live Q & A’s, webinars, comparisons, videos, etc.
Here is a great example from CarePredict:
A good call-to-action is critical during this stage. While these are important in nearly everything you produce, the ones you place here are what turn interest into money.
Now, moment you’ve been waiting for: decision time.
Everything you have done thus far leads to this point in the journey. Prospects have most likely conducted a substantial amount of research and have a clear vision of exactly what they need in order to arrive at their solution. In fact, most people get as much as 60% of the way through the buyer’s cycle before even making contact with brands.
When it comes time for a lead to pull the trigger and become a paying customer, one of the most powerful forms of content comes from an external source. This refers to things like testimonials, reviews, or user-generated content. There are all kinds of statistics out there about how these influence buying decisions. The takeaway: People trust third-party opinions to help guide them to a purchase.
Consider creating a platform purely dedicated towards customer success stories. Pardot has a great section on their website showing exactly how previous clients have benefited from their services:
After every sale you make, try to encourage buyers to write a review on how your business helped solve one of their prevalent issues.
Your content during this stage should be to validate a purchase and leave the prospect without a single shred of doubt.
There are so many issues in content strategies that can be attributed to disconnect in the buyer’s journey. With every piece of branded content you create, be sure you have exact goals in mind for each. What do you want viewers to walk away with? How does it fall in line with the big picture?
No part of the journey is explicitly more important than another. It all works together to reach your bottom line objectives.