Before a person purchases any product or service, they go through several stages of what is called the “buyer’s journey”. These stages are:
- Awareness or Discovery
- Consideration or Evaluation and,
- Purchase or Decision
Each stage has a certain place in the marketing funnel. As such, the awareness stage belongs at the top of the funnel, where you are yet to grab your audience’s attention. Once you’ve captured their attention, the customer will go to the middle of the funnel (consideration stage) and finally, when they’re ready to make the decision to purchase, the customer is at the bottom of the funnel (decision stage).
Through each of these three stages of the buyer’s journey, the customer’s mindset changes and so too must the content that you present to them. In order to “push the right buttons” with your customer, you need to understand and define your buyer personas and make sure your content strategy is mapped for each stage of the buyer’s journey they are in. Here is how to do it:
Awareness or Discovery Stage
In this stage of the buyer’s journey, the customer is trying to learn about a problem they have and find a solution for it. 61% of buyers will research a brand before buying something from it, according to Big Commerce’s Ecommerce Trends. The content you provide them at this stage needs to reflect those needs and inform them about the most effective ways to resolve their problem.
In the awareness stage you should focus on content that is more informative in character such as:
- Blog posts: To inform the reader
- Social media updates: To generate awareness to your business and get traffic
- Newsletters: A subscriber to your email newsletter is already one foot into the door and you need to keep in touch with them
- White papers: The potential customer will feel better about trusting you if you show them that you’re an expert through a white paper
- Infographics: Your audience can have a much easier time understanding the information if you present it to them through an infographic.
Consideration or Evaluation Stage
As you get your audience through the first stage of the buyer’s journey, you can now talk with them about the best way to solve their problem. In the consideration stage, your goal is to show to the audience why they should choose your solution over others. What makes you better than the competition?
The point of the consideration stage is not just in getting them to pick you over your competition, but more to build a strong and lasting connection with them. This stage is actually about building relationships, trust and loyalty between the audience and your brand. In this stage, the visitor becomes a lead that you need to nurture and pursue.
The three types of content that are especially useful for the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey are:
- Testimonials and reviews: Social proof in the form of testimonials and reviews from your previous customers can help strengthen your credibility with potential customers. In fact, reviews play a big part in making the purchasing decision for potential customers. According to Pew Research Center, about 50% of adults in the United States checks online reviews on a routine basis prior to buying a new product or service.
- Case studies: Through case studies you can communicate the benefits and uniqueness of your products and services to potential buyers.
- Live events and webinars: Live events, live streaming and webinars are all great ways to showcase your expertise about the problem the audience is having.
Decision or Purchase Stage
Finally, after going through the awareness and the consideration stage, the potential buyer is ready to make the decision. Hopefully that decision is to purchase from you. In other words, they have reached the bottom of the marketing funnel or the decision stage. The customer has weighed in all possible solutions to his problem and is now ready to take action and purchase.
In the decision stage the audience is no longer interested in getting information. They have enough of those. It’s time for them to see your solution in action and if it can actually help them.
There are two types of content you should use in the decision stage of the buyer’s journey:
- Free trial and demos: The customer has one more step to take before making an action. You can ensure they take it by offering them a consultation, a free quote, trial or a demo.
- Sales conversation: Perhaps the buyer is on the fence about your solution. A conversation with them (in person or via phone, for example) will allow you to communicate why they should look to your product or service as the solution to their problem.
The buyer’s journey may have only three stages on paper, but it can be quite a long one. At each stage, the customer can get lost or decide to take another route. Aligning your content marketing with specific stages of this journey will allow you to lead the customer to the desired destination, that is, buying your product or service.
How do use content to lead your customer through the buyer’s journey? Where do you find the most resistance? Let me know in the comments below and please share this post if you found it useful.