Who is your online content audience?
While millions of users are online, only a few profiles of people qualify as your ideal customer. Therefore, defining the ideal buyers will determine most of your marketing and even business decisions. Try to distill the target demographic/psychographic into a limited number of buyer personas. How and where are they spending their time online? What type of content would this person find useful, informative, or funny? What would they find distasteful? What are their pain points? You need to know the buyer persona so well that you can name exactly what makes them laugh, what makes them shake their head in disbelief, what makes them click buy, and what makes them hesitate to order.
Put yourself into the mind of the type of person you target as a customer. Then, meet them where they are with content they want. Content is most valuable if it matches the needs of the prospect during their buyer’s journey. Ask yourself: is this content relevant to my brand in a meaningful way?
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience and to influence profitable customer action. Influence is described as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.” There are many forms of influence that may appear in both verbal and non-verbal cues. “Content” can be in the form of a blog post, infographic, video or podcast that is created to educate and influence buyers.
Remember, prospects do not want to read, watch or listen to everything from start to finish. They breeze through content until they find a section or nugget that catches their attention. So when creating content, make it easy for people to find the section of interest or nugget. For blogs, include descriptive headers, charts and graphs, bullets and pull quotes. For videos, include chapter markers or slides introducing each new point. For podcasts, add an outline for what’s talked about at which minute mark wherever you embed the recording.
Start developing the proper content by gathering questions the target prospect asks before realizing or solving their pain point and create at least one piece of content for each. Questions like this fall into two buckets: informational intent and buying intent.
- Informational questions usually feed the top-of-funnel content.
- Buying questions will feed the bottom-of-funnel content.
Focus on the buying questions first, then move your way up the funnel. Think and write content that views the target market as consumers with preferences, options, and needs and be sure the product/service description is in layman’s terms. For instance, potential prospects don’t want to know what your product is or does. They want to know what’s in it for them. What outcome or aspiration they are seeking is achieved? People and search engines are always looking for helpful, relevant and authoritative information.
A sales funnel invokes the underlying principle of providing the proper content to the prospect at the right time in their journey. While different marketers have their own detailed versions of the buyer’s journey, the most commonly used one includes three basic stages: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. Each of these stages consists of a handful of different steps.
- Awareness. The awareness stage is the very beginning of the buyer’s journey. This stage is made up of two types of awareness: awareness that there is a problem and awareness that there is a solution to the problem. This is when they recognize they have an issue or pain point that needs to be solved and they begin to search for a solution. The awareness stage can either happen very quickly or it may take a very long time. It all depends on how fast the buyer acts and how much of a priority the issue is in their life. During this stage of the buyer’s journey, the goal of content marketing is to create awareness of a specific problem and then align that problem with various issues that are related to your business. The particular steps involved in this stage are helping customers rid themselves of the status quo problem and make a decision to change something. The content strategy is designed to help potential customers recognize the problem in front of them.
- Suggested Content: During the discovery stage, there’s a considerable amount of flexibility in terms of content formats. The most common types include research reports, editorial content, white-papers, and statistical reports that support the pain points the buyer is experiencing.
- Consideration. Next comes the consideration stage of the journey. This is when the buyer explores different solutions and hones in on the one that they feel best solves their pain point. Again, this phase can be prolonged or short. During this stage, the goal of content marketing is to help the buyer identify specific needs for solving the problem they identified in the discovery stage. The second goal is to then align that solution with specific business needs the individual buyer faces. This is the point where the content marketing approach begins to tout the features of the product/service.
- Suggested Content: During this stage, recommended content includes things like recorded product demonstrations, guides and case studies, comparison posts, and even podcasts.
- Decision. Finally, there’s the decision phase of the journey. During this phase, the buyer examines the solution they’ve identified and tries to justify a purchase decision. If all goes well, they end up making the selection. If they decide the solution isn’t right for them, they revert back to the consideration stage to look at alternatives. If you’ve done a good job of guiding buyers through the awareness and consideration stages, you’ll have convinced them to consider your solution as the one that will satisfy their pain point. Now close the deal. During this stage, the focus is to validate why the product or solution is worth purchasing. This can be difficult when there are many alternatives, but remember that you’ve already survived the consideration stage.
- Suggested Content: Depending on the industry you operate in and which type of product or service you’re offering, recommended content for this stage includes product comparison content, trial downloads, in-depth case studies, and live demos.
If there’s one thing that sets an average content strategy apart from an outstanding strategy, it’s that the latter one understands the importance of developing content that’s appropriate for the situation. Looking at content through the lens of the buyer’s journey will help you develop content the prospect can use. The target audience uses content to make decisions. They will discuss it with their families and colleagues. They will recommend it to others. But it doesn’t happen instantly do instead of measuring direct conversions, focus on how engaging and helpful the content is. Things like time-on-page, minutes watched and minutes listened give a better picture of this.
Learn about how to research your ideas by viewing the free video entitled How To Research Your Business Model Concept and read a free sample of the new book “Small Business Thoughts Real-Time Strategic Planning“.
Copyright ©John Trenary 2022