The path a customer takes before buying your product tends to consist of three distinct stages.
- Stage 1, Awareness: The buyer begins to suspect they have an issue that they may need to solve.
- Stage 2 Consideration: The buyer has defined their problem and begins researching how to fix it.
- Stage 3, Decision: The evaluates and compares possible solutions before making a purchase.
Nowadays, it’s becoming more and more common for a customer to have most of the buying process done before they’re in contact with a sales rep.
“57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier.”Challenger Inc
What content do you need for the buyer’s journey?
At each stage of the marketing funnel the customer is asking different questions. Your content needs to be targeted to each stage of the sales funnel and have ready answers to those questions.
Stage 1: Awareness.
Customers at the first stage of the sales funnel are at the beginning of their buying journey. They’re not looking to spend any money at the moment and are just beginning their research into your industry. They may not have heard of your product or brand yet, and may not even be aware of what their problem is.
It’s up to your content to make them aware of their problem, and show that they have a need for a solution. You need to give them content that is light, not sales heavy. The content should be focusing on your industry rather than your product. You want to share content that establishes you as a thought leader in your industry so that when the customer is ready to buy, you’re who they think of.
5 pieces of content needed for the first stage of the buyer journey:
The person is looking to educate themselves on the problem or opportunity.
They are looking for educational content, ideally vendor-neutral.
At this stage they are asking if the problem or opportunity actually exists and are looking for a way to define it.
The buyer is not looking for a solution but defining the criteria of the problem that any future solution must address.
- Educational blog posts
- White papers
- Tip sheets, etc.
Content needed for stage 2 of the marketing funnel
This is the stage where you start to introduce your own product. The customer is now aware that they have a problem and possible solutions. You want to get them to the action stage, so your content at this point should be about showing the advantages of implementing this solution and, just as importantly, the disadvantages of not implementing it.
Buyers may be in contact with your inside sales reps at this point, but it’s important for Marketing to still keep a flow of content as a supplement to these conversations, such as:
5 pieces of content needed for the second stage of the buyer journey:
- Case Studies
- ROI-focused white papers
- Product Webinars, etc.
- Product videos
Stage 3:Content needed to help a buyer decide on you.
The customer at this stage has decided that they want a solution to their problem, and has decided that your industry is the way to get it. You now have to make sure that they choose your specific product over that of your competitors. This is the point when you need to focus on selling your product.
Your content needs to be highly targeted and create a sense of urgency so that the customer knows they need to buy as soon as possible. You need to be able to give them justifications that your product is the best solution for their problem, so that they convince the decision maker if they have to. And you need to be able to get them thinking about how they would implement your solution and how easy it would be to do so.
The content that does this for the decision stage of the buyer journey:
- Support information
- Buyers guides
- Pricing information
- Free trials/demos, etc.
The main point of selecting the right content for each stage is to get your potential customers through the sales funnel in a consumer-friendly way. You want to be giving them the information they need at their specific stage and that will propel them to the next stage. By getting the right information to the right customers at the right time, you’re educating your customers and making the process easier for them, and thereby making it easier for yourself as well.