The Content Lifecycle: Reach Customers at the Right Place and Time

Uncategorized Jun 01, 2018

While businesses are increasingly using content marketing to attract and retain customers, the majority aren’t sure what effective content looks like.[1]

According to AdAge, 86% of B2B companies use content marketing, but it’s not always clear if your efforts are worth the time and energy required—especially for small companies. Per a 2015 study by the Content Marketing Institute, 55% of B2B marketers weren’t confident in what constituted content marketing “success.”[2] Understanding the content lifecycle, or how to line up your content with the different stages of the buyer’s journey, helps deliver meaningful content with a quantifiable ROI.

As they progress through their purchase-decision process, customers are looking for different kinds of information. Imagine buying a new mattress. When you first realize your bed is hopelessly lumpy, you might start on Google or on the websites of familiar brands; you compare options, convenience, and price; you explore what options are out there long before you talk to a salesperson. If someone asked you to spend hundreds of dollars right away, you wouldn’t be ready to make the decision.

By giving your customer the information they need when they need it, you can attract the right customers, help them make informed decisions and move them a little closer to that final purchase.

 1. Awareness

According to HubSpot, 63% of marketers say their biggest challenge is generating traffic and leads.[3] Before you can really sell your product, you need to make people both aware of your brand and of the need or problem they may have.

Awareness content should be educational, centered on big-picture knowledge about your industry instead of the nitty-gritty details of your product. Awareness content positions you as an expert in your field and builds trust in your consumer.

Content Types:

  • Blogposts
  • Ebooks
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Whitepapers
  • Original research
  • How-Tos
  • Certifications

 

For larger topics, consider writing multiple smaller pieces from different angles to create an in-depth body of content—as well as multiple “ways in” for your customers to arrive at your site. Blogposts are an especially effective tool in the awareness stage. According to HubSpot, 53% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority.[4]

Just because it’s educational doesn’t mean it has to be dry and dull. According to Contently, 70 percent of marketers saw higher ROI with visual content—infographics, video, or interactive materials.[5] By participating in the online community, you’re demonstrating to potential customers that your values align.

  

Goal

Metrics to Measure Success

Generate brand awareness

Web traffic: page views/unique page views

Social media reach

New visits

 

2. Evaluation

According to Forrester, customers go through 60 to 90% of the sales process before they’re ready to talk to a customer service rep.[6] Once you capture their attention, these customers are still deciding whether or not they’re ready to make a purchase. Showcase why they should choose your product over a competitor’s and educate them on specific offerings.

Evaluation content should portray your product as a means to achieving the customer’s greater, more intangible goals—what makes your product the one solution they need? How will your product strengthen their business or make their lives easier?

Content Types

  • White papers
  • Quizzes
  • Case studies
  • Webinars
  • Product descriptions
  • Sample projects
  • Interactive portfolio
  • Customized landing pages

 

“Gated offers” that ask potential customers to share contact information are an effective way to nurture relationships and engage on a personal level, which continues to build consumer trust.

An easily navigable, well-designed website is especially crucial at this stage—once you drive potential customers to your website, you want them to stick around for a while. Customers should be able to easily access and explore additional content from their landing page.

 

Goals

Metrics

Engagement

Social media likes, shares, comments

Time on page

Return visitor rate

Number of emails captured

Lead generation

Number of leads

Lead qualification: percent of leads that result in purchases

 

3. Decision

At the final stage of the buyer’s journey, your customer is prepared to buy, although not necessarily from you. This last phase of information should help overcome potential points of resistance or offer them a deal that entices them to buy now instead of (indefinitely) later.

Decision content can offer a small commitment before the customer agrees to the full price—for example, a free 30-day trial period that allows them to get familiar with the product. By offering something free, you encourage the customer’s trust, and make them more likely to purchase from you in the end.

Decision content should also be targeted to these specific customers through the contact information you’ve captured—by email or phone, for example.

Content Types

  • Trial offers and demos
  • Price quotes
  • Coupons or sales
  • Testimonials
  • Customer reviews

 

Goal

Metrics

Increased sales

Conversion rate

Sales total

 

It might seem daunting to create specific content for all these areas, but the big ideas in longform content can be repurposed in different channels—social media, email campaigns, AdWords, your blog, or website content—in order to reach your customers where they are. It’s okay to leverage the same blogpost or article through several Tweets, or to change it into a video, in order to reach new sets of customers.

If you’re brainstorming new content and feel stuck, consider check out the competition. What kinds of content are they creating? Where does their brand live online? Creating buyer personas can help identify the keywords your customers are searching for and the lingering questions they might have.

From awareness to evaluation to the final purchase decision, each piece of content acts like a link in the chain. As you analyze the existing content on your website and social media channels, consider what you want the customer to do next. What are the existing “content pathways” they might take online, from first encounter to the ultimate transaction? Are there any holes you can fill? By mapping out the content lifecycle, you can deliver a more meaningful experience for your customers and achieve real, quantifiable results.

 

 

[1] http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/study-86-b-b-marketers-content-marketing/295230/)

[2] https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics#Lead%20Generation

[3]https://www.stateofinbound.com

[4] www.stateofinbound.com

[5] https://contently.com/strategist/2018/05/02/report-visual-content/)

[6] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140613102338-27542835-forrester-research-shows-digital-now-owns-90-of-the-buyer-journey

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