SEO, PPC, content marketing: these are services that, by now, most businesses are familiar with. Unfortunately, a lot of companies have invested in these digital marketing fundamentals, and received little in return. A group of local SEO experts can get a site to rank for various keywords, and smart copy can get a high CTR on paid ads, but if the content fails to intrigue readers you are left with data on paper that looks good (on the surface) but the conversion and ROI is rubbish.
This is where digital marketing agencies that offer inbound marketing automation excel; they know how to create compelling content pointed to consumers at every stage within the buyer’s journey to help ensure that clicks turn into paid transactions while fostering business growth.
What is the Buyer’s Journey?
Nobody wants to be prospected and closed. Consumer behavior has changed dramatically in that buyers seek an education, and lots of information about products. They also want that personal touch versus the cold plastic feel of being roped in like a calf and slammed down with a close. The buyer’s journey allows marketers to personalize the sales process in the context of the consumer’s awareness, evaluation and understanding of the products at hand and how they can fulfill a void.
The buyer’s journey is a three-stage process that looks like this:
- Awareness Stage – The buyer realizes he/she has a problematic need
- Consideration Stage – The buyer identifies their problem and researches various ways to resolve it
- Decision Stage – The buyer finalizes a solution and chooses an option
Here is an example of a buyer’s journey set in the context of someone making a purchasing decision with a life coach:
Awareness Stage – I am not happy in life. What’s wrong with me?
Consideration Stage – Ah ha! I don’t know how to identify what I really want in life!
Decision Stage – I can go to a therapist, a counselor, a psychologist, a psychiatrist through my health insurance, or I can see a life coach. Counselors are too broad, and I’ve never been diagnosed with depression nor does it run in my family so I think I will work with a life coach.
Defining Your Content Around the Buyer’s Journey
Your content needs to be crafted from a thorough understanding of your buyers. If you feel that you only understand your buyers at a base level, talk to your sales team, conduct interviews with current customers and prospects, and begin profiling.
Awareness Stage – Here, buyers pinpoint their problems or identify an opportunity to alleviate a challenge. Find out how your buyers educate themselves on discovered opportunities and how they describe these challenges. You should also do some digging to see if buyers have common misconceptions?
The content targeting these people should be formatted and topic-relevant based on the answers to these questions. For example, if a scuba diving equipment manufacturer discovers that many of their buyers face the problem of staying within budget while buying the right equipment to dive in multiple conditions, and the average buyer engages in research via educational material to find a solution, some ideal content options automatically surface. The company could produce a series of educational blogs on budget-friendly equipment solutions for global divers. Each could express a common challenge while offering potential solutions in a non promotional way.
Consideration Stage – At this stage buyers have defined the challenge and are committed to finding a solution. Questions to ask your sales team and customers may include the following: what dive equipment categories to buyers research the most? How are the pros and cons considered? How do buyers educate themselves? If your interviews reveal that regulators are the most researched categories, and buyers invest most of their time reading reviews and technical ratings, you could produce a narrative that takes readers through the journey of a buyer who tests multi-condition rated regulators at a higher price point against two individual and more affordable pieces of equipment rated for differing temperatures.
Decision Stage – Now your buyers have decided on the solution. A lot of people get to this point by first making a list of narrowed down options, or a pros / cons list. With the data accrued from your sales team and customer interviews, you will be able to create great content. When writing for buyers at the decision stage, some questions to first ask include these: who needs to be involved in the decision-making? What criteria was used for making the decision? What do consumers like about your products, and what are their concerns? What are the buyer’s expectations?
If we continue with the example of the budget-friendly multi-use scuba gear problem, some good content could be a buyer’s guide on a dual-temperature regulator that can be used in cold and topical conditions, fresh and saltwater. Talk about the specs your consumers care about, why people prefer a single more expensive unit than two lower-priced regulators. Write the content directly to your buyer persona at the appropriate stage in the buyer’s journey, and include an offer on the page concluding with a thank you page.
Marketing Automation is Inbound’s Best Friend (And Yours)
Once you have a clear understanding of your buyers and have created amazing content appropriate for each stage in the buyer journey, you will need a carefully crafted content calendar that sends out your copy at various times, through multiple channels, and to the right people. Working with a digital marketing agency with inbound chops is ideal because the experts will be able to track each point of engagement and nurture the prospect through the funnel until they become a delighted customer.
Inbound Shows Us Why Businesses Can’t Live on Good SEO Alone
As you can see simply having good SEO that organically ranks your content is not enough to convert high sales returns. Ultimately, you want to grow your business and increase sales, not just rank for keywords. With inbound marketing automation and the strategic content that fuels it, your business growth strategy will work with your organic SEO to rank the right content for the right search queries, performed by people in the right stage of the buyer’s journey. Remember, Google RankBrain’s algorithm is designed to understand human intent and learn as it crawls millions of search results. By forming a perfect marriage between SEO and an agile inbound strategy, you rill rank for the right buyers and turn monthly profits while gaining new customers and followers along the way.
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