Contrary to what some inexperienced marketers might expect, customer purchases don’t happen randomly and unexpectedly.
It’s true that many people make snap decisions and resort to impulse purchases. But waiting for someone to stumble upon your product or service isn’t exactly the best strategy for generating predictable revenue.
92% of shoppers aren’t ready to purchase right away, mainly because they want to perform research and review their options.
On their way to making a final purchasing decision, customers go through different stages – awareness, consideration, and decision. This entire process is called the buyer’s journey, and you need to understand how to help your potential customers navigate it and choose you over your competitors.
Each of these stages is important, but it’s the awareness stage that generates new business opportunities. At this point in the buyer’s journey, people aren’t aware of your brand and solution. They’ve just started experiencing a problem, and their goal is to solve it.
Since they still don’t know what the solution to their pain point is, they start looking for resources, typically on the internet. They start educating themselves about the problem itself.
It’s worth clarifying that in the awareness stage, people are still trying to label their issue and name it. For example, they might google certain symptoms they experience, such as “blurred vision” or something vague such as “normal BMI.”
It’s clear that capturing your potential customer’s attention at this early stage of their journey will allow you to:
- stay top of mind
- present yourself as an authority
- gradually build trust while you’re helping your prospects put their issue in a certain context
In this post, we’ll talk about creating engaging educational content that will resonate with customers in this early stage of their journey.
What’s the Role of Content in the Buyer’s Journey?
Before we discuss the topic in more detail, we’ll explore the role that content plays across the buyer’s journey.
Content for this stage of the buyer’s journey should add value to your prospects, answer their questions, and give them the information they need. So, don’t try to be salesy and push your agenda at this point, as coming off too strong can backfire.
Remember, your potential customers are far from being purchase ready.
It will be enough to help them associate your brand with a potential solution.
Use simple language without industry jargon so that people who don’t know the first thing about the issue you want to solve can understand you.
Vidyard’s How to Create the Best How-To Videos is an example of successful awareness-stage content. This educational resource provides detailed information about creating how-to videos and does so without including a sales pitch.
In this stage, your potential customer can name their problem and is actively looking for a solution. Moreover, they’re somewhat familiar with your prospect or service, thanks to the awareness stage content you created.
They’re still not ready to buy, but they’re considering different solutions, yours being one of them.
Your content in this stage needs to focus on building general brand credibility. You’re still not selling here. You’re talking to a prospect who may be invested in your brand, and you’re building credibility and authority.
Kuru Footwear is an excellent example of a brand with superb consideration stage content. Their guide on the best orthopedic shoes is a tremendously valuable resource for people suffering from foot pain conditions.
Source: Kuru Footwear
In the third and final stage of the buyer’s journey, customers are ready to make a decision and purchase.
What they need now is guidance and help in choosing the vendor that’s the right fit for them. This means your customers are making a list of different solutions to compare their features, benefits, and pricing.
Your decision-stage content is supposed to highlight your unique sales proposition and explain what makes your product or service better than competitors’ solutions.
To achieve this, focus on understanding potential objections prospects might have. Address these concerns and talk about how your product or service adds value. You can do this by leveraging social proof, such as case studies, customer testimonials, or reviews.
In their comprehensive buyer’s guide, Sleep Junkie offers detailed side-by-side comparisons and reviews of the best adjustable beds in one place so that customers can easily see how each product stacks up against the other contenders.
Besides a detailed analysis of every product on the list, together with pros and cons, there’s a short, 30-second summary of the best overall product. Finally, since customers highly value the credibility of the resources they use, this article has been written by a certified sleep coach and later fact-checked and medically reviewed.
Source: Sleep Junkie
Answer Questions You Know Your Prospects Are Asking
We’ve already established that people in the awareness stage of their buyer’s journey aren’t sure what kind of a problem they have, let alone that your product or service can be exactly what they need.
The content you create for this stage should answer their questions and let them know that there’s a solution.
As this is the first step of their journey, it’s your job to help prospects identify, frame, and contextualize the problem they have. This is the phase in which they explore the topic, so pointing them in the right direction will score you some brownie points. Not to mention, it will certainly drive more traffic to your website.
The content formats that can best serve the purpose of educating prospects include while allowing you to target the right audience include:
- Blog posts
- Social media content
- How-to videos
- Interactive content, such as quizzes, calculators, or questionnaires.
But how do you find out what questions your prospects are asking since guessing isn’t exactly the best approach?
1. Do Research among Your Customers
Your existing customers are a great source of information.
Talk to them about how they found out about your product or service, what pain points they tried to solve, and where their search started.
The “How did you hear about us” survey can be very helpful and give you insight into the inbound channel that works best for your company.
2. Check Google’s “People Also Ask” Section
This is a simple but clever trick.
Use a keyword or phrase relevant to your product/service or the problem it solves, and type it into the Google search box.
Apart from different results, you’ll also get a list of the questions related to that keyword that people most commonly ask.
For example, if you google “keyboard for wrist pain,” you’ll see the following PPA questions:
- What is the best keyboard to avoid carpal tunnel?
- Which keyboard has the best wrist rest?
- Do split keyboards help with wrist pain?
3. Perform Keyword Research
With SEO tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush, you can unearth the exact words and phrases your target audience uses when searching for a solution to a particular pain point.
Then you can use these keywords and topics to create content around them and target your potential customers.
