Great content is crucial for attracting and retaining customers. But no matter how good your content is, it’s not going to work if it’s not presented to them at the right time. That’s because most buyers don’t just wake up one day and decide to buy from you. Instead, they’re on a journey and will typically pass through various stages as they make their way down the path to purchase. By tailoring your content to their needs along that journey — both in terms of the types of content you use and the messages you convey — you’ll significantly improve your chances of getting a sale.
While individual buyer journeys will vary greatly from person to person, and are rarely linear, there are general stages that every buyer goes through. Once you identify what content works better at each stage of the journey, you’ll be better placed to meet their needs and help them progress further and further toward making a purchase.
Let’s look at the type of content that’s best suited to some of the basic stages of any customer journey.
Your buyers may have a problem and not even know it. Your job at this stage is to make them aware of that problem and how your product or service can help them solve it. Content at this stage needs to be educational and informative in nature, but without going into too much depth. After all, who’s going to read a 15-page report about a topic if they haven’t even realized yet why it’s relevant to them?
Instead, in the awareness stage, focus on creating content that’s relatively short and snappy, while persuasive enough to pique your readers’ interest. Content in this phase should aim to anticipate specific questions and help people assess their needs: Why is the issue they’re facing a problem? And what can they do to solve it (i.e., what products and services can you offer to help)? Often, the best types of content at this stage include short, easily consumable assets such as blog posts, infographics, and podcasts. This content should be easily accessible on your website and optimized for search to maximize discoverability.
Once a buyer has identified a need and is interested in your product or service, you have to give them more information. Here your content should be a bit more focused on your offering and telling its story. How was it developed? What makes it special? What are its features? Is it unique in the market? At this stage in the journey, you’re going to want to give them more detailed information, without going too far into sales mode.
The aim of your content at this point should be to make sure that prospects understand that you have a great solution to their problem. Expert webinars, explanatory eBooks, white papers, and reports are often the best way to share that information.
Someone who’s considering a purchase and has already spent time researching it will have different questions than someone who is earlier on in their journey. During the consideration phase, it’s time to offer more in-depth content to help buyers make a decision. You need to help them make exactly the right choice, which means giving them all of the details about your product or service.
For example, if your product comes in a range, your content should explain the different features and benefits of each model, and easily help prospects match their needs to the right one. How are they going to use it? How will each one fulfill its purpose? Why should they consider the more advanced, expensive one? Which one best fits their needs? Anticipating these questions with high-quality content is what’s going to help get you over the line. While they may already be interested in your product or service, you need to convince them yours is the best brand and demonstrate you are a leader in this industry.
The best content for the consideration stage consists of demonstration videos and how-to guides showing some of the most impressive features. You can also really get into the nitty-gritty with technical product guides, fact sheets, case studies, and testimonials. These are all ideal for answering the customer’s questions and giving them everything they need to make their decision.
Just because you’ve made a sale doesn’t mean that your work can stop. Depending on what you’re selling, your customer may need help and support to get the most out of it. Creating useful content that helps maximize their enjoyment of it is key. Don’t fall into the trap of only creating content aimed at attracting new customers. Your existing customers are a valuable asset and, by continuing to communicate with them, you can turn a one-off purchaser into a loyal customer.
Here is where you’ll want to have them sign up for your newsletter or register with you, so they can access premium content aimed at users. How-to guides and video tutorials are also valuable ways to build this audience and give them more advanced information. You can also reach out to them with expert thought pieces, eBooks, and promotions for add-ons or new products.
Serving up the Right Content at the Right Time
By getting the right content to the customer at the right point in their journey, you’re showing you understand their needs and that you’re a brand that they can trust to deliver. If you take the time to think about what the buyer’s specific journey looks like, and figure out what the best content and messages are to meet their needs at that particular point in time, you’ll find that it’s much easier to shepherd them down the path to purchase.