In a recent study from the Content Marketing Institute, it was determined that almost half of the content used by B2B marketers so far this year targeted customers in the early stage of the buyer’s journey. This is completely in alignment with the goals that were stated by respondents as to what they hope to gain from their marketing efforts. Generating leads and reaching new customers was the most cited answer at 87%.
While the above statistics are in line with one another as to why content is an important tool for targeting those potential customers who are at the top of the sales funnel, there seems to be an important audience that is somewhat neglected – those potential customers and leads who are hanging out at the bottom of the funnel. Only 60% of respondents said they use content at this stage of the buyer’s journey.
Why isn’t the same amount of content (and effort) being placed on targeting buyers who are further along in the sales process? That’s hard to say. What I do know is that there has to be a focus on all stages in the buyer’s journey to be successful. Here’s how you can do that.
Creating Content for Every Stage of the Sales Funnel
Typically, there are four stages in the sales funnel: awareness, consideration, decision, and loyalty (or growth). Let’s take a look at what is going on in each of those stages, along with which types of content work best at each phase.
#1 – Awareness
At the awareness stage, the focus of your content should be the buyer’s pain points. You want to create content that is going to push the potential buyer in the right direction, even though a sale isn’t usually imminent at this stage. Your targets at this stage have only just realized that there is a problem that they need to solve with a product or service. Pointing them in the right direction by providing trust-building and objective educational content that presents a solution to their problem will leave them wanting more.
Content that is particularly helpful during the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey includes:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- White papers
- Educational content
- Quizzes and other interactive content
- Research studies
Notice that there isn’t a lot on the list that is specific to your brand. That’s because you should be focusing on the buyer’s problem and how it might be solved.
#2 – Consideration
This stage is sometimes called the evaluation stage, and it occurs when the buyers have clearly identified their needs and are considering all their options. While they may be fully aware of what your company offers as a solution to their issue, they aren’t quite ready to make a commitment. This is the stage in which buyers are doing research to compare products, pricing, and other relevant attributes that will be able to meet their needs.
Content that is particularly helpful during the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey includes:
- Case studies
- Solution comparisons
- Blog and vlog posts
- Expert guides
During this stage, you want to publish content that shows why your solution to the buyer’s problem is a worthwhile option.
#3 – Decision
This is the stage of the process when buyers make their decisions about which product to purchase. Now is the time to make your content brand-specific, highlighting the advantages of your product or service.
Content that is particularly helpful during the decision stage of the buyer’s journey includes:
- Product literature and presentations
- Product pages
- Case studies
- Vendor comparisons
- Special offers
During this stage you should emphasize your business’ unique value proposition.
#4 – Loyalty
At this stage, the customer has decided to go with your product or service and have made a purchase. That doesn’t mean your content marketing should stop. Instead, you want to focus on content that is going to create loyalty and encourage your customer to make additional purchases. Engagement is the name of the game, and there is plenty of content that will help you keep existing customers engaged.
Content that is particularly helpful during the loyalty stage of the buyer’s journey includes:
- Loyalty program information
- User guides
- Product updates
- Email campaigns
- Events and news updates
- How-to blog and vlog posts
During this stage of the sales funnel, your content should be geared toward customer retention.
Creating informative and engaging content is essential at every stage of the buyer’s journey, not just in the early stages. I know that every business has its own strategy for its own unique customers, and that all of the suggested content listed above won’t work for everyone. The important thing is that you create a strategy that aligns the right content with the right audience at the right time. That’s when you will see success.