B2B decisions are a long, complex process that may take up to a year from the time that someone starts looking for a solution to actually making the purchase. The Internet has made the process more personal than it’s ever been and in so doing has led to the rise of content marketing.
Put simply, content marketing is the creation and curation of relevant information to attract and retain customers. According to Hubspot, 93% of B2B organizations have jumped on the content marketing bandwagon with mixed results.
In order to be effective and generate the desired results, content marketing has to go beyond promoting your own product or service. Good content marketing provides a value add to your audience that answers key questions that buyers have as they travel through their buying process.
The buyers journey can be broken down into a number of phases. At each stage, the buyer is looking for a different type of information.
- The Awareness Stage: During this stage the buyer has just realized his/her company has a need. They begin by gaining some general awareness of the types of products or services that might best satisfy their needs. Here they are seeking content that helps them understand the full range of products out there and overall expectations of how this category of products can help.
- The Evaluation Stage: During the evaluation stage the buyer has identified a number of competing options and is starting to compare the various offerings to determine which ones are best suited to their needs.
- The Purchase Stage: In this stage, the buyer is looking to directly compare their top choices. As well, they are often seeking assurances that the company they are about to choose is credible and will live up to its promise.
The content you create and the tools you use to share that content should target the buyer at each stage of their journey. According to a recent survey “The Content Connection to Vendor Selection (2014) – by CMO Council”, different content sources have varying levels of effectiveness based on the stage in the buyers journey. Here’s the type of content that works best at each stage:
- Research reports and studies, and articles on trade publishing sites
- Blog posts from thought leaders
- Community posts and discussions
- White papers
- research reports,
- analyst intelligence,
- technical specs/data sheets
- editorial articles
- powerpoint presentations
- white papers
- Data sheets
- Product demons
- Case studies and testimonials,
- Branded marketing content
- White papers
- Analyst intelligence
Provide the buyers you are targeting with the right information for each stage of the buying journey. This will give you an edge and allow you to stand out when they are ready to move forward with a purchase.