More marketers are devoting a larger share of their marketing budgets to content marketing. In fact, a 2011 survey found that content marketing accounts for 26% of an average marketing budget, and that percentage has only increased in the past three years. And yet, many marketers find that content marketing is not effective. Why? Because creating and distributing content at a high volume is not enough to drive sales. Effective content marketing needs to be relevant to the buyer’s journey.
Learn more about your ideal audience and what influences their buying decisions in our whitepaper, “Decision Journeys.” You can also grade your website with Audienti’s new content scorecard, to see if you’re getting the traffic you should. In the meantime, read on to get an introduction on how the buyer’s journey drives content marketing.
The Buyer’s Journey Is Cyclical
In our recent post on decision journeys, we described the current buyer’s journey as more of a circle:
Marketers have long understood the concept of decision journeys, but the journey’s actual route has changed significantly in recent years. It’s less linear and more cyclical, and there are several new touch points—moments of contact between buyer and seller—that have usurped more traditional transactions. Many established brands now need to adjust their marketing strategies to take advantage of these touch points as different companies vie for their customers. The conversation isn’t one-sided anymore, either. Marketers can no longer push campaigns onto the public and hope the message sticks. Consumers now have the power to communicate with companies and with one another, independent of said companies. It’s important for those companies to respond and engage if they expect to both win new sales and turn them into loyal customers.
Marketers today are no longer the sole purveyors of content. Merely producing content and disseminating it will all but ensure it gets lost in the sea of marketing content, not reaching any of your target customers. Forbes divides the buyer’s journey into three phases: awareness, consideration, and decision. Per the Content Marketing Institute, you need to align your content to the buyer’s journey by facilitating the buyer’s decisions during these phases.
Awareness: Identify Problems
The buyer’s journey is triggered by a desire to solve a problem. A good marketing strategy will include content that leads potential buyers to your company’s services and frames those services as the best solution to their problem.
First, you need to identify common problems in your industry and develop content that addresses these problems. This content needs to do three things:
- Create awareness of a problem
- Stress the importance of a problem, or why a potential buyer should care about it
- Show that your company is an expert in your specific field
Examples include informational whitepapers, blog posts, and webinars. You can also create diagnostic tools, like our content scorecard.
Consideration: Meet the Buyer’s Needs
As we said above, you content will show how your services solve the potential buyer’s problems. Content in this phase should be specific and address the buyer’s needs. Ultimately, per Forbes, you want to “help the buyer build their business case or help the buying group make a decision.”
Content Marketing Institute recommends using case studies, video testimonials, and solution whitepapers to illustrate how your product has worked for past clients. Additionally, you can utilize influential people in your industry as brand advocates—have them talk up your services to their followers. You can even put together a list of criteria buyers should use when selecting a vendor.
Decision: Show Value
At this stage, you need to show why your service gives the buyer the most value. ROI tools and whitepapers are a good option, along with any facts or research you can give to potential buyers that they can use to justify their decision to choose your company.
Customer support information is important, too. It’s a significant factor for customer retention, particularly for B2C businesses. Your brand advocates can help in this area as well.
Go Beyond the Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey is a cycle, so it doesn’t really end with a sale. Engage with your customers after they buy to keep retention rates up. Careful data collection and analysis can help you create content that your customers will find useful:
- Information on similar products
- Regular newsletters
- Tutorials and how-to guides