Buyers are researching more content than ever before when looking to purchase a product or service.
Because of this, many marketers and sales people are having a tough time keeping up with the content demand.
Aside from desiring content and information, the new buyer has taken on a different journey in the buying process. Understanding the customer journey across levels and stages is essential for businesses to be successful.
The Buyer’s Journey
No matter which illustration you defer to, the buyer’s journey is composed of similar elements: awareness, consideration, and purchase. Dave Hubbard, blogger at Business2Community defines the buyer’s journey as follows:
Stage 1: They become aware of industry challenges.
Stage 2: They identify problem/opportunity.
Stage 3: They determine best solution options.
Stage 4: They choose a few vendors.
Stage 5: They identify the best solutions.
Stage 6: They integrate and implement solutions.
Content Suited for Each Step of the Buyer’s Journey
Here are some recommended pieces of content that are most relevant to each stage of the buyer’s journey:
- Awareness: E-books, white papers, and blogs
- Consideration: Videos, podcasts, and editorials
- Decision: Case Studies, tradeshows, product literature, trials and demos
While most businesses have an A+ content marketing strategy that targets every buying stage, the truth is they might be missing the mark entirely if they’re not engaging their customers and developing content in their best interest. “Engaging throughout the customer’s buying cycle, requires completely different thinking,” says Lori Wizdo, blogger at Forrester.
3 Steps to Align the Buyer’s Journey with Predictive Selling
Here are few steps to support sales in targeting each customer at each stage of the buyer’s journey:
- Follow the journey: Map out questions that customers would ask at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Define multiple personas at each stage, if any. Design content for each persona that specifically answers the typical concerns/ questions to not only anticipate needs, but to also start developing content addressing those needs.
- Assess buyer behavior: Track what content the customer is reading and which pages they’re visiting. This is especially important if the customer has multiple touch points in a little amount of time. Additionally, you may go a little bit further and check not only if they visited a landing page, but if they actually downloaded content.
- Influence the buyer to make a move: What would qualify the customer in your CRM? Sometimes businesses don’t ask this question because they’re expecting the customer to “come to us.” What would the customer need to finally contact the business for more information? Use call-to-actions in content marketing such as emails, blogs, and landing pages to influence the next step in the buyer’s journey.
Tackling the Buyer’s Journey Content Challenge
It’s no longer about meeting customers halfway. Marketing and sales teams are working to meet customers “where they are.” Marketers need to evolve their messages based on customer interests and needs.
Sales teams need to take on a predictive selling approach through content dissemination. Only when both of these groups are able to understand and cater to the buyer’s journey will they be able to see an increase in sales and customer satisfaction.
Like what you have just read?
Listen to Chris Handy's (founder of Thinkhandy) podcast: Map Your Content Marketing to the Buyer's Journey.