Once upon a time, businesses dwelled in the realm of company-centric marketing. In this fantastical and not-so-distant land, all advertising—from the tiniest ad in a magazine to a giant billboard on the side of a busy highway—revolved around the company, product features and everything but the customer.
But then, one day a valiant, chivalrous and dragon-slaying (I read way too many fantasy novels) knight, named Inbound Marketing, galloped in on his noble steed and saved the day. He heralded a new era of customer-centricity—an era where companies improve engagement and grow revenue faster with valuable content that speaks to their customers’ interests.
Ok, I might have embellished the story a little. But, there is one grain of truth to be found in the above tale: inbound marketing is customer-focused.At its core, inbound marketing is about keeping your customers happy and informed. Instead of fighting for your prospects’ attention with loud commercials and flashy ads, you earn their attention—and eventually their trust—with quality content. You create content that helps customers address the issues they face throughout the buying process.
If you’re ready to attract more website traffic, leads and customers, we’re sharing tips for aligning content to every stage of the buyer’s journey.
The Beginning of Their Quest
Let’s start at the very beginning of your customer’s journey: the awareness stage. The awareness stage is at the very top of the sales funnel. People realize they have a problem, and they’re deciding if they should address it.
Prospects in the awareness stage are searching online or interacting on social media accounts. By reading up on their topics of interest, doing their research and downloading awareness content offers, they decide whether or not this goal or challenge is a priority.
The bad news? Most of your website visitors are at this stage and aren’t ready to make a purchase. The good news? This is a great opportunity to capture the interest of prospects by offering the answers they’re looking for. If visitors find engaging, compelling content on your website, they’re more likely to return to your site, subscribe to your newsletter or blog, and eventually make a purchase.
Deepen their understanding of the problem they face with these types of content:
Write content that makes their lives easier and keeps them coming back for more. Recognize the issue they’re facing and drive the urgency of finding a solution.
At this stage, there’s almost no potential for conversions. But those who enjoy reading your content and find it useful may move onto the next stage of the funnel.
Seeking the Holy Grail
In every story, the main character has a purpose. Frodo sets out for Mount Doom to destroy the ring and save Middle Earth. Harry Potter searches for Horcruxes to defeat the dark wizard, Voldemort. Wile E. Coyote repeatedly tries to catch the Road Runner, but gets crushed by a boulder. You get the idea.
It’s the same with the consideration stage (except the only nasty villains are slow internet and impossible-to-navigate websites). In this stage, people have committed to solving an issue, and are on a quest for the best solution. These individuals are visiting product pages, reading benefits and features pages, and viewing a company’s “About Us.” They’re searching far and wide for not just any solution, but a solution that best meets their needs.
This is the stage where you want to show why your products or services are the best option. Focus more on the benefits rather than the features of your solutions and how they address the pain points your customers are experiencing. During this stage, people are typically looking for these types of content:
This content gives your company and products a chance to shine, but always remember it’s about the target customer. When creating any content, whether it’s a video or webinar, think about your audience and what they care about.
A Fateful Conclusion
After a long and arduous journey of researching, reading content and fighting battles of epic proportions (sorry, I got a little carried away there), your customers finally reach the last stage: the decision stage.
As the name suggests, people in the decision stage are deciding what solution to go with. Think of these individuals as low-hanging fruit. They’ve done most of their research and will most likely buy soon.
People in the decision stage aren’t looking for general educational content. They want pricing pages, case studies and “Contact Us” pages. They want to know what it takes to become a customer. Give them the final nudge they need with these incentives:
In-depth case studies
Product comparison content
These people are ready to buy, but that doesn’t mean they’ll buy from you. Send an enticing offer that keeps them from veering off course and going to the competition.
By creating content that caters to every stage of the buyer’s journey, you generate and nurture more leads and move them further into the sales funnel. Your customers know they found the best solution, and you grow your business. It’s a happy ending for everyone!
In life I crave relationships and honest connections with people – I use this unwavering need for human interaction to make Stratus Interactive a strong, growing and culture-focused agency. When I see an opportunity to educate, guide or solve, my strategic wheels start turning- challenge accepted.
New business development and account strategy are my two areas of focus and I’ll go to my grave undecided on which I love more! The feeling of helping a prospect understand how we can solve their pain and problems and make them successful is beyond-fulfilling, but then again, the feeling of collaborating on a strategic plan and seeing it produce measurable results is a thrill all its own. I’m so grateful to work for an agency like Stratus that allows my individual and professional strengths to thrive instead of having to choose between these two great loves!
Besides my Stratus life, I have one husband, one dog, one toddler and one bun in the oven (due 2016!). I’m a wine enthusiast (as in I love drinking wine), not-so-mildly-obsessive photo-taker and photo-album maker, and I get abnormally excited about grey, cloudy days.
I hope I have a chance to build a relationship with you sometime soon – feel free to call, social or email me anytime! See all Lisa McDermott's posts.