When consumers are ready to buy, they search. However, sometimes purchasing can be a big decision that requires ample research. To reach prospects whenever they are searching for information and keep your business in their minds when it comes time to buy, you need to have content for every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Defining Your Buyer’s Journey
Although the stages of the buyer’s journey are the same for every brand, they involve different activities to move a consumer from one step to the next. You need to map out the unique journey for each of your buyer personas.
This will show you how long you can expect a conversion to take and what information users require. It will also help you decide how much content to create, what types of content will work best, and what topics you need to cover at each stage.
The Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
The awareness stage begins when a customer realizes the need to make a purchase and starts searching for information. Just because awareness is far from a conversion doesn’t make it any less important. This is your chance to start establishing authority — by providing solutions to a problem, answering a query, or offering advice.
To optimize your content for the awareness stage, you need to use keywords that have an informational or educational slant. As well as including keywords in content like blog posts, infographics, and free tools, add them to landing pages that see the highest traffic. The awareness stage is all about marketing your brand to as many people in your target audience as possible.
It is also critical in the awareness stage to encourage users to move to the next step in the buyer’s journey. At this point, it is still too early to ask prospects to contact you — if you push this early, you will lose the trust of your audience and miss out on many potential sales. Instead, CTAs need to convert prospects to leads by offering the chance to access premium content, such as white papers, webinars, ebooks, or videos.
The consideration stage is the chance for leads to find out if you are the right option for them. At this stage, you want to maximize the number of leads that you are able to qualify to become potential customers.
However, it is just as important to drop leads who will never purchase from you to avoid wasting resources on seeking conversions that will never happen. Rely on your buyer personas to determine which leads are likely to become customers.
During the consideration stage, users seek content that allows them to explore their options, examine advantages and disadvantages, and read others’ reviews. Ideal content at this stage includes comparison charts, industry data, and tutorials. You should also experiment with creative ways to engage users with content, such as with interactive tools, surveys, and calculators.
To appear in the right searches, you also need to include keywords that relate to users’ queries. You can find a wealth of ideas by looking at terms used in your onsite search.
The purchase stage involves convincing a lead to buy from you rather than any other company. You need to personalize the experience to help users feel as if you are talking to them directly through your content. Ideal content at this stage includes testimonials that show users why your offerings are their best choice, free trials, and fact sheets that address any concerns leads may have.
It tends to be easy to think of keywords to use in the purchase stage, but such terms are often the most competitive. To reach the right people, continue reaching top rankings on SERPs, and pay less for your PPC ads, use local keyword phrases and other local SEO tactics.
A compelling CTA is key to ensure leads follow through with the purchase. Accompany content with an invitation to contact your sales team, extend a free trial into a paid subscription, or purchase an offering. Use A/B testing to perfect your CTA.
The last stage in the buyer’s journey — retention — is the one that marketers often neglect, despite it being just as important at the earlier stages. For one thing, it is easier to market to past customers than new prospects. For another, a customer who purchased from you before is still more likely to head to Google than your website when looking for a related product or service.
To figure out what keywords you need for the retention stage, examine data about customers who purchased from you more than once in the past. You can use content like:
- Blog posts, aimed to alerting customers to other problems they may have
- Training and webinar sessions, to help customers gain more from your products and services
- Articles about updates or upgrades
- Industry news
- Free trials for new services
- Discounts and other deals only available for returning customers
Whenever you create content, it needs to be for a specific stage of the buyer’s journey. Only like this can you optimize appropriately and ensure that when customers are ready to buy, they search and they find you.