Updated: Apr 18, 2022
Learn more about the buyer’s journey and how to nurture your audience to the sale with content ideas that meet your audience exactly where they are with exactly what they need.
One of the biggest mistakes I see all the time with content marketing is creating content that is always pushing the sale. This assumes that every person reading your content is ready to whip out their credit card at any moment and make the purchase. While some might be at that point, most of your prospects are not ready to buy. What ends up happening with this kind of sales pitch content creation strategy is that you end up creating content that is all about you, and not about your prospect.
By focusing most or all your content on your product or service and its amazing benefits with your giant “buy here now” button most people will close out of your site and move on to something else. This is because your content isn’t providing them any value. They know that all you want them to do is buy something and you haven’t done any work to prove why they should.
Here’s where things get complicated. Your content marketing needs to always be pushing the sale because you are a business that needs to make money. BUT the key is to nurture your audience towards that sale and not just immediately jump in with a sales pitch.
So, how do you nurture your prospects towards the sale? You meet them exactly where they are in their buyer’s journey.
What is the buyer’s journey?
The buyer’s journey is the decision-making process that your prospects go through, starting from awareness, to consideration, to decision.
The end goal of the buyer’s journey is to lead that prospect to the sale. The prospect in each stage has different questions and different needs. Your content needs to provide the specific value they need at each stage to move them along on their journey.
Even though your content is speaking to the same buyer persona that you’ve identified as your target audience, there is a difference in how you communicate with the person who has their credit card out versus the person who just entered your site and wants to learn more. They might both be in your target audience, but they have different content needs.
This is why it’s important to create content for every stage of the buyer’s journey. This is the only way you can meet your prospects exactly where they are. This strategy better aligns your content marketing with a more customer-centric focus. Instead of a constant sales pitch, you are focusing on meeting your customers where they are and providing value that is going to help them make a decision.
At this stage in the buyer’s journey, your prospect is aware that they have a problem or an opportunity. They are beginning their research to understand exactly what their problem is and how they could solve it. It’s important at this stage to provide educational content with limited or no sales jargon or positioning of your product or service. Instead, focus on answering their questions and positioning yourself as an expert they can trust.
Content at the awareness stage should:
Educate your audience
Explain your “why” not your “what”
Speak to the conflict/problem they are facing and start to provide answers
Give them a bit more knowledge to walk away with than they had before that makes them want to come back for more
Types of content:
How-to or educational videos
Guides or e-books
Most keywords at this stage will be in a question format such as “How do I…”, “what is…”, “is X the same as Y?”. These are great to capitalize on in blog posts or videos.Use the exact questions they are typing into Google as your headlines and take time in your blog or video to answer their question and provide value.
At this stage, your prospect has identified exactly what their problem or opportunity is. They are now committed to researching all the available solutions. There might be several solutions in mind but they haven’t decided exactly which solution is best for them yet. It’s important to create content at this stage that positions you as an expert in your industry and builds trust with your prospect that you could be a potential solution for their problem.
Content at the consideration stage should:
Help make their evaluation of your product/service easy to understand
Give them steps or quick wins they can take that feel low-risk that start to introduce them to your product/service
Provide expert advice and drive home value
Share more about your “why”
Start to communicate how your product/service will help them but doesn’t go overboard with what your product is or how it works
Types of content:
More in-depth webinars/presentations
Product comparison guides
Live interactions (podcast or video)
Keywords at this stage might still be questions but they are going to be far more targeted. Their keywords focus on comparisons, how-to, and finding the best product or service for their problem. At this stage, prospects want to learn as much as they can about possible solutions. Dive into their specific and targeted keywords and questions and make sure you are addressing those in your demo videos, FAQs, product comparison pages, testimonials, etc.
At this stage in the journey, your prospect has decided on a solution to their problem and is comparing their options with an intent to buy one of them. As they narrow down their options it’s important to create content that points them to your solution as the best one. This is where your sales pitch belongs. At this point, you need to tell your prospect exactly what you are offering them and why it’s better than your competitors.
Content at the decision stage should:
Build confidence in their decision to purchase
Speak to your differentiators and what makes you better than the rest
Talk about why they should trust you and what expertise or background you bring to the table
Go into detail, now is not the time to be vague about exactly what they are getting when they hit that purchase button
Types of content:
Product comparison guides
Free trials/free ways they can experience your brand
Live demos of your product/service
Key terms in this phase include “compare”, “pros and cons”, “review”, “buy”, “cost”, and “test”. Make sure you are creating content that allows them to effectively understand and compare your solution to others they might be considering. This is where it is helpful to understand who your competitors are and what differentiates your business from their other options. Then, write content that clearly outlines and explains those differentiating factors so the decision is a no-brainer.
Once you’ve identified the needs of your prospect at every stage of the buyer’s journey now is the time to create lots of content for each stage. As you are creating that content, identity which stage of the buyer's journey you are trying to target and keep that in mind as you write.
The more content you share the more you can learn about your prospect and their needs at each stage. Experiment, test, and refine. With each piece of content, learn what is resonating and what isn’t. Use that information to make your next piece of content even more valuable and targeted.