Fire Pit Surplus used these tactics to figure out what their potential customers would like to know and created a blog post that answers these questions. Having insight into the kinds of questions that their target audience is asking is a crucial part of the process when you’re catering to an audience in the awareness stage.
Source: Fire Pit Surplus
Create Useful Reference Material
Large chunks of text can be overwhelming, meaning that your prospects won’t be too enthusiastic about reading your content.
That’s why you need to create useful reference material that will break up the wall of text and communicate your message more clearly.
Visual assets such as charts, graphs, and infographics are powerful tools for presenting complex data in an easily-digestible manner. They can easily transform monotonous content into an attention-grabbing and engaging piece.
According to stats, 65% of customers are visual learners, meaning they will absorb most information not by reading but by consuming visual content.
Here are some tips on how to make your awareness-stage content more appealing:
1. Use Infographics
Infographics are popular among marketers and customers alike because these colorful pictograms simplify complex data and make it easily comprehensible.
They also serve as a great awareness-stage content format because you can condense your message into a series of illustrated key points.
TDInsights used a well-designed infographic to explain how bad data affects business by highlighting the most important stats and relevant information.
2. Create Ebooks
Ebooks are an excellent lead magnet, and their use in the awareness stage can do wonders for your website traffic.
Their perceived value is higher than that of blog posts since they can be downloaded, which makes them more tangible.
Being longer and more in-depth than white papers, blog posts, and other short-form content, ebooks give you an opportunity to establish your expertise and showcase your authority.
Finally, ebooks are usually premium or gated content, meaning that you can use them to prompt potential customers to opt in and share their contact information.
For example, by answering an important question about how in-context support can improve the bottom line, Intercom clearly implies how their audience will benefit from reading it.
3. Include a Reference Table
Reference tables present data-heavy information in an organized and reader-friendly way.
They’re easily scannable and concise so that your prospects won’t have to go through countless lines of text trying to find a piece of information they need.
FE International leverages a practical reference table in their lengthy blog post to compare two businesses for sale using valuation multiples. Since there are numerous factors and variables to consider in the comparison, the regular text would make it too confusing and hard to read.
Source: FE International
Get Hyper-Specific with Interactive Content
Interactive content actively engages the audience by requiring them to participate.
In other words, users aren’t passive recipients of a marketing message but participants in a two-way conversation. By design, this format is more effective and compelling than the traditional, static content. The audience gets the information based on their input and thus tailored for them.
So, allowing your prospects to interact with your content means they’ll be able to get answers that are incredibly specific to them.
Besides boosting engagement, such dynamic content will help you get feedback from your audience and improve your conversion rates.
Here are some examples of getting hyper-specific with interactive content:
1. Use Calculators
Calculators are popular because they show people how to save money, cut costs, or make financial plans. Brands usually leverage these powerful marketing tools to highlight the benefits of using their product or service.
MarketBeat takes personalization to the next level by offering their audience a detailed calculator for dividends.
2. Take Advantage of Quizzes
The reason why people love quizzes is that these entertaining tests engage them on a more personal level. And above all, this type of interactive content tells people something about themselves, which is the secret behind the popularity of Buzzfeed quizzes.
But, although they’re intended to be fun, quizzes can also serve the purpose of educating people on serious matters.
For example, Birchbox uses a simple quiz to learn more about their customers’ skin type, hair type, and beauty style to match them with the right products. Since picking the right skincare and beauty products can be challenging and time-consuming, the brand facilitates this process for their subscribers by putting together a fully curated box of five expertly selected items each month – all based on their answers from the quiz.
Promote Your Content on Social Media
Having superb awareness-stage content is a must.
But, it won’t reach its full potential unless you properly promote it.
However, don’t rely entirely on Google to get people to the content they may be looking for. It’s very likely that your social media followers are following you because they have an inherent interest in your industry.
Create content that you know will resonate with them. Answer questions that they may have, and then promote this content on your various social media platforms.
Leveraging Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or TikTik for this purpose can have two powerful benefits:
- You can expand the reach of your content as your followers will share it with their respective networks.
- You can get valuable insight into your prospects’ needs by encouraging conversations about your content. Plus, you also have the opportunity to make them aware of your authority and credibility through this kind of interaction.
National Geographic does a great job on social media – even on Facebook, where many brands struggle to spark conversations. Their blog post on the ways animals feel pain garnered more than 3K likes, 319 likes, and 269 shares.
Companies that use video get 66% more qualified leads per year and achieve a 54% increase in brand awareness. It’s also worth mentioning that 88% of people want to see more videos from brands they like.
We can safely conclude that video is one of the most effective and engaging content types.
The awareness stage content is detailed since your goal is to address a problem and do so in a very authoritative way. The point is to inform and educate your prospects; that can’t be done if you only scratch the surface.
A great strategy to help people engage with this content is to either create videos or supplement your written content with a video.
Instructional and how-to videos that offer step-by-step explanations of a particular concept help your audience better understand your message.
Tasty’s video showing five beautiful ways to decorate a cake is an amazing resource for aspiring pâtissiers. Given that the brand offers a line of cookware, bakeware, and other kitchen tools, viewers can see these products being used in videos and realize that, say, a cake turntable is exactly what they need to decorate their next creation.
It’s in the awareness stage that your potential customers are first exposed to your brand. That’s why this initial encounter has to be memorable, and you can achieve this goal by crafting exceptional content. Think of this stage as laying the foundations for the successful customer journey that will result in conversions. Well-researched and carefully executed awareness-stage content will attract your target audience and keep them coming back.