Inbound marketing is all about showing the right content to the right people at the right time. Emphasis on the right content. Did you know that 56 percent of users unsubscribe from emails from a business because the content is no longer relevant?
In order to ensure that you’re providing your users with content that they’re interested in, map your content to the buyer’s journey (the steps people take leading up to a decision or purchase). By understanding user behavior and the buyer’s journey, you can deliver the right content to the right people at the right time.
Understanding User Behavior: The Buyer’s Journey
For those of you who might not be familiar with it or need a quick refresher, the buyer’s journey is the active research process consumers go through before making a purchase. As such, your content needs to relate to potential customers in each stage. For example, you wouldn’t want to offer a highly sales-y case study to someone who’s just beginning their research. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to show basic, high-level content to someone who’s ready to make a decision. In order to make sure the right people are seeing the right content at the right time, you’ll want to follow the content mapping methodology. This includes:
- Content-type and format
- Keywords and relevant terms
- User behavior and needs
We’ll use all three of these equally important elements throughout the three stages of the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, and decision.
During this stage, the customer isn’t yet ready to buy your product or service. They’ve just identified that they have a problem or a need. At this point, they’re just looking to learn more from neutral sources. Blogs, ebooks, and whitepapers are ideal types of content for people in this stage. This content should be optimized for keywords based on user behavior.
In higher education, the awareness stage would be characterized by a student in their junior year of high school who has decided they want to go to college after graduation. They don’t know exactly what they want to study or what kind of school to attend, and they’ll be searching online for things like “the difference between community colleges and universities” and “help choosing my major.” A blog titled “Community Colleges vs. 4-Year Universities: Which is Right for You” or an eBook titled “How to Pick the Right Major” will appeal most to someone in this stage.
In technology, a manager in the sales department in the awareness stage might have just realized that they need a way to manage the sync between marketing and sales and keep tabs on potential customers. However, they might not know the capabilities of a CRM (customer relationship management) system and how much using one could help their marketing and sales departments. They might be searching “how to manage customer relationships” or “how to connect marketing and sales.” Blog posts titled “Manage Customer Relationships with a CRM” or “Bridge the Gap Between Marketing and Sales” will appeal to people in the awareness stage.
When someone reaches the consideration stage, they’ve clearly defined their problem or need and are ready to start considering solutions. Now’s the time to introduce checklists and webinars, in addition to your blog posts and eBooks. Just like in the awareness stage, you should optimize your content for keywords that users in the consideration stage are searching for.
In our higher education example, at this point in the buyer’s journey, the student has decided that a four-year college is the best route to continuing their education. Now, they’re ready to start thinking about how to pay for college, taking the SAT/ACT, and how to actually go about applying. This means they might be searching for phrases like “help with my college application” or “scholarships for college students.” Content such as a college application checklist (“10 Steps to Completing Your College Application”) or an eBook detailing how to find the right school (“Choosing the Right School for You”) will answer students’ questions in the consideration stage, get your college or university’s name in front of them and establish your institution as a helpful thought leader.
For our technology example, in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, the sales manager has decided that they need to use a CRM. Now, they’ll need to figure out what features and functions their CRM needs to have in order to work best for their company. They’ll probably be searching phrases like “CRM features for technology companies” or “how to choose a CRM system.” Checklists or eBooks titled “Top 10 Features to Look for in a CRM” or “How to Choose a CRM System” would appeal to people in this stage, while also answering their questions.
Once in the decision stage, they’ve clearly identified their problem or need, understand all of their options, and are ready to make a decision or purchase. You can appeal to this user with content like case studies, free trials or demos, and one-on-one consultations with company representatives.
With our higher education example, this means that the student has narrowed his or her list of colleges down and is ready to start applying. This is the appropriate time to email an offer for a one-on-one meeting with an admissions counselor or to waive the application fee if they apply by a certain date. They’ll also benefit from blog posts detailing what sets your college or university apart from others or a webinar walking them through different financial aid options at your institution.
In our technology example, the sales manager has probably narrowed their list of possible CRMs down and is ready to decide on one. During this stage, you’ll want to supply content such as a case study that compares your CRM with your two or three leading competitors. Additionally, consider offering a free demo of your CRM to help fuel the decision-making process.
Mapping your content to the buyer’s journey will ensure that you’re reaching the right people with the right content at the right time. Questions? We’d love to chat! Let us know how we can help.
Updated: Jul 14, 2022