Content marketing aims to work with customers and potential new clients, by providing current and relevant information as and when it is needed.
Timing as they say is everything – too soon and you risk scaring customers away, not soon enough and you may lose customers to another competitor.
But how do you know what to write and when?
The easiest way is to make sure that the content matches the needs of the customer and gives them what they want – at the time that they want it.
In order to do this effectively it is important that you understand the audience that you are writing for, and where they are in their purchasing cycle.
Writing For A Target Audience
There is no point in trying to sell a product to the wrong audience, for example why would I try and sell dog food to people that don’t own dogs?
Every niche has an intended target audience and it is the first step in content marketing to try and determine as much information as possible about your potential customer.
Who is Your Customer?
It might seem like an obvious question to ask, but it is surprising how many people don’t know who their customers are (what age, gender, background, prior experience of the topic /product, etc).
One of the advantages of niche marketing is people tend to choose a topic because it interests them, and so they themselves are actually part of their intended audience.
They can therefore legitimately write for themselves.
However as you learn more about the topic you also become further removed from those who are just new to the subject (the experienced dog handler versus the first time dog owner).
Content marketing needs to be able to reach people at all stages of knowledge and at each stage of the purchasing cycle.
The Customer Purchase Cycle
In marketing terms customers go through a number of stages before they eventually deicide whether or not to purchase a product.
There are a number of models used to show how the buying cycle operates, but generally they all include the following 5 stages.
- Need or awareness of wanting something
- What are the risks of buying?
- Final decision
Content writers need to be able to target people at each stage of the cycle and ideally be there as they move from one stage to the next.
And remember that customers can only be at one stage in the cycle at a time, for each product they are considering to buy.
1 – Need or Awareness
The first stage in marketing is raising awareness of a need.
This can be seen on many TV (or YouTube) adverts where a new device is being introduced – people need to see how their lives would be better with this product.
Content writing at this stage is aimed at identifying the problems and linking to a target audience that shares these difficulties.
2 – Research
Most customers then move onto the research phase – once they recognise that they have a problem they want to find out more information on possible solutions and options available to them.
Content writing at this point should be offering potential solutions or guiding customers where to look for further information. Building trust and showing your authority are more important than pushing a product at this stage.
As part of the research phase customers will also begin to analyse the risks involved, in buying the product and looking for the trust of the companies selling products.
3 – Risk
At this stage the customer is aware of a problem and is open to buying a product to solve it, but they want to know which companies and products to trust.
Content writing alone doesn’t solve this, but by having a solid on-line authority and appearing high in the rankings, these can all convince readers that your business is reputable.
If the customer is happy that you are reputable and trustworthy the next stage is to make an actual decision to buy.
4 – Decision
At this stage the customer might decide that the product is genuine, but there are then other decisions to be made.
- Is now the right time?
- Is the product cheaper anywhere else (even if the quality is not as good)
If the final decision is made to purchase, then the final phase of the cycle is entered.
5 – Purchase
Finally the customer purchases the product and with any luck this is done through your site.
The chances of the purchase being made through your site is greatly improved if you have been able to guide the customer through all the other stages of the purchasing cycle as well.
Many companies take advantage of this decisive action and introduce customers to other products that they may be interested in, known as a sales funnel. However most people will still go through the same 5 stages including awareness, and needing more information even in this model for any new products.
How Do You Find Out Who Your Customer Actually Is?
In order for you to be able to target your content in a way that customers can relate to, you need to know who your customer actually is and where they are in the purchase cycle.
One of the ways to do this is to open the comments section on your website. This means that potential customers can leave questions and make comments. Both types of engagement will give you a sense of the needs of these clients, as well as providing ideas for future content.
Using industry forums to see what types of questions are being asked in your niche area is another option which means that you can target articles and blogs to answer these specific questions. These articles might address questions doubting a product and provide you with opportunities to reassure potential customers that your service or product can do exactly what you claim it can.
Reviewing the latest articles in your niche will give you some insight into the new and current topics being discussed on the internet, and which may be of interest to customers. If you write on these newer topics it can show your authority and knowledge of the issue and help towards building trust and being recognised as an expert in your field.
Planning Content for Marketing
The five stages of the purchasing cycle are each distinct to what the customer needs at that particular time. Therefore there needs to be content planned for each stage of the cycle.
If customers are brought into your website through a particular landing page then this tells you what their interest is and where they are, potentially, in the cycle.
Match Products to Your Content
Sometimes I have seen marketing content that doesn’t naturally lead to the product being promoted, which can cause confusion and actually lower the number of sign ups or purchases.
For example if the post is a general introduction to a topic on how to build a website, then it is unlikely that customers landing here are looking to immediately purchase an expensive keyword tool or pay for an advanced SEO audit of their website. Any products linked to this post need to be associated with a new website build instead.
Planning content for marketing is slightly different to just writing content for interest. Both need to be engaging and informative, but in marketing the ultimate aim is to sell products.
This can only be achieved if customers are given the right tools to follow and are provided with all their content and information needs on your site.
In order to enhance the reader’s experience you can also do the following;
- Provide options for readers to skim your content and still get the main information points (through headings, images and summary / concluding comments)
- Offer further reading links so readers don’t have to search through your website looking for content
- If you are selling products on a page provide links that can easily be seen and possibly offer them a couple of times without spamming or overly pushing your customer.
- Answer questions and pre-empt what their possible concerns might be about buying a product or service
- Offer quality so customers can build trust in you and your company.
Further Reading on Content Planning
Other articles that may be of interest on content marketing are;
- How To Get More Keyword Suggestions For Your Content
- Content Based Search Solutions – The Future of SEO?
- Why Affiliate Marketing Sites Need More Content
I hope you enjoyed the article and if so please do share on your chosen social media, thanks a million, Marie