Content creation to suit business needs often runs dry after exhausting of topic ideas. Business content writers struggle to publish content to engage, interest and inform users, build brand identity and drive customer loyalty. It becomes even more difficult to churn out unique and original content on a daily basis when we lose sight of the context in which the content is delivered.
Customer buying journeys provide tons of valuable information that content creators can tap into to produce quality content. When we write for unique stages of customer engagement, the content gets maximum traction, engagement and conversions.
In addition to the business gains in creating content for specific stages of customer buying journey it also allows you to have a more scientific and targeted approach towards content creation.
Traditional marketing channels see buying journey as a sales funnel with awareness at the top wide end, consideration coming next, decision phase lower down and purchase as the successful emergence of the lead as a customer in the last phase of the funnel.
Content marketers are also a part of the holistic marketing approach of a company, and they need to see that their output is something that others in the team, including the sales reps, market researchers and business development professionals can identify and utilize.
How can you tailor content to suit unique customer needs in each stage of buying journey? Here are a few tips to help you.
1. Making a Customer Aware Takes a Lot of Work
Customer awareness takes time to be built and developed. The best content you can create to guide a customer through this phase includes long-form blog posts, articles, press releases, informative infographics, social media posts and videos.
Awareness about a product or service helps build a customer's understanding and appreciation for its use. But getting your brand out there in front of the customer's eyes requires hard work.
Piquing interest in your product when your customer does not know that you exist requires you to target a broad audience. Narrowing down your target audience will make it difficult to get introduced to new readers and potential customers. Also a wide net catches a huge chunk of floating users on the Web who are essential to build brand recognition in the market.
Once the awareness is built a reader or user of your content is able to recognize a specific pain point he or she may have had, or an overlooked opportunity that she was never aware about. Educating the user about a problem/ opportunity helps her understand how it affects her workflow, a particular task, or lifestyle, and she realizes she needs a solution for it.
Blog posts usually focus on the pain point or opportunity the customer has and help educate about it. Interesting infographics can educate the customer in a light-hearted and very entertaining way.
'A Day in The Life of Global Warming' is a great infographic that educates a person about the most humungous problem humanity has ever faced. Even the most unaware person will be able to recognize that global warming is indeed a horrifying problem, will want to know more about it and in what manner he or she can contribute towards resolving it.
Social media has unrivalled reach and there are just too many examples where marketers have used it to great success. Epic Estonia was a brilliant social media campaign by the tourism ministry of Estonia and a local cruise company that took the internet by storm. The advertising agency gave 97 Swedes an opportunity of a lifetime to savor one each of the as many experiences and activities the country has to offer. Each experience was posted on the Epic Estonia website as well as on the individual social media platforms of the ambassadors.
From kite flying to nature treks there was something for everyone and Estonia blossomed as an exotic travel destination in no time. And everyone recognized that they cannot afford to miss the 'opportunity' to visit the unexplored wonderland right away.
Squatty Potty campaign is another mind-blowingly weird/brilliant/disgusting campaign that helped you identify a problem you never knew you had.
To get yourself in front of your audience think big, think creative and be original, and the word will be out.
2. Consideration Phase Is 'Google Time'
The next phase is the consideration phase where the user has identified she has a problem and now wants an optimal solution. More than81% of all sale transactions begin with search and about 72% of buyers consult Google during the research stage.
During the research or consideration phase the customer delves deeper into the options or solutions she has, and tries to understand more about the various products at her disposal. The customer understands about various features and prioritizes the criteria that differentiate products. She decides what functionality, service and features she requires, and prioritizes brands accordingly.
General search terms are used in early stages of research and searches later narrow down to more specific features or functionality a customer is looking for.
White papers, case studies, webinars, industry reports, customer reviews, testimonials, product comparison guides, analyst reports, video demos and interactive podcasts are great for customers in the consideration phase of buying cycle.
Educate the customer about your USP, and how far superior your product is to that of the competitors'. Testimonials and successful case studies will help the customer understand how well your offering will be able to help in meeting unique needs and user requirements.
Master Control provides quality management software systems for life science companies and has done a great job in using white papers to improve sales pipeline and grow industry presence. Building credibility and authority takes time, but it is worth the time and money invested.
If you are in B2C space then you can afford to go out and have some fun. Bankrate is not just about boring taxation policies; it offers a wide variety of tools and handy resources right from loan calculators to retirement planning tools. Movoto is a real estate company that helps in home buying and finding real estate agents, but it offers a lot more to website visitors. Fun takes on cities and localities, and posts on area-specific lifestyle help not only educate users but also entertain and engage them.
In the consideration phase you know your customer is deeper down the sales funnel so ensure that you retain and grow her interest, and build your brand preference.
3. Decision Phase Is Where the Customer Decides 'What' to Buy
In the decision phase, the customer decides on the product she wants to buy. The customer is aware that there is an opportunity to improve or a problem to be solved. She has decided to make a purchase and after research and consideration narrowed down to a list of preferred products.
These products/vendors/services suit the solution strategy perfectly and now the customer is looking at price and product comparisons and reading through product literature. They will check how different options serve to address their specific problems and pain points, and what are best tailored to meet their needs.
The in-depth research in decision phase needs to be supported by apt content from your side. Trial downloads and demos are accessed on your website and your leads begin to self-identify and share contact details. Datasheets, test results, ROI business cases and benchmarking reports become handy to users, and advanced sales outreach is possible in this stage.
Ensure that you have tons of positive reviews on third party sites like Yelp, Amazon customer reviews, PC mag reviews, Angie's List, Foursquare, MerchantCircle etc. Discerning customers may also look up your corporate social responsibility initiatives and employee-friendliness. So your best bet to win customers is to be a socially responsible, employee-conscious, innovative and customer-centric company.
Sales teams will have to access whatever information they can about a prospective customer using marketing automation tools, and from the prospect's social, professional or industrial profile data. Outreach content will have to be customized to the unique buyer persona of the individual customer and should speak to her directly.
The sales team will have to let go off catch phrases and get down to the numbers and hard facts, and demonstrate exactly how an investment in the product/service will help the customer. The gain needs to be spelt out in clear financial terms of ROI if it is a B2B buyer who may need sign-offs from C-level executives and will probably have to justify the investment to his board.
4. The Customer Successfully Completes the Cycle
The customer buys your product after she is fully satisfied and convinced in the other three phases. Your role as a content creator does not end with a purchase. You need to maintain and build on the relationship with your customer to drive repeat sales, referral programs and advocacy. Customer newsletters, FAQs, updated knowledge base, user communities and online forums, engagement and loyalty programs, regular workshops, surveys and feedback opportunities help keep your relationship warm and positive. This will ensure positive word of mouth and ultimately help in winning advocates for your brand.
Creating content for specific phases of buyer's journey helps amplify the impact of the content and make it more meaningful for the target audience. The content addresses very specific areas of interest for the customer and is a source of valuable information regarding the same.
The thumb rule of creating awesome content remains the same – you need to be original, unique, informative and interesting. When you find a perfect way of uniting this with smart marketing tactics you will be able to make content creation a very successful part of your overall marketing strategy.