On a monthly basis, I enter into a phase that I like to call my ‘Treat Yo Self’ moment.
Essentially, it’s when I want to buy something expensive and slightly special. And like any modern shopper, I didn’t just show up to the store, walk around, and say, “I’ll buy this.” There are many (and I mean a lot) stages to my shopping experience, and almost all of them take place online.
First, I just start with browsing different websites – an hour on Target here, three hours down an Amazon black hole there – all just to spark an idea of what I really want to buy. Next, I find a few items or categories that I like and dive a little deeper into each of them, comparing and contrasting how I’ll use it, will I wear, and is it worth it. This step normally takes the most time as I begin to realize how much money I’m about to spend.
My final step is to actually go into the store, see the product I’m considering, and make my final decision. And while this may seem like a lot for just a purchase, I’m not alone.
The B2B buyer’s journey mirrors my blockbuster buying habit quite closely. In a report by Google and Millward Brown Digital, 71% of B2B buyers start their research with a simple generic search – just like I do!
On top of that, modern buyers are upwards of two-thirds through their research and decision making process before speaking directly to a representative.
So what does this mean for content marketers? Well, a lot.
It’s no surprise that 72% of marketers rated their top goals for the upcoming year as “creating more and better content.”
With this being the case, it’s important to understand that content can’t be a one-size-fits-all thing that is just pumped out, but rather more planned and geared toward the different areas of the buyer’s journey.
When you’re buyer are at the top of the funnel, you don’t need to give them something laced with bottom of the funnel actions.
Just like my shopping habit shopping, B2B buyers are looking for different information depending on where they are in the sales funnel. It is not always a simple 1 + 2 + 3 = sale; some stages are occasionally skipped, or some last much longer than others, but understanding what content types fit where throughout the funnel is a must.
The content sales pipeline can be broken into three stage: Awareness, consideration, and decision. Each stage is vastly different, appealing to different people at different stages in the process. Unfortunately, most content marketers still write content trying capture to each of them at once.
In order to making your content marketing strategy a true lead generation engine, each stage needs to have content custom built to align with the buyers wants and help to guide them to the next stage.
Let’s dive into some of the content ideas you could utilize to ramp up your content strategy.
This is the very top of the funnel where your prospects are just getting to know your brand, product, and services. Coming from search engines, prospects will see a relatively universal line of content that provide very little insight as to who you are and the products you sell.
Types of content formats at the awareness level:
- Social (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+)
- Landing page of website
- Youtube introduction videos
Because this is the first touch point and impression your content is making, it needs to be very appealing and engaging. Blog posts that hit on the subject and tone the buyer is looking for will get them to stay on your site longer and keep them coming back. Additionally, you can begin the educating process by providing them link to supporting content.
Your social content should be equally as engaging, but much more snackable. Since social channels have a continuous flow of content updating throughout the day, the more easily digestible, the better. A promotion and link to a quick, but entertaining piece of content is good way to cut through the clutter. Also, utilizing a bright and flashy image or gif will help your posts stand out from the crowd.
Interactive content tip:
Create a quick survey to help shake up your nurture stream. Surveys can be used to poll users on the topics of your choice, and optionally display a breakdown of results. This will engage your awareness-level prospects by helping them identify their needs and see where they stack up against others in the same space.
As a marketer, you gain useful buyer data, and are able to steer the prospect to more relevant content based on their answers at the end of the survey.
The middle of the funnel where buyers are somewhat more familiar with you, and are looking for a little more detailed information of what you can offer against your competitors. A lot of your awareness-level content can still be helpful here, but more specific and meaty types should be available.
Types of content formats at the consideration level:
Offer inbound requests an assessment that helps them to identify ways of using your products. Assessments are used to collect information about a user, and then assign the user a category based on their result. If you have a lead in your marketing automation system, providing an assessment gives value to the user by identifying specific traits they are after.
For marketers, an assessment is a great way to keep engagement level with a lead high, and to also segment better for nurture streams. By learning that a lead is interested more in one aspect over another helps shape the future content that gets sent.
That final push that closes the deal. The buyer likes your product and just needs a little bit more to push the go button, or to persuade others involved in the decision making process. This content is very “up close” to the process and results a client would get by signing up. Essentially, tell them how your product is going to benefit them moving forward.
Types of content formats at the decision level:
- Data sheets
- Case studies
- How-to guides
- Sales demos
Interactive content tip:
ROI calculator. With calculators, answer options are plugged into a back-end set of calculations that spit out a unique, numeric result for the user. This is a perfect way to apply hyper-specific numbers to show a real result. Calculators can be used by the prospect, shown to internal team members, and by a salesperson during a demo.
With buyer conducting more research about products before any actual person-to-person interaction, your content has to be both high in quantity and in quality.
Since most of us do not have endless resources for content production, is there a way to streamline creation and still have great quality across many different campaigns? There is! By planning and incorporating different forms of interactive content across all your marketing campaigns, you create the ability to have more effective content that lasts longer.
Repurposing large pillar assets by breaking them down with interactive content lets you diversify your content types to fit the preferences of different people at different stages in the funnel.
Check out our Use Case pages to learn more about the various ways you can repurpose your content and give more life to your content marketing strategy.
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