Since my early days of writing in grade school, one rule has remained constant: developing content with the audience in mind. Whether you’re writing about your imaginary friend in first grade or about a B2B product or service, it is critical to define the audience and then deliver the right content to that audience. Always ask yourself:
To take a soundbite from Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”
The B2B content consumption stats are out there. Nearly 64 percent of B2B technology buyers say that they read between 2 to 5 pieces of content before making a purchase.
However, creating content that satisfies B2B buyers’ appetites is no walk in the park. In fact, a recent study has shown us that many major brands are working with startups and smaller agencies to handle content development and social media.
With these thoughts in mind, I want to walk through some ways to map your content strategy to match the three primary stages of the buying cycle and the types of content that might resonate best with the audience at each stage.
Stage 1: Brand Awareness
Qualities of this visitor: Before we go any further, these visitors are not interested in being pitched by sales. Instead, they’ve likely stumbled upon your brand to see what you know about their challenge and the industry as a whole.
What content marketers need to consider: When targeting this stage of the buying journey, content marketers need to think about developing assets that can spread the word about the brand. The more sets of eyes this material draws, the better your chances are of turning one of these visitors into a “hot lead” down the road.
It’s also important to note that this content should NOT be gated. Any disturbances to the user experience (even asking for an email address) could result in the user hitting the big red “X” and moving on to a competitor’s site.
Types of content for this visitor: Developing (if you don’t have one in place) or leveraging your company blog is a perfect platform when creating content that is designed to generate brand awareness. Curated lists, infographics, interviews and guest posts are all great options to consider at this stage.
Once you’ve developed this content, be sure to share it on social media and reach out to industry publications for possible coverage.
Here are some examples of content designed to drive brand awareness:
- 10 Examples of Highly Impactful LinkedIn Profiles
- Creating a B2B Digital Marketing Plan for 2016 [infographic]
- How B2B Marketers are Handling the Digital Content Overload [Accenture Interview]
- How To Tie SEO With 3 Popular B2B Demand Generation Initiatives
Stage 2: Consideration
Qualities of this visitor: At this stage of the buying cycle, prospects are likely looking for content that meets their personal or organizational needs. While they may not be ready to buy at this very moment, they’re looking at you to help them overcome their challenges, which presents a great opportunity to make your mark as a brand.
What content marketers need to consider: Regardless of the types of content being used during this stage, make sure to keep branding and overall tone consistent. The buyer at this stage has likely narrowed their options a bit, and will begin to evaluate your brand against another or several others.
Something as little as the language used across website content or the manner in which it is present could make the difference between prospect and buyer. Additionally, since the visitor has likely made at least one other touch with your brand at this point, asking for basic personal information to start the conversation is acceptable here.
Types of content for this visitor: Targeted content is very important at this stage. Think about ways to provide solutions to common industry challenges and showcase how your brand can help. Keep a finger to the pulse of social media and search engine queries to identify these opportunities. Case studies, whitepapers, eBooks, webinars and industry reports are all good places to start.
Here are some examples of content designed to support the “Consideration” stage:
- John Deere MachineFinder: Content Marketing, SEO & Social Media [Case Study]
- White Paper: Supercharge Your B2B Content Marketing Efforts With Interactive Audio
- A Field Guide to the 4 Types of Content Marketing Metrics [eBook]
- The 5 absolute, must-do essentials of content marketing [Webinar]
- 2015 B2B Web Usability Report
Stage 3: Ready to Buy
Qualities of this visitor: Thanks to your brand awareness and “consideration” content initiatives, this visitor is at the stage of the buying process where they’re ready to be contacted by sales or even better, make a purchase. This gives content marketers an opportunity to provide the visitor with all the critical information they’re looking for.
What content marketers need to consider: At this stage, content marketers need to be ready to provide clear and 100% transparent information about their products and services. By not providing this critical information, you could risk the chance of losing the customer to a competitor that is more up front about their prices and offerings.
Types of content for this visitor: So, what types of content should you leverage when thinking about closing a deal (Pro tip: work close with the sales team during this process)? I would suggest generating detailed tutorials (videos, how-to posts, etc.), pricing sheets, testimonials, help and support documentation and more.
Here are some examples of content designed to support the “Ready to Buy” stage:
With each piece of content you create, make sure you ask yourself what part of the buyer’s journey it will assist. Doing so will lead to more satisfied website visitors and will help you prove the value of your content strategy to executives within the organization.
How do you align your content strategy with the buying cycle?
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