Have you ever been thinking it’s time for a new *something* (i.e. a watch, computer, shoes, CPA, marketing agency, or literally anything) so you start researching? This scenario happened to me recently, and it got me thinking. In my case, I was in the market for a new pair of running shoes. I started with a Google search, and it took me to a Runner’s World article. The story was a ‘round-up’ of the best new shoes for 2019. Then I went to the online store Zappos to look at reviews from average joes (not just professional runners) and to compare prices. In my case, I usually run in Nikes but I was interested in a pair of Brooks. Then, I started cruising around the Brooks website and did a few more Google searches over the next several weeks. I found an article about how monogamy in running shoes isn’t always a good thing. Studies show correlations between running in a variety of footwear and fewer injuries. Very interesting! I revisited the Brooks website, read a few of their blogs, and signed up for their newsletter. I also saw that they offer a free 90-day trial and free return shipping on shoes. Ureka!
The Brooks marketing team somehow zeroed in on where I was in the buyer’s journey, and they found a way to create the right content, for the right person, at precisely the right time. As a fellow marketer, I can’t help but smile. As a consumer, I couldn’t resist – I placed my order.
Building your sales funnel and creating content to match
Whether it’s consumer-based marketing or in the B2B space, the goals are the same. It’s a marketers job to give buyers, wherever they are on their journey, a nudge to move them along the sales funnel toward a purchase. If you’re not doing it already, content marketing is one of the best ways to connect with, inform, and encourage customers. It’s highly effective and relatively inexpensive, especially compared to other sales and marketing strategies. That’s one of the main reasons why 88% of B2B marketers are using custom content marketing. (Source: TopRankBlog). But how do you do what Brooks did? How do you get the right content, to the right customer, when they’re ready to buy? It starts with defining the stages in your own sales funnel to nurture leads effectively, and it requires tailoring content to match each stage. Let’s take a look:
Awareness stage (blogs, ebooks, research, explainer videos, and more)
In the initial part of the buyer’s journey stage, customers are most interested in analysis, resources, opinions and insider insight. A study by Google revealed that 71% of B2B researchers started with a generic search, not a specific search for a product or solutions. High-value, industry-focused blogs are one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website and provide answers to fundamental questions your potential customers are asking. During the awareness stage, you want to introduce your company as a credible resource and set the stage for continued engagement. (Source: Google). Content in the form of ebooks, reports, explainer videos, and social media content, are also highly useful during the awareness stage.
Evaluation stage (webinars, case studies, whitepapers)
Generally, during the middle stage of the sales funnel, customers are looking at a specific product to see how it fits their needs and criteria. Content should help demonstrate that your company is a thought leader in the industry. Webinars, live interactions, whitepapers, or case studies that compare features, benefits, and results will assure customers they’ll be working with an industry leader. If you’re a wireless provider that partners with MSPs, educational content might include a webinar that talks about how 5G can open up new opportunities for partners and their customers around IoT. Or if you’re a managed security provider that sells through the channel, you may want to offer a use case for a specific vertical that talks about how a customer reduced manual compliance efforts by XX% with a managed SOC. Remember that content delivered in the evaluation state should point your audience to a specific solution while continuing to build a relationship between the business and the potential consumer.
Purchase (trial offers, demos, promotions)
While this stage doesn’t necessarily mean the customer will buy from you, it’s where in the sales funnel individuals decide exactly what it takes to become a customer. In this stage, it’s ok to talk about your products! Product-focused, content should highlight the critical benefits of the solution succinctly and clearly, and it should address any lingering questions or concerns buyers may have. Product demos or trial offers are good examples of the bottom of the sales funnel content. On-demand, pre-recorded demos promoted on websites or other digital channels can solidify decisions for customers. While on its own, a great offer isn’t enough to tip the scale for buyers, those businesses that have successfully mapped content to each stage, building awareness and on-going engagement, are most effective.
Remember – Put your buyers ‘informational needs’ above yours
When mapping out your content marketing strategy, a good rule of thumb is to put your customers’ informational needs, over your promotional ‘needs.’ Recent surveys tell us that 90% of the most successful B2B content marketers prioritize their audience’s informational needs over their own sales/promotional messages. (Source: CMI & MarketingProfs). Start with creating engagement and delighting customers along their journey, and you’ll like the results. If you want help building out your sales funnel and creating content that inspires, talk to Carve Digital! We’ll help you get results while enjoying the ride!