No one wakes up in the morning and decides, “I’m going to buy something today.” Instead, they go through a path to purchase that includes research and evaluation before committing to a sales call.
That journey is called the buyer’s journey. Because consumers are more informed and more empowered than ever before, it’s important to deeply understand your buyer persona and the journey they make so you can create content that helps them along that path while positioning you as an authority in your space.
Use this guide as a resource each time you create a piece of content to ensure you’re making the best decision to suit the wants and needs of your ideal buyer.
We’ll start with an overview of the different stages of the buyer’s journey explore each step in-depth.
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What Are the Stages of The Buyer’s Journey?
There are three main stages of the buyer’s journey, plus an additional step for your customers:
Awareness – Your prospective buyer has realized they have a problem and need a solution. At this point, questions and concerns are high-level.
Consideration – Your potential customer has defined their issue and begins researching and understanding the available solutions. The consideration stage can be lengthy as your buyer weeds through experiences, viewpoints, and more.
Decision – Once your prospective buyer has decided on a solution, they narrow down options related to companies, prices, features, fit, and more.
Delight – If everything goes well and your lead becomes a customer, this stage should be used to keep them satisfied. After all, they can become a valuable marketing resource. There’s also the opportunity to upsell or cross-sell.
Why Do You Need Content for Every Stage of the Buyer’s Journey?
You can see from the table above that buyer’s journeys can be very short or extremely long. But you can capture consumer interest (and the chance at a conversion) at any stage of the journey. Unfortunately, so can your competition.
That means you can’t aim content at a single stage. If you concentrate solely on the awareness stage, for example, you might educate a lot of consumers about why a certain solution is important. But if competitors are doing a good job at creating content for the consideration stage and you’re not addressing it, all you’re doing is priming consumers to fall into the funnel for other companies.
To capture consumer attention and keep them coming back all the way to the decision stage, you must create content that’s relevant throughout the journey.
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What Type of Content Should Be Used in Each Stage?
By giving users exactly what they need according to their particular stage, you can support them toward making a purchasing decision – ideally, from you. Here is a look at what material to create for each step so you can move your leads in the right direction:
Awareness or Top-Of-The-Funnel (TOFU) Content
Since your buyer is just entering the market, the content for this stage needs to be a light read that whets the buyer’s appetite. And since buyers at this stage are not yet highly qualified leads, your job is to relay information in an easy, concise, and relatable manner.
The terms “awareness-level” and “TOFU” are interchangeable as they both refer to collateral that reflects the initial stage of the buyer’s journey, where leads are eager to learn but not entirely ready to buy. Try supplying your contacts with material that’s educational without being pushy, such as:
- Informative blogs
- Tip sheets
- Instructive webinars
- High-level whitepapers
- Social media posts
Consideration or Middle-Of-The-Funnel (MOFU) Content
The Consideration stage is a crucial time for both you and the buyer. Not only is the buyer trying to figure out whether your product or service is right for them, you also need to find out whether they fall into your true target audience, whose authentic interests really match your offering.
In essence, your buyer at this stage needs to be convinced that you want more than just their money, and the only way you can do so is by producing content that shows how you stand out from the pack.
After you’ve captured someone’s attention, they’ve moved into the middle stages of the buyer’s journey and want to know more about how they can rectify their concern. Here you can create consideration or MOFU-level content that shows how your product or solution comes into play. Nurture them with items like:
- More in-depth blogs
- Case studies
- Product-specific webinars
- Lunch and learns
- Demo videos
Decision or Bottom-Of-The-Funnel (BOFU) Content
When your lead reaches this stage, they’re ready to buy, but you need to make the case that they should purchase from you and not a competitor. Decision or BOFU content must be specific, like:
- Free trials
- Live demos
- Personalized consultations
- Pricing sheets
- Product fact sheets
- Vendor comparison charts
After the celebration of landing a new customer is over, don’t forget about them. The delight stage is integral to helping maximize customer value, turning them into promoters, or making them repeat buyers. Provide them with customer-tailored content like:
- Exclusive invites to events
- Product focused blogs
How Many Pieces of Content Do I Need to Make?
In the world of entrepreneurs and startups, you’ll often hear people mention an acronym when talking about creating something new: “MVP”. It does not mean “most valuable player,” like in the sports world, but it is equally desired and obsessed over.
It’s a “Minimum Viable Product,” which means a product in its simplest and most bare-bones form, yet still complete enough to put on the market and start selling. It’s usually just got one simple feature that solves a clear problem, but is rough on design and sparse on any other features.
The minimum viable product is so valuable because it allows you to enter the market and start learning from your customers. Then you can guide the rest of your product development through customer feedback and real-world information, instead of guesswork and research.
It saves you from risking thousands of dollars and many hours spent developing a product that people don’t end up wanting.
Tips for Nudging People Through the Funnel
It’s not enough simply to reach a consumer during the buying journey, though. Your content must connect with them and shepherd them through the rest of the journey so they’re more likely to buy your product. Here are 3 tips for doing so.
1. Don’t leave the consumer in doubt.
Saj Devshi, a digital lead for EasyMerchant.co.uk, says it’s important to ensure landing pages don’t leave prospects in doubt about whether your product is right for them.
“What we try to do is remove as many barriers or obstacles as possible by creating a FAQ for each of our products with the most commonly searched queries related to that product,” says Devshi. “This gives them more confidence in what they are buying and that it is right for them and also reduces our costs, particularly in terms of having to deal with returns and refunds.”
2. Provide step-by-step instruction without boring the audience.
Your content should guide the reader, not leave them hanging and wondering what to do. Rhea Henry, a content strategist with EnergyRates.ca, says content should inform readers about how to accomplish the next step.
“It helps to go into as much detail as you can to help them do each step without becoming dull and dry,” says Henry. She says to tell consumers, “where they can go, what do they do, how do they do it, [because] each time they have to click out of your article to find the solution is a chance you lost the opportunity to convert.”
3. Make use of retargeting technology.
But do assume that some consumers will click away or not complete the buying journey on their first session on your site. Invest in retargeting ads to bring them back to your product.
Morgan Taylor is the CMO for LetMeBank and highly recommends tapping into Google Site Analytics. “This will allow you to assess how long a person spends on each page, where they exit your site and [other information],” says Taylor. “Then you can retarget with ads that address only the topics they care about. Or, call them out for exiting a particular page.”
There are a great many variations to the types of content you can use for each of the buyer’s journey stages. This is our list of favorites, as they are tried-and-true content types that have proven effective for countless brands around the world.
While we’ve listed video as awareness-stage content, you have the ability to take what you’ve learned here about the buyer’s journey stages and create video content for the consideration and decision stages as well. In fact, you can mix and match several of the content types listed here in each of the stages.
It’s up to you to determine the best types of content for your brand and your ideal buyer. Remember, it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. You need to be focusing on creating content for your ideal customers. If they aren’t the ones consuming it, your content won’t ever gain enough traction to deliver successful outcomes.
Work to determine what content types work best for your buyers. Test new tactics along the way, but be sure to start by creating a content marketing strategy. The rest of your content marketing will revolve around this vital step.
Now that you understand what types of content work best in each of the buyer’s journey stages, it’s time to start creating some content!