Must-Use Content for Every Stage in the Inbound Sales Process
The inbound sales process, which is heavily tailored to what is called the buyer’s journey, is defined by HubSpot as “the active research process a potential buyer goes through leading up to a purchase.” As we’re all accustomed to the Internet and its uses in everyday life, we typically conduct a lot of research before coming to a final buying decision on a product or service. From the initial thought of need/want until the actual purchase decision, you are traveling down the buyer’s journey. Here’s what the buyer’s journey looks like simplified:
The thought process involved in making a buying decision is set up in three stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. Varying types of content is absolutely essential to effectively market to leads in each of these stages, depending on what kind of information is relevant to the buyer at that specific time. The content offers you should use are determined by user behavior and the depth of information needed.
In the awareness stage, a buyer is searching the Internet with a question or problem in mind – and let’s face it, they are most likely ‘Googling’ for a solution. The easiest way to get your content found is simple: answer a question. When visitors first stumble upon your content, they’re considered to be at the top of the sales funnel. These potential buyers are just becoming aware of your company and what you have to offer, so they are considered unqualified leads to your sales team.
B2B marketers that blog receive 67% more leads than those that do not. -HubSpot (click to tweet!)
A blog compiled of industry news and educational content can play a crucial role in attracting visitors to your site. While brainstorming what to write about in your company’s blog, perform keyword research to see how specific keywords rank, and then create intriguing titles using this information.
Once a blog post is written, it must be optimized for search engines (this is for the ‘Googling’ done by buyers). Proper search engine optimization (SEO) will drive traffic to your blog just as much as your content.
- Use target keywords in the title, URL and throughout the body of content. These should be long-tail keywords, such as “New York style pizza,” rather than simply “pizza.”
- Include a meta description that accurately describes the blog post in about 140 characters.
- Incorporate headers and images for both SEO and visual appeal.
- Use inbound links to other web pages.
The goal with this content is to inform your visitors and leave them wanting to learn more – this is not where you pitch how awesome your service or product is. The most functional forms of content to use in the awareness stage are relevant blog articles, videos or other offers you already have. Once this visitor is engaged (or even better, subscribed to your blog), marketing can step in and a content driven approach can be employed to educate this visitor further.
A blog is meant to draw people in, and while SEO and consistent blogging can bring new visitors, you can’t stop there if you want those visitors to convert into leads. When a visitor reaches the consideration stage, they are transitioning into a marketing qualified lead. A buyer that has reached this stage is more invested in finding a solution to their problem than they were in the awareness stage. This raise in interest and determination increases the possibility of making a purchase.
While top of the funnel offers are designed to provide informative or ‘neutral’ information, middle of the funnel offers are where your product or service gets to shine (now is when you can talk about how awesome you are). The following are effective content offers to use during the consideration stage of the buying process:
- White papers: describe in detail what you have to offer or compare your product to another.
- Webinars: allow visitors to join a live webinar or watch a prerecorded webinar for a more personable way of transmitting information.
- Videos: offer information with a video or animation rather than text.
Now that middle of the funnel content is being offered, gate that content behind a landing page. A landing page allows you to use a form to collect visitor (lead) information, such as their first and last name, email address or company. With this information, you can nurture them toward a buying decision using an email campaign.
When your visitor reaches the bottom of the funnel, they are considered to be in the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. At this point, they are ready to buy and are most likely comparing multiple places to buy from. A sales qualified lead typically needs a little push to make a final decision; this is your opportunity make clear why you stand out compared to your competitors.
Content offers for buyