Today, Content Marketing seems to permeate most of our online experience. No matter which sites, blogs, white papers, e-books, videos, CTAs, pricing pages or social media posts we happen to encounter, we're sure to come in touch with some aspect of Content Marketing.
Almost 90% of B2B marketers used content marketing in 2016 and the trend is even higher for 2017. And the ones performing at the top (Content marketing leaders) have been estimated to experience 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders!
That brings us to the question, 'Is every content we put out a ‘form’ of content marketing?' How can we be more effective and impactful with our content marketing efforts?
CMI defines Content Marketing as; A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience, and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
The key here is to differentiate between ‘content publishing’ from ‘content marketing’. Random, unfocused ‘spray and pray’ technique does not drive ‘profitable customer action’.
Despite the surge in Content Marketing, there still seems to be the lack of understanding in creating the right content, for the right people at the right time. 65% of marketers are still challenged when it comes to creating content that's effective.
Clearly, the ‘disconnect’ here is, you’re putting out content that doesn’t resonate with your users. You're bound to lose them with this approach.
An effective strategy would be to thoroughly understand ‘who’ your audience is, what are their needs, challenges and pains? What are their thoughts, behaviour patterns? And how do they prefer to seek solutions to their problems?
What is a Buyer’s Journey?
Buyer’s Journey is a process the users/consumers go through to become aware of, evaluate and decide which product/service to purchase. The Stages (Awareness, Consideration and Decision) of the Buyer’s Journey coincides with three (3) stages of the Sales Funnel – Top of the Funnel (TOFU), Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) and Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)
AWARENESS STAGE – Top of The Funnel (TOFU)
At this stage, the audiences are looking for answers, opinions, resources and are primarily geared to educate themselves on the topic at hand and gain a broader perspective, but clearly not jumping into purchasing any product.
Their search is to gain access to quality educational content and expert guidance through blog posts, social content, eBooks, infographics etc., to help them solve a problem or meet a need. Resources that help them gain more clarity on the topic, product or service.
The content could also be educational webinars, How to Videos, tip sheets or checklists, courses and certifications, anything they can lay their hands on (for free – at this stage) but it has to be able to capture the users attention by being informative yet entertaining!
An example below from MindBody, illustrates how the company whose target audience is small business owners from the health, spa and beauty industry, successfully attracts and engages users to its site.
The site with its innovative ‘user generated content’ in the ‘inspiration’ section of the blog attracts and engages the consumers in its niche by tapping into the power of ‘emotional storytelling’.
Another exceptional example is that of HubSpot. It’s marketing and sales platform provides educational and instructional blogs on marketing and sales best practices, attracting huge numbers of leads by positioning itself as one of the leaders in the Content Marketing and Inbound practices
CONSIDERATION STAGE – Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)
At this stage the users are evaluating whether or not your product/service is the right fit for them. Having your audience move to this stage means, you've successfully attracted them with your content, and now you should be focused on helping to guide them to come to a decision, whether your solution is a good fit for their needs or NOT.
The idea is to provide enough tools and content to base their decisions. It's also crucial that you do not attract the wrong people so that in the long run you don’t face problems with healthy customer retention.
At this stage, product webinars, case studies, product specific and comparative blogs, demo videos, live interactions, expert guides etc., can be aligned as the appropriate content.
The MOFU stage is also taken as the ‘lead nurturing’ phase, where you bond, build a relationship and trust with your ideal prospects. They look for the content that exudes the essence of ‘authority’ or ‘experts’ in you.
The example below from Zendesk offers an eBook with an in-depth educational content on 'How to build and manage a virtual team'. The content clearly moves deeper than a regular ‘awareness’ content of a TOFU. it's targeting specific management leaders and buyer personas whose skills consists of managing virtual teams.
Such in-depth guides immediately resonates with the leads looking for particular solutions, and also demonstrates your authority and command on the topic, thus nurturing a stronger relationship with the prospects, and helping them move further down in their ‘buyer’s journey’.
DECISION STAGE – Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)
This is the final stage of the Buyer’s Journey. This is where the leads are making the actual purchase decision.
You've nurtured them to move through the sales funnel to BOFU, but it's important to remember the prospects have only been prepped to make a purchase, which doesn’t mean they will actually buy.
Content such as compelling CTAs with special offers, instructional content, testimonials, reviews, trial offers, etc., can be used to gently nudge your leads into making that jump to buy your products/services.
This is your chance to make that final sales pitch. Here you can go ‘full steam’ on the benefits and value your product can provide to them and showcase experiences shared by others who have taken the purchase ‘plunge’.
The example below from Zapier, offers a ‘free forever’ pricing plan to bring their leads onboard. Though the ‘free forever’ comes with limited features, it does sufficiently lure the prospects into opting the offer.
What Zapier is doing here is basically still warming up or nurturing the leads, though they have made a purchase decision for zero dollars. The trick is to now resend the leads opting for the offer to the MOFU stage, where the relationship is further nurtured, more values with related content will be showered to them, until they steer the most qualified leads to subscribe to their premium plans.
To Sum It Up…
The Buyer’s Journey doesn’t quite end at the purchase stage or the Bottom of the Funnel. To build strong and loyal customers and a brand credibility/presence, high performing marketers go beyond the sales funnel to retain their customers, by constantly adding value and engaging with them via customer support, special offers, how to guides etc., and hopefully turn them into product evangelists for their brand.
Call Andy Fox (me) on (03) 5249 5570 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Website is element7digital.com.au