Content marketing has become a crucial part of marketing plans, and businesses are starting to get it. With all of the current technology available, if you want to reach your clients you need to use the right content to do it. Over 75% of both B2B and B2C businesses are incorporating content marketing strategies into their 2017 plans. However, many are still confused about what type of content to use to reach their buyers.
To know which content to use, businesses need to first understand the stages that a buyer goes through when making a purchase. The three stages are:
Many businesses focus solely on creating content for the buyer that is in the decision stage of their journey. While this is good, it is wise to create content to reach buyers in each stage of the acquisition funnel. By doing so, you help to guide them from one stage to the next until you make the sale.
Using a variety of different content types will help you reach buyers in each stage of the journey. Here is what you need to know:
Definition: This is the first stage and the one that many businesses tend to overlook. When buyers are in the awareness stage they are looking for free information and advice; they are not looking to make an immediate purchase.
This is the stage where you as a business have a chance to start building trust with your target audience. Businesses often fail to see the value in investing time and money into something that might not turn into a lead, but it is important not to neglect buyers in this stage. They are searching for a knowledgeable person or business that understands their situation and can potentially offer solutions to their problems.
After this introduction, consumers are able to gain an awareness of what their specific needs are. Your goal as a business is to help alert these consumers that they have a specific need and that your product or service is a candidate to address their situation.
Types of content: The best content to reach buyers in this stage is content that shows you understand the problems, struggles and needs of the buyer. This can be accomplished through blog posts, eBooks, white papers, long-form content, and social media. These content pieces should be backed by statistics and show the buyer that you understand their pain point(s). This is your time to make a connection with the buyer.
For example, the website Personal Creations specializes in gifts for various occasions. To capitalize on their top of funnel marketing efforts they’ve put together a blog post that is a timeline for bridesmaid duties:
Source: Personal Creations
When a person is selected as a bridesmaid, they will come across this post and become introduced to the Personal Creations brand. Then, when it comes time for the bridal party, Personal Creations will be top of mind when the bridesmaid goes to purchase a gift.
Another example can be seen with the skincare company BioClarity:
BioClarity specializes in acne treatment, but before they can sell their products to teens and parents, it’s essential that their audience has a strong understanding of their skin type and what the cause of their acne is. By providing scientifically backed research and information, BioClarity is able to educate their target audience, while simultaneously establishing themselves as a knowledgeable source in the skincare treatment space.
Definition: When buyers move into the consideration stage it is your time to step up to bat. This stage is when a business needs to show that they are the authority in the industry. The buyer previously learned what their pain points were, and this is when you need to show them how you can help.
Explain how your products and services are the solution they have been looking for; show why the buyer should work with your business over the competition. Don't sell your product, sell how your product will benefit the buyer.
Types of content: Once the buyer hits the consideration stage they are looking for experts. Take advantage of that and create content that portrays you as the expert. The best types of content during this stage include things like webinars, guides, and strong whitepapers that show how your product or service compares with similar ones, and why it is better. When possible, this is a great time to use live interactions.
Yeti brand does a great job of highlighting the advantages and benefits of their product in a clear and direct way:
While to some people a water bottle may just be a water bottle, Yeti is able to demonstrate to their audience that they are superior in water bottle technology. Their interactive content is able to clearly highlight their unique selling proposition and the benefits that their product has over the competition.
Looking at a service provider as another example, Chicago real estate agent Jennifer Mills does a great job of producing content for the consideration stage. Acknowledging that buying or selling a property is a very personal experience, Jennifer put together a video introducing her team, allowing them to connect with their potential clients in a unique and personal way:
Source: Jennifer Mills Real Estate
Definition: This stage is when it is time to close the deal. You have carefully nurtured a relationship with the buyer that has helped to lead them through the first two stages of the buying journey. If they are still with you for the final stage it means you have convinced them that you have the solution they are looking for, all you need to do is close the sale.
At this point the buyer is aware of their problem(s) and they understand what the solution is. All that’s left is deciding whom to purchase from. The better job you do at handling the first two stages, the easier your job will be during the decision stage.
Types of content: The internet is not lacking for content loaded with calls to action, buy buttons, or email signups for quotes to move forward. The key to getting this content right is to start back at stage one. If all you do is use strong sales content, without first building a relationship, your chance of closing the deal is significantly lower. When you are trying to reach buyers in this final stage, utilize things like live demos, trial sessions, comparisons, and case studies.
Understandably, finances are a very sensitive subject for most consumers. However, finance company Community Tax does a great job in establishing trust with their audience in the final decision making stage:
Source: Community Tax
By providing a thorough breakdown of their approach, customers can rest assured knowing there will not be any unpleasant surprises should they choose to go with this company. As an added bonus, they even have the ability to chat with an agent should the potential client have any questions at the point of sale.
Finally, the last example comes from right here at Wordtracker with the offer of a 7 day free trial:
By offering a trial of the services, Wordtracker is allowing users to experience firsthand the benefits of their services. The hope is that after users have tried Wordtracker, they will be convinced that it’s the right service for them and will ultimately make the purchase.
Post sale content
Your customer has now reached the last stage of the buyer’s journey and has made a purchase, but your relationship is only just beginning. While these customers may not be in the buyer’s journey any longer, it is still important to tailor content towards them.
Post-sales content can come in the form of post-purchase follow-up emails, extensive user guides, Facebook groups and forums, and feedback emails/surveys. By creating post-sales content, you foster the relationship you have created with the customer. This content can also help to usher them back into the purchase process, turning them into a repeat customer.
The best time to begin reaching your target market is before they even realize that they need you. This allows you to build a relationship with them and help them move through the three stages of the buyer's journey. Focus on farming instead of making a quick sale. Cultivate the relationship that buyers have with your business, and in the end you will reap the harvest.