The sales department is no longer the gatekeeper of product information and customer education. These days online content is the key and the content that you provide can ultimately influence a potential customer’s decision to engage with your sales representatives and buy from your brand. In order to effectively market to your potential buyers, you need to create content that is engaging, relevant, and compelling. The best way to ensure that your content meets these goals is to align it with your audience’s buyer’s journey. But in order to do that, you have to know what exactly the Buyer’s Journey is and, more importantly, how you can use it to tailor your content to meet the needs of and influence your potential customers.
To put it simply, the Buyer’s Journey is the process your buyers go through leading up to a purchase. The modern understanding of the journey has three stages: the Awareness Stage, the Consideration Stage, and the Decision Stage. The modern Buyer’s Journey has two distinct qualities that set it apart from the way marketers and sales representatives previously understood the sales process: it is problem-specific instead of product-specific, and buyer-driven rather than seller-driven. These two characteristics are important to note, because buyers today are more informed than ever. In fact, 57% of the Buyer’s Journey will be complete before your potential customers even speak with a sales representative.
Buyers today are driven to find solutions for their businesses and personal lives. They prefer to independently research their area of struggle, identify the root of the problem, and begin researching solutions before they ever contact any salespeople for help making a final decision. Because buyers today are so proactive about independently researching their problems and possible solutions, the modern sales process is driven by their informational needs. Gone are the days when sales representatives would take charge of the Buyer’s Journey. Today, marketing personnel and salespeople need to take a step back to figure out where they fit in and where they can best provide help as their buyers go through the journey.
To best understand where you can provide content that aligns with your customer’s Buyer’s Journey, you first need to take a look at each of the three steps in the process:
Buyer’s Journey Process
The Awareness Stage:
This is the first step in the Buyer’s Journey. The buyer becomes aware that they or their business has a difficulty that needs to be addressed, and they begin to conduct research to better identify and understand their problem.
The Consideration Stage:
This is the second step in the Buyer’s Journey. The buyer now clearly understands their problem and has started to research the potential solutions. They are committed to fully understanding all of their options before they decide on a course of action.
The Decision Stage:
This is the final step in the Buyer’s Journey. The buyer has decided on the solution or strategy to address their problem and has compiled a list of possible products and vendors that they are now whittling down. After they have created a short list of their best options, they will make their final decision.
At each step in the process, your buyer will have different needs and a different level of engagement with your business. It’s up to you to effectively use these opportunities to provide support and content that demonstrates that your business is an expert in its field. You need to illustrate that you can provide potential buyers with the help and guidance they need to fix their problems. So how do you align your content to support your lead through each stage in their Buyer’s Journey?
In this stage, buyers are seeking information to solve a problem. Sales representatives will not be heavily involved in this stage. Your content should be focused on providing valuable, vendor-neutral educational resources for your buyers.
- Use eBooks, blog posts, eGuides, and professional articles.
In this stage, the buyer is beginning to figure out a solution. Sales representatives provide advice and work with prospects to create an individual plan of action. Your content should focus on addressing different strategies, providers, and products more in depth, and making comparisons to help determine the best options.
- Use webcasts, solution comparison articles, expert eGuides, informational videos, and podcasts.
In this stage, your buyer is evaluating several products. Sales representatives can educate them on specific details of the products and explain the pros and cons of different options, and provide recommendations as they make their final decision. Your content should focus on reinforcing that your products and services are the best choice.
- Use free trials, product literature, product and vendor comparisons, and case studies.
All of your content should be analyzed and curated to fit in one of these stages of the Buyer’s Journey. Your long-term goal is to build up a library of content that addresses each of the three stages and is designed to move your leads one step further along in the process. Take the time to go over all the content you offer and identify which stage of the Buyer’s Journey it addresses. Once you know where all of your content fits, you can use that knowledge to identify where you are lacking content and prioritize shoring up the gaps in your content strategy. When mapping out content, you can use the type of content you’re delivering, keywords that address the type of information that is being sought out, and the predicted behavior of the audience to make sure that it is being correctly mapped with a particular stage of the Buyer’s Journey.
From Journey to Lead
An important note is that your content should always be followed up with special offers for your audience that provide them with the opportunity to learn more about the topics you’re addressing and link to landing pages that will allow you to gather contact information and generate leads that can be nurtured. Once interest has been expressed, you can use lead-nurturing emails to continue to keep buyers engaged, educate potential buyers, and establish yourself as an authority that buyers want to do business with.