If you’re not creating content for every step of the buyer’s journey, you’re literally leaking conversions and profits. Find out how to support buyers’ through their journeys to maximize conversion rates and marketing ROI.
What Is the Buyer’s Journey?
The buyer’s journey is the process by which someone decides they need to buy something and then goes about making that purchase. The journey typically involves three stages.
- Awareness, when the person becomes aware of a need, problem or want.
- Consideration, when that problem or need is defined and the consumer starts to look for solutions
- Decision, when a solution is chosen and a purchase made
The buyer journey exists for every purchase, albeit at different scale. Consider the three scenarios below to understand how varied buying journeys can be.
Why Do You Need Content for Every Stage of the Buyer’s Journey?
You can see from the table above that buyer’s journeys can be very short or extremely long. But you can capture consumer interest (and the chance at a conversion) at any stage of the journey. Unfortunately, so can your competition.
That means you can’t aim content at a single stage. If you concentrate solely on the awareness stage, for example, you might educate a lot of consumers about why a certain solution is important. But if competitors are doing a good job at creating content for the consideration stage and you’re not addressing it, all you’re doing is priming consumers to fall into the funnel for other companies.
To capture consumer attention and keep them coming back all the way to the decision stage, you must create content that’s relevant throughout the journey.
What Topics Should Be Covered for Each Stage of the Journey?
But what topics should you cover to ensure you’re connecting with consumers at every stage? It depends on your audience, products and niche.
Polly Kay, senior marketing manager at English Blinds, says, “Driving conversions involves putting yourself in the prospect’s position and learning what their motivations, pain points and incentives are and preempting them by supporting them with informative content.”
Kay’s advice holds true for every stage of the funnel. Here are three ways to learn what those motivations and pain points are for your target audience.
1. SEO and Keyword Research
Jacon Edwards-Bytom, director of ecommerce for Made4Fighters, says, “Targeting long-tail keywords…helps you expand the top of the funnel. Long-tail keywords are not terms that usually have purchase intent, but they can help build awareness for your brand.”
In short, Edwards-Bytom is pointing out that content for the awareness and consideration stages must align with the keywords used by and the intent of consumers looking for more information about these problems and solutions. According to Forrester research, more than 70% of consumers start their buying journeys with search engines; almost three-quarters consult search engines during consideration and decision stages.
If you’re not doing the keyword research to understand what people are searching for in various stages of the funnel, you’re potentially missing connections with 75% of the market.
2. Customer Interviews
Don’t leave any source unturned in your search to find out what the customer needs or wants to know.
Linda Emma is the head of content at ESM Digital and says knowing your audience is key. “Whether you build out personas or rely on your sales database, gather as much information as you can about who your current customers are. You can’t build effective content without knowing who will consume it.”
Many brands overlook one of the best ways to get to know who their customers are: Simply ask them. Take time to engage clients when you’re talking to them and ask questions that might inform your content. You can also conduct customer interviews or use survey and market research tools to learn more about your audience. You might try Survey Monkey, which is a free online tool, if you don’t have a CRM solution or other software with survey or customer feedback functionality.
3. Sales Team Feedback
“The best tip for creating content for all stages of the buyer journey is to align your content marketing team with your sales team,” says Carsten Schaefer, CEO of crowdy.ai “A lot of times, the content you create is completely unaligned with what the customers really need to make decisions. The sales team is at the frontlines, and they interact with customers all day long. They know exactly how you can connect with your ideal target audience, what content format you should use and which topics you should cover.”
Schaefer said once his marketing team started involving the sales team in content creation talks and processes, the brand’s conversion rates related to content rose from 1.9% to 3.1%. That’s an increase of more than 60% just by communicating between departments to align with customer needs.
Distribute Content Effectively Throughout the Buyer’s Journey Using Multiple Channels
Talk of content marketing often has people thinking of their website, and you definitely need something for every stage of the journey on your site. Informative blog posts can be great for awareness and consideration stages, buying guides can help shepherd people through consideration, and product descriptions and landing pages may be the push someone needs to finalize the decision stage.
