Everywhere you look, content marketing is present. You can’t go anywhere online without touching at least some aspect of it. In fact, 88 percent of B2B marketers and 76 percent of B2C marketers plan on using some form of a content strategy in 2016.
Assuming you’re a part of this percentage, it’s important that we examine content marketing’s role in the buyer’s journey, so you can get a better idea of how to develop a strategy that’s conducive to high conversions.
The customer buying process or “buyer’s journey” is a four step process. The first three steps take place prior to actually purchasing. The fourth step is the post-purchase phase. The buyer’s journey aligns with the psychology and needs of the buyer at every step prior to and after the purchase. This buyer’s process represents the phases of research a consumer goes through before making a purchase decision. While the framework of the Buyer’s Journey never changes, the content that the buyer needs to help them progress through each phase can vary from industry to industry.
While the Buyer’s Journey is the foundation of every marketing endeavor, it is especially important when preparing your inbound or online marketing strategy.
The Four Phases of the Buyer’s Journey
1. Awareness Stage
At the beginning of the buyer’s journey, your buyer is most likely unaware of two things: your company, and the fact that they have a need. At this stage, buyers are grappling with the following question: “how do I know if I’m interested if I don’t even know you exist?”
2. Consideration Stage
The buyer has become aware of the problem and is now looking for information, products or services to help resolve the symptom or the need. Their research consists of search terms that include the name of the solution, jargon words, as well as words that describe resolve to their pain or need.
3. Decision Stage
Finally, there’s the decision phase of the journey. During this phase, the buyer examines the solution they’ve identified and tries to justify a purchase decision. If all goes well, they end up making the selection. If they decide the solution isn’t right for them, they revert back to the consideration stage to look at alternatives.
4. Delight Stage
The buyer is looking on your website for answers to their questions about use, implementation and obtaining maximum results. They are looking for a customer forum or FAQ to help them get the best results possible. They may be searching the Internet for content related to other users or purchases of the same product or solution.
Over the past few years, we have learned that understanding the buyer’s journey (for every single buyer persona to whom you sell or want to attract as a customer) is the backbone to a successful marketing strategy. To create a successful inbound marketing campaign, you must understand the very nuances of the Buyer Persona you are targeting. More than 93% of purchase decisions occur after the prospect has completed online research and before ever reaching out to the vendor.
The buyer’s journey is a complex process and it takes some time to align your website and content to it. As you begin mapping your content to the buyer’s journey, focus on bite size chunks and set a target date to have it completed for one buyer persona.
If there’s one thing that sets an average content marketing strategy apart from an outstanding content marketing strategy, it’s that the latter one understands the importance of developing content that’s appropriate for the situation.