The content you create guides the buyer’s journey that your prospects and customers take. That’s why it’s important to tailor content to the stage of the buyer’s journey prospects and customers will be at when they come across a particular piece of content. Marketers have historically chosen content formats based upon the information needs of their audience at a particular stage of the buyer’s journey, and through that, patterns have emerged that pair specific formats with specific stages.
However, as B2B marketing becomes more conversational and personalized, try mixing up the formats that you use at each stage to really engage with prospects and customers in a memorable and meaningful way.
Read on to rejuvenate your buyer’s journey with out-of-the-box ideas, and in turn, keep the wheels of your B2B marketing strategy moving with content that will prompt prospects to act.
Why You Need New Ideas
As marketers, you’re constantly putting out content, but the format you use is just as important as the tone and topic. For example, ebooks are constantly being created, but there are only so many people out there who are ready and willing to read one ebook after another.
That means it’s time to find a way to vary what we produce without sacrificing the quality of the information we’re sharing.
Each stage of the traditional buyer’s journey—from awareness through decision—presents different goals and objectives that need to be met by the content in order to keep leads moving to the next stage.
Read on to get new ideas that will inject variety into your content, making sure the great information you’re publishing reaches the right eyes and ears.
Awareness Stage Content
In the awareness stage of B2B content marketing, the goal is to help the persona we’re communicating with recognize their need for your product or service by providing neutral, non-promotional content about challenges, pain points or an overarching lack of something that your target market needs (and that your products or services can solve).
You can discuss the benefits, outcomes and results that products or services like yours provide without being overtly promotional of your company as a brand. Another goal of awareness content is to share best practices and industry trends so that your audience is educated on what they’re looking for and what to expect in this journey, while also subliminally letting your leads know that you’re the subject-matter expert. Traditional awareness stage content formats are:
Your awareness stage content is your first and only chance to increase or pique a prospect’s interest in the industry, product or service type that could eventually lead them to your company. This is the time when content format matters most because a prospect has not yet invested enough time and money to prompt them to value the contents of your marketing materials over their presentation format.
While an ebook, for example, is a tried-and-true awareness stage content format, there are likely a handful of people who need something more succinct to grab their interest. To reach these people, use concise content formats that present fast facts to demonstrate that their search for a new solution will be as interesting as it is educational and rewarding.
Being brief, helpful and human in what you provide at this phase casts your company in a positive light.
You’ll also find that many of these more shorter formats are what would traditionally be used for consideration materials, just with changes to their contents, like:
- Infographics: Infographics about industry trends or general information about your product or service type can entertain and interest prospects without overwhelming them.
- Checklists: Checklists are beneficial because they play an informative role while also giving your prospects a chance to interact with the content and self-identify their need for your offer.
- Tip Sheets: Awareness stage tip sheets should focus on industry trends or best practices that can help your prospect feel like they’re getting a useful summary.
- Quizzes and Questionnaires: These content types can help prospects determine what they are looking for, while you use the answers to qualify leads and eventually follow-up with them.
Consideration Stage Content
Consideration content is all about helping people compare options, differentiate between providers and reduce any risk associated with their final decision. At this stage, content should provide:
- Detailed platform, process and service comparisons
- Quantifiable data and scorecards about a product or service
- Customer testimonials that give a third-party review
Quizzes and questionnaires can be used at this stage as well and be made more product- or service-specific than in the awareness stage. Since customer testimonials can be a powerful tool at the consideration stage, try using video testimonials, which can be more engaging, interesting and impactful than a written quote.
Another use for video is demonstrating where your products and services outshine your competitors’. Comparison, testimonial and explainer videos take the information necessary to this stage and present it in a dynamic way.
The consideration stage is also a good time to introduce tools for prospects and customers to use while on your website.
For example, an ROI calculator is an interactive tool that visitors to your website can use to calculate how their business will benefit monetarily from using your company’s products or services. This type of consideration content boosts engagement, favorability and confidence in the idea of working with your company by offering a personalized and useful piece of information.
Decision Stage Content
The decision stage of the buyer’s journey is about locking in and reinforcing the prospect or customer’s final decision. This is the stage where you need to demonstrate and consult with leads on how your product or service works, what they can expect as your customer, and what savings and guarantees you can provide. Traditionally, communications with prospects and customers at this stage take the form of:
- Product demonstrations
- In-person meetings
- Closing phone calls
- Proposals or statements of work
One way that modern companies make the decision stage more engaging is through freemium subscription models, which is a common sales tactic in B2C as well.
As a consumer, you’re likely familiar with this sales tactic from popular services like the music-streaming service, Spotify, where customers can try one version of the service for free and then upgrade to a paid version that includes additional features. This model serves as a convenient on-ramp to a purchase and works well for B2B technology, SaaS or business services that provide an online dashboard, portal or self-service software.
Reenergizing Your Content Marketing
Finding a new way to be engaging at each phase of the buyer’s journey is important step to keeping a steady stream of prospects through your funnel—especially as traditional content saturates the web and inundates prospects. Content marketing is a complex mix of entertaining, informing and persuading that demands the use of many formats. Once you optimize how you combine different formats, you’ll reach your prospects in a truly unique way that bolsters your relationships and boosts your brand.