Personalizing Content to the Buyer’s Journey Part 1: The Awareness Stage

November 3, 2015 Tim Ludy

We want more leads. A phrase that continues to echo as marketers scramble to cash in on their inbound marketing campaigns. The overwhelming demand for increasing lead generation (and conversion) is no secret, as 60% of marketers identify this area as their top priority in 2015. Now that so many marketers are aware of this, inbound strategies have evolved from educated guessing, to educated planning, with many thanks to the development of the buyer’s journey, complex as it may be.

The Buyer Journey is complex

The buyer’s journey allows marketers to highlight their buyer persona, identify the needs and wants of real prospects, and provide the perfect content assets to the prospect at the perfect time. One of the best parts about this model, is that it comes from the perspective of the buyer.

Stage 1: Awareness

Here we are, standing at the very top the funnel. At this point, it’s unlikely that your prospect can recognize the problem they are facing, let alone the solution they may be searching for. The awareness stage of the buyer’s journey is driven by the recognition of symptoms caused by an unidentified problem. To understand and utilize the buyer’s journey, it’s important that you analyze what content got them here, what content will nurture them in this stage, and what content will move them comfortably to the next step in their journey.

What Content Got Them Here?

The front door of the awareness stage often has six large and colorful letters on it reading “google.” According to Salesforce, 72% of buyers turn to Google as soon as they realize they have a particular pain point. It’s extremely unlikely that a prospect is going to visit your website’s homepage before they visit Google, and the initial stage of the buyer’s journey is certainly the most humble for you (the marketer) and your company.  While we trust that your product or service is truly amazing, the basis of inbound marketing is built around creative content that is relevant to your prospects. In the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, it’s best that you bight your tongue before you spill the gold about what your company offers, and instead offer a flurry of informative blog posts that highlight popular search terms to increase SEO value, and attract your buyer persona.

What Content Will Nurture Them In This Stage?

The blog posts, whitepapers, e-books, and other website assets that your company offers should not only be informative, but they should be strategically organized to quench the thirst of the prospect, while still leaving a desire for more. Imagine your prospect as someone with high cholesterol. There are a number of things that cause high cholesterol, and your top-level content assets should offer tips on how to do so. A relevant post for this stage of the buyer’s journey may be titled “3 Main Causes of High Cholesterol.” If your product is a fitness and nutrition regimen, you would want to highlight how a lack of exercise and healthy diet can lead to dangerously high cholesterol. At this point, their goal isn’t to solve their problem, it’s just to better understand it. 

What Content Will Move The Prospect Along In The Journey? 

At the end of this stage, you want your prospect to confidently say “my problem is ____.” If you can provide them with enough educational content to help them recognize where they (or their company) is failing, you’ve already provided leverage for your product or service. This is where content personalization software can bring the user experience to the next level. By recognizing key terms in the pieces of content your prospect has consumed, your site will be optimized to provide them with the logical next step (whether it be another blog post, an e-book, or a research report). This would even be a great place for gated content (content that requires the prospect to provide their contact information before reading).

Remember, the format of your content does not determine which stage of the buyer’s journey it should be presented in, the content itself determines that. To move your prospect to the consideration stage, you’ll want to make them confident in the information they’ve received regarding their problem area.

Stay tuned for next week when we discuss the Consideration Stage of the Buyer’s Journey and how content personalization can help move your visitors through it. If you just can wait, here’s what you can do in the meanwhile:

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