Does your content match their buyer journey? Key questions
An estimated 80% of business decision makers would now rather get company information in a series of articles than an advertisement, a recent Roper Public Affairs study shows.
The right content can drive website traffic, generate leads and deliver revenue, steering the buyer's journey in the right direction: your direction.
Yet though the power of content marketing is now widely acknowledged, only a minority of organisations have a coherent and co-ordinated strategy in place to optimise that content organisation-wide.
A common problem is that many organisations are still struggling with fundamental changes in the marketing landscape.
The sales funnel is dead: long live the ‘buyer journey’
The days of moving prospects down a sales funnel are over, for example. Consumers now control their own ‘buyer journey’ - a journey where no one influencer has more than 30% of total power and an average of 7.6 different sources are likely to play a role (Forrester).
There’s a lot of content online: but much of it doesn’t speak directly to readers about what interests them. To build a successful content marketing strategy that stands out, an organisation must start with the consumer and develop content that addresses issues they will face - tackling potential obstacles to buying, for example - rather than focusing on product information
Start with the consumer
The best content marketing strategies use a map of the buyer's journey as their framework. And it is important to remember that the content a buyer will need will vary at different steps along their journey.
A successful content marketing strategy will therefore ensure not only that the right portfolio of content is available, but will include an appropriate strategy for publication of that content to hit key points in the customer buyer journey.
Key questions before you put together your content plan
Before you put together your content plan, these are the questions you and your team should be asking:
What content do we already have?
It sounds obvious, but your first step should be to audit the content you have. Such an exercise will enable an organisation to understand where usable content already exists, which will minimise duplication and reduce waste.
What questions do our customers ask which our content could answer?
You should identify knowledge gaps, the information needed to close the gaps and how the type of content needed at different steps along the way will change.
What content does our sales team need?
Ask them! Marketers often benefit from talking to someone with daily experience of customers. Is there a problem your product solves which prospects mention time and again? Is there a ‘snag’ in the buyer journey which you could smooth out with the correct content? Does the sales team need industry-specific or demographic-specific content?
Help your sales team with suggestions on how to share your content. If a prospect read and enjoyed a particular white paper, your salespeople will want recommendations for what content they should send them next. Emails should be automated if customers abandon an online basket, or visit a particular webpage. It’s not just about producing the right content, but publishing it strategically.
Could software help us manage content creation and publishing?
Putting in place the appropriate systems and processes to help manage and streamline both the content production and publication process can add real value to a business, streamlining the content development process and providing transparency.
Also important in realising the true potential of content marketing is ensuring that structures are in place to enable collaboration between content creating colleagues organisation-wide.
In a world in which digital channels, online social activity and rapidly evolving personal technology increasingly enable consumers to side-step conventional marketing messages, content matters more than ever before.
A good content plan:
Answers the questions customers ask throughout their ‘buyer journey’.
Doesn’t obnoxiously push products: solving customers’ ‘pains’ instead.
- Gives your sales team the tools they need to engage buyers at every stage.