Creating the perfect customer journey content strategy
Gaining a deeper understanding of your target audience's path to purchase will dramatically improve your sales and marketing efforts.
It's just a fact.
But to make that fact a reality for your business, you need to understand the buyer's journey and how to keep customers on the right path every step of the way.
Here's your guide to creating the perfect customer journey content strategy.
What is the buyer's journey?
The buyer's journey is exactly what it sounds like. It's the step-by-step process B2B leads follow before they pull the trigger and authorise that big purchase.
It's a sales funnel but from the prospect's perspective. Just like a sales funnel, the buyer journey has several different phases the lead moves through - or doesn't move through. Like the sales funnel, leads are looking (whether they know it or not) for different messages at different times. And if that messaging isn't right, leads will wander onto a different buyer journey leading to one of your competitors.
What does the buyer journey look like?
We can break the buyer journey into four distinct stages: awareness, interest consideration, and decision.
From a B2B leads perspective, that looks something like this:
- I have a problem
- I'm researching the problem
- I've found a few options that can solve my problem
- I need to decide which is the best option
Why is the buyer journey so important?
Understanding the buyer's journey is super important.
Let's be more specific.
No. Let's be a lot more specific.
Understanding your buyer's journey is super important.
Because although every buyer's journey may look the same, they're also completely unique. For example, the consideration stage for an IT manager at a medium-sized Edtech software company will be very different from the awareness stage for someone searching for a new pair of trainers. In other words, it will take more than a few influencer-linked Instagram posts to convince an IT manager to move onto the decision phase.
Taking a highly targeted approach to your buyer's journey enables you to examine and understand your prospects' choices at each stage.
And this is crucial. Because once you understand this, you can create tailor-made and highly relevant content and messaging that speaks to each stage of the buyer cycle. And this is, hands down, the most effective way to keep leads fully engaged through their journey and always on the right path to making the best decision. Which, obviously, is choosing your company over a competitor.
How to apply buyer's journey data to your content creation strategy
A customer buyer's journey content creation plan has to be as specific as possible. Essentially, you want to create with one person in mind - and that's your ideal customer. One single person you have to engage, inform, educate, and persuade.
So how do we find that person?
We create them - or at least an idea of them.
Creating our ideal customer persona
Buyer personas are in-depth models of your target customers. To create a model of your ideal customer, you need to understand who they are and, more importantly, what they want. You'll need to consider information like:
- Likes and dislikes
- Education level
Many companies treat the buyer persona like an academic exercise. They draw up a buyer persona, then link the document to some obscure marketing folder that nobody ever looks at.
Don't be like them.
Your buyer persona may be a make-believe person. But they're based on actual data collected from real B2B decision-makers who have shown genuine interest in what your company does. As such, the buyer persona document should inform your messaging at every stage of your buyer journey content plan.
Defining Your Buyer's Journey
We already mentioned the four major steps of the buyer journey. Now let's take a closer look, including the types of content you need to create to engage leads and nurture them onward.
Stage 1: Awareness
The buyer experiences a painful symptom during this first stage that points to a bigger problem. For example, they may struggle to attract their own leads, leading to decreased sales and revenue.
They're asking basic questions and queries, like:
- Why am I not getting enough leads?
- How do I attract more leads?
- How do you create a lead generation strategy?
They're looking for explanations right now - not solutions.
Meet prospects in the awareness stage with educational content explaining the symptoms and causes of their problem/pain point
Appropriate awareness stage content includes:
- Blog posts
- Landing pages
- Detailed service pages
- Social ads
Stage 2: Interest
In the interest phases, B2B leads are reading articles, guides, spec sheets, and longer-form content. This is also known as the research phase, the buyer is asking more detailed questions.
Types of content to focus on for the interest stage include:
Step 3: Consideration
Every stage of the buyer journey is critical. But the consideration stage is more vital than others.
Prospects have diagnosed the problem. Now they're looking for a practical solution to that problem.
In other words, they're exploring different options in the market. At this point, it's your job to explain how you can provide that solution - and offer it better than anyone else.
Now it's time for,
- Case Studies
- White Papers
Step 4: Decision
Crunch time. Big close time!
Your buyer is ready to buy. They're standing right there with a credit card in hand. There's just one (big) question left to answer; who do I buy from?
Messaging and content needs to be direct and deal-specific. Your goal now is to minimise buyers' hesitation and encourage them to make a decision ASAP - as in, right now.
The time for subtlety has passed.
Now is the time for,
- Limited-time discounts delivered via accelerator email campaigns
- Competitor comparison list to showcase your unique value
- Free, no commitment trials. Win that B2B business through proof of concept
- FAQ documents
- Customer case studies
Decision stage content is about driving action. It has to be compelling. You can compel leads in the decision phase with content that promotes a sense of,
Belonging: "The people in these testimonials are the same me as me. They look like happy and satisfied customers now. I want to be part of that group."
Trust: "This company is so confident that they provide a satisfaction guarantee and free demo."
FOMO: "I have to buy right now before this great offer expires."
A B2B buyer's journey
Meet Sally. She's a systems security manager in the IT department at a local college with over 500 students.
Sally's college recently had a network scare. A large number of student records could have been compromised. Sally is aware that she has a problem.
Sally starts to think, "Do I need to worry about future breaches?" "Are our current data processes secure enough?" Sally is interested now. She starts reading blogs and whitepapers on network security for education institutes.
Salley decides her college needs better security. She looks at data firms specialising in security software and IT systems for schools and colleges. Sally is in the consideration stage.
Sally has a list of vendors offering the solution she needs. Now Sally is comparing cost, customer service, technical support, and product specs. She's deciding. But it's tough. All these companies look great.
She'll think about it more tomorrow. Wait a minute; one of the companies has just pinged a personalised email with a special sign-up offer! If Sally subscribes now, she gets the first three months free! Ok then, says Sally, let's give these guys a shot!
Sally's buying journey is complete.
Perfect your journey
AXD is a content marketing and SEO agency based in Manchester. We help companies generate, nurture, and convert more B2B leads by creating content designed for each star of their specific buyer' journey.
Book a free discovery call today for more information.