What is the difference between a good content marketing strategy and a great content marketing strategy? What is it that makes that crucial difference between content that gets attention and content that actually helps boost sales to another level?
One word: context.
Buyers have different needs at different points in their journey as they go from realizing they need something to making the decision to actually buy it. Keeping these needs in mind and tailoring content to fit into the context of what buyers need at various stages along their journey can boost the effectiveness of content marketing tremendously.
The visitor is someone who’s just found your site, or at least some piece of content you’ve produced and put out on another site. The visitor is browsing through web pages looking for ways to educate himself. The visitor has realized there is something he will need to buy, but he’s not exactly sure what he’s going to do about that yet.
Content presented to the visitor needs to be put together with the context of education in mind. At this point the potential buyer is looking for information that will help him to make an informed decision about his needs in the future.
The content the visitor finds the most useful will make the company appear friendly, authoritative and willing to help. He wants to see information from an expert about the upcoming decision he’ll have to make. He doesn’t want sales pitches, he wants an education from a trustworthy source.
Having gathered some information, and now feeling more confident about making his upcoming decision, the visitor transforms into the lead. The lead is now aware of what he wants to buy, but he’s still not sure exactly who he wants to buy it from.
Content presented to the lead needs to consider the context of building trust and credibility. Some educational materials that were helpful with the visitor will still have some pull here, but the overall focus shifts from discussing problems and solutions to establishing why your company offers the best solution.
The lead is still looking for education, but what he wants to be educated about has changed slightly. Things like product, service or price comparisons and case studies can show off advantages that your company offers and build credibility. Strong sales pitches at this point can backfire and send the lead off in another direction. The lead wants to make his own decision, he doesn’t want to feel like he’s being pushed into one.
Now reaching the end of his journey, the lead morphs into the buyer. The buyer wants confirmation from his trusted source about his decision.
Content presented to the buyer should consider the context of closing the sale. Materials at this stage should confirm the buyer’s good decision and make the final process of making the purchase as easy as possible. Information that gives the buyer strong reasons why your product or service is the best choice will work well. Direct routes to making the purchase or reaching a salesperson should be clearly visible and emphasized.
Putting It All Together
In general, you’ll want to create as much content as you can come up with for “The Visitor”, in order to cast as wide a net as possible. This content should nudge the willing into a slightly smaller and more specific pool of information designed for “The Lead”. Their content will in turn drive potential customers into the smaller and more finely tuned pool of pages set up for “The Buyer”.
Depending on your particular product or service, you might be able to divide things up into more stages. Don’t be afraid to step into your customer’s shoes and take the journey yourself. Nothing will help you understand better what your potential customers need than looking at things through their eyes.