Marketing on the internet seems to be getting more complicated, but it’s also getting a lot more beneficial for businesses willing to roll up their sleeves and create genuine, valuable content. The more helpful the information presented on the web is, the better companies will be able to find their ideal customers online. One trend pulling web marketing in this direction is the buyer’s journey.
Following customers until purchase
The buyer’s journey is a way of thinking about everything people do between deciding they want to buy something and actually making purchases. Oracle Eloqua conducted a study of internet marketers and asked how prepared they are to integrate this phenomenon, which the publication sees as the future of content marketing. It turns out that while only 12 percent believe they possess sophisticated abilities to align the buyer’s journey with their content, about half (49 percent) are learning how to and expect to do so in the next six months.
But what is the buyer’s journey, and how does it relate to custom content? Here are the three major steps and some ideas for making sure the principle is an effective part of a strategy for 2014.
Exploration refers to the research customers perform before deciding on a product or service to buy. High visibility, through SEO and organic search efforts, is the best way to be front-and-center during this phase. The odds are good most marketing managers are already familiar with this step, but it’s worth repeating that useful, relevant, in-depth content is the best way to attract the greatest viewership.
This may be the missing link most content marketers have failed to use. Evaluation is usually comprised of reading reviews and performing research on a product or business, but it is expanding to include the use of social media to get background on an organization. This is what makes a social strategy an increasingly important part of content marketing. Without some positive information to form a link between exploration and the next step, customers will lose the thread and begin looking elsewhere.
Clear calls to action that organically flow from content and have high viewability will help seal the deal after the groundwork has already been laid.
Clear calls to action that organically flow from content and have high viewability will help seal the deal after the groundwork has already been laid. Never assume that a purchase is a foregone conclusion after the previous two steps.
This doesn’t mean marketers should break every campaign into three chunks of equal size corresponding to exploration, evaluation and purchase. This is simply an effective model content creators and marketing managers should think about when they design their campaigns. If there’s a problem in the flow of prospects and leads from one end of a sales pipeline to another, it is worth examining a web strategy to make sure each of these elements is optimized in 2014.