The Role of Content in the Buyer’s Journey

Buyers Aren’t Just Buying Your Product

When buyers purchase solutions for their companies’ problems, they know that they’re not just buying a product — they are also buying the company offering the product. If they don’t feel comfortable with the company, they’re not going to buy the product — it’s as simple as that.

In the past, salespeople could effectively build their company’s reputation with clients through conversations over the phone or at in-person events, like trade shows and conferences. But this is becoming more difficult—buyers are speaking with company representatives much later in the process. On average, today’s B2B buyers are over 70% of the way through the decision-making process before engaging with a sales representative.

This means that the majority of buyers’ perceptions of your company rests on what they can find online. As buyers scroll through the content you’ve posted, they get a sense of your company’s values and what you can provide for them. This is a key step in the buying process, and it is up to you to design the content experience that will draw buyers in and demonstrate your company’s value. 

The Role of Content in the Buyer’s Journey

Successful B2B marketers know they must design their content experience with the buyer’s journey in mind. However, as the following infographic from Gartner demonstrates, the buyer’s journey is not a straight line 

B2B-buying-journey

As you can see, buyers take many twists and turns before arriving at their final decision. This makes intuitive sense — buyers want to make sure that they’ve thoroughly considered every option before committing to one product. 

As a marketer, your job is to simplify this journey. You want to make it as straightforward as possible for your prospects to find your company, read your content, and meet with your salespeople. This involves creating the buyer’s content experience with sales in mind

Strategies for Architecting the Buyer’s Content Experience

As you design your buyer’s content experience, keep in mind that buyers need to be convinced to purchase on both a logical and an intuitive level. Not only do buyers need to hear the rational reasons to purchase your product, but they also need to believe in your company on a deeper level.

This is a lot for your content to accomplish, and it requires a well-thought-out content experience. You should start by aligning your objectives with your buyers’ objectives throughout their journey. After all, you both want the same thing — the right solution to the buyer’s problem.

To start, 71.7% of buyers begin their journey by searching online for solutions. During this phase, you should make it as easy as possible for buyers to access your Demand Generation content, which is content that increases brand awareness and drives buyers to your website. Make sure there are as few barriers to your Demand Gen content as possible so buyers can use that information in the exploratory phases of their journey. 

As buyers begin to narrow down their options, they want more highly specialized content that is relevant to their needs. At this stage, you should provide buyers with Lead Generation content, a type of content that is valuable enough for a prospective client to fill out a contact information form to access it. This high-quality content will establish your company as a thought leader in the industry, and strengthen your reputation with potential buyers.

The Creative Content River™

Now that you’ve architected your buyer’s content experience, it’s time to actually produce the content you need to reach buyers. Instead of doing it all in-house, you can easily fast-track your company’s growth by outsourcing content production through SOMAmetrics’ Creative Content River™.

Generating compelling content in-house is an expensive, fixed-cost endeavor that drains your resources each year. But the Creative Content River™ provides you with all the content you need, for less than half of what it would cost to do in-house. A flexible, scalable subscription to the Creative Content River™ gives you the freedom to focus on the big picture, while still receiving the high-quality content you need to reach today’s buyers through your Demand Gen and Lead Gen campaigns.

For more information about what the Creative Content River™ can do for your marketing efforts, download this white paper

The Reality of a Buyer’s Decision-Making Process

The buyer’s decision-making process is less straightforward than you might expect. Fortunately, high-quality decision-enabling content can help streamline the process.

Business Decision-Making: How Rational Is it?

When it comes to making business decisions, individuals like to think of themselves as rational thinkers motivated entirely by logic and reason. In order to make the best possible business decisions, it makes sense that B2B buyers want to rely on proven facts and objective information.

However, the reality of decision-making is much more subjective. Buyers may not want to admit it, but their decisions are motivated at the subconscious level by factors that aren’t always rational.

In his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman gives us a framework to understand this process. Kahneman distinguishes between two modes of thinking: System 1, which concerns our fast, knee-jerk reaction to stimuli, and System 2, which is more deliberate and analytical. System 1 refers to the things that come to us effortlessly and without much thought, like the answer to a simple math equation — 2+2, for example. System 2, on the other hand, concerns conscious, effortful thought processes that come into play in more complex situations.

With this knowledge, you might think that System 2 is the primary system at work when individuals are making business decisions. However, the reality is more complicated than that. While rational considerations are undoubtedly important in the decision-making process, System 1 still plays an influential role. 

If you’re only appealing to consumers’ rational considerations, you’re missing a relevant part of the decision-making process. To truly reach buyers, you have to cut through the noise and establish your company as a trustworthy source of information, which is effective on both a subconscious and a rational level. But how do you do this?

Awareness Is Half the Battle

Your prospective clients may not even be aware of the problem they need to address, or they might not be aware of how big that problem is. Some marketers make the mistake of thinking their prospects have a full and accurate understanding of their own businesses — but that’s often not the case.

This represents another complication in the decision-making process. If prospects aren’t aware they have a problem to solve, they won’t actively seek out solutions to that problem. And how do you reach prospects who aren’t searching for solutions?

To address this roadblock, marketers have to create informative content that reaches even the most skeptical of prospects. They need to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of their prospects’ world, from the issues prospects are aware of, to the ones they need help identifying. This is where creative content comes in.

The Creative Content River™: A Stream of Marketing Content
B2B buyers are looking for answers online. Before making any big decisions, buyers will thoroughly research their options — and content is a huge part of that. 75% of buyers report that the content of the vendor they chose made a significant impact on their buying decision.

The types of content B2B buyers rely on most heavily when making decisions are white papers, webinars, and case studies. To successfully generate these long-form types of content, you’ll need full-time writers and graphic designers, each putting in hours of work on a given piece.

But the bare minimum isn’t enough. To stand out amongst the deluge of content online, you have to demonstrate your in-depth understanding of the issues facing your prospects. Successful content must provide useful, relevant, and well-researched information to a given audience, or it will fail to make an impact. And to reach consumers who aren’t necessarily searching for answers, you’ll need to generate a lot of it.

This is expensive and time-consuming, to say the least. But you don’t have to devote all of your time and resources to creating high-quality content in-house — instead, you can outsource your creative content production through a subscription. 

By subscribing to the level of creative content that you need, you can increase your flexibility and expand your content output, without increasing costs. In fact, subscribing will save you 55% to 58% of the cost of full-time employees. With the cost savings, you can devote more of your resources to your company’s core functions and maximize your growth.

For more information on SOMAmetric’s Creative Content River™, download this white paper.