Have you ever been in a situation where you knew what you wanted to buy but didn’t because the product didn’t list enough information for you to make the buying decision? Or in a situation where you were comparing two of the best products but still couldn’t decide and the auto-generated emails didn’t help either? This is called the buyer dilemma and while this may not be a marketing slang, you know it as a marketer because as a buyer, you’ve been in it yourself.
This might come as a surprise but according to HubSpot, 65% of marketers are still challenged when it comes to understanding which types of content are effective and which types aren’t. And that’s a pretty huge number! So, where’s the disconnect despite having the top content creators, copywriters, and thinkers in your inbound marketing team? Could it be that you are not clear on your personas’ buying cycle?
Ask yourself some of these questions: Do you truly understand your buyer personas? Do you know how they think, what they want, and where they look for solutions? When you don’t have the right understanding of the buyer’s journey, you’ll struggle to offer your prospects what they initially came looking for. I’ll begin by defining what a buyer’s journey is and then go onto suggesting different forms of content you can use for each stage. Sounds great to me too!
Buyer’s journey is nothing but a series of touchpoints a prospect experiences with your brand before she decides to pay for your product or service. This entire journey gives you insights into where they first noticed you, how much they explored your website, which pages made them stay longer, and what really enticed to click on that call-to-action. Let’s understand the different stages in detail:
Awareness Stage: This is the stage where a prospect is just getting aware that you offer solutions they are probably looking for. She will explore blogs, articles, reviews, opinions, data, etc to make sure she understands your brand. And browse for any information that attracts her further and pushes towards the evaluation stage.
Evaluation Stage: This is where she is trying to evaluate whether you are a good fit for the problems she is trying to explore solutions for or not. She will go deeper into the resources you have to offer to gain further understanding of your capabilities.
Purchase Stage: If she has reached this stage, then it means she likes you! Now all she needs to know is how to become your valued customer. And a bunch of things will aid her in making this buying decision, starting with intent, compelling call to action button, easy navigation, informative "contact us" or "take a demo" page, and so on.
Now, you might have understood how all stages work and how crucial it is to give this prospect what she needs for her to be able to travel down the funnel and not opt-out. Yes, it is challenging, at the same time, also a great opportunity if you know exactly what kind of content to offer her. In a nutshell, it looks a lot like this:
As you must have come across various statistics when it comes to how buyers shop online, the facts stand true - 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase, according to Adweek! It’s highly likely that what you have to offer, your prospects are already searching for this information online. So, if you need to appear in their search results, you know you have to offer the right answers. Talking about answering their queries, educational blog posts that specifically target the problem statement are a great way to start. Other than these, e-books, infographic, and whitepapers also serve the same purpose.
Now the question comes - how do you present the information they are seeking? Should that be written or should you make videos? That completely depends upon your marketing strategy. If as a brand, you are more into videos, then go ahead and offer educational video content but if you are not, and don’t intend to take a risk, then go ahead and produce some exciting and original “written” content.
Let's see some examples:
Inside Design offers great design resources for their prospects to understand the different kinds of problems they are trying to solve. Their design resource section is full of tool kits that give an in-depth overview of how to use these along with a free download option.
Another great example is ZoomInfo’s infographic that talks about how recruiters can track down passive candidates. It starts in the form of a detective looking to find culprits and ends with an effective free trial to quickly lead the prospect towards the bottom of the funnel without wasting any time. Are you taking notes?
So, you have attracted the prospects, now it’s the time to nurture them down the funnel further. Unarguably, this is the most important stage as this is where they decide to move to the purchase stage or simply opt-out. According to HubSpot, companies with refined middle-of-the-funnel engagement and lead management strategy see a 4–10 times higher response rate compared to generic email blasts and outreach. And that nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% lift in sales opportunities.
The numbers are great, which account for an even greater strategy towards the middle of the funnel engagement. This is also where you show yourselves as experts in the field to rope the prospects into what you are offering. Introduce webinars, in-depth whitepapers, social media live, case studies, etc, clearly stating what you are offering is actually better than your competitors.
Let's explore some examples:
Ecoconsultancy’s webinar series is just the perfect example of engaging the middle of the funnel buyer. On the same landing page, not only do they ask the visitor to sign up for the webinar but also talk about their subscription plans whichever may suit the prospect’s needs. Now, if this isn’t killing two birds with one stone, then I don’t know what is!
Seth Godin’s Akimbo - this unique podcast is another great example of how to do evaluation stage content right. Their podcasts have the option of recording your question about the most recent podcast which they answer on air!
Free demos, trials, discount offers, enticing calls-to-action, etc are all over the internet. Sometimes, they hit the nail, while most times they are just a trick because your prospect might not even be ready to buy. Then what? But here’s the thing, if you have been leading the prospect correctly all the way up to this stage, then you already know that they are interested. And with that information comes responsibility - knowing where their buttons are and when to press them.
Unarguably, one of the most challenging and also easiest stages to convert a lead into customers, this is where you offer free trials, free product demos, coupons, free consultation, little more than a sneak peek into who you are, and showcasing how you helped former prospects through compelling case studies or even reviews which clearly boast about the efficiency of your products and services in solving similar problems.
Let's look at some examples:
Salesforce uniquely displayed their Adidas case study in a format that’s easy to understand, relatable, and insightful. After telling the story, in the end, they also displayed the products that helped Adidas grow, thereby, offering a clear value addition other than the case study itself. Typically, case studies are good when offered in the evaluation stage but sometimes they offer the opportunity to directly lead the prospect towards a buying decision, just like in Salesforce's case, where they fit just right.
Another example is the free demo that they offer on this landing page:
It’s not only easy to navigate but also quite user-centric in terms of information the prospects moving towards the bottom of the funnel might be looking for. On the top right-hand corner, there’s also an option of free trial for those who want to experience first hand what they are buying before they have actually made a purchase.
Once you’ve understood what kind of content to create for which stage, everything else will be a cakewalk. While different content efforts may differ from business to business, the foundation is the same - understanding who you are targeting and creating a documented content strategy that you can track, edit, and update as per the progress you are seeing and seeking. Each stage of the funnel is different from the other but all of those coming to your website looking for answers carry the same intent - of finding solutions. So, take full advantage of that and see conversions flowing through the funnel! Ready?