As potential customers consider a purchase or service, whether it’s a new jacket for an upcoming ski trip or a property management service for a real estate portfolio, they likely research the various options in the market and make an informed decision based on quality, price and other factors. In most circumstances, they don’t make a spur-of-the-moment decision without evaluation.
Instead, a potential buyer – regardless of product – goes through something called the buyer’s journey, which consists of different steps prior to making a purchase. These steps could include visiting your website, reading your blog, subscribing to your email list and speaking to a salesperson.
Using content marketing to deliver specific content to potential buyers based on where they are in the inbound marketing sales funnel can be a valuable tool for businesses. But not understanding your potential customers and delivering content that doesn’t relate to them could result in losing a sale.
Whether you do the writing yourself or outsource the job, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Think about their potential pain points and deliver some potential solutions.
Avoid complex or sales language and try to connect with the audience. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, content marketing is largely about P2P: person-to-person.
Before you start writing, let’s break down the buyer’s journey and how to approach the content development process.
Stages of the B2B Buyer’s Journey
The B2B Buyer’s Journey can be broken down into three stages: Awareness, Evaluation and Purchase. Each stage requires a specific type of content to help move the customer to the next stage.
During the Awareness stage, potential customers are seeking answers to a problem and are looking for resources, education and data to help with the solution. Next, in the Evaluation stage, potential customers examine whether or not a particular product or service is right for them. And finally, during the Purchase stage, they take steps toward becoming a customer.
Based on your particular business or industry, your potential targets may require more engagement. This is particularly true for B2B companies whose products require significant investment and which tend to have a longer sales cycles.
But what content should you produce for each stage and what should it look like? Let’s take a closer look.
Mapping Content for the Awareness Stage
Developing content for potential customers in the awareness stage should focus on education. This content could include blog posts, social media posts and ebooks. The content you develop shouldn’t necessarily speak to brand-specific benefits, but instead introduce why a product or service like yours could offer a solution. The payoff is readers who find your content useful could move down the buyer’s journey to the next stage.
As a writer, strive to ensure the Awareness stage content is accessible. In fact, the blog posts you write for buyers in the Awareness stage could introduce them to a problem they don’t even know they have. It’s easy to get caught up in technical language, especially in the B2B space, but try as much as you can to generate content that connects with readers on a personal level.
Mapping Content for the Evaluation Stage
If you’ve successfully moved a potential customer to the evaluation stage, it means your awareness content was suitably informative and captured the reader’s attention. Now, you need to make the most of their interest.
During the evaluation stage, you can discuss what potential solutions exist for the customer’s problem, and carefully start to introduce why your particular product or service offers the right solution for a potential customer. Now is a great opportunity to emphasize your expertise in your industry with content like expert guides, webinars and whitepapers.
It can be beneficial for writers to bring in subject-matter experts at every stage of the content development process but especially during the evaluation stage. The content delivered here can gain value from direct involvement from those closest to the subject. It can make your job as a writer much easier.
Mapping Content for the Purchase Stage
The purchase stage is the time to clearly outline and offer the benefits of your product or service. You’ve likely seen multiple offers online for demos and trials but without the previous two stages, these offers don’t provide much value. However, if you’ve successfully educated the potential customers in the other stages, these offers are more likely to result in a sale.
In addition to trials and demos, other potential forms of content include case studies and product descriptions. Case studies can provide particular value, proving your solution in a real-life scenario.
When writing case studies, it can be easy to get caught up in the numbers. While showing how revenue increased by X% after implementing a certain solution is important, try to tell the story of how efficiencies were created or how an organization can give more time to their customers or their employees by implementing it.
While content can offer tremendous value to your business, it needs to be delivered as part of a comprehensive inbound and content marketing strategy. If you’d like to learn more about how the right content for the right person, at the right time can help your business, we're here to help.