Whether you’re a new inbound marketer or a seasoned blogger who’s been creating content for years, we can all agree that coming up with new ideas for your blog can be hard! So how can you keep your business blog filled with valuable information for prospects, leads and customers alike? The answer, my friends, is by creating content for every single stage of the consumer decision making process.
What is the Consumer Decision Making Process?
The consumer decision making process is the set of behaviors shoppers go through when making a purchasing decision. Depending on the product or service being considered for purchase, some of these behaviors receive more attention than others as our level of involvement increases.
Stage 1: Problem Recognition
You know the feeling that arises when you see a shiny new Audi drive by you or, more frequently, it’s 9PM and you’re craving a slice of dark chocolate cake? That’s problem recognition.
And when that feeling emerges, our goal is to reduce the displeasure (by heading for the cake).
A great content strategy will inspire shoppers to recognize a new problem by understanding their pain points and creating content that speaks to those needs.
An example of how your business can spark problem recognition is by offering free eBooks or guides on your website. The topic of the eBook/guide will depend on issues related to your prospects’ interest, and its purpose is to stimulate awareness to an offer that could improve your prospects’ state of well-being.
But content isn’t just for your website- no not at all. When it comes to email marketing, e-commerce sites like Amazon.com regularly follow-up with their customers to present “related items” or products similar to their purchasing history. Because this content is based on your shopping habits, it has a more personal connection.
Stage 2: Search for Information
Where can I buy this product? Who sells it?
All of these questions are running through your shoppers’ heads as they try to solve the problem under consideration.
And where do you think they get answers to those questions? That’s right- the world’s largest search engine: Google.
When you’re creating content on your site in the form of blog articles, eBooks, webinars and so on, you’re much more likely to rise to the top of the search engines (and consumers’ consideration set!) if you’re consistently producing great content that answers shoppers’ questions.
One of the most popular and commendable examples of how this is done comes from River Pools and Spas.
This website features a mountain of articles that answer common buyer questions, like “How much do above ground and in ground swimming pools cost?” and “How does a swimming pool filter work?”
Stage 3: Comparison of Alternative Products/Services/Brands
How does this product compare to that product? What attributes are important to me? How do other shoppers think these products perform?
You know you do it. We all do. By nature, people like to weigh their options to see which product or service will best meet their needs. As a result, they compare.
If you want to become a brand of value then get ahead of your prospects and start making those comparisons directly on your website. Sure, you’ll loose a few prospects at this stage when they realize your product or service might not be right for their situation. But isn’t it better for them to come to that realization BEFORE they buy your products or services, rather than after?
By understanding the pain points that your potential customers are trying to solve, you’re able to create content around those needs and truly resonate.
Stage 4: Purchase
Make the purchasing process easy by featuring strong calls-to-action throughout your website, clean and easy-to-use order forms, and your company’s policy on payment options readily available. This information will let shoppers know what steps are needed to complete a transaction while easing their anxiety (be honest- don’t you feel a little sense of anxiety when making a major purchase?).
For more complex purchasing processes (such as those in the B2B industry), you can create content around how to buy your product or service, or explain ways customers can improve their experience at this stage. Are there specific steps you need to go through when signing a contract? Will the purchase require approval from your boss? If yes, how will you be able to get internal buy-in for this major purchase?
These are the many questions that are buzzing around in your prospects’ minds, so let your content be their guiding light.
Stage 5: Post-Purchase Evaluation
What are you doing to enhance the consumption experience so that new customers experience even more value when using your product or service?
This past August, HubSpot teamed up with Quick Mobile to build an app exclusively for HubSpot’s Inbound 2013 conference attendees. After downloading the app to their smartphone and tablet devices, attendees could access a daily schedule of presentations, add presentations their own personalized agenda, message fellow attendees, and write reviews of the presentations (among SO many other great features). This made things a lot easier for selecting, arriving at, and reviewing the best presentations, which in turn led to an incredible conference experience.
Another great example is Weber Nation, which is a library of education resources on the Weber Grills website that was created to educate grill owners on food prep tips, grill skills, and so much more. In addition, Weber offers a free app that subscribers can use to find the latest recipes that will enhance their experience as a grill-owner.
The key to these successes is that you’re creating value for people who may not even be your customers (but if they see the value you’re creating, they may just be your customers one day).
Participation Time: Share Your Thoughts!
What stage of the consumer decision making process is your blog or content marketing efforts most aligned with? Are you fully optimizing your blog for all phases your prospects, leads, and customers will go through when making a purchasing decision? What areas are you planning to improve upon in the near future?
As always, if your business needs a powerful content marketing strategy, contact me at Mannix Marketing and we’ll set-up an assessment!