Content Marketing Series Part 5
Content marketing is about delivering the right content to the right person at the right time. As we’ve been laying out in our “Build A Better B2B Marketing Strategy” series we’ve covered creating buyer personas and keyword research. This work will help us plan and create content to attract visitors to our website, but we have one more key piece of information we need. We need to understand the buyers journey and what stage our prospects are in it.
What is the Buyers Journey
The buyers journey consists of the stages your prospects go through from first realizing they have a problem to making a solution purchasing decision. The actual tactics buyers use vary but where they are in terms of making a purchasing decision can be classified into three stages:
- Awareness: understand the problem
- Consideration: search for a solution
- Decision: choose who to purchase from
Stages of the Buyers Journey
During this initial stage the buyer is just realizing that they have a problem (or opportunity) confronting them. Typically their first action is to go to a search engine like Google to conduct keyword research to gain a better understanding of what they are dealing with. The goal is to understand the problem enough so that they can then move into the second stage to begin considering solutions.
Certain types of content work well in this stage including educational blog posts and videos, guides and ebooks, white papers, and infographics. Keywords to optimize for with this content should include modifiers like “how to, troubleshoot, prevent, improve, resolve, fix, problems, etc.” During the awareness stage the buyer may or may not be aware of your company so this is a great opportunity to introduce your company by helping to educate the buyer.
Once the buyer understand the issue they then move onto the next stage, Consideration. During this stage the buyer begins to evaluate options and solutions to their problem. While the buyer is more seriously considering their choices, this is still a great opportunity to educate them about the decision they will make.
Content that works in the consideration stage includes comparison white papers, expert guides, webinars, podcasts and videos. Keyword modifiers to optimize for include solutions, service, tools, software, reviews, etc.
Once the buyer has moved through the consideration stage they are at the point of making a decision. This final stage is as much about the buyer being comfortable with making the decision as anything else. In this stage the buyer will be looking for content to finalize, reinforce and validate their purchase decision such as case studies, product spec sheets, demos or free trials, and purchase terms. They are also looking for documentation of other users experience such as endorsements, recommendations and testimonials. Your goal in creating content for this stage is to move them closer to making a purchase.
Keywords that will work for decision stage content include modifiers such as “compare, versus, reviews, pros, cons, etc.” You can also utilize promotions and ppc ads with limited time offers to try to capture quick sales.
Be Smart Creating Content
Combining an understanding your buyer personas, the buyers stages and the keywords used to search makes it possible to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. The ideal situation would be one where you have the time and resources available to create content for each stage, that targets every keyword identified, for each of your personas. If you are launching your first inbound marketing campaign, though that’s not really realistic. A better way to approach launching your campaign is to identify where you’re best opportunities lie and start there.
The best place to start is by choosing one persona to focus on. This will then help you choose the best stage of the buyers cycle to target for that persona.
Suppose the persona you choose to start with represents VP’s of Technology. This persona likely is going to spend very little time in the Awareness stage. They already understand most of the basics that Awareness stage information addresses. Instead you are better off starting in the Consideration stage. This will then help you identify the correct keywords and types of content to create.
Then move on to the next persona and do the same. Once you are targeting one stage for each persona, you can then go back to address the remaining buyer stages for each persona if it makes sense. You may find that you have no need to create Awareness stage content for your VP of Technology persona. Instead you might create new personas that target junior members of the technology team, who have an influence in the purchasing process, that are more likely to spend time in the Awareness stage.
The buyers journey will vary among the different personas you have created. Factors that will affect the right content to create includes the average sales cycle, the number of people involved in making a decision, the dollar amount of the average solution, the content best suited to them and of course the buyers stage they are in. As you move into creating content you will need to understand where to focus your initial and long-term efforts based on the resources you have available.
Understanding the buyers journey, along with creating personas and conducting keyword research, will help you create content that reaches the right audience at the right time.
Coming Next: Types of Content to Focus On
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Check Out the Articles in This Series That Have Been Published
Article 1: Build A Better B2B Marketing Strategy
Article 3: Create Business to Business Buyer Personas
Article 4: The Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research
Article 5: The Stages of the Buyers Journey