Last week in our Intro to Inbound series our post "What is Content" talked about content: what it is and why it matters to inbound marketing. Ultimately, without content there would be no inbound marketing. Today, we're going to dive deeper into the idea of content and briefly go through the different types of content and how they best apply to different stages of the buyer's journey. This way, when planning your content marketing strategy you can be sure to have content available in each category.
We'll have another post about the buyer's journey soon, but for now the important thing to know is that there are three stages of the buyer's journey: Awareness, Consideration/Evaluation, and Decision/Purchase.
Types of Content for the Awareness
During the awareness phase, your potential customers are only just becoming aware that they have a problem that needs solving. That means they are looking for more information not about a specific brand, but about the options available to them that could solve their problem. Some of the most effective content types to produce for your content marketing strategy in this part of the buyer's journey are:
- whitepapers - A thorough and authoritative report on a specific problem that details challenges and presents possible solutions
- ebooks- Any detailed, downloadable reference document that offers educational information. An eBook is generally more colorful with additional graphics, infographics, and charts than a whitepaper.
- checklists- A checklist can be an extremely helpful tool for shoppers, outlining the different things to consider when looking for a particular solution.
- how-to blog posts or videos- Both blogs and video content that give a step-by-step guide for how to complete a task are good options to explore for awareness content
Types of Content for Consideration
Once a prospect has determined that they have a problem and there are solutions available, they will move into the consideration stage of the buyer's journey. During this phase, the content that will be most useful proposes different solutions in a more detailed way. Some of the most useful types of content for the consideration or evaluation stage of the buyer's journey include:
- webinars - An informational webinar that explains the benefits of your solution over other companies is a great way to generate leads as well as lend a personal touch to your marketing efforts.
- case study - A case study should be an in-depth report of how you were able to solve the same problem your prospects are having for another company or customer. Researching and creating case studies is not just a great way to get useful content, it can be incredibly valuable for improving your overall customer experience.
- sample - While your business is (most likely) not a frozen yogurt shop, it is hard to argue with the persuasive nature of a free sample. It's the best way to allow prospects the chance to truly compare your offerings with that of your competitors.
- faq - No matter what it is they are shopping for, buyers have a lot of questions. Adding a Frequently Asked Questions page to your site or running an ongoing FAQ series on your blog can be quite useful in those instances.
- data sheet - The sole purpose of a data sheet is to provide detailed information so buyers want them. Be sure you are collecting contact information from those shoppers who want to know more.
- demonstration video - If your team does not have the time or resources to run a live webinar, a demo video can provide the same information and can be downloaded or viewed time and time again with no additional expenditure on your part. A demo video can be a walkthrough of your product or service and may also include customer testimonials or other useful information about your company or products.
Types of Content for Purchase
When a prospect is ready to buy, they are looking for content that can put them over the edge. They want definitive proof that your solution is the best solution. Content for the purchase or decision phase of the buyer's journey should include:
- free trial - A free trial is a particularly good option for something like a software solution or other subscription based product. When a potential customer tries your service, they should be hooked and ready to buy.
- live demo - If you can't offer a free trial, a guided demo can also be a good choice. This allows your sales team to interact with your leads as well as show off your solution.
- consultation - A consultation allows you to demonstrate your team's expertise to your prospects.
- estimate - Providing a custom estimate may not sound like content, but it can be a great way to turn warm leads into customers.
- coupon - It's hard to resist a discount. A carefully considered coupon is a great option in the purchase phase.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the content that is available. Anything from an animated gif to a blog post to a comic strip can be a piece of content. Rather, this list should help you to understand how content works with the buyer's journey to take your leads down the conversion path.
For more information on the inbound marketing buyer's journey, be sure to download our free guide.