Consumers may occasionally make an impulse buy. Who hasn’t absent-mindedly grabbed a candy bar near the supermarket’s cash register? For most purchases, however, consumers go through the buyer’s journey before reaching for their wallets.
The buyer’s journey is a process every buyer goes through on their path to purchase. It consists of three stages:
However, many things can happen during and between buyer journey stages that can shake their resolution to buy. They could also be led out of your sales funnel and down your competitors’.
Creating content for each stage of the buyer’s journey helps keep your customers on the right path – to your business’s product or service. Suppose your content catches your prospect’s attention at the right buyer journey stages. In that case, you could influence their decision-making and clear the path to purchase, all while presenting your business as an expert within your niche.
In this article, we go into deeper detail about the buyer’s journey, customer journey stages and the types of content that are best for each stage.
The Three Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
If you’ve done traditional marketing, you’ve probably heard of the sales funnel. The sales funnel or marketing funnel details a customer’s path to purchase from the seller’s point of view. Sales funnel stages could number six or more.
In contrast, the buyer journey maps out the path to purchase from the buyer’s point of view. Unlike sales funnel stages that focus on company goals, the buyer’s journey stages provide a look at a buyer’s needs and motivations.
There are three buyer journey stages: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. Understanding the buyer journey stages, delivering the right content for each and using the appropriate marketing channels helps you capture and maintain their interest as well as nurture their buying decisions.
“I Have a Problem” – The Awareness Stage
In the first of the customer journey stages, the buyer becomes aware of a pain point.
A pain point is a problem faced by a current or potential customer of a business, which we will refer to here on out as the “buyer.” A pain point is typically recurring, persistent and a cause for frustration. You can think of a pain point as an unmet need waiting to be fulfilled.
Here is an example of a pain point for business-to-consumer (B2C) brands:
A night shift worker has trouble sleeping during the daytime.
Meanwhile, here is an example of a pain point for a business-to-business (B2B) client:
A restaurant keeps getting bad reviews on social media.
At this stage, the buyer researches their problem so they can more clearly understand it and give it a name.
Let’s go back to the night shift worker and the restaurant owner. After suffering through several sleepless nights, they go online to learn more about their problem. The night shift worker will likely enter search queries like “How can I get more sleep during the day?” or “Why can’t I sleep when it’s light out?” By reading articles on health websites, they learn that they might have shift worker insomnia.
Meanwhile, the restaurant owner might enter search queries such as, “How do I get rid of negative Yelp reviews” and “why am I getting bad reviews on Google Business Profile?”
At this buyer journey stage, the focus should be on educating buyers and helping them give their pain points a name. The goal for brands and marketers is not to create and publish content that converts, as this will inevitably fall flat with buyers who just want to learn, not buy. Instead, this stage of the customer journey funnel helps brands gain buyers’ trust and establish their authority as experts.
“How Do I Fix My Problem? – The Consideration Stage
The buyer has already defined their pain point. Now, their next step is to gather information about potential solutions. They compare products and services to determine the best one for their needs.
During the second of the customer journey stages, the night shift worker might look up melatonin supplements to help them sleep, blackout curtains or earplugs to keep out daytime noise. On the other hand, the restaurant owner might research reputation management agencies to help combat fake negative reviews.
The consideration stage is the ideal time for brands and marketers to provide information about their solutions so buyers can determine whether they’re the right fit. At this place in the customer journey funnel, you should also consider your direct competitors and emphasize to buyers why and how your products and services are the better options.
“This Is the Right Solution to My Problem” – The Decision Stage
This is the final stretch of the customer journey funnel. Buyers at the decision stage have already chosen the best type of product or service for their needs. They’ve narrowed down their list from the awareness stage. Their next step is to select the provider and make a purchase decision.
At this point, the night shift worker might decide on melatonin supplements. Their search inquiries might be “Nature Made Melatonin vs. Natrol” or “pros and cons of Nature’s Bounty Melatonin.”
Meanwhile, the restaurant owner may have decided to hire a reputation management agency. Their search inquiries might look like “Rize Reviews reputation management pricing” or “reputation management agency reviews.”
Content Types for the Three Buyer Journey Stages
When identifying content to match audience intent, here’s what we need to understand:
“Content during the awareness stage – more top-of-funnel – will be designed to help someone discover they even have a problem. It won’t be focused much yet on positioning the client as the answer to their problem,” said Brandon George, Director of Content at Thrive Internet Marketing Agency.
“That comes later. And that awareness stage content might be a perfect fit on a social media platform if the target audience is millennials.
Further down the funnel, you’ll want to position the brand as the guide who helps solve the customer’s problem,” he said.
