Despite its name, the buyer journey is not just about buyers. Once they move from awareness to consideration to decision, buyers become customers. This is the point of the journey.
The buyer-customer journey involves:
- The “Marketing” Stage: attracting strangers to your company and turning them into leads
- The “Sales” Stage: turning leads into customers
- The “Success” Stage: turning customers into happy customers and advocates
Your well-planned, well-written, shareable content is what drives strangers to become loyal advocates for your company.
In this guide, you’ll find five ideas created to help you create content for each stage in the process, and examples of content other companies have made for each stage.
The Marketing Stage
This is arguably the “star” stage, the part of the process that people are already familiar with even if they don’t work in marketing. The point of this stage is to attract as many people as possible to your site so they click around and find something that helps them even more or sparks interest.
Too often a company will try to make a sale at this stage, but the content here should be all about awareness and discovery. It’s like going too fast on a date; you’re doing 100 in an 80 zone.
Think of the blogs or channels you’ve subscribed to or come back to again and again (like this one :)).
Why do you come back? It’s not because every time you read a post or watch a video you’re being sold on the company’s products and services. It’s because you find what they publish and share actually helpful.
Your marketing stage content should do the same thing for the audience you want to attract. This is why it’s important to know your buyers: the more you know about the people you want to help, the easier it will be for you to create content that resonates.
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- Blog Posts and Videos: Answer the top questions based around topics relevant to your buyer persona(s).
- More Blog Posts: Show how a popular book, movie, or television show can apply to topics your buyer personas care about (Ex. For educators/nutritionists: What House of Cards and School Cafeterias Have in Common).
- Create a guide, manual or webinar to will help readers complete a task or will teach them the best ways to complete a process (recipes are an example).
- Update a concept or idea in your industry that’s outdated or has transformed.
- Create a template or checklist resource that readers can download, in exchange for their contact information.
In Practice: Marie Forleo & B-School
Buyer Personas: small business owners, freelancers, and entrepreneurs.
What They Sell: B-School, an online training program.
How They’re Different: Marie Forleo’s company focuses on helping her personas ‘create a business and a life you love’.
Marie Forleo and her team create videos and blog posts that answer questions her buyer personas have, without pushing B-School up front. Marie isn’t shy about using her personality and personal experience to answer questions like:
- Does getting a day job mean giving up on your dream?
- 8 Tips to Overcome Loneliness When Working From Home
- Is Your Work Meaningful Enough?
Marie Forleo and her B-School team live what they preach. They're making money without pushing sales all the time, and are having fun doing it.
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Move your leads to the next stage by getting subscribers. Give the people who read and view your content an easy way to get all of your updates, and get on your contact list.
This is essential to turning ‘strangers’ into leads. Once you know who your readers are it’s easy to know who will potentially buy your product.
The Sales Stage
In this stage of the journey, your leads are trying to figure out if your solution works for their specific problem. This is the key difference between sales stage content and marketing stage content.
The more content you can create for this stage that shows the versatility and benefits of your product in the context of helping your customers, the better chance you have of moving them to the next stage in the journey.
Here your audience is no longer interested in generalities, they got enough of that in the last stage and are now ready to talk to you about how what you do can work for them.
Hard sales aren’t necessary here either – prospective buyer is already interested, and all you have to do is show them how great your product is.
You can entice a quick sale by using discounts and offers, but your leads need to see value before making the purchase.
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- Create an FAQ page: Compile the most common questions prospects and leads ask about your service and the approved answers.
- Demo Videos: Use your solution to show how it can solve problems experienced by your customers and buyer personas.
- Contact your happiest customers to ask for a testimonial for your website and sales decks (Spoiler Alert: this can be combined with the ‘success’ stage below).
- Create a Case Study: Customers who give you a testimonial may be happy to do more. Send them a few questions about how they’ve used your product to solve their problem(s).
In Practice: Wistia
Buyer Personas: Anyone who works creating and publishing video for a B2B or B2C company; content creators, marketing managers, designers.
