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Content marketing is not just about spreading the word about your business; it also has to provide solutions for consumers. By putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, you’ll be able to devise a content strategy that addresses all their needs and concerns, giving them fewer reasons to look elsewhere. Here’s why and how you should align your content with the buyer’s journey.
Image via Flickr by DigitalRalph
In today’s world, consumers are less likely to make impulsive purchases. According to a study by GE Capital Retail Bank, about 81 percent of shoppers conduct online research before buying their desired products. Besides product research, consumers go through a number of other stages before they finally make their buying decisions. All these stages combine to form the buyer’s journey. While this process may vary depending on industry, product, business model, audience, and other factors, it usually comprises of three phases: discovery, consideration, and decision.
At the discovery stage, consumers become aware that they have a problem, need, question, or desire. One example is a person breaking his or her glasses and deciding to get a new pair. In order to solve their problems, or pain points, buyers will proceed to look for a solution by finding products that suit their budgets, needs, and preferences.
As the aforementioned study suggests, most shoppers will perform their research online. They do this to find out about their options, prices, and other information. At the end of this stage, buyers will narrow the field down to a few good candidates. The discovery process can be over very quickly or take a very long time depending on how urgently they need the product.
If buyers are still interested in your brand when they move into the consideration stage of the marketing funnel, it means that you’ve succeeded in capturing their attention. They are now looking for more in-depth information about their shortlisted options, such as designs, features, and capabilities. Then, they will compare the options to determine which one best meets their needs. By the end of this stage, they will have a clear idea of which product they wish to purchase. Again, this stage can be short or long depending on how many options they are considering.
The decision phase can vary from one shopper to another. Some buyers may want to do just a little more research to justify their purchase decisions, while others might just be looking for that final nudge before they part with their money. If they somehow feel that the solutions may not be right for them, they will return to the consideration phase to look at other alternatives. They may also go back to the discovery stage if they wish to get different versions of the same products or other products that can solve the same pain points.
Many marketing campaigns are focused on producing as much content as possible to improve visibility, but they aren’t necessarily effective in winning over customers. Customers have different informational and engagement needs as they get closer to their final purchase decisions. If your content doesn’t provide helpful information, your product will most likely not make it beyond the consideration stage.
You need to be a content marketing juggernaut in order to keep buyers interested and engaged throughout their buying journeys. The buyer’s journey provides an outline for developing a multi-faceted content strategy that can effectively attract, engage, and convert buyers. By creating the appropriate type of content for each of the three stages of the journey, you’ll be of value to your potential customers every step of the way. As a result, you’ll have a significant edge over competitors with one-dimensional content marketing strategies.
During the discovery phase, the purpose of content marketing is to raise awareness of a certain problem and align that problem with different issues that your business is able to solve. It should focus on helping consumers get rid of their status quo and commit to change. So, you need to create content that generates awareness and drives urgency. There are many different types of content that are suitable for the discovery stage, including statistical reports, research reports, editorial content, and others.
The consideration stage is arguably the most critical part of the buyer’s journey, because it’s the time when shoppers begin to eliminate unsuitable options. According to HubSpot, effective middle-of-the-funnel engagement and a good lead management strategy produce a four to ten times higher response rate than generic outreach and email marketing. When buyers reach the consideration phase, they’re looking for content that shows that you’re an expert in your industry. As such, you should offer them content like expert guides, case studies, product demonstrations, webinars, and posts that compare your products with those of your competitors.
At the decision stage, your potential customers are already convinced that your solution is the best option for them. All you need to do now is close the deal.
By itself, your content at this stage isn’t likely going to convert many customers. However, if you’ve aligned your content appropriately to the buyer’s journey, you’ll be combining your final offer with all the engagement that you’ve created in the earlier stages, making the offer a lot more powerful. The most effective kinds of content for the decision stage include trial offers, demos, product literature, and case studies. Make sure you include a compelling call-to-action at the end of each piece on content.
A great content marketing strategy differs from an average one in that it emphasizes the importance of creating content that suits different situations. As consumers become smarter, you need to have a more refined and flexible content strategy in order to stay competitive. By mapping your content with the buyer’s journey, you’ll establish a stronger connection with your customers and make your business more compelling.