How to use content to support the buying cycle

How to use content to enhance the buying cycle

Attracting people to your site, engaging them with your brand, and converting them to customers is no mean feat. People don’t become loyal to brands overnight.

To pull it off, you need marketing that’s compelling and consistent. One way to achieve this is content marketing.

In this post, the second in my content marketing fundamentals series, I explore how to use content to support each stage of the buying cycle.

By the end of this post you’ll understand:

  • what the buying cycle is
  • the four stages of the buying cycle
  • how to use content to engage people at each stage

This knowledge will help you use content to take people on their journey to becoming your customers.

What is the buying cycle?

When people buy products and services online, they go through a decision-making process that marketers call “the buying cycle”.

Content marketing is about using useful content to build a relationship with your audience. This relationship grows stronger as people move further through the buying cycle.

When you do content marketing right, people who were once strangers to your brand become loyal brand advocates. But how does this work?

The buying cycle has four parts to it:

  • awareness
  • consideration
  • decision
  • advocacy

At each stage of this cycle, a person has different informational needs. A good content strategy ensures a company is able to produce content to meet the differing needs at each of these stages.

Awareness

The awareness stage of the buying cycle is your opportunity to attract people to your site through search engines and social channels. These people may not have interacted with your brand before.

The goal is to give them a good first experience. You do this by engaging them with sharable, memorable content.

The content should be relevant to the very beginning of their journey to making a purchase. It could take the form of a:

  • blog post
  • content hub
  • whitepaper
  • video
  • infographic
  • meme
  • curated article
  • competition
  • article on a third-party site

But what sort of topics should this content be on? This depends on what the journey to purchase looks like for your audience.

If you’re a company selling holidays, the start of your audience’s journey could be thinking about places they might like to visit. Maybe that’s Greece.

With your traditional marketing hat on, knowing this might prompt you to try to push content that details specific holiday packages you offer in Greece.

But, with your content marketing hat on, you’d create a post that answers a question they might be searching for. For example, you could write about the top 10 sites to see in Greece.

If people researching things to see in Greece see your blog in the search results, they’re likely to click through and read it.

Herein lies the beauty of creating awareness content: someone who may not have heard of you before is now on your site, reading your content, and getting to know your brand.

Travel research
Creating content that is useful to travellers researching a holiday is a way travel brands can get in front of their audience.

Consideration

At the consideration stage of the buying cycle, people are starting to seek out a solution their problem. They may be researching and comparing a few different options.

At this point you need to offer them content that assists them in their research. Your aim is to be the brand that educates them about different ways they could solve their problem.

Types of content that aid consideration include:

  • case studies
  • testimonials
  • buying guides
  • reviews
  • comparative articles
  • video demonstrations
  • webinars
  • tutorials
  • FAQs

Your objective is to get them to engage with this content, whether it be by watching a video, reading a guide, or downloading a resource. The idea is to plant the seed that your brand is a thought-leader when it comes to answering their specific problem.

Decision

The decision stage of the buying cycle is the point at which you need to convince visitors that your offering is best. This encourages them to form a preference for your brand.

To do this you need persuasive content that prompts them to take action. This could take the form of:

  • case studies
  • testimonials
  • tutorials
  • special offers
  • how-to articles and videos
  • comparative pricing
  • calls to action

These action oriented pieces of content will help you convert visitors into customers. This could mean getting them to buy a product, make an enquiry, or claim a special offer.

Advocacy

When people become advocates, they spread awareness of your brand. They return to you every time they have a need for your product and they can’t stop telling their friends about you.

This sort of loyalty is gained by creating memorable, shareable content that strengthens your relationship with your customers. This could include:

  • interactive tools
  • surveys
  • competitions
  • newsletters
  • access to exclusive content
  • user-generated content

Your aim is to motivate your customers to share your content socially, tell a friend, or give you a positive review or testimonial.

Conclusion

To ensure that you consistently offer your audience valuable, relevant content that they actively want to engage with, you need to understand two things:

  • what their needs are at each stage of the buying cycle
  • how to meet them with appropriate types of content

I hope this post has helped you to understand how you can use content to support your audience through each stage of their journey. If you have any questions, I’m always happy to Tweet you answers — reach out to me @Lana_Burgess_

Do you need to kick-start your content marketing efforts? Let’s talk.

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