An abundance of content types allows you to connect with prospective customers. But how do you choose which content types are more suited for achieving certain goals?
Content offers you an opportunity to be a part of a buyers journey. Regardless whether they seek specific answers or to compare alternatives, being where your customers will turn for information gives you a chance to increase brand awareness and likelihood of a purchase.
But is just creating content enough? Does it matter what content type you use? Is a blog, the most popular content type after all, enough to attract new buyers and increase sales?
The answer lies in understanding how people buy online and what motifs drive them to specific content. And then, in mapping different content types to different stages of the buying process.
Understanding Buyer Behavior Online
To plan which content types will work best and you first must understand how customers behave when they shop online. There are 5 distinct stages of a typical buying process:
- Need Recognition – this is a stage in which a person realizes a problem or a need.
- Information/Solution Search – knowing about a problem, a person starts to gather initial information about its causes as well as available solutions.
- Evaluation – next, a person begins to evaluate them to establish which one is the most suitable solution to their problem.
- Purchase Decision – this is a stage when the person selects a particular solution and makes a decision to buy it.
- Post-Purchase Evaluation (Buyer’s Remorse) – at this stage customers begin to question their purchase decision. This is when they might decide to return an item. It is therefore important to develop systems to reassure customers of their decision.
Those 5 stages of the buying cycle relate to what’s known as buyer intents – objectives every customer has in mind when deciding to search for a specific information.
We distinguish 3 separate buyer intents online.
The Intent to Learn
Customer with this intent haven’t fully realised the problem they have. They do know there is something wrong but can’t define it yet.
When you create content for this group of customers, your role is to help them to understand their problem, not offer solutions. You need to focus on educating them about their problem, rather suggesting any solutions you may have on offer.
The Intent to Compare
Customers at this level understand their problem and are ready to start evaluating their options. Their buying mood is higher, although they are not ready to make the final decision yet. Therefore content aimed at this group should focus on highlighting benefits of your solution and providing all the information a customer might need to make an informed decision to buy.
The Intent to Order
Lastly, customers with this intent are ready to buy a solution they selected. They already know what they want and are ready to place the order. A content aimed for this group should move them swiftly through the buying process.
What Content Types Work With Each Buyer Intent?
Intent to Learn
Those customers haven’t realized their problem fully, yet. Your job is to educate them about it.
The most effective content types for this include:
- Blog posts
- How-to guides
- Short videos
Intent to Compare
When creating content for this group, you need to focus more on showcasing the benefits of your solution. Ideal content types for this group would include:
- Slideshare presentations
- Images of product in use
Intent to Buy
The aim for content targeting this group is to offer the quickest path to purchase. You must use content types that offer almost instantaneous option to buy, before the customer has an opportunity to change their mind. Content types to create for this group:
- Product pages
- Sales pages
- Landing pages
How To Apply This Knowledge To Real Life
Turning this theory into practice, let’s pretend that you run an online store selling smartphones. Your task is to develop content that will engage your audience and will turn them into buying customers. Let’s also pretend that you want to specifically target freelancers and business people who are often on the road and potentially need a solid computer replacement to perform certain tasks while out of the office.
Here is one way to do it:
Content aimed at customers with the Intent to Learn:
- Blog post – 10 Ways Smartphones Have Already Replaced Your Laptop at Work
- Blog post – Benefits of using smartphones thank computers when on the road
- Blog Post – Smartphone Office, Yay or Nay?
- Cheat sheet – Things To Pay Attention To When Buying A Smartphone For Work
- Cheat sheet – A Typical Smartphone Terminology
- Blog post or video – How To Evaluate If A Particular Smartphone Is Good For Me
Customers with the Intent to compare:
- Video – A Review Of Two Phones From The Same Range
- eBook – What’s Inside My Phone (And Why Knowing This Matters)
- Case study – How A Phone Helped This Freelancer Grow Her Business (On Holidays!)
- Webinar – Setting Up A Mobile Office In Your Smartphone
Customers with the Intent to buy:
- A smartphones product page
- Landing Page for a particular line of smartphones
- Regular newsletter with new phones, business app reviews as well as tips & tricks and customer stories
- In Depth blog post on Samsung Galaxy S4 as a mobile office machine
There is an abundance of content types you can create to be a part of your customers buying journey. Not all of them work on the same stages of the buying cycle. It is imperative though that you educate your customers through appropriate content types mapped to where they are in their journey.