If you’ve ever had trouble producing content that engages your audience, you’re not alone – this is currently the second biggest challenge faced by B2B content marketers. A quick online search can leave you with lots of ideas for types of content, but not much direction on when it’s best to use each one. The key to producing engaging content is to tailor it to the interests and personality of your target market. But if you really want your content marketing strategy to get results, you should also create different types of content for different stages of the buying process.
Not everyone who comes to your website is ready to buy your product or service right then and there. How far along the buying process (or ‘sales funnel’) someone is will directly influence their needs and what they’re hoping to get out of your content. Creating targeted content for each stage of the buying process allows you to meet the informational needs of everyone who visits your site. Having a wide range of offers also means you can place more targeted calls-to-action on your site, and move leads into the next stage of the buying process though lead nurturing email marketing.
Awareness Stage (Top of the Funnel Content)
Consumers in the awareness stage are still performing preliminary research, which means they’re definitely not ready to hear your sales pitch. These consumers want to be better educated before they move onto looking at specific solutions. The majority of visitors who come to your website will be in this early stage of the buying process, so it makes sense for most of your content to be geared towards this group.
Content at this level should provide an introduction to the industry, and guide the audience through beginner level concepts and ideas. Top of the funnel content is a valuable educational resource for consumers, while from a marketing perspective, it introduces consumers to your brand and demonstrates your industry authority.
The following types of content will help you effectively engage consumers in the awareness stage:
- Blog posts on general industry trends, tips & advice
- Monthly email newsletter
- Introductory or general industry whitepaper
- Tip sheet
- Introductory eBook
- Kit (combine checklists, eBooks, webinars, etc. on the same topic into a helpful package)
- How-to video
- Educational webinar
- Educational podcast
- Guide, tutorial, or walkthrough
- Resource round up (a collection of useful articles or tools)
- Interview with industry leaders
- Data visualization
- Template (e.g. blog editorial calendar)
Evaluation Stage (Middle of the Funnel Content)
Consumers at this stage of the buying process understand that your product or service could meet their needs, but know that other vendors could too. The goal of middle of the funnel content is therefore to help consumers recognize that your business is the best choice. This content should demonstrate your company is an expert in your field, and show how your specific solution will fulfil the consumer’s need.
Content ideas for this stage of buying process include:
- Product or solution focused webinar
- Advanced eBook
- Case study
- Free sample
- Demo video
- Product or solution focused whitepaper
- Product spec sheet
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page
- Customer testimonials
Purchase Stage (Bottom of the Funnel Content)
Leads at this stage of the buying process are ready to make a purchase, but need a bit more information or reassurance before they do. If your company closes sales through calls or in-person meetings, this is the stage where consumers are asking you to contact them.
The types of offers that are best suited for the purchase stage are:
- Free consultation
- Pricing page
- Live demo
- Free trial
- Estimate or quote
As you go forward and build out your brand’s content collection, remember to focus on meeting the needs of your target audience at each stage of the buying process.