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Killer Content For Every Stage of The Buyer’s Journey
Copywriting / 27 Aug 2022
Prospect → Loyal Customer → Advocate
“Oh boy, I can’t wait to give a faceless corporation some of my hard-earned money,” said no one ever.
And yet, people wake up and do just that every single day, thanks to the power of marketing.
According to SurveyMonkey, 3 out of every 4 users (74%) think there are too many ads. This number balloons to 78% for adults 35+ years old.
Yet, nearly half of social media users (48%) have bought something after seeing an ad. So, what’s going on?
|Digital ad spending grew 12.2% in the second half of 2020 as advertisers resumed campaigns and took advantage of lockdown spending during COVID-19. At the same time, desktop ad blocking grew by 8%, and mobile ad blocking by 10%. Today, 42.7% of global internet users aged 16 to 64 use ad blockers at least once a month.|
While advertising–and social media advertising in particular–is effective, in most cases it’s just not giving people a good experience. In order to market effectively, you need to capture people’s imagination, generate excitement, and then deliver a product that doesn’t disappoint, thus creating loyal customers for years to come.
It is when you know about the Buyer’s Journey, and can pair that with an excellent sales funnel to market your product in the best light possible.
What is a Buyer’s Journey?
The Buyer’s Journey is a marketing concept which describes the stages a potential customer goes through from first becoming aware of a brand or product to deciding to purchase.
It’s helpful to think of the Buyer’s Journey as similar to the classic storytelling framework, the Hero’s Journey. A hero sets out, gets called to a quest, takes it on, and kills the monster. Think of your buyer as a knight in shining armour, on a mission to purchase a product or service.
|Ever heard of the AIDA model? Or, Attention, Interest, Desire, Action? The Buyer’s Journey is essentially a simplified version, with the two middle stages combined into one. The origins of this model can be traced as far back as 1898.|
Every customer is the hero of their own story. Marketers must successfully get the hero from start (first awareness) to finish (purchase), but the problem is, our hero comes up with all sorts of objections and sees us as the bad guy. So we must figure out how to appeal to customers less as a fire-breathing dragon to conquer, and more like a Rapunzel.
To be successful in sales in today’s day and age, sales reps must adapt their mindset from selling to helping and aim to be a guide rather than an opposing force. Be their Obi-Wan or Gandalf, rather than the Big Bad Wolf.
To easier navigate the buyer’s journey, we can break it into three main phases: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. A is for Awareness, the first stage where the consumer becomes aware of a product or brand, usually through advertising, whether a targeted ad on facebook, an online search, or simply through word of mouth..
Focusing on SEO is great for the attention stage, as you’re positioning your brand front and centre just when consumers need you.
The next stage is consideration. This is when consumers’ curiosity is piqued, and they go beyond passive awareness of your offer to actively investigate by reading reviews, asking questions, and starting to weigh whether or not your service or product fits their needs.
How-to’s, testimonials and retargeting/remarketing is perfect for the Consideration stage.
Decision is the stage when your consumer starts to really, really want your product. Now that they know your product exists, and they’ve done the proper amount of research to better understand it and how it can help them, they’re daydreaming about a life with it. They’ve now made the decision to purchase, you just need to make it easy for them to do so.
Offer discount codes and show off five star reviews to nail down the purchase.
However, as simple and straightforward as the Awareness, Consideration, and Decision framework may seem, it all falls flat if you don’t have a way to get your customer to the awareness stage.
For this, you need to create a distinct path that will gently guide your ideal customer from product to purchase–in other words, you need a sales funnel.
What is a Sales Funnel?
If you’re imagining an inverted-pyramid funnel shape, you’ve hit the nail on the head.
In basic terms, a sales funnel is the yellow brick road which digitally reels in your customers. Think of it as your online sales machine.
