The estimated reading time for this post is 7 minutes
The Buyer’s Journey Begins Online
When people are experiencing some pain or challenge, they go looking for solutions, usually online first.In simplest terms, marketers describe this process as “the buyer’s journey.” While this isn’t often a linear process, it has three stages: awareness stage, consideration stage, and decision stage.
That’s true for B2B purchasers, too, who tend to be self-directed. Consider these 2017 statistics from Forrester:
- 60% don’t prefer interacting with your sales representatives first.
- 68% want to research online on their own
- 62% say they’ll create a vendor shortlist based solely based on digital content
More than ever, most of the business buyer’s journey gets conducted digitally. Firms have an opportunity with their digital communications marketing to make an impact on prospective customers seeking solutions during any of those stages.
They can make a strong, positive impression by providing the right content during the right phase of the buyer’s journey.
How Buyers Use Their Digital Research
Buyers use what they find online to gain additional understanding of their issue and available solutions (awareness stage), narrow down who might be able to help them the most (consideration stage) and then start making contact with those solution providers on their final list (decision stage).
As the Forrester statistics above show, most prospective B2B buyers make their decision about what brand they’ll patronize before they reach out to your sales team. That’s because just 3% trust sales reps. So, your firm has to use compelling editorial content to cut through the noise online and show them that you’re the solution to their problem.
This is especially true if you’re in the banking, investment advisor or insurance industries. Most prospective clients don’t contact you unless you show them that their headache will be gone, or their confusion will end. Just as often, they expect you to satisfy other reals need like making them look like a genius before their boss.
Use Social Media to Get a Buyer’s Attention
While your website used to be the first place they went, many buyers today trust their colleagues or peers more than a brand website and start their search on social media. So, in many cases, that’s where you have your first opportunity to engage them with your content.
Ultimately, however, once they enter the consideration stage, they visit your website to see if you can help them before they contact you. In fact, even if their friends or a trusted advisor recommend your firm, potential buyers will still visit your site.
At that point in their journey, no matter what others have told them, they want to make sure you’re legitimate. They know what their friends said about how your firm or institution helped them.
But, now they want to know they can trust you to give them relief from their pain with your product or service, to answer their pressing questions and to make them feel safe buying from you.
How important is content in their decision? According to a DemandGen Report, 90% of potential buyers make their decision based on having been provided ample content to make that choice. iMedia Connection says 68% of likely customers feel more positive about a brand after consuming its content, and a Forrester report showed that 82% of buyers viewed at least five pieces of content before buying from a brand.
Buyers want reassurance that buying from you is not a mistake. They may alternate between your website and your social media to make sure using your products or services won’t lead to more pain. Providing the right content on your digital properties at the appropriate time, therefore, is imperative to your brand’s success.
Give the People the Content They Want
So, how do you show them that yours is the right firm to buy from or hire? You do this through complimentary but robust and immediately useful content on your digital platforms. Again, it’s meant to reassure them that you are the solution to their problem, but it has to be authentic, transparent, useful and engaging.
To determine if your content marketing team is meeting those needs right now, you will want to answer some fundamental questions, like:
- Are we providing this kind of content now?
- What is that potential client learning about us when they visit our website or social media platforms?
- Is it what we want them to learn about how we meet their needs or strictly promoting what we sell?
- Is our content addressing their pain points and showing how we mitigate their problem or provide their needed service?
- Do we show target client ways to solve their issues or meet their needs through a variety of content like blog posts, slide decks, email newsletters, guides or other educational content rather than an infomercial for our firm?
Those questions are just the beginning. Naturally, you don’t give away the core, revenue-driving services of your enterprise through content. But, you can offer them a taste of what you provide with content. That could be a blog, white paper, ebook, newsletter, videos or other thought-leadership content.
But the most successful content is editorial in nature. Yours should stay away from being promotional. Instead, it should offer B2B buyers useful information or shows your unique perspective on answering their particular question or solving their problem.
Show Visitors They’ve Come the Right Place
Use your brand’s content marketing show your prospective customers how your products and services give them what they want. Focus on product benefits, not features.
Show them how they can save them money immediately and in the long run if you’re a banking or other financial services institution. If you’re an insurer, provide them information how by keeping specific lines of coverage in place, they’re ensuring peace of mind, something another insurer failed to show.
A financial advisor should educate prospective clients on how specific investment strategies may lead to early retirement. Inform them about how products and services like yours fill their immediate and long-term needs. Focus on helping them achieve the best outcomes, not generating the most income.
Making Sure Your Content Generates Profitable Results
Again, what’s most important to your target audience is to share how products and services like those offered by your firm salve the pain they are looking to remedy.
Naturally, you want it to be a profitable endeavor, not added noise to an already loud marketing environment. A profitable content communications strategy will require a formal and detailed content marketing plan.
Part of that planning process will require understanding precisely who your target client is and developing robust profiles of those clients. It also will involve gathering data on how particular prospective clients shop and how they search for products and services online.
Keyword optimization is critical but shouldn’t necessarily be the focal point of your content. Your content should have depth, convey authority and provide beneficial information that makes the reader feel like you put the time and resources to develop that content.
Surely, you should add the right keywords, so people find your content during a digital search. But, the ultimate goal of your content is to generate trust so make sure it does.
Make sure, too, that your content speaks to your audience conversationally, in plain language and in a way that shows you understand their challenges or issues. Make it more like a journalistic or news piece than marketing copy.
In fact, consider hiring experienced journalists to write the content. They bring skills to this process that makes content creation more professional, and the results are more genuine relevant content.
You also can grow your revenue by offering additional services to current clients. Do this based on other challenges they have that your content shows them your products or services can resolve but for which they are not yet buyers. By doing this, you can keep them from taking that business to competitors.
By using editorial content to show potential and current clients how you relieve their pains with your products and services, you have a great chance of their contacting you to learn more about how you help. Then, of course, it’s up to you to close the new business.
But develop an effective content marketing plan that leads exceptional messaging experiences. That way, you’ll create that engagement opportunities with your target customers that keeps them from going to brands that are.
(c) 2016-2019. Dahna M. Chandler for Get Money Moxie, Inc., a division of Thrive Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This article may not be republished in whole or in part without express written permission from the author.
I’m an award-winning finance journalist with marketing expertise and business acumen. I offer engagement-generating, personal finance and small business development content writing services to thriving—high growth or established—blogs and media outlets. My passion is to help your consumer readers make their dollars make sense and operate their business with growing wealth as their focus.
My business goal for Get Money Moxie is to produce targeted, shareable editorial content that fits seamlessly into your 360-degree content marketing strategy to help you build your desired audience relationships. Let me benefit your business with my strategic content writing expertise. Please contact me about your appropriate editorial content project or journalism assignment.
(If you’re representing an enterprise-level wealth industry or financial brand that has strategic corporate communications needs (including change management communications, CSR, internal communications for employee experience or equitable D&I messaging), please visit Thrive Wealth Communications to learn how I help your organization.)