How often do you buy an expensive product or service without proper research?
Everyone has made an impulsive purchase at least once, but it’s something most of us regret. As a rule, before making purchase decisions, we:
- Discover we have a problem that needs to be solved;
- Start exploring possible solutions on the web, ask for advice, go on training, etc.;
- Understand we need a product or service to solve the problem;
- Find out there are different options available and start comparing to identify the best fit;
- Finally, decide on a specific offering.
All these steps typically form a three-stage journey leading up to a purchase. I say ‘typically’ because the way your buyer’s journey looks depends on such aspects as your industry, pricing, audience, and more.
To engage their audience and drive conversions, marketers should always consider the various stages of this journey. However, only 49% of surveyed marketers are learning to drive content to align with the buyer’s journey.
Depending on the buyer’s journey stage, people need different content and use different keywords to search for relevant information. If you don’t understand your audience and create content that doesn’t align with their needs, you risk losing your prospects. So, how should you adjust your content marketing efforts for each stage of the buyer’s journey? Get ready to find out the answer in this post.
CAUTION! This post may contain actionable tips and advanced content marketing methods, that goes far beyond listing the types of content to create for each step of the buyer’s journey.
What’s Your Company’s Buyer’s Journey?
This part is for readers who have no idea what their buyer’s journey looks like. If this is not the case for you, scroll to the next section.
Let’s start with the definition. I like the way HubSpot defines it:
‘The buyer’s journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, consider and evaluate, and decide to purchase a new product or service.’
As I mentioned before, your company’s buyer’s journey will depend on various factors. So here comes the question: How to define what your company’s buyer’s journey looks like?
To get the answer, you should have an intimate understanding of your buyers. Build your buyer persona if you haven’t yet. Ideally, you should create several personas to represent your audience. For instance, if you sell SEO software, there will be at least three buyer personas:
- John – a CEO at an SEO agency. He needs an all-in-one tool that will let his team manage client projects and prioritizes the opportunity to create insightful reports. He is looking into purchasing a premium plan.
- Grace – a team lead at some in-house SEO team. She’s looking for a tool that has Multi-User mode with an opportunity to track team work. It’s also essential that its keyword and competitor databases are large enough to optimize the site versions for all the necessary countries and languages.
- Michael – a newbie freelancer managing projects for local small businesses. He isn’t sure how many limits he needs and what pricing is the best for him. He needs a tool that will help him optimize the websites of local businesses.
Talk to your sales team to get all the necessary information. To learn how your buyer personas behave at each stage of the journey, you need to know:
- Their job title, company size, and type.
- Their demographics, such as age, gender, income, etc.
- Their level of expertise when they first face your content.
- The problem your company will help them solve.
- Whether they switch to your product from another one.
- The concerns they may have with your offering.
- The criteria they use to evaluate the offering.
- Whether they are decision makers, or they should consult someone else.
- Whether they’ll need to interact with you after making a purchase.
Why it Matters
Although the way your audience arrives at a purchase decision may be pretty messy (sorry if I ruined your belief that all the prospects behave identically), satisfying your buyers in each of the traditional sales stages is still crucial.
Imagine the following situation: you have developed your content marketing strategy, your corporate blog is full of useful ‘how to’ posts and link-magnet infographics, traffic keeps growing every day, but conversions remain low. What happened? It’s most likely you didn’t align your content marketing with the buyer’s journey.
High-quality content is an excellent thing. However, its aim shouldn’t be limited to driving traffic. Its primary purpose is to lead readers from the ‘awareness’ stage to the ‘consideration’ one. And until you learn how to do it, your content marketing will drive you no results.
There may be a large variety of similar scenarios. If you create amazing landing pages and fail to produce educational content, the outcome will be pretty much the same.
How to Create Content For Each Step of the Buyer’s Journey
So, you understand your buyer’s journey and why it’s so important for your marketing strategy. What’s next? Now you’ll discover how to put this knowledge into practice and adjust your content marketing for every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Develop Different Types of Content
Although widely discussed, this step is still often overlooked by marketers. Let’s look into different types of content actionable on different stages of a buyer’s journey.
Suppose I’m your prospecting customer. I’m scrolling through my social media feed and come across my friend’s travel photo from Italy. How long has passed since my last vacation? It seems a short tour to Italy would bring me an awesome experience. However, my budget is pretty limited and it’s worth looking into the cheap offers. Here’s how I start searching for ‘how to travel cheap.’ I have just confronted a problem and started my investigation.