It’s funnel-shaped to catch as many people as possible at first, before filtering them through progressive stages of marketing so that only the people who a.) are legitimately interested in your product and b.) are likely to become repeat customers, wind up at the bottom.
|Sales funnels are not websites! A website offers visitors multiple options like viewing pages, learning more, and following on social media, while a sales funnel offers visitors just one path. You set the map, and each stage of your funnel points them to the next.|
A sales funnel can be as simple as an opt-in, and a thank you page or as complex as a series of pages, variables, and paths.
Attract, Engage, and Delight
Each sales funnel has a beginning, middle, and end, which we call Attract, Engage and Delight. Ideally, these will match up to each stage of the Buyer’s Journey.
Let’s look at an example.
- The product you’re selling is leadership coaching. The prospect lands on your landing page from a link or an ad, and is asked to enter their email address for a free gift (we call this a “lead magnet”) such as a report or a free consultation call.
- The next page is a delivery or thank you page, which might contain a download link for the lead magnet. On this page the prospect might see information for the main offer, and click to learn more, which takes them to the sales page.
- The only option on the sales page (apart from exiting it) is to click the “Buy” button, which takes them to a thank you page after checkout.
You can see how each page contains only one option for the prospect to take, which leads them to the next stage.
Wait…so what’s a website?
Selling a product or service? You need a funnel. Websites, on the other hand, are great for building authority or a brand. Here’s where a lot of people get confused, because a website can be the first stage of a funnel. Stay with us.
The difference between a sales funnel and a website is the difference between a linear path and a wide open field.
In a sales funnel, there’s only one way to go: down the funnel. On a website, there are any number of links to click with no defined path set out.
Websites are great to use at the Awareness stage, at the top of the funnel.
For example, say you’re a business consultant. You want to sell your program, but also build trust and loyalty. So, you set up a website. You add lots of information about yourself and what you do, create a regular blog, start crafting a monthly newsletter, the works.
Then, you add a sales funnel–a specific set of pages in a certain order to convince people to buy your product.
People land on your website from Google or other traffic sources, explore your blog and other pages, and then can visit your landing page–thus entering your sales funnel–by signing up for your newsletter or clicking to learn more.
|McDonald’s has a very famous sales funnel, and you’ve probably fallen into it yourself: “do you want fries with that?”
In the restaurant, you have a ton of options in front of you, like a website with links. All you want is one little burger, so you “opt in” and click to order. Now, you’re in the sales funnel, being asked if you want extras and sides. All of a sudden, the menu becomes a set of yes or no options, and before you know it you’ve supersized your meal with a vanilla Coke and six apple pies.
That’s a sales funnel. And it leads to full, happy customers.
These stages of the funnel–the Coke, the fries, the supersizing–are called upsells and downsells. When making something larger or adding more products, that’s being “upsold”. But if the main offer is rejected, and the customer compromises on a smaller or more limited version, they’ve been “downsold”.
The McDonald’s Sales Funnel:
Awareness (Attract) – you’re aware you’re hungry, and you’re attracted to McDonald’s (they have a billboard near you). Going into the restaurant moves you to the next stage.
Consideration (Engage) – you consider what you want, and are asked if you want extras and sides. Making your decision moves you to the next stage.
Decision (Delight) – finally, you give your complete order, and the McDonald’s worker delights you by bringing delicious food and maybe even a cool toy.
As we can see, Awareness, Consideration and Decision are the stages the buyer goes through on their journey, complemented by the Attract, Engage and Delight stages of the funnel which fulfils their needs and moves them onto the next stage.
A good sales funnel doesn’t bully a sale, it should show the best side of the offer and make the buying journey as painless and obvious as possible.
The secret? Don’t rush, and put just as much effort into attracting and engaging your customers as delighting them during the sale, as well as after.
And to do that, you need to know exactly what content to deliver, and when. So, let’s map out your Buyer’s Journey and your sales funnel content ideas from start to finish.
Stage 1: Attraction and Awareness
Tofu is always the first course. Here, ToFu simply means “Top Of the FUnnel”.
Imagine a sales funnel as an inverted cone. At the top, you want to cast a wide net to attract a large audience of potential leads. The idea is to showcase yourself as brightly as possible so that even unqualified prospects have you on their radar. Creating a lasting impression with leads who may not be qualified for your product will help you in the long run, trust us. They may have family or friends that could turn into referrals, or have a need for your service down the road.
