Content and the Buyer Journey

The buyer’s journey is the process by which a potential consumer actively researches a product or service prior to making a purchase. For obvious reasons, gaining access to potential buyers during this process is a goal of most marketers, since the ability to influence customers during their buyer journey could very well lead to new sales. It is for this reason that mapping out your buyer’s journey is an important step in developing any serious marketing strategy in today’s business atmosphere.

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Many marketers have questions about what the buyer journey looks like in today’s digital world and how digital discoverability plays a role in how buyers get from “Do I have a need?” to making their final decision. Prior to the widespread use of the internet, companies had far more control over how the customer traveled along the buyer path. Today, however, the eruption of communication and content consumption channels like email, online ads, social media, user reviews, and other digital touchpoints have complicated this process. The buyer’s journey is no longer linear, and content plays an even bigger role than ever in helping potential customers make a purchase.

Chart the Course

To get started mapping your content to your industry’s buyer’s journey:

  • Define Your Buyer Personas
    To understand the journey your buyers take, you must first understand who they are. What are their backgrounds? What types of problems or needs do they typically have? How do they like to receive their content and what type of content do they generally use?
  • Understand Your Customers’ Journeys
    After you have generated your buyer personas, you must next figure out how they progress through their individual buying processes. How are they discovering new products and services?
  • Map Your Content
    You have your buyer personas and a basic idea of what your buyer journey looks like. Great! The next step is to tailor content to that journey that addresses the challenges customers face at each step in the process.

Content as a Compass

When tailoring content to your buyers’ journeys, the goal should be to adequately address the all of the challenges each potential customer encounters along the way so they feel confident about moving on to the next stage in the process. In this way, your content serves as a compass, helping to guide your potential buyers through each stage of their journey.

Awareness Stage

During the awareness stage, prospective customers are experiencing a problem or want and don’t fully understand their options for solving their problem or filling their need. These individuals are seeking out educational, neutral content they can trust to help them more clearly define their problem or want. Optimal content options in this stage are:

  • Blogs
  • eBooks/eGuides
  • White Papers
  • Reports

Consideration Stage

At the consideration stage, potential customers can clearly define their problem or want, and generally want to continue researching all possible methods and approaches available to them to help them fill their need or want. Prospective buyers at this stage are generally interested in:

  • Webcasts
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Expert Comparisons
  • User Reviews

Decision Stage

This is the final step in the buyer’s journey. Potential customers have decided on a solution, method, or approach to filling their need or want. They are reviewing all of their options based on price, perceived value, personal preference, etc., and will ultimately make a final purchase. At this stage, ideal content forms are:

  • Trial Downloads
  • Vendor and Product Comparisons
  • Case Studies
  • Virtual Trade Shows
  • Product Literature
  • User Reviews

While tailoring your content to a buyer’s journey is important to making a sale, it’s also essential to plan beyond the sale. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking the importance of on boarding long-term clients, providing excellent support beyond the sale, and encouraging word of mouth positive reviews from your past or current clients or customers. Thinking beyond the sale helps encourage repeat purchases as well as referrals, thus positively affecting your bottom line.

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William Flanagan

CEO & Founder, Audienti. Former VP-Cognio, Founder-sentitO/Verso, SALIX/Tellabs, PrimaryAccess/3Com, CompuServe. Expert in data-driven marketing.

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