How to align content to the buyer’s journey
As marketers, we want the buyer journey to exist in a linear fashion. Ideally, the buyer journey would mean someone would go from browsing content on your website to attending your webinar, to becoming more qualified and making a purchase decision.
Ah, what a dream.
Unfortunately, this is often not what the buyer journey actually looks like. In reality, people can enter at any stage of the funnel, and some may even cycle in the awareness stage for months (or years) without being ready for a sales conversation. In order to anticipate this non-linear movement, you need to map out buyer journeys that recognize the reality of that buyer behaviour.
As marketers, we still need to map out our ideal, but we need to build content aligned to what the buyer journey really looks like. B2B sales cycles are long because of the large number of stakeholders involved, which means there’s also a larger number of objections. It’s important to identify these objections early on and incorporate them as different points in the buyer’s journey, so your content pathways reflect the needs and pains of the different buyer personas involved. That way, when your buyer is ready to make their purchase decision, you’re right there to meet them.
So where do you begin? This blog post covers what types of content you should have on your website to create a full content experience that not only supports your marketing objectives but also generates better leads. With these best practices, you’ll be able to create better, more meaningful engagement at all stages of the buyer’s journey.
Let’s get started.
5 Content ideas to address: “What’s my problem?”
Top of the funnel (Attract & Acquire)
When someone is at this stage of the buyer’s journey, they are typically looking for education and thought leadership.
TOFU content should be targeted towards your ideal customer, and should address their specific needs or pain-points. During the “What’s my problem?” stage of the buyer’s journey, they’ve identified a need, or symptoms to a problem. Your content should focus on providing content that resonates with your reader and grabs their attention. This is the perfect opportunity to show how you understand your audience’s challenges, so when they read your content they think, “That’s me!”.
Here’s the kind of content you should be sharing:
- What are others doing?
- Trends and benchmarks
- Analyst Coverage
- 101 Education
- How-to guides
Ultimately, whatever type of content you decide to include should always loop back to the question your audience is asking at that stage of their buyer’s journey. In other words, your TOFU content should always provide an answer to “What’s my problem?”.
Let’s look at this through the lens of a business that provides video services, and a buyer who is not yet aware of their specific video-related problem. This usually occurs when someone is unaware that their symptoms signal a specific problem. Their search query might not be related to video. Instead, it might be something like “How to acquire more leads?”. In this case, we recommend creating a blog post that helps them pinpoint their problem (video services could be one of those options). This way, the content will help the reader identify that their symptoms signal the need for video services, moving them further down the funnel.
Here’s an example of what kind of content addresses “What’s my problem?”
This blog post from Drift is a great example of TOFU content that is educational and provides thought leadership. By explaining how to keep prospects engaged so they can be nurtured into a sales opportunity, Drift is letting the reader identify their specific problem, which can then lead to engagement with more Drift product-specific material. The blog post has many opportunities for alternate pathways: first, a CTA about increasing your sales team’s productivity, and then some related reads about conversational marketing and how conversational marketing works with Drift. Each of these apply to a different stage of the buyer’s journey, which means that if the reader is interested in learning more, they are able to engage in more content that brings them further down the funnel. We encourage you to do this with your content as well.
Here’s another example that you may find helpful, from a real-life video services company.
5 Content ideas to address: “How do I fix my problem?”
Middle of the funnel (Nurture & Qualify)
When a buyer is thinking “How do I fix my problem”, they are typically looking for tactical information that allows them to move forward and immediately solve that problem.
As a content creator, the objective of your content is not only to answer this question, but to build deeper trust between you and your reader in the process. Your content at this stage should be a natural stepping stone from TOFU content in that it helps people who have identified their specific problem gain more information that can show them how to solve their problem. It should provide more in-depth information in comparison to TOFU content and should complement BOFU content without being explicitly sales-forward.
Here’s what kind of content you should be sharing:
- What are the possible solutions to their need or pain-point?
- Solution/vendor comparisons
- Educational content (FAQs, webinars, success stories, etc)
- Pitfall analysis
- Product readiness/suitability
Let’s examine this through the lens of the video services business. A great example of content that would address the “How do I fix my problem” question could be a blog post about how to generate more leads through video. The post could include several video solutions, including offerings exclusive to the business. This content piece would be a direct extension of the TOFU piece that helped the reader identify their problem—it’s about how video can help with lead generation, without explicitly mentioning the business’s services in a sales specific way (eg check out our new product).
Here’s another example of a piece of content that addresses “How do I fix my problem?”
The goal here is to go more in-depth into the solution the audience is looking for (ABM services) without being explicit about the business offerings. Through this “Getting Started with an ABM Pilot” webinar, Brainrider (that’s us) leads visitors through the process of building an ABM Pilot. By doing so, this webinar shows the suitability of an ABM pilot without directly mentioning Brainrider’s services.
5 Content ideas to address: “Are you right for me?”
Bottom of the funnel (Engage when sales-ready)
At this stage of the buyer’s journey, your audience is aware of what kind of solution they are looking for, they’re just trying to decide which vendor is right for them.
In terms of content creation, this typically signals bottom of the funnel (BOFU) content. This is where you can start thinking outside of the blog. The best way to nurture your buyers to make a purchase decision is to ensure your content speaks directly to the specific solution your business provides. Your content should be focused on driving your audience to make that purchase. You want your copy to be hard-hitting with the objective of increasing your credibility. BOFU content should be data-driven to prove to your audience that your business is the right fit for them and that your solution is the one they need.
Here’s what kind of content you should be sharing:
- Making the case to the executive team
- A product or pricing sell sheet
- Social Proof
Using the video services business example, a great piece of BOFU content would be a product sell sheet for strategic video design services oriented towards capturing and nurturing the right leads. It would provide all the necessary data and concrete information to show that this service provides the best solution for the buyer’s problem.
Here’s another example of “Are you right for me?” content:
Slack Landing Page
While BOFU content can come in the form of blogs, it’s important not to forget that the majority of it will be found in other areas of your website. Like this landing page. Slack does a great job of hitting all the marks on great BOFU content. Their landing page provides credentials, decision support, social proof, and other benefits the service brings.
Creating content is all about being strategic, understanding what your current assets look like, and filling in the gaps so that your audience has all the information they need to better understand your product and how it can improve their business and achieve their objectives.
The best way to integrate this content distribution ratio into your content strategy is to first understand what your current library looks like. This is where a content audit comes in. You can use a content audit to identify how much of your content is allocated to which areas of the funnel. From there, your content audit can signal which areas you should grow based on the ratio—whether that be repurposing a superstar piece of MOFU content or increasing the visibility of social proof for your business’s offerings—so you can see some substantial impact right away.
As you begin to develop more content to fill these distribution ratio gaps, here are some best practices to keep in mind to ensure your content is findable, relevant, and useful to your audience, so your content not only complements their buyer’s journey but also addresses their needs and pains.
Create content that grabs your reader’s attention and keeps them wanting more at every stage of the funnel. We can help.
Brainrider is a B2B marketing and creative agency. We provide content, web, and digital marketing services through a flexible resource model to meet your business’s specific needs. We’re focused on helping you achieve your business objectives and identifying opportunities for continuous improvement so you’ll always stay ahead of the curve.