To convert readers and viewers into serious buyers, you need to understand your buyer cycle. This includes understanding your customer’s needs and why they turned away from your offerings.
There are many versions a buyer can take, especially cross-industry; however, here are a few universal truths:
- Every customer goes through some process of identifying a need and considering a solution
- People can enter or leave your cycle at any point
- The marketing success you have at each stage depends on how well your content is targeted to that stage
Construct a marketing strategy that focuses on needs
Prior to drafting killer content for each stage in your buyer cycle, it’s important to identify and understand your customers’ needs. Begin by identifying desires, challenges, and what opportunities you have to target those needs. At each stage the customer has a question or need to solve, which means there’s an equivalent content marketing action that can be taken to target that particular stage.
Brand discoverability is at the core of the awareness stage. The buyer is becoming aware that a problem exists, and through research, confirms and admits that they do have a need to solve. Just because they’ve discovered a solution while engaging with your content and brand, doesn’t mean it’s the only solution they’ll seek. Within the awareness stage, customers will begin looking for general types of solutions to their problem, crossing over to your competitors.
In this stage, you want to provide content that explains the problem in enough detail, with enough of a targeted messaging that clearly articles how your solution will address their problem better than anything else.
In the interest stage, your customers are actively interested in how your particular solution, among other competing solutions, addresses their problem and what the potential value proposition and differentiators are. Focus efforts on providing information that is enough to make the customer feel that a further commitment, such as moving to a trial, is worth their effort.
In the Interest phase you are looking to give the buyer a sense of comfort that you cover the minimum requirements while finding the one or two key lightning-rod value items that will convert them.
Content tips for the interest stage:
- Optimize your blog and email nurture CTAs
- Continuously A/B test and adjust headlines until they’re performing in moving customers through to the consideration stage
- Disperse content across multiple channels to boost conversion rates, don’t rely on just one channel to reach your audience
- Generate content that focuses on specific needs, rather than general, all-encompassing guides
Trial / Consideration
Equipped with info of what solutions you offer, in the consideration phase the customer seeks answers to last questions. Before making a purchase, they’re ensuring no doubts or gaps in their understanding exist. Actions taken by the customer may include signing up for a trial to see key features and functionality or browsing reviews and customer FAQs. The customer is seeking information to confirm they’re making the right decision.
With the buyer actively engaged in the evaluation and decision-making process, you need to deliver content that answers their questions, demonstrates the value of your solution over others, including status quo, and helps to empower them to move to purchase.
Content marketing efforts at the consideration and trial stage should focus on optimization, rather than just general brand awareness. Stay focused on your call-to-actions.
A great example is on welcome e-mails to get started on a trial. Rather than saying, “welcome, we’re happy to have you!” lead with a specific, resonating ask. Here’s an example: “tired of getting the ‘what’s the status of this project’ question over-and-over? Introduce the editorial calendar to your manager and get started with our daily digest project planning notifications!'” Continue to speak to the pain that brought them there, and move them through how your features or services fix that.
Here’s some other questions that might come up:
- What’s the pricing? Are there discounts?
- Are there add-on or hidden fees, such as setup costs?
- Is training included?
- What type of support is available? Where do I get help?
Conversion / purchase
The purchase stage is where the buyer commits to your solution. Things like purchase pages or terms and services form the kind of content you deliver. The conversion phase should be short and pointed to ensure the customer can swiftly move through to realizing your value offering as quickly as possible.
Content marketing should support the transition from general knowledge to executing on your customers’ needs.
Work with other teams in your organization to ensure the messaging pre-sale follows through to support the customer’s efforts to begin realizing the value of your solution through immediate pro-active support.
The support stage is where your service or success teams begin post-sales onboarding or activation. Content should focus on helping the customer stay on the right path to getting maximum value from your product or service.
Content in this stage includes things like courses, tutorials, milestone e-mails, and customer success check-ins.
Once a customer purchases, the cycle doesn’t end. Upsells, recurring subscriptions, or referrals can still happen. It’s important to ensure your content marketing is transforming customers to advocates.
Loyalty / referral
The ongoing purchase of your product and the fostering of a loyal relationship with your buyer is the final stage before the cycle repeats. Specific to month-to-month or recurring subscription models, continuously re-engaging your audience helps foster an on-going dialogue.
Happy and loyal customers typically make great advocates. Happy customers refer your company to others or bring your solution with them if they join new organizations.
Content to support loyalty can include spotlights stories, testimonials, engaging with reviews, or offering rewards for advocates help.
Final tips for your content marketing strategy
To identify the stages of your own cycle, begin by identifying a problem your customers face as well as the solution you offer that fixes that pain point. Next, identify what actionable next steps the customer can take to become aware of how they can benefit from you.
Shape content that targets and speaks to each stage, but targets everything your audience might need to know. This may include:
- Content about each level of solution you offer. Perhaps your c-level executives are buying your solution because it provides better goal-tracking analytics, where as your team lead needs a project management view to keep deadlines on track.
- Content about your support, setup, and post-purchase assistance. Knowing how they’re going to be continuously supported is important for most buyers.
- Content about the fine print. Don’t forget about the small details that might cause anxiety if not discovered.
Use a product to help you plan and execute your buyer cycle
In the Mintent system you can add buyer stage tags to every new content type and the product will automatically begin tracking your composition and performance statistics according to your unique cycle. Using a CRM like Salesforce or Hubspot will also be crucial in mapping your buyer cycle and content to sales and return on investment.