While your buyers take a chaotic journey, Anna says, you still need content to satisfy your buyers in each of the traditional sales stages. Though the buyer’s journey is nonlinear, you can conquer it by creating content for the traditional stages in unexpected ways to create a content mix that gives buyers what they need even when you don’t know they need it. How do you create a good mix? Deliver for the chaotic – mixing your content formats and making them accessible no matter when or how the buyer arrives at that stage in the traditional buyer’s journey. Content formats Let’s consider how to use a mix of content types that delivers at each step of the journey. Interactive content, as Anna explains, allows for self-exploration. Besides, video is great for sharing cool content on your favorite social media channels.” Discovery (early stages): Educational – help viewers understand how their problems can be solved Consideration (middle stages): Explainer – detail (not plainly showing) how your product or service solves the problem Decision (end stages): Demo, testimonial or ‘About’ videos – show brand value and credibility Retention (ongoing): How-to on specific features of tools and solutions White papers and e-books CMI’s 2019 research shows that over half of B2B marketers (54%) say white papers are most effective in the middle stages. Discovery (early stages): Webinars Consideration (middle stages): On-site activation at events drawing your target audiences Decision (end stages): Hosted events or meetings with your company Retention (ongoing): User workshops and customer-only conferences or meetings Other content types We know you use a lot of other content types. Consideration (middle stages): Email newsletters and content hubs Decision (end stages): Testimonials on your website, third-party review sites Retention (ongoing): Print magazines, mobile apps Conclusion The key to finding and delivering the right content at the right time is to stop thinking of your buyers walking a straight path to purchase. Then make it accessible when and where your buyer is ready to consume it.
Editor’s note: Figuring out your buyers remains an ongoing challenge. That’s why we thought it was time for a good reminder to spur fresh thinking by bringing back this piece on the true buyer’s journey.
Wouldn’t it be great if your prospects followed your neatly designed sales funnel or smartly outlined path to purchase?
But honestly, you know they don’t (even if your content marketing strategy assumes they do).
“Buyers are in control. And they’re not going from step one to step two to step three in this process that you define as quite linear,” Anna Talerico, co-founder of ion interactive, said in her ContentTECH presentation. “They are jumping around. They’re exploring. They’re comparing. They’re doing their self-education on their own terms in their own time frames.”
More than 70% of buyers conduct over half their research online before making an offline purchase, according to research from Forrester that Anna shared.
McKinsey & Company research confirms the messy journey, which it dubs the consumer-decision journey.
Given (1) you don’t know when the consumer starts the journey, (2) the consumer rarely follows a neat path, and (3) the consumer who eventually buys usually learned of his or her brand choice early on, what’s a content marketer to do?
Give up on the buyer-journey model? Definitely not.
While your buyers take a chaotic journey, Anna says, you still need content to satisfy your buyers in each of the traditional sales stages. It’s the foundation on which to build your editorial plan – to detail the topics and formats that will help your buyers the most.
If you haven’t detailed your buyer journey, do it now. For help, consider one of these useful guides:
How to execute content
OK, so we agree it’s critical to align your content and your distribution with the messy buyer’s journey. But how do you deliver content that truly helps your buyers navigate their twists and turns? And how do you ensure that they can access that content when they want it?
Though the buyer’s journey is nonlinear, you can conquer it by creating content for the traditional stages in unexpected ways to create a…