Potential buyers in this stage of their journey are looking for reliable, helpful information and resources to understand their pain points. They need to be able to frame their problem before they can begin looking for a solution.
Your potential buyers are unlikely to consume content that’s obviously a sales pitch. Even if you pay for the best content writing service to create conversion-focused content, your buyers might just end up being scared away. For this reason, the best content types to include in your content strategy for this stage simply encourage consumers to contextualize their pain points.
• Blog Posts: These not only educate buyers but also help you with your SEO efforts. How long your blogs should depend on various factors, such as your audience and your topic. Generally, it’s best to keep the word count to more than 300 words. A quality content writing service provider will advise you on the best topics and the appropriate word count to use for this stage for the type of customers you mean to attract.
• Social Media Posts: Facts, snippets of interesting information and educational content on social media platforms drive awareness among consumers looking for quick answers.
• Webinars: According to Oberlo, 244.4 million people in the U.S. watch videos online. What’s more, according to Statista, while young people watch the most educational content, people of all age groups enjoy watching educational content online.
Thanks to your efforts at providing them with information about their pain points, your buyers are now ready to research solutions. At this stage, you need to help them further by providing even more information, this time about the products or services you offer and how these can meet your buyers’ needs or help them achieve their goals.
Remember that while your buyers aren’t quite ready to make a purchase, they are more willing to research potential solutions and perhaps give them a try. For this reason, your content strategy for the consideration stage should focus on being informative, first and foremost. This stage is also a good opportunity to tell potential buyers more about your product or service in comparison with competitors.
• How-To Videos: In a survey by Techsmith, 83% of respondents stated they preferred watching videos for accessing informational or instructional content. To ensure you not only capture but also retain your audience’s attention, consider hiring a video marketing expert to create an engaging, high-quality video that delivers value.
• eBooks: These are ideal for targeting and educating potential buyers on complicated topics, as they are typically longer than blogs. A trusted content marketing services provider will help you conceptualize and create eBooks for this stage as well as ensure your buyers actually download them.
• Whitepapers and Case Studies: These work well for B2B clients as they fulfill their need for information while subtly positioning your brand as an industry expert. You may also mention your business as a provider of potential solutions, but avoid making an overt sales pitch.
• Product/Service Comparison Guides: These help potential customers to decide which type of solution is best for them. Aside from comparison guides, you can also do blogs detailing the pros and cons of a particular solution you offer. This provides high-value content to potential buyers while building trust and positioning yourself as an authority. If your audience prefers videos, you should consider hiring a video marketing expert to help create comparison videos.
Your buyers are now ready to embark on the last of the buyer journey or sales funnel stages. Since they’ve reached this point, it means your content strategy has largely been effective.
You’ve educated them about their pain point and its possible solutions, and now it’s time to reap the benefits, right? Well, not quite yet – you still have to get them to convert. Your focus now should be to convince your audience that your solution is best.
You can do that by utilizing content types and high-conversion copy that overcome any remaining roadblocks to their decision. Your in-house marketing team or chosen quality content writing service provider may create the following content types you could make for this last stage:
• Case studies: These are an excellent way to nudge buyers who need more convincing that your product works and is the best solution for their pain point.
• Free trials and demos: This is a high-risk yet high-reward method for boosting conversions. A free trial or demo lets your leads get a better feel for your product or service. If they decide it ticks all the boxes, then all that’s needed is to close the deal. However, they might also think that your offerings aren’t the right fit. If this is the case, your sales team will likely have to work harder to get them to convert.
• Free consultations and estimates: Similar to free trials and demos, no-cost consultations give potential buyers a sneak peek into your offerings. Meanwhile, a free estimate allows your business to connect with your buyer directly, lets your buyer know if the solution is within their budget and provides an opportunity to close a sale.
You can use many other content types and platforms at the decision stage, such as emails, social media posts and pay-per-click ads. The key is to focus on the ones that match not just where your audience is at this stage of their journey but also other key considerations.
Take, for instance, our methods here at Thrive.
“We recognize that content isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. And as a full-service digital marketing agency, we can leverage experts across almost every channel to maximize a client’s return on investment,” George said. “We dig into where a client’s audience lives based on their demographics and buying habits.”
Content Marketing Services That Meet Your Customers Where They Are
Online content is essential to success in the online space. Mapping content to align with the buyer’s journey helps ensure you get the most results – and ROI – out of your content marketing efforts.
Thrive has helped countless clients leverage the buyer’s journey to achieve their digital marketing goals, from boosting brand awareness to increasing website sales. Contact us today at 866-434-4748 to learn more about our services.