Content is King #2: Leading Customers Through The Buying Cycle
Continuing on from our previous blog which looked at how content is fundamental to Marketing “pull” – whereby you create a compelling reason to attract customers to come to you rather than you taking a more scattergun approach and hoping something will stick – today we’re looking at the different stages B2B decision makers go through before they make a purchase.
As Lori Wizdo, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research says, “Today’s buyers control their journey through the buying cycle much more than today’s vendors control the selling cycle … Marketing now owns a much bigger piece of the lead-to-revenue cycle, and B2B marketers must take responsibility for engaging with the customer through more of the buying journey.”
That’s the key: you’re taking them on a “journey”. You’re leading them through different stages, reinforcing your position at every step, building that all-important relationship. What’s first? Typically, customers will do their research online. In fact, Forrester Research found in a recent survey that figure stands at 74%. That means you need to make sure you’re making your messages widely available and, perhaps more importantly, easy to find. Your online content should be readily accessible from a simple search, consistent across different channels and it shouldn’t be gated – that just puts pressure on too early in the sales funnel.
Step one: content examples · Blogs · Videos · Tips and tricks · Infographics
Your customer may not even have heard of your organisation but when they find you, it’s because they’re looking to solve a particular issue. Keep their attention: show you know what you’re talking about in a light but informative way – after all, they may not know anything about the area your company specialises in so you need to help them feel comfortable you’re helping them make an educated decision.
Step two: content examples · Whitepapers · ROI calculators · Case studies · Webcasts · Technical specs
At this point, the customer may get in touch with the organisation and start to have conversations with a sales representative. As Marketers, we complement this activity with value-based content which helps the purchaser understand how your solution will benefit them and maybe just as importantly, how not having your solution could be disadvantageous.
Step three: content examples · Pricing · Targeted, easy-to consume one-pagers · ROI-led case studies · Implementation guides
Now your purchaser has decided that yes, your solution is what they’re looking for, you need to make sure they buy from your organisation and not a competitor. Particularly with high-ticket products or services, you’ll need to help your buyer influence other potential decision-makers that going with you is the right business decision and that you’re going to help make implementation as frictionless as possible. This is where content should be highly specific and targeted to: C-level, Technical, Operations and Financial decision-makers.
It's not enough to simply host a variety of content on your website; it needs to be proactively delivered at each stage of the buying cycle so the customer can move along their journey in a smooth, seamless way. You don’t want them to keep going backwards but neither do you want them to take a great leap forward that they’re not ready to make. Remember: you can only succeed by helping them to succeed.