At this stage, people are looking for the information that will resonate with them. As they don’t even know the nature of their problem, trying to sell them the so-called solution would be pointless, if not harmful (selling to people who aren’t a good fit to your company will hurt healthy customer retention).
Your content should highlight the pain points and focus on educational content. Blog posts, entertaining videos, how-to’s, social media content – anything that clarifies the subject will help.
After reading several articles on the subject, I decided that the best option would be to find last minute tickets. So I started surfing the web trying to find the best deals. In several hours I realised it’s not as easy as it seemed. Fortunately, I found several agencies that sell last minute tours, now I only need to choose the most credible one.
At the consideration stage, you’ve managed to capture their attention. Your prospects are now looking into how to solve the problem they’ve just defined. They want to find the methods and solutions that are the best fit for them.
Again, if there’s a risk some people visited your company website by mistake, tell them about it. You don’t want to attract an irrelevant audience that will later result in low conversion rates.
This stage requires building your brand credibility and nurturing leads. Demonstrate why your product or service will be the best choice – provide comparisons, offer video reviews, create long-form guides and webinars.
The best way to understand a travel agency’s quality is to check customers’ reviews. For this purpose, I’ll visit forums, check different offers, and contact travel agents. Having collected all the pros and cons, I can make a final decision.
At the final stage, your prospect has various options trying to come to one decision. Every brand appeals to its best features, and you should try to stand out from this crowd.
It’s time for your brand to prove its value. Tell them about your product, your goals and how your customers will benefit from choosing you. Lead your prospects to a purchase decision with case studies, brochures, demos, and trial offers.
Map the Content
After you have identified the types of content that fit your business goals and correspond to every stage of your buyer’s journey, you should learn how to distribute them.
Here are the questions you should answer to map your content successfully:
- Are there gaps in my content strategy?
- What kind of content pieces should I create to answer all the buyers’ questions at each step of the buyer’s journey?
- What are the best channels to distribute content at every stage?
- How could I lead my audience from one stage to another?
The last question requires the most attention – you should make sure your content engages readers to move to the next stage. A well-designed internal linking structure or an email campaign would help you reach this goal.
Find the Right Keywords for Each Step
Providing useful information for people at the different stages of the buyer’s journey is half the battle. You should optimise content for the queries your prospects make at each step.
To collect the right keywords, you need to understand search intent – the objective of your audience has when searching Google. It will help you create (and optimise!) the right content for the right audience, at the right time.
Google’s definition of four intent-rich moments illustrates the buyers’ search behaviour at different stages of their journey:
These micro-moments could match four search intent groups respectively:
- Informational – The intent of getting general knowledge on a subject.
- Navigational – The intent of finding particular information on a particular website or webpage.
- Commercial investigation – The intent of comparing products or services and identifying the best solution.
- Transactional – The intent of making a purchase.
Ahrefs collected the list of words and phrases specific to every type of search intent. These modifiers will help you find the right keywords.
As we already know, the modifier words that typically define the stage the buyer is in, let’s proceed to keyword research.
First of all, find the topics your prospects are interested in at the awareness stage. You need to collect the most frequent search questions they are searching for in Google. Answer The Public tool will help you to cope quickly with this task. Enter your main keyword into its search field and click Get Questions.
The pattern is easy – select the suitable questions and create (an) article(s) answering them.
You can enlarge your list with Google’s People also ask box. Enter one of the questions into Google’s search field, and watch the results:
Use these questions within your content and include them as your H2/H3 subheads to create an effective content structure.
Next, you need to utilize one of the SEO tools you have at your disposal. With Serpstat or Ahrefs, you’ll complete your keyword research in a few clicks.
I’ll go with Serpstat. Enter your seed keyword into the tool’s search box, select your country, and click on Search. Go to the Keyword Selection section and apply the Keywords filter > Includes > add the modifiers from any of the stages.
I’ve collected all the keywords I want to use in my articles for the awareness stage (repeat the same actions for the other stages of the buyer’s journey). To collect the right keywords for the specific pages, you need to group them either manually or using a tool. It will take forever for me to group three thousand words myself, so I’ll use automated keyword clustering.
For this purpose, go to the Tools section, open Keyword Clustering and Text Analytics, and start a new project. Here you’ll need to download your exported report and configure settings. When the result is ready, you’ll see all your keywords grouped in clusters based on their semantic similarity.
Knowing which types of search queries fit the specific buyer’s journey stage and having all these keywords grouped, you can easily implement them into your content.
The Right Content at the Right Time = Higher Conversions
Do you want to create content that drives leads and converts customers? To reach this goal, you should understand your target audience and create a content marketing strategy that covers every stage of your buyer’s journey.