It can be difficult to determine the best type of content to create for each of the buyer’s journey stages.
Or at least, it was.
Now you have this guide to help you decide on the best types of content to create for the buyer’s journey stages and how to use each most effectively to nurture buyers toward a sale.
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.
What Is the Buyer’s Journey?
Just so we’re all on the same page, let’s run through a quick definition of what the buyer’s journey is and what the buyer’s journey stages look like.
Simply put, the buyer’s journey is the combination of steps a prospect or lead goes through before becoming a paying customer.
Technically, the buyer’s journey stages extend beyond the purchase and into post-purchase and repurchase, but we’ll be focusing on the stages leading up to a purchase.
Buyer’s Journey Stages
There are a few variations of what the buyer’s journey looks like, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll be breaking the buyer’s journey into three main stages:
For an in-depth view of the complete buyer’s journey and how it works, be sure to read our article – The Buyer’s Journey: What it is and why it matters.
Why Create Content for the Buyer’s Journey Stages?
There are many reasons to create content for the buyer’s journey stages. Let’s go over a few of the most important to help clarify why structuring your content this way is so powerful.
Prospect Nurturing Through Buyer’s Journey Stages
One, if not the most important, the benefit of creating content around the buyer’s journey stages is that it gives you the ability to nurture prospects toward a conversion rather than trying to sell them right off the bat.
Most prospects don’t come to your site ready to buy. Many are just gathering information as they have only recently developed a need or problem and they’re still looking for information on the best ways to meet that need or solve that problem.
With the right types of content, you’re able to give them the right types of information at the right times in order to help usher them gently toward a sale, rather than overwhelming them with pushy sales copy or ads.
Lead Qualification at Each of the Buyer’s Journey Stages
Another important benefit to creating content around the buyer’s journey stages is that it allows you to qualify your leads prior to handing them over to sales or before they reach out to contact your team.
You see, if they can determine on their own that what you offer isn’t a good fit for their need or problem, that’s actually a good thing. The only people you want to spend time selling to are the people that are most likely to actually buy from you. There’s no point in spending man-hours educating people when your content could be doing it for you!
Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s look at the types of content you’ll be creating for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Types of Content for the Awareness Stage
In the awareness stage, your prospect is just becoming aware of the fact that they have a problem or need. They know little about the possible ways to meet that need or solve that problem. They are in an information-gathering state and unready to make any decisions as to what they’ll purchase and from whom.
They are the least qualified type of lead, which means that the vast majority of sales teams will avoid contacting awareness-stage leads. Any resources invested in awareness-stage prospects should be focused on nurturing them toward the consideration stage and developing more trust with your brand so that they will be more likely to buy in the future.
Awareness-stage content should provide as much upfront value as possible, with as little commitment or sales pressure as possible.
We regularly create awareness-stage blog content to help fill our inbound sales funnel.
The most common form of awareness-stage content is the blog post. It’s an accessible, non-threatening media format that most people can access in a few seconds via a simple Google search.
Blog posts, however, can be useful in all three of the buyer’s journey stages that we’ll be covering in this article. The defining characteristics of an awareness-stage blog post are as follows:
- Purely informative copy to help answer questions and solve problems.
- Free of sales copy or unnecessary brand acknowledgments.
- Easy to understand, comprehensive enough to resolve initial issues.
- Educational enough to showcase your industry expertise and provide an insight into the value doing business with your brand could provide.
To find the topics for your awareness-stage blog posts, make a list of all of the questions your buyers might ask before purchasing your product. We’re not talking about questions about your product or service, but the questions they’ll be asking to help solve the problem that your product will help them solve.
If your weight-loss supplement company was creating awareness-stage blog posts, you wouldn’t want to start with posts about how your product can help them lose weight. Instead, you’d want to create pieces on ways to lose weight, gently mentioning that supplements can help to aid in the process, and avoiding direct promotion of yours too aggressively.
See how that works?
Videos – YouTube, Facebook, and more…
As marketers, we all know video is fast becoming the most popular way people consume content. That’s not to say that written content is being phased out, it certainly isn’t. Instead, people are simply consuming more content and much of that is in video format.
