Since we’ve established that the sales funnel is now the sales cycle, a.k.a. the loyalty loop, it’s time to use that knowledge to inform your content strategy. After all, the purpose of a content strategy is to attract and convert visitors into customers.
Visitors to your website aren’t all looking for the same thing—they’re not all ready to buy from you, so the Buyer’s Journey helps you offer different content to everyone that might be a potential customer.
When you target each piece of content to a specific stage of their journey, the focus is on the customer and their complete Buyer Journey, as opposed to the sales funnel, which stops at the sale.
Approaching content this way creates an engaging strategy, one that carefully considers your audience, and opens up opportunities beyond the sale, so that more people to become loyal customers.
In practice, this means creating content not just on the topics you think your customers might find interesting. It requires some research before you get started, and a commitment to a plan.
So, let’s get started.
There are two main factors to consider when making each piece of content for your content plan:
- Buyer’s Journey Stage
- Buyer Personas
Applying these two factors to all of your content allows you to be critical about whether each piece of content you create is needed by a specific segment of your audience. Tailoring content to your audience greases the wheels of the sales cycle, moving visitors through their stages of the buyer’s journey, and through the conversion paths your content paves for them.
Here’s what that looks like.
Take Time to Know Your Stuff
The Buyer’s Journey is different for each persona of your audience, and for every business. You’ll need information about both, which you can collect through recurring research in the following categories:
- Audience Research: Conduct customer surveys and routine social listening to find out what your audience cares about, the formats they are attracted to, and where they congregate online.
- Competitor Research: Consider whether your competitors' topics and keywords are areas you should also take inspiration from. Many SEO tools marketers use today can help gather specific data to identify topic gaps or search ranking disparities that keyword retargeting can remedy.
- Industry Research: You are your business expert. Compile and document your own knowledge and experience with research from reputable sources, and use it to inform the topics you choose. It's time to highlight your expertise and position your business as an authority in your industry.
- Collect and Analyze Your Data: If you have historical campaign data and content published, including website pages, look at the pages and campaigns that received the most traffic and conversions. Which topics are popular? How are your titles framing them? Are there gaps in your content? What is the quality of the topics you provide, and are they part of healthy conversion paths? In other words, perform a content audit, and evaluate how your content has helped (or hurt) your marketing performance.
✅ HUFU Quick Tip: Keep a running log of all the questions your prospects and customers ask you and your team. These are perfect opportunities for content topics because you are answering questions that you know your audience cares about.
With the increase in information that we gather throughout a marketing lifecycle, we collect a lot of useful tidbits that can be applied to content. Completing this research will be how you create a log of topics that builds your business content strategy.
Awareness Stage: Invite Them In
Content starts with the first point of contact. Customers at the beginning of the Buyer's Journey, when they first discover your business, are doing research about a problem they have.
The first thing they see should address their problems. Offer content that gives them the information that your research has shown they are looking for. Remember, this is about them and their problems, not your business and your solutions for them. Not yet, at least.
You’ll need to address overarching pain points. Your homepage may address the general keywords that attract them to your website, and this content should start a path to more content that informs and entertains them.
- Blog posts: Cover basics and address buyer challenges and goals
- Social posts: Cover interesting, engaging topics related to buyer queries
- Provide information: Inform with reliable stats and numbers based on research
- Provide overviews: Keep topics clear and short, as opposed to in-depth deep-dives
Blog posts should have buyer problems right there in the title, because that's what they are typing into search engines to do their preliminary research. (This will boost your SEO, too.)
- What to Do When You Encounter [insert problem your Buyer Persona is trying to find a solution to]
- Avoid [insert painful consequence] with These 7 Tips
Content for people in the beginning of their buyer’s journey should serve as a welcoming road map, enticing visitors to explore your services further.
That’s when you lead them through to the Evaluation, or Consideration Stage.
Consideration Stage: Fuel Interest
So, you've convinced a visitor that your business is a safe place to look for more information! Terrific!
Your content still needs to serve the visitor more than it serves your business. But now, provide more meat. Content that falls into this category gets more in-depth, may start offering solutions, and may include:
- Educational resources like long reads, webinars, and ebooks
- Blog posts that highlight pros and cons of a solution, or posts that aim to persuade
- Social campaigns and engagement that connects with and nurtures leads
- How-to's, like videos or interactive graphics
Keep in mind what your buyer is experiencing at this stage. They want to know what kind of solution will work best for them. They are weighing their needs and wants and how to get there. Make sure that you highlight the benefits of your products or services over the features.
Decision Stage: Pick Me, Pick Me!
When developing content, focusing on late-stage buyers is critical. That means developing multiple posts around a few topics related to your business-critical long tail keywords.
Your buyer has landed on a solution for their problem, now they are figuring out if you are the right business to provide that solution. Help them see how your business provides exactly what they need and is who they want to work with by offering:
- Free trials or downloads
- Videos or website pages that show your business culture and highlight your team expertise
- Product demos and service descriptions and specifications
- Customer reviews
Beyond creating opportunities for conversions, targeting buyer journey stages allows you to build a connection with your audience, by understanding where they are in their decision-making process.
This translates to the brand advocate stage of the Buyer's Journey as well. Develop intimacy with customers by continually serving them and their needs; your relationship doesn't stop after the act of buying. Social media engagement, retargeting campaigns, continued service, and demonstrating excellence can build a loyal following to your brand.
Are you hitting every stage of the Buyer's Journey? If not, don't worry. You can use content you've previously created and edit it to fit your new strategy, or promote past popular posts.
In fact, promotion should be as big a part of your content strategy as producing content, if not bigger. This allows you to get more value from your older content. Spend time revamping and reframing old content instead of producing new stuff. Promoting it in a new light will also help you frame it for different stages of the sales cycle. Many publications benefit from this strategy, like The Atlantic, half of whose traffic in a given month comes from old content.
The content on your webpages, on the other hand, will likely have a combination of content for each stage to target as many different visitors as possible. Your conversion paths (CTAs leading to forms) will help them find the information they are looking for.
If you're interested in reading more about how we approach content and how it's related to the inbound marketing methodology, check out our ebook, "Market with a Magnet" below.