By now, most marketing teams have adopted at least some content marketing strategies. But creating content that attracts prospects and closes customers can be a challenge.
Marketing Sherpa reports that well over 80% of B2B buyers start their purchasing journey online. Like any journey, there’s a difference in the experience based on your position on the path.
But what are the steps along that journey? A buyer at the beginning has far different needs than those at the end. Based on our experience and that of our friends at HubSpot, we see four distinct prospect engagement phases - each with its own specific content needs.
Four Phases of Prospect Engagement
1. The Unengaged – These prospects tend to be casual researchers and have a few questions but aren’t seriously thinking about taking any action. They need simple, broad-based education without a sales pitch. Content like blogs, tips sheets and “how to” videos are perfect to satisfy their needs and give them enough information to move along the path. For example, imagine yourself taking a good look at your car. You might see an old stereo, a few more miles than you thought and a few dents and dings. You’re not really in the market for a new car but you might do some web surfing just to see whats features the latest models are offering. Maybe a little daydreaming or making a mental wish list but definitely not ready to act.
2. The Learner – These people know there’s a challenge to be resolved and are searching for options. They know the basics but haven’t decided on a course of action. Content should have more detail and a few messages to start influencing their thinking. Using the car example, you might know your car needs some significant maintenance and probably isn’t worth the cost of repairs. You might be considering getting it fixed to stretch its life another year or so, looking at used cars and even thinking about the jump to a new vehicle. Your choice isn’t clear yet so you’re likely researching the pros and cons of each and potentially the type of vehicle that will fit you best.
3. The Evaluator – This group gets it. They recognize the benefit of solving their challenge, have narrowed down their options and are actively researching solutions. Content should give them everything they need to know about the options and communicate why you are the best provider of that solution. Case studies, white papers and testimonials are ideal for The Evaluator. Back to buying a car; you’ve decided to buy a new vehicle, it should be an SUV and you have a good idea how much you’re willing to spend. You might also know what features you want and likely have narrowed your choices down to two or three specific models.
4. The Decider – Time to close! People in this category are ready to buy. They’ve identified the appropriate solutions and are just “kicking the tires”. No more education is necessary at this point, content should be focused on enticing trial and making the sale. Demos, trials, discounts and limited-time-offers are ideal. If you’re buying a car, this is the test drive. How you feel about your experience will be the deciding factor.
This graph shows the relationship between prospect engagement and content depth.
We know creating content can be tough so we’ve created a collection of Content Creation Templates to help you craft the right messages for the right audience. Download them now and get started closing customers!