Content type is a vehicle, content substance is the driver. There are a million schematics matching content types to stages of the buying process, but actually what is IN your content is what matters. Click to read more about creating content that works in a buying process.
Content supports the buying process
Every piece of content you publish is an invitation into the world of your brand. While we all want our audience to come in and look around, ultimately we hope some will find the experience so valuable and interesting that they buy.
source: B2BHebeisen.comHubspot Blog https://blog.hubspot.com/customers/bid/109543/Why-Your-Content-Needs-to-Be-Aligned-With-Your-Buyers-Journey
To that end, it’s important to think about what content is being offered at different parts of the buyer’s journey. There are plenty of schematics (like the one above) that talk about phases of journey and the types of content that match the corresponding phases of the buying process. Most are fundamentally similar. None of these are hard and fast rules but generally good directional thinking.
The make-up of content is more important than the type of content
It occurs to me that matching content type to the journey is less than half the battle. The real question is, what needs to be IN the content to drive the process forward? In the example above, are webinars only useful mid-funnel? Surely there can be thought leadership topics for webinars that are helpful at the awareness stage? Can’t a white paper be used earlier in the journey if it contains the appropriate content for that point in the buying process?
These questions expose the issue. Its not just the type of content you’re using at any given point…it’s what’s in the content that truly matters.
I thought it might be helpful for us at 8-Point to publish how we think about matching content to the buyers journey. Our position is that, while content type is relevant in some cases (there aren’t many blog posts that close the sale), the elements the content contains are more important than type.
Source: 8-Point Arc
On the left are some of the marketing elements that we detect in content. We have aligned those elements with the various stages of a buyer’s journey on the right.
Story and technique presented at the right time advance the journey
Some techniques, when presented at the right time, help to advance the buyer along his path, regardless of the content type. To highlight a few (in yellow, above):
Trigger event: When telling your brand story, it’s important to communicate the existence of an inflection point requiring buyer action. Presumably, you have set up the dynamics in the marketplace and have demonstrated the empathy of how your buyer is reacting before a trigger event. It is a part of the story that makes sense from the beginning to the middle of the buyer’s journey. If they are in a late stage in the journey, the buyer has likely accepted the need to respond to the trigger.
We see IT security, insurance and pharma brands communicate trigger events very effectively.
There are various “types” of content that can carry a trigger event message. The content type is the packaging while the trigger event positioning is the meat.
Authority: All brands attempt to establish a form of authority, whether it’s by publishing thought leadership, attaching to 3rd party experts, analysts or respected brands, promoting awards, etc. This is a trust building exercise and is more supportive earlier in the journey than the end.
Educating: Educating your audience is the backbone of establishing your brand as an authoritative presence. Whether it’s by using data/research, or providing insights or instruction, it’s best done at the beginning of the journey.
Selling: Later in the journey when the rational decision process begins is the time to sell. It’s time to reveal your offer, outline features, benefits and value.
Creating content with purpose requires you to consider more than type
These are just a few elements to think about when matching your content to the buyer’s journey. As you can see, there is a lot to consider far beyond what content type you are going to develop. It just as important—if not more so—to understand how you’re supporting and advancing the buyer’s journey.