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The content journey: How to guide your buyer through the sales funnel

Jonathan Powell content marketing, content strategy, digital marketing, marketing strategy Leave a Comment

Modern sales and marketing have come a long way from the antiquated door-to-door, catalog-wielding, and cold-calling precedents they used to be – much of it thanks to the Internet.

This means the way customers approach their purchasing decisions has changed as well. Not only do they have instant access to many of the products and services they seek, but they have a vast amount of information surrounding them on numerous media channels, including comprehensive descriptions, pricing, reviews, and plenty more.

What’s more, buyers have become increasingly aware of the selling techniques many businesses use to get them into their sales funnels—they no longer want to be prospected, closed, or treated like a commodity. Buyers are now realizing that with extensive resources and options at their disposal, they’re able to demand more value out of both the buying process and the end result.

So how do businesses provide that value? By getting the right message to the right person at the right time.

Instead of the shot-in-the-dark marketing methods of old, modern inbound marketing allows prospects to come to you and moves them through the buying process by providing helpful information and support every step of the way. Broken into three stages (awareness, consideration, and decision), this process – which is akin to the top, middle, and bottom stages of the traditional funnel – is known as the buyer’s content journey.

Let’s take a look at how we can move prospects through that journey.

Awareness

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The first step of the content journey is the awareness stage. Buyers become aware that there is a challenge they’re facing they’d like to solve. Generally speaking, it can be summarized like this: “I want to _________, but _________ is keeping me from achieving it.”

To help them this early in the process, it’s your job to help them identify and define their issues, then produce content that not only shows you know their problems exists, but also that you truly understand them.

Developing white papers and blog posts that detail individual issues contributing to their challenge is a great way to establish yourself as a dependable source of information or even an authority. In addition, if executed within a larger content strategy, you’ll set yourself up to aid them again when they make it to the next stage in their journey: consideration.

Consideration

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Once a buyer has defined their challenge, they’ll either want to or will already be involved in researching what options are available to help them solve it. This is the consideration stage.

During this stage, buyers will be faced with numerous potential solutions including those your business can provide, but they may be unsure which is the most appropriate for them. Creating content that highlights the type of solution your company offers is an ideal way to provide significant value and add to the trust you’ve already established—especially when it reaches above and beyond basic research.

Content offerings like videos, webinars, and e-books help demonstrate your willingness to inform your audience while also reinforcing your expertise.

Decision

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If you provided helpful information every step of the way with well-crafted content, you’ll be at the top of the list for the decision stage.

Now that the customer has a solution, they’ll need to make the final call on which brand they choose to purchase from, which means you’ll need to differentiate yourself from the competition and convince them you provide the best of the bunch.

At this point, you’ve likely at least started to build rapport or gather some information to give them a more personalized experience that further shows why you are the best solution to their problem. Offerings like product/service demos, competitive advantage breakdowns, and even coupons can be key to providing enough value to convince them to choose you over your competitors.

Tips for Success

Remember you need to tailor your content to a particular buyer persona at a particular stage in their buyer’s journey. Having the right message is worthless if it’s delivered at the wrong time, let alone to the wrong person, and vice versa.

When crafting content at any stage, instead of just highlighting how great your product or service is, keep in mind what information would serve your target audience best. Being empathetic to their problems is one of the most effective ways to align them with your messaging and engage them with your brand.

Keep in mind what type of content will speak to your buyer personas best. Is your ideal audience busy moms? 50-hour-a-week office workers? They may not have time to read a 40-page eBook, but they’ll probably be thrilled to have some of the best information condensed into a fun and helpful six-minute video.

Conclusion

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A well-structured content strategy is the core of helping your prospects through the sales funnel. Make sure you spend the time to analyze your buyer personas and decide what kind of messages you should be delivering to them and when so you can help them form a complete picture that gets them from beginning to end with all the information they need to make an educated decision—which should be you, of course!

While it may seem a bit daunting to hit every nail on the head at every stage, all you need is a few good resources for guidance and you’ll be on your way to creating top-notch content in no time.

For a deeper dive into how to put together a successful strategy and create compelling content, check out our Killer Content Strategy eBook below!

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