What They Sell: Video hosting, marketing, and analytics platform.
How They’re Different: Wistia takes being friendly to a new level. They have a Slack channel that anyone interested in creating great videos can join.
Wistia has all the sales stage content we’re used to seeing: FAQs, pricing pages, and demos.
What makes their content stand out is a page they’ve created called a ‘Pre-Customer Help Desk’. It includes everything a well-informed prospect would want to see before buying:
- A five-minute product demo video featuring real people.
- Detailed FAQs on things like monetization and what makes the platform different than YouTube.
- Links to API documentation and their integrations page for their buyers who want technical information.
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Wistia uses a button on their Pre-Customer Help Desk page for potential customers who want to book a live demo.
Whatever you use for your sales stage content, include buttons and links directly on the page to make a purchase or book a phone call with one of your sales reps.
The Success Stage
By now the visitor to your site who was a stranger is now a customer. With the right content at this stage of the buyer journey, you could turn a one-time buyer into a repeat buyer, or a new customer into an advocate.
Content for this stage looks a lot different than it does in the other stages. These customers have read many of your blog posts or watched the videos you had posted in the first two stages.
They know what you offer, and will be more attentive to details, like changes in pricing or updates to your application.
It’s also at this stage when any problems will come up. Your new customer will want to see that your product actually lives up to their expectations.
The content you have at this stage is just as important as it is in the other stages of the buyer journey. Depending on the product or service you offer, your success stage content could include user guides or a setup manual.
At this stage, listening is essential. What your customers need will determine what content you decide to create and publish.
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- Start a Knowledge Base: Create a section of your blog dedicated common questions customers have asked (or even every question, if you can).
- Create setup or installation videos and decks, if necessary create a video for different account levels or scenarios.
- Publish application updates to your blog or website, or send out updates via email to customers.
- Host a webinar for customers only to go over best practices and give customers an opportunity to share what they know.
- If you’re creating a testimonial for the sales stage of the buyer journey, take this opportunity to ask detailed questions for current customers. Pare down the content for personas in the sales stage and use one or two quotes for a testimonial.
In Practice: Salesforce
Buyer Personas: Everyone.
What They Sell: Everything.
How They’re Different: They sell everything to everyone.
I struggled to include Salesforce as an example in this post because they are a huge company, and like any company of a similar size when it comes to content for the success stage in the buyer journey they’re going to be miles ahead of smaller companies.
But Salesforce is still an excellent example of what success stage content looks like. Plus, regardless of how big they are the concepts stay the same:
- Get Feedback: A section of their success community allows members to submit ideas and vote on ideas they like for the platform.
- Support and Train: Help.salesforce.com has content to guide, support and train customers.
- Communicate More: A page on success.salesforce.com is dedicated to known issues. Smaller companies like Simple (a U.S. bank) and Intercom do the same thing.
A basic look at the Customer Journey.
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At this stage, you want to make it easy for your most passionate and engaged customers to share how much they love you.
This might be giving them the option to sign up for a VIP subscription list where they get special offers to their email or access to new products or features. Or a referral program where they can get a discount if someone they refer signs up for a demo.
Putting It All Together
One piece of content can be repurposed for different stages of the buyer-customer journey.
Host a webinar featuring one of your customers where you interview them asking questions about how they use your product (ie. case study questions).
The webinar is your success stage content, but you can create sales stage content by using their answers for a case study and a quote or two for testimonials.
How do you make sure you're creating enough content for each stage in the buyer-customer journey? Share your thoughts and comments below!
Learn how to use data to help you fill your buyer-customer journey in our eBook, Data-Driven Content Marketing.
About the Author
Nerissa is a freelance writer who spent nearly two years on the Customer Success team at Uberflip, managing the Knowledge Base and helping customers with Hubs and Flipbooks. Now she helps marketers connect to audiences with content that relieves, empowers, excites and inspires.More Content by Nerissa Martin