It's a scary thing to hear, but if you're not writing your content marketing with an audience-driven strategy, it's unlikely to do anything for your business. Users might come to your site, but the content doesn't captivate them. We don't want to see you waste your time and budget. Today's tip will walk you through the five buying cycle stages and how your content can speak to readers at each.
First, what is the content marketer's buying cycle:?
Let's start with a tangiable example (*warning, might trigger hunger). Imagine yourself really craving a malt—easy to do on this hot, humid day in Minnesota. You walk down the block, looking left and right to satisfy your need, but the salespeople outside the stores are saying "get your milk over here" and "this is how you make a malt." But there's no actual malt. It's close—making you want the malt even more, but they aren't offering what you need.
After much effort, you give up and go home. That's what an untargeted content marketing strategy looks like. Your blog content provides some of what the audience is seeking but isn't speaking to each person at their various stages.
With a content marketing strategy that's crafted around the buying cycle, you have content that supports...
The reader who is just starting to identify that they have a need.
Ex. In the example above, they might not even realize they want a malt. They're thirsty but are still open to several options.
The reader who is actively searching around to satisfy their need.
Ex. The person now starts to go from store to store to see if their need can be satisfied by those offerings.
The reader starts identifying with one offering over another. This is where they really start to process their desire through logic and emotion. Branding plays a huge role here.
Ex. The customer might choose one malt shop over another because they have a positive memory of going there in the past.
The reader has made a decision and is ready to buy or commit to your offering. For content marketers, this type of transaction could also be a simple conversion—like a newsletter subscription or ebook download.
Ex. Obviously, this is when they buy their malt.
This is where you can really make gains. The reader starts coming back to your site for more content. At its finest, the repurchase stage enables you to save time and money by skipping steps 1-4 next time around.
Ex. For the malt shopper, this might be someone who decides they deserve a malt from your shop every Friday. If your malt really is the best, they might even bring their friends with them, too.
Now, how can you create blog content for each stage of the buying cycle?
We walk through creating and managing your content marketing strategy in, "How we quadrupled our agency's blog traffic in two years." The post will help you ensure you stay on top of the buying cycle and are consistently writing for each audience persona. Below you can read more specific examples for each stage.
Answer broad questions. Think about topics and questions that would spark curiosity for your audience. To find such topics, study your audience thoroughly, track what current customers ask about and get a list of questions going with your team. You can seek to answer one or two each week.
Write for SEO. These posts should be written around search-friendly topics as you want users who are asking questions about an offer, product or service. Use tools like SEMRush and Google Keyword Planner to find the most optimal keyword phrases.
Go deep. If these searchers are really trying to get answers, they want research and experts to back you up. Use your team's expertise and if you don't have the knowledge internally, interview someone who does. If you demonstrate you know more than other companies, the reader might trust your offer more. You don't have to push the sale yet—offer a more unbiased assessment of the topic so that the reader knows they're getting the truth.
Draw comparisons. This is where comparative content comes in handy as you can start to demonstrate what makes your company's offerings better than others. A good way to illustrate this is through visual content like infographics as this format is easier to digest.
Highlight your fan club. Your current happy clients are your best proof that what you're saying is true. They will likely have personal stories that will speak to the concerns and emotions of your readers. Collect testimonials as often as possible—you can include a form on your purchase page, send a follow-up email and ask your coworkers to politely as for one when they have a client on the phone.
Make it easy. The worst thing you can do at this stage is make it difficult for the user to go through with their purchase. Make sure all your content includes CTAs, which link to clean landing pages with simple instructions. The forms on these pages should be thoroughly a/b tested so you know how many fields for which you can get away with asking.
Offer tutorials. If you have a complicated product or service, create content—video, step-by-step guides, podcasts—on how to set it up or use it to its fullest. This will mitigate the risk that your client will disappear post-purchase and help them see that you care.
Keep in touch. This is when you really want to invest in your relationship. People like to feel cared about and you can show that you actually do care. You have the potential for creating brand loyalty and a positive association with your company. You'll want to be creative and attentive here—not just bombarding their inbox with offers, but instead reaching out on an individual basis and paying attention to what content and offers your customer would actually want.
Reward them. If you want your customer to really feel special, offer them insider discounts and information. This doesn't always have to be free products or sales, but you can let them know things about your company before the general public or release an ebook just for them.
There you have it: the secret weapon to speaking directly to each of the readers on your blog. It may seem like a lot to cover, but content marketing is still one of the best ways to get and retain customers. You might as well do it right and make your audience happy!