Is your company or organization struggling to get customers through the sales funnel?
When you get customers into your ecosystem, are you failing to encourage retention?
You should consider mapping your content marketing efforts to specific stages of the buyer’s journey.
According to HubSpot, 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing. These businesses are turning to content marketing to provide existing and potential customers with greater support. They understand the impact great content can have on the buyer’s journey.
And we, too, believe that content marketing is a vital component to a robust and effective customer journey. But many marketers feel that content belongs solely at the top of the funnel. Based on our work with purpose and value-driven organizations to take their content marketing efforts to the next level, we disagree.
When content marketing is strategically mapped to the buyer’s journey, it has the potential to enhance every stage of that journey, especially if you’re looking to engage your customers to act as brand advocates. In the long run, this is what will fuel tremendous organic growth through word of mouth and social proof. And content marketing makes building an army of advocates possible.
In this post, we’ll break down how you can strategically create high-value content for every stage of the buyer’s journey. But first, let’s start by defining the key stages of the buyer’s journey.
What are the stages of a buyer’s journey?
Every stage of the buyer’s journey is an essential stepping stone toward building an organic growth machine with an army of brand advocates. Typically there are five core stages of a buyer’s journey. These are the five stages we focus on:
You cannot overlook any of these stages; they are all equally important. Organizations can experience challenges at different stages of the buyer’s journey. Some businesses are good at getting customers into their ecosystem but struggle with encouraging retention and advocacy.
Content marketing has the potential to enhance every stage of the buyer’s journey, not only at the awareness and consideration stages but also by improving customer experiences and inspiring advocacy further down the line.
Stage 1: Awareness
At the awareness stage, you should be using content marketing to attract attention and convert that attention into web traffic.
Typically, the people you want to attract are looking for answers to specific questions. The answer to these questions should always be the product or service you are trying to sell. You need to find a question that focuses on a specific pain point faced by your target market. The product or service can then be positioned as the solution to this pain point.
Some of the most relevant types of content for the awareness stage are:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Email newsletters
These resources can be promoted across a range of marketing channels. To get people into your sales funnel, you ideally want to be producing a variety of content; we all like to consume content in different ways. This is something you will need to accommodate at the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey to educate people about your product or service.
Stage 2: Consideration
The next stage of the buyer’s journey is all about converting traffic into leads. You can leverage content marketing to drive your lead generation activities.
If you infuse your content with opportunities for your audience to connect with you, this will enable you to engage with them on a more personal level.
An opportunity like this could be a call-to-action at the end of a post.
It comes down to providing people with value. If you can craft genuinely insightful content, people are more likely to want to know what else you have to offer. At this stage, the potential buyers already know what you can offer them. Now you need to further build your credibility.
Some of the most relevant types of content for the consideration stage are:
- Webinars and live streaming events
- Testimonials and reviews
- Case studies
These content types can help to improve consumer confidence and encourage potential buyers to make a decision on a purchase.
Marketing materials like testimonials and case studies are incredible forms of social proof, as consumers often look to others for reassurance when they’re considering a product or service.
Stage 3: Decision
Once you’ve got a prospect to the decision stage of the buyer’s journey, this is the point where you need to go all-in on selling the product or service.
If the previous two stages of the buyer’s journey were strong, you will now be reaping the benefits. You should remember that these three stages can sometimes take weeks or months to play out.
It’s not a race to the finish line. You need to give potential buyers time to make their decision. The best thing you can do is to provide them with content marketing resources on how to get the most out of your product or service.
This could come in the form of a user handbook, a success checklist or a pre-recorded demo. To purchase a product or service, a buyer needs to have adequate support.
If you are trying to sell a service, you could always offer a free trial. This gives potential buyers the time to see whether the service will be able to meet their needs and address a specific pain point.
When you’re trying to get a buyer over the finish line, you need to think about what’s stopping them from making a purchase. You can then reverse-engineer the process.
Stage 4: Retention
When a customer makes a purchase, this doesn’t mean it’s time to stop marketing to them. You need to take an active role in the success of your customers.
The experience of using your product or service will directly influence their willingness to become a repeat customer and potentially refer you to others. Content marketing is often the missing ingredient in the retention stage.
Some of the most relevant types of content for the retention stage are:
- Email marketing campaigns
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Podcast episodes
This is the stage where you should do everything you possibly can to ensure the customer is not only able to successfully use the product or service to address the initial pain point, but also enjoys using it so much that they want to come back for more.
Stage 5: Advocacy
Referrals are the key to organic growth. If you want to build an organic growth engine, you need to ensure as many customers as possible complete the buyer’s journey. Customer success can result in a compounding effect. Before long, you will have an army of advocates selling your product or service to their friends and family.
When it comes to encouraging advocacy, most of the work will have been done in earlier stages. The most important thing you need to do at this stage is to promote your referral program. You need to make it as easy as possible for existing customers to refer you to their friends and family. It should be a simple and repeatable process.
To promote your referral program to existing customers, some of the most relevant types of content for the advocacy stage are:
- Direct emails
- Live streaming events
- Social media posts
Now is the time to start turbo-charging your buyer’s journey with just the right content marketing to guide potential customers in the right direction. And if you’re not yet convinced, here are 7 more reasons your organization should invest in a content marketing strategy.
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