Guest Post from Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré. You can read more from Nichole at her SaaS blog & by subscribing to her awesome new marketing newsletter

Have you ever revisited a book you didn’t like as a child, only to find that you love it now? Now, it says exactly what you need to hear – because you’re ready to hear it. Great content is like that. Not only does it need to be well-written, interesting and valuable, it also has to be timed just right to have the most impact. This is where the Buyer’s Journey comes into play. When you create content around each stage of the Buyer’s Journey, you increase the chances that the right information finds the right people at the right time.

Why it’s Worth Your Time to Do Content Well

Some marketers don’t understand the real value of content. In fact, many of them devalue it, leaving it as an afterthought in their overall marketing strategy. But when your clients are online, you can’t afford not to learn the ins and outs of content strategy. Too much is at stake, like:
Search engine rankings – Google’s latest algorithms reward frequently updated websites, which necessitates a constant flow of new content. And, search engines prioritize content that is shared, which means it has to be so good that your readers want to tell their friends.
Driving traffic to your site – By providing something useful, you’ll bring in traffic, and when each new page view has the potential to become a share, your traffic can increase exponentially.
Nurturing existing leads – Content can help educate leads as to how they can use your product to solve their problem, and gently point them in the direction of the next step down the sales funnel.
Customer success – You can use content to keep your customers happy and successful, reducing churn.

TOFU, MOFU, BOFU, and YOU

The Buyer’s Journey is described in a few different ways. I could look like this:

Awareness → Consideration → Decision

Or, this:

Unaware → Interest Established → Problem Acknowledged → Seeking Solution

Or, this:

TOFU → MOFU → BOFU (top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel)

There are many ways to describe what is, essentially, the same process we all go through when deciding to make a purchase. First, you may not even realize you want to buy something, or that you have a problem that the right purchase could solve. Then, you may see a product that strikes your interest, and you’d like to find out more. You realize that you do have a problem that this product could solve, but wonder: Is this the best option out there? Now it’s time to do some research.

You’ve been slowly sliding down to the BOFU, and content has been with you every step of the way.

Now, if you are not even sure you have a problem yet – would you want to read an eBook about how to solve it? No.
If you’re trying to decide between Solution A and Solution B, would it help you to read a use case of how a similar company found success with Solution A? Probably.

Understanding which types of content to introduce for each stage of the Buyer’s Journey takes your content assets and uses them to your best advantage.

However, before you begin writing eBooks, blog posts and whitepapers, there is a vital step you need to take first.

Who is Your Customer?

You can’t discuss the Buyer’s Journey without first discussing the Buyer. Without a buyer persona, or two, or three, to guide your efforts, you won’t get very far even if you have content for every stage of the buy cycle. Take the time to create a well-rounded buyer persona based on stats and interviews from current successful customers and reports from your sales team.

Ask:
• What motivates my customer?
• What does success with my product mean for my customer?
• What kind of decision-maker is my customer? Fast, slow, impulsive, needs all the facts, reads nothing, reads everything – there are many variations, and your content should be written around your buyer persona’s specific decision-making style.

Once you understand who your ideal customers are and what they want, you’re ready to help them through their Buyer’s Journeys.

Did you know that different types of content appeal to different types of buyers?

Analytical thinkers appreciate having all the facts, and will read thoroughly to get them. Whitepapers, use cases and case studies are great for these buyers.

Impulsive buyers don’t want to read everything – they just need the gist, preferably in bullet-points. But what they really love is a good infographic that makes the vital information understandable at a glance.

Mapping Content with Conversion in Mind

When mapping your content strategy, let this be your guiding thought: Have the right conversation, with the right people, at the right time.

For each content idea, consider:

1) Your buyer personas (the right people)
2) Buyer’s Journey stage (the right time)

Creating a Content Quadrant can help you keep the most important factors in mind when creating your content strategy, like:

• Which type of buyer will this content appeal to?
• Which stage of the Buyer’s Journey does this content speak to?
• What type of content will work with this buyer and their stage?

TOFU → MOFU → BOFU

tofomofubofu

For example, if you have an impulsive buyer persona at the awareness stage of their Buyer’s Journey, your content will need to be very different than if your buyer persona is a manager for a large company who is weighing the pros and cons between your product and your competitor’s.

Here’s a cheat-sheet of what content to use when:

TOFU

Infographics – Infographics should be three things: fun, informative, and simple. Infographics get much more attention on social media channels than text-heavy material, gaining hundreds (or thousands) of “Likes” “Retweets” and shares among people who may, or may not be, aware they want your product.
Blog Posts – Blog posts often work best for Awareness-stage content and Customer Success (which is way down at the Bottom of the Funnel). Be sure to include CTAs in your blog posts that link to other helpful content to help nudge Awareness-stage prospects deeper into your sales funnel.

Articles – Articles take on subjects in greater depth, providing even more value than a regular blog post. While still at the Top-of-Funnel (Awareness & Consideration stages) articles also serve the purpose of establishing you as an authority in your industry.

Videos, Presentations, and Podcasts – These formats can increase your reach with wider audiences and establish your authority. These formats are generally best used for Awareness. Customer Success, and Brand Awareness.

MOFU

Guides and eBooks – Position these within the context of a larger marketing strategy that uses blog posts and social media to support and promote each piece for best results.
Industry Reports – Publish industry reports when your marketing strategy includes establishing yourself or your brand as the leading expert on your industry.

Webinars – If your customers tend to be interested in self-improvement, webinars can quickly establish a fan following that works as well at the top of the funnel as it does at the bottom of the funnel (with Customer Success).

Expert Interviews – Find an influencer that your target market follows and invite them to do an interview on your blog, or an “Ask Me Anything” session on Twitter. This allows you to gain notice from their fans – who will soon become your fans too. This works at all stages of the Buyer’s Journey.

Whitepapers, Analyst Reports, Case Studies, Use Cases – These are all great Consideration stage materials and are aimed at prospects trying to decide between your solution and your competitor’s. Make this content easy to access with a low gate that simply asks for name and email so sales can reach out at this critical time. Also consider creating email campaigns around these downloads that offer more useful tips and include CTAs for product demos.

BOFU

Customer Testimonials and Endorsements – Before making a purchase, your prospect will likely want social proof that other people like your product. Place these around your website where prospects will easily find them.

Product Demos and Videos – When your prospect signs up for a demo or video, you know you have genuine interest – but you haven’t made the sale just yet. Pay attention to your buyer personas when creating BOFU-stage content to ensure you are showing them how to solve their specific problems in the way that most appeals to them, whether that be through images, text, bullet points, or a personal phone call. Ask yourself how your prospects like having information delivered.

Mining for the Right Topics

Once you know what type of content you’d like to create, you have to think of a topic that appeals to your audience. Above all: Be relevant. Be useful. Provide value. It’s the only way to truly rise above the noise and get noticed.

Fortunately, your buyers can help you come up with their ideal topics. In fact, they probably already have. Do you keep a list of Frequently Asked Questions? Have you spoken with your sales team about the most common questions and concerns they hear? How about your customer service team? These are goldmines of content that you know is useful and relevant to your customers.

These resources can get your content marketing off to a strong start, but also consider these questions:

• What does your ideal customer want? Don’t limit your answer to what they want from you – what do they want out of life?

• What problems does your ideal customer face every day?

• What trends does your ideal customer follow? What do they think is cool? What shows do they watch? Who are their favorite celebrities?

• Who influences your ideal customer?

Use the answers as springboards to coming up with creative content for every stage of the buy cycle – and don’t forget to have fun! If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.

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