But effective distribution of content requires reaching your audience in other ways too. You can’t rely solely on consumers arriving on the right website page at the right time during their journey. Integrate some or all of the following channels to widen your net and drive more leads and conversions.
Newsletters let you inform existing subscribers of new products and services and continue to connect with people during consideration stages. Drip campaigns are useful for engaging buyers as they move from consider to decision stages, and cart abandonment messages can help remind someone they were ready to make a decision and why you have the right product for them.
Best for: Consideration and decision stages, but can also be used to capture leads during awareness stages.
Many people actually use social as a search engine these days. More than half of social media users research products and brands via social networks, and many actually start there by looking up a brand’s profile page or asking for recommendations from others.
Keeping your social profiles fresh by posting your own content, sharing posts from others and interacting via likes and comments engages your audience. It also keeps your brand in consumer minds as people go through the buyer journey — and makes it more likely you’ll show up from the start for those who start their journey on social.
Best for: Engaging people during consideration stages or connecting for the first time before or during awareness stages. Social posts and ads can also work well in decision stages for certain types of products, such as apps or impulse-buy products.
When targeted correctly, quality online ads can drive high conversion rates. Data analytics company Heap found that Google ads drove an average conversion rate of more than 8%, for example. Online ads also let you connect with consumers in all stages of the buyer’s journey.
Best for: Showing up on consumer’s radar during awareness stages via targeted advertising and ensuring an ongoing connection during consideration and early decision stages via retargeting.
Tips for Nudging People Through the Funnel
It’s not enough simply to reach a consumer during the buying journey, though. Your content must connect with them and shepherd them through the rest of the journey so they’re more likely to buy your product. Here are four tips for doing so.
1. Don’t leave the consumer in doubt.
Saj Devshi, a digital lead for EasyMerchant.co.uk, says it’s important to ensure landing pages don’t leave prospects in doubt about whether your product is right for them.
“What we try to do is remove as many barriers or obstacles as possible by creating a FAQ for each of our products with the most commonly searched queries related to that product,” says Devshi. “This gives them more confidence in what they are buying and that it is right for them and also reduces our costs, particularly in terms of having to deal with returns and refunds.”
The proof of this strategy is in the numbers. According to Devshi, Easy Merchant improved its conversion rate from 1% to 4% by using it.
2. Provide step-by-step instruction without boring the audience.
Your content should guide the reader, not leave them hanging and wondering what to do. Rhea Henry, a content strategist with EnergyRates.ca, says content should inform readers about how to accomplish the next step.
“It helps to go into as much detail as you can to help them do each step without becoming dull and dry,” says Henry. She says to tell consumers, “where they can go, what do they do, how do they do it, [because] each time they have to click out of your article to find the solution is a chance you lost the opportunity to convert.”
3. Make use of retargeting technology.
But do assume that some consumers will click away or not complete the buying journey on their first session on your site. Invest in retargeting ads to bring them back to your product.
Morgan Taylor is the CMO for LetMeBank and highly recommends tapping into Google Site Analytics. “This will allow you to assess how long a person spends on each page, where they exit your site and [other information],” says Taylor. “Then you can retarget with ads that address only the topics they care about. Or, call them out for exiting a particular page.”
4. Perfect your internal links.
You work hard to get someone to your site. Make sure your internal linking strategy is on point. Taylor says, “Your internal linking strategy must be perfect. You need to be sure you’re funneling readers further down your sale funnel and not into dead ends.”
Need Help Creating Content for Every Stage of Your Buyers’ Journeys?
Whether you’re looking for whimsical product descriptions to entice your target audience or hard-hitting sales landing pages that leave nothing on the table, Crowd Content can help. Check out our self-serve marketplace, where you can connect with thousands of high-quality writers, or reach out for more information about how our enterprise solutions can support your online marketing campaigns.