Have you ever walked by a kiosk at the mall, been asked to sample a product and then bought the product immediately? Chances are, you haven’t. That’s because most often, before making the decision to purchase an item, you need to be funneled through a sales cycle and experience what modern marketers call the buyer’s journey.
The buyer’s journey is the process we go through when we realize we have a problem, search for information on how to solve the problem and then identify the product or service we would prefer to use to do so. Perhaps your favourite pair of runners are wearing out and you need a new pair. But first, you research good quality runners and then narrow down the brand and style you would prefer before finally making a purchase.
As marketers, it’s our job to give buyers the content they need to move from one stage of their journey to the next, ultimately pulling them closer to a sale by using inbound marketing tactics. But the challenge with inbound marketing is knowing what type of content to create, for the right buyers and at the right time.
In our last post, we discussed what inbound marketing is. In this post, I'll review the three stages of the buyer's journey (awareness, evaluation and decision) and how you can create content for each stage of the funnel.
The awareness stage is at the top of the sales funnel—the stage where buyers are aware they have a problem and are looking for resources, opinions and information to help them make an informed buying decision. At this stage, you will have quite a large and diverse audience and few quality leads—but with the proper content, you could guide some of these buyers down the funnel to the evaluation stage.
Content for the awareness stage of the buyer's journey should not require a large amount of effort for your buyer to consume. Instead, it should be informational, non-gated and focus on solving the buyer's problem. Content for this stage of the funnel could include:
When a buyer moves into the evaluation stage, they’ve approached the middle of the funnel—meaning, they are aware of their problem and are on the hunt for a solution. This is where buyers begin to evaluate their options, so your job is to show them why your solution or product is better than your competitors.
In the middle of the funnel, buyers seek content that proves the quality and value of a product or service. Your goal? Convince the buyer that you are an industry leader and set yourself apart from the pack. At this stage, create content such as:
Webinars that review your product/service
Client testimonials and case studies
The buyer has gathered their research, evaluated options and they’re just about ready to make a purchase—they’ve reached the decision stage. But just because they’re nearing the end of their journey does not necessarily mean they’ve decided to purchase from you. This is your last chance to WOW your audience, give them a little nudge towards your product and seal the deal. At the bottom of the funnel, draw buyers in with calls-to-action such as:
A product trial or demo
Requests for pricing estimates
Deals or coupons
Each and every business has a unique sales funnel. Whether you're selling software to other businesses or clothing to consumers, the principal remains the same. Understand your audience and their needs, and then develop a content strategy that caters to that audience along each stage of their buying journey.