Here’s a pop quiz: What’s the purpose of creating content for your brand? Is it to drive people to your site? To generate leads? To increase sales? Or to stay on customers’ radars after they’ve made their purchases, so that they’ll buy from you again next time? The answer is, of course, all of the above. There are all different things you can use your content for. And each of those uses requires you to have a different type of content. So how can you plan your content for maximum effect at all levels? Our friends at HubSpot suggest that you link your content to the five stages of the buying cycle, in order to stay connected with customers throughout the entire process.
- Awareness. This stage is about driving traffic to your website, to make your audience aware that your brand exists and of the products or services you offer. It’s also about making them aware that they have a particular problem or need, which your brand is ultimately able to fill. This is the stage wherein you put out blogs, articles, videos, and your other regularly posted content.
- Research. Once your potential customer knows they have a need, they’ll begin researching what they can or should do to fill that need. At this stage, you’ll want to provide them with white papers and e-books. This more in-depth content lays out the problem that they have and outlines a step by step solution—which your company happens to be able to provide for them. This is also the lead generation stage. By keeping track of who downloads your white papers, you can separate the people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer from those who are just casually browsing your blog.
- Comparison. This is where the customer begins actively seeking out a solution to their problem. They’ll look at your brand, but they’ll also look around at other companies, to see what options might be out there. You need to convince them that what you provide is the best solution to meet their needs. So at this stage, you provide them with case studies. How did other people in the same situation go about solving their problem, and why was your company the best one to help them do it?
- Purchase. They’re finally ready to take that last big step. What kind of content can you provide to give your customers that little extra push in the right direction? Analyst reports are good. What do the experts have to say about your product? Why is it a good investment? You can also use customer testimonials: quick blurbs from satisfied customers, telling why your company is the best.
- Repurchase. Now that the customer has made their purchase, your job still isn’t over. It’s important to keep in regular contact with them through periodic e-mails, to make sure they remember your company and what you do, and think of you next time they want to make a purchase. Your ultimate goal isn’t just to sell one product and move on. The most successful companies are ones that build up a relationship with their customers, that lasts for years to come.
The road to a sale is an intricate and often delicate one. That’s why you need content marketing. Every piece of content helps guide your potential customers in the right direction. So by linking your content to the buying cycle, you can be there for theme every step of the way.