Video is an easy-to-consume format that can deliver tons of information in a fraction of the time it takes to read written blog content. YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine for good reason.
Like blog posts, videos are a great way to help solve people’s problems. How-to videos and Q&A videos are a great place to start.
Also like blog posts, to find the topics for your videos, you’ll want to think of the questions your buyers would be asking when they first start searching for solutions to the issues your product/service helps solve.
Using the weight-loss supplement company example from above, let’s look at the types of awareness-stage videos you’d create to introduce people to your brand. Videos are great because people use them as tutorials on how to perform certain tasks, like fixing a radiator or, in our case, exercises.
You could create an entire weight-loss-oriented video series that outlines different weight-loss workout routines for people to try and get them started on their journey to a happier, healthier lifestyle. Without promoting your brand directly in the video, you could link out via annotations or the description area to your consideration-stage content. Remember, you’ll be creating various types of content for all of the buyer’s journey stages.
Don’t Forget Facebook
You’ll find YouTube to be a more popular platform for posting informative video content, however, Facebook is also an excellent choice and a far less crowded one. While videos are prevalent on Facebook, they are nowhere near as plentiful as on YouTube.
Many smart marketers are creating fun and engaging videos about their products or their brands that are meant to look like a third party has put them together. They appear as if they are being documented from an outside perspective and showcase the new, innovative, and unique qualities of the product.
In reality, it’s a highly engaging, low-pressure marketing video that is likely to receive tons of likes and shares as people pass it on to their friends and followers.
Infographics are just what they sound like—highly informative, highly engaging graphics that relay the most important data on a topic in a fun and interesting way. Infographics are especially appealing in the awareness stage for several reasons.
Easy to Consume
The first is that they are easy to consume. People can pull the important information from an infographic in a matter of seconds rather than reading through a detailed article on a topic. It can pique their interest enough to get the wheels spinning and move them toward your more detailed consideration-stage and decision-stage content.
Easy to Share
Good infographics get lots of attention on social media. People find them far more appealing to share than copy heavy blog posts, making it a great way to expose your brand/product to hundreds or thousands of new eyes who never knew they wanted what you have to offer.
Now that we’ve had a chance to look at what types of content belong in the awareness stage, let’s look at what you’ll be creating for the consideration stage.
Types of Content for the Consideration Stage
By the time your prospective customers have reached the consideration stage, they have a more complete understanding of their problem/need. However, they have yet to identify solutions.
The consideration stage is about defining options. This is not the stage where they decide which option is best for them. Instead, they’re putting all their options out on the table so that they might make the best decision possible.
In this buyer’s journey stage, prospects are not yet ready to buy. They still need help deciding on how to best resolve their issue. They are more qualified than those in the awareness stage, but many sales teams choose not to invest resources into making contact with consideration-stage buyers.
That said, this determination will vary from company to company and will likely be based on the value of the product being sold. In the case of high-value, low-volume industries, it may be well worth investing the resources.
Ebooks / Downloadable Resources
Ebooks and other downloadable resources make for the perfect next step after reading an awareness-stage blog post. You can link to a landing page from within your blog post that mentions your resource and helps usher them toward a conversion one step at a time.
Downloadable resources can be:
- Tips Sheets
- Slideshares/Powerpoint Presentations
- And more…
These resources are great because you can provide tons of value and showcase your industry expertise, giving buyers a glimpse into the benefits of doing business with your brand.
When creating these resources, remember that your goal is to deliver as much value as possible. Don’t feel like you need to hold back. In fact, we often recommend creating a product so valuable that you might charge for it, then giving it away for free.
Well, not totally free. You always have the option of requiring buyers to exchange their contact information for your ebook, checklist, or guide. You can then use that contact info to keep in touch with prospective buyers, sending them more valuable content, and nurturing them toward a conversion.
Consideration-stage videos are all about explaining. Your goal should be to explain just how your product can help people solve their problems. You’ve given them a taste to get them interested, but people will need to see more before they’re ready to make a decision.
Comparison videos are a great way to answer people’s questions about how your product compares to your direct competitors. You may decide to create a video that puts your product up against a single competitor or one that pits yours against several industry leaders.
