Most consumers don’t make rushed purchasing decisions. They mull over a problem to determine if they can solve the issue on their own. Once they decide that they need outside help, they search for options. Only after much thought and consideration do they buy. Often, this journey from assessing the problem to purchasing the solution can take weeks, months, or even years.
It’s no wonder that content marketers know they’ll be in their line of work for the long haul. Good content marketers, however, also know the value of their work depends on what they provide to customers. They know that not all content marketing is the same.
In a recent post, Sonia Simone discusses the various stages of the buyer’s journey that renowned advertising expert Eugene Schwartz describes in his book Breakthrough Advertising. She defines the ways in which content marketing changes with each stage: “[S]trategic content can allow you to meet many more people in your audience where they are today (not where you wish they were today).”
Often, the key to reaching potential customers depends on targeting the right stage. As Dean Mackenzie describes in a recent article, determining when most of your potential customers are finding you can dictate what content you should be delivering in return. “If you’re getting a lot of visitors who’ve never heard of you,” Mackenzie explains, “they’re still in the Awareness stage.” On the other hand, if the majority of people who visit your website or read your blog are repeat viewers, those people may be in the Consideration or even the Decision stage. The lead magnet you provide should be tailored to the people who are paying your content the most attention.
By giving something of value in return, potential customers will be more likely to move to the next stage of the buyer’s journey. But, as both Simone and Mackenzie note, content marketers must go one step beyond providing helpful solutions.
They must also create a path of least resistance.
“Risk reversal, social proof, and crisp, clear calls to action will all help keep the path to purchase straightforward and stress-free,” Simone states. Without those elements, customers may turn elsewhere. As Mackenzie explains, “Without a next step, you’ll lose a lot of your audience, no matter how impressed they were with what you had to say.”
Just as all advertising takes much thought and customer analysis, content marketing is not as easy as simply sharing content and hoping for a result. Yet understanding your audience is only one factor of effective marketing. The other is knowing how to create content that targets the right stage of the buyer’s journey.
That is the type of content that converts.