Planning Your Content: The 3 Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
Two years ago, I was shopping for a new car. And like any modern shopper, I didn’t just show up to a dealership, walk around, and say, “I’ll take that one.” There were many stages to my shopping experience, and almost all of it took place online.
First, I just started to browse different makes and models to see what was out there—what was appealing and suited me best. Second, I saw a few that I liked and dove a little deeper into each of their specs, comparing, and contrasting. Third, I researched my top choice more in depth, and finally did a test drive with an actual salesperson (my mind was close to made up at this point).
The 2016 B2B buyer’s journey mirrors my blockbuster car-buying tale quite closely. In a report by Google and Millward Brown Digital, 71 percent of B2B buyers start their research with a simple generic search—just like I did.
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? A lot.
In the 2016 B2B Content Benchmarks report, 72 percent of marketers rated their top goals for the upcoming year as “creating more 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.
Just like car 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.
In this post we’ll cover the three main stages of the sales funnel and what types of content generally fit in each one.
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.
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.
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.
Interactive content tip:
Create a quick survey. 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 their survey.
The middle of the funnel where buyers are already 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 an assessment. 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.
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.
That’s a lot of different types of content real fast, right? Yes, it is. With the increase of more research being done before any actual person-to-person interaction, your 2016 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 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.
This article was written by Dan Trefethen from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Fresh small business insights and ideas delivered weekly to your inbox, gratis.