The important thing is to be authentic. You can create videos where your product outshines the others, but if you establish a feeling of dishonestly or it becomes salesy or gimmicky, you may put off potential buyers, as it begins to feel inauthentic. Remember, you’re not creating a commercial.
Blog Posts / Articles
As we mentioned before, you’ll be able to use blog posts to support each of the buyer’s journey stages. However, the topics you write about for each stage will be quite different.
As we know, in the consideration-stage buyers are interested in learning about their options for solving their problem. That means it’s up to you to create content around the various options and position your brand in a positive light that appeals to your ideal buyer.
For example, a gym writing content around weight loss could have captured people’s interest in the awareness stage with an article about the various ways to lose weight (exercise bring one of the most important).
Their consideration-stage blog posts may be on different exercise types and how they support weight loss. The post should be honest and authentic, highlighting the pros and cons of each.
However, it could mention the benefits of resistance training on extending the state of an increased metabolic rate that in turn burns more calories. It could also mention the benefits of growing muscle and increasing strength, not to mention the aesthetic benefits and overall well-being that weightlifting helps to accomplish.
Those interested in the benefits of other exercises likely wouldn’t be a good fit for a gym membership and may churn quickly anyway, so this type of article is quickly helping to qualify potential members.
You’ll also want to remember that the buyer’s journey stages are a general guideline. Some buyers may jump from an awareness-stage article to decision-stage content. Others may find themselves reading a consideration-stage blog post and downloading a consideration-stage guide before they’re ready to move to the decision stage.
Whatever path they choose to take is the right one. All you can do is help make their journey easier by having the content they need ready and available.
Webinars / Live Demonstrations
It’s important to position your content for the buyer’s journey stage in which it works best. While webinars and live demonstrations can also be used in the decision stage, it’s up to you to determine what makes the most sense for the product or service you sell.
If your awareness-stage content is enough to get people interested in what you have to offer, you may be well served to usher them into signing up for your webinar or live demonstration to show people how your product stacks up against industry-leading competitors.
Your use of this type of content should be determined by whether or not your awareness-stage prospects are able to engage with your brand enough by the time they reach the consideration stage to deem it worthy of their time.
One of the best ways to make that determination is by simply testing the waters. Add a CTA to sign people up for a live webinar to the bottom of your awareness-stage content and see if you can fill enough slots to make it worth your while.
If you’re having trouble getting people to take action, you may want to move your webinars and live demos to the decision stage, adding CTAs to your consideration-stage content and giving people more of an opportunity to get to know your brand and develop the trust necessary to make such a commitment.
Types of Content for the Decision Stage
As you may have already deciphered, when people enter the decision stage they are ready to buy. They have determined their options in the consideration stage and they are looking for information on why they should choose your brand.
This is where you finally get to tout the benefits of your product or service with gusto. The mistake that so many brands make is that they spend all of their time putting decision-stage ads and web pages in front of people that aren’t yet ready to see them.
This is where all of that content comes into play, but you’ll need more than your website to make the most of your decision-stage buyer’s interest in your brand.
At this point, any sales team should be eager to contact such a qualified lead. They are the most qualified buyers, as they are well informed about their issue and thoroughly understand their need and their options for meeting it.
Whitepapers, Reports, Use Cases, Case Studies
By the time buyers reach the decision stage they’ll be far more interested in knowing about how you’ve helped others solve their problems or meet their needs. That’s where things like case studies, use cases, reports, and white papers come in handy.
Of all of the buyer’s journey stages, this is the most important to be able to back up any claims you’ve made up to this point.
This kind of content should be full of the most important information about how you’ve helped others achieve positive results. It should be limited to the need-to-know information about the results they achieved and how exactly you helped them to do so.
Yes, the trusty blog post can also be used in the decision stage. Blog posts in this stage can be all about how great your company is. We recently created a decision-stage blog post called, “12 Reasons Uhuru Can Repeatedly Deliver Customer Success.”
It’s all about how we are so good at what we do and the different ways we excel at delivering results for our clients.
We couldn’t have hoped to sign new clients if this was the first thing we showed them. However, by the time people have had a chance to read through our awareness- and consideration-stage blog posts and downloaded our guides, they’re far more likely to take interest in articles like this one and appreciate the content within.
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!