With all of the content available to today’s consumers, you have not quite two and a half minutes to make a positive impression so it is essential that your content meets your customer where he is in the buyer’s journey. Content aligned to each phase of the buyer’s journey is the important link between marketing and sales and helps to ensure that the right information and right motivation are delivered at the right time.
In order to accomplish this task, you must understand your audience, develop your funnel around that audience, and then define each phase of the journey. Your goal is to determine the most common needs of a buyer at each stage and to create content that addresses or fulfills those needs. Creating stage-specific content allows you to nurture a relationship with consumers instead of making an initial approach with nothing but a hard sell.
The buyer’s journey simply consists of the steps any consumer goes through before making a purchase. There are variations within the buyer’s journey that are unique to different industries and situations and the time spent in each phase will vary from consumer to consumer. For the sake of this article, we’ll use four categories: Awareness & Discovery, Consideration/Evaluation, Decision & Purchase, and Post-Purchase. The latter being included to keep you thinking beyond the primary goal of a first sale.
Awareness & Discovery
The journey begins when a consumer somehow becomes aware that he has a problem or need. The awareness can come from himself, others, or content with which he interacts. For a most basic example, a dog owner comes home to a shredded chair… he becomes aware that he needs a new chair.
Your job, as the service or product provider, is to understand the challenge – to identify what is triggering the need so you can write content that helps the consumer realize that he needs a product or service to address that existing challenge, problem, or situation. Build a sense of urgency whenever possible.
GE Capital Retail Bank found that over 80% of consumers research products online before making a purchase. Awareness & Discovery is an information gathering stage where general, top-level research occurs. People want content that educates, provides facts and offers strategies or solutions to the problem. The purpose of discovery content is to raise awareness of ways in which an issue might be addressed. It is best to be helpful in a general sense but to provide more generic content that is not explicitly related to your brand.
The amount of time spent in this phase depends on the urgency of the situation. Whether someone needs an outfit for this weekend’s charity event or is anticipating the need for a new AC unit to replace one that isn’t quite dead yet will impact the pace of the journey. This is a time for businesses to focus on developing brand trust – offer a lot of value and ask for little commitment from the consumers.
Use blog posts that are informational and educational, that answer common questions a consumer will have. This same type of information could also be delivered in a video post. Or you could use infographics as they are engaging, easy to read, informative, usually data based, and easy to share. Social posts, FAQs, and how-to posts are also ideal at this stage.
In this phase, the consumer examines multiple options to address his situation and seeks multiple opinions or sources of input. Consideration content is a place to show your expertise and how your offerings are a better choice than those offered by your competitors.
During evaluation, the consumer begins looking for the best solution and more personal engagement is needed. Nurture the relationship and highlight your expertise. Begin to talk about what your brand has to offer. Show how your products or services are different and better able to meet a need. Once you’ve managed to capture a consumer’s attention, provide him with the in-depth information needed to make informed decisions.
The choices that are best known or understood will make the short list of final contenders. Don’t just say, “THIS will solve your problem,” say, “THIS is the reason THIS will solve your problem.” Comparison pieces (blogs, videos, infographics) are effective in this phase as are actual demonstrations of services and products or downloads such as E-books, guides, and checklists. Utilize testimonials, influencer quotes, and other real-life examples of problems being solved. This is also a phase in which people begin to cross choices off their list to whittle down the possibilities. They begin sifting through the information they’ve collected and start to identify possible solutions.
Decision & Purchase
Decision content should be brand specific – this is the time to close the deal. Finish things out by demonstrating the trustworthiness of your brand and the value of your product or service. Include a compelling call to action that can’t possibly be missed or misinterpreted. Convince the consumer that you can provide the best available solution. Use video demonstrations, trial period options, case studies, blogs focused on results, and testimonials.
Know that some people will make it to the decision phase then bounce back to the evaluation or even the discovery phase multiple times. Is it a weak call-to-action or value proposition? Possibly, but more likely the consumer might just be incapable of deciding and needs a less than subtle push. Remember that a positive user experience leading into and through the actual purchasing is paramount to closing the deal.
Recognize the importance of repeat business. Send follow-up emails and satisfaction surveys, newsletters and new product announcements. Offering special discounts for return customers or loyalty programs are also excellent post-purchase strategies.
Content aligned with different situations helps to make a stronger connection with consumers wherever they are in the buyer’s journey. It goes without saying that a strong value proposition should be woven throughout all of the stages. Promote awareness of a problem and potential solutions, identify specific options, convince the consumer that your solution is the one that will best address the issue, and continue providing valuable information and opportunities beyond the first purchase.
For assistance with funnel aligned content or any of your marketing and digital needs, contact Strategy Driven Marketing today.