Therefore, top of the funnel content should be eye-catching, easily shareable, and fairly neutral.
Excellent ToFu material includes:
- Blog articles
- Guest posts
- Facebook ads
- Social media
The fact is, your audience may even be in the awareness stage of their Buyer’s Journey when you begin to attract them to your product or brand. This means that if your product or service solves a common problem they’re already aware of, your content strategy should shift to solving their pain or problem by creating content they can easily discover and consume.
Sometimes they aren’t aware they even have a problem in the first place, and this is more common than you may think if you sell things people don’t immediately need. For example, no one “needs” a fidget spinner or a bag in the shape of a slice of pizza. But if people only bought what they needed, manufacturers would run out of things to sell pretty quickly!
In cases where you aren’t sure your product solves a problem, you need to take a deeper look: what are the benefits of your product? How can you link some of those benefits to problems people have? For example, the fidget spinner could help with boredom, the pizza bag could look pretty cool and amuse your friends. Boredom and not having enough fun accessories are not world-ending problems, but when you link them to stress relief and having a good time with your friends, then suddenly you create a need (or at least a desire) where there was none before.
This is the point of ToFu content: to attract and pique interest. You want to educate, inform, and entertain to the point where qualified leads want to exchange contact details for more of the same, or even better, move on to the next level. You want to address their pain or desires, and maybe even offer some solutions, without trying to make a sale.
Those who find your content helpful and interesting may journey on to the middle of the funnel.
At this stage, you can really get creative. For example, when Rejuv Medical wanted to attract new patients and reduce lead generation cost, they decided to give quizzes a try and created a hormone imbalance quiz.
Ultimately it resulted in a whopping 947 new leads, 30 consultations and 15 conversions of participants into patients. All in all they made nearly £14,000 in new revenue in just a month and some change.
This Facebook ad was promoted to qualifying prospects, making them aware of Rejuv Medical and reminding them of potential sleep problems.
Stage 2: Engage and Consider
Mofu is the middle of the funnel, or the stage where you need to Engage your buyer because they are Considering your offer.
Many marketers focus too much on the Attraction stage, and neglect what comes next. But according to Learning Hub, 95% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and 54% of shoppers buy online because they can easily compare between stores. This makes the Consideration stage just as vital as the Attraction stage. Use this stage to really let your product shine and showcase what sets you apart from the rest.
Imagine your buyer is a stage director, and you’re auditioning for a part. You’ve taken your place in the spotlight, introduced yourself, and revealed that you have six years of tap and would love the opportunity to shine.
This is the part after those excruciating two seconds of silence where the director leans back in his seat and says, “Wow me.”
It’s terrifying, exhilarating, and utterly dependent on the customer at this point. All you need to do is show off your best side.
In this stage of the funnel, your content should continue to educate the prospect about the nitty gritty of your industry and their issue, but also subtly start to position your product or service as the solution.
Don’t ask for a sale. Explain how and why your methods are the greatest in the world, and why nothing else will work, without giving away all your secrets.
It’s a tightrope, but it’s worth it to reach the other side.
Great ideas for in-depth middle of the funnel content include:
- Whitepapers, reports, case studies, etc
- An online course
But there’s good news for people who haven’t got the time, energy or means to make a lot of content: according to GetResponse, 58.6% of marketers claim that short-form written lead magnets (think newsletters, checklists, copy examples, smaller files, ebook samples) make for the highest conversion rates while only 41.4% claim that long-form written content (guides, whitepapers, reports, email courses, spreadsheets, curated or personalised reports) makes for the highest conversion rates.
An example of middle-of-the-funnel marketing. Zendesk consistently produces high quality educational content for customer support teams, and this ebook engages with specific customers that are considering if Zendesk will fit their needs as someone managing a remote team.
Stage 3: Delight and Decision
Bofu, or the bottom of the funnel, is where you need to Delight your buyers in order to reinforce their Decision to buy. This is the crucial stage where you guide them from Add to Cart to Pay Now, but it can be even more lucrative in the long run.
You see, a sales funnel can and should extend long beyond the purchase. You should be concentrating on Delighting your customers after the sale is made to demonstrate your value and keep them coming back for more. That’s how you get repeat business you can depend on.
Of course, some buyers will be ready to purchase before they’ve hit the ground, and they’ll seek you out. They’ll find your Buy button and hammer it into submission.
And some will stay in their seats, ready for a little extra convincing. That’s why you state your case, plain and clear, and ask for the sale.
Perhaps your Delight strategy is only one page littered with five star reviews and a Buy button. After all, you’ve spent the last two stages a.) telling your audience about their problem, and b.) convincing them you have the solution.
You can always add a little something extra–a pull or a push–to get the customer over the line.
|Discount code||A countdown timer|
|30 day guarantee||Remind them of the problem|
|Buy now, pay later||Telling them “only one left in stock”|
These last pulls or pushes will work wonders for someone who isn’t quite sure.
Delighting beyond the sale
No one likes being left in the cold. Your customers could absolutely love your product, or they could hate it. But you’ll never know if you ghost them after the sale.
Going above and beyond the traditional buyer’s journey is key to winning loyalty, getting crucial feedback that could inform future marketing and product decisions, and gaining some more marketing points via all-important word of mouth.
From beautiful sustainable packaging, to a coupon inside the box, to follow up emails asking for a review or just a newsletter keeping them informed about what you’re up to, taking the extra step to make your customer feel special and understood really counts.
|Free samples – stuck for ideas? Offer your previous customers free samples. Yes, it may seem counterintuitive considering they already know what your product is like, but the data checks out.
According to research by Harvard Business Review, “experience” goods–those where value is only discovered after consumption, for example a holiday destination, a movie, or new software–are more successful when they target existing customers than new ones. The reasoning is that by extending their use of the product, you’re making it harder for someone who already loves your product to give it up once they run out.
So don’t stop giving away value just because you’ve made one sale, you could be leaving a lot more on the table.
According to Statista, almost 80 percent of online shopping orders were abandoned in March 2021. “Spin the wheel” promotions delight (and avoid cart abandonment!) by offering customers a prize. “Gamification” such as this helped Autodesk grow its trial usage rate by 40% and conversion rates by 15%.
Your Content Roadmap
Here’s a handy at-a-glance guide to types of content that fit into the top, middle and bottom of your funnel.
|Blog article||Case study||Free trial|
|Social media post||Free sample||Discount code|
|Report/whitepaper||Demo webinar||Consultation call|
|How-to video||Comparison tables||Reviews/testimonials|
|Paid ads||Online course||FAQ’s|
|Podcasts||Drip email campaigns||Bonuses|
In today’s world, people hate being sold to. But at the end of the day, they still need to search for solutions to improve their life. By familiarising ourselves with marketing from their point of view, aka, the Buyer’s Journey, we can focus our efforts on genuinely helping our customers and making lasting, meaningful connections that ultimately turn into sales.
Brands who help buyers at every stage of their journey through valuable, high-quality information are the ones who will continue to grow and outlast the competition. It’s great experiences which lead to delighted customers, which lead to returning customers, which lead to brand evangelists who will happily promote your brand to anyone who will listen.
Measuring the success of your sales funnel can be done with analytics, but true impact isn’t always expressed in numbers. It’s about who you attract–the right customer or the good-enough customer–and how long their buying experience sticks in their mind. You can’t always tell when you truly help someone online, but striving to do just that will give you the foundation for an excellent marketing campaign.
It’s just up to you to figure out what is best going to resonate with your specific customers, so you can guide them on their journey.
At Beesting, we can take care of this for you. We provide great copy which attracts, engages, and converts at each and every stage, no matter who you are or how you want to grow. And what’s more, we’ll optimise it for SEO so your products and services can be discovered by your ideal customer even quicker. Just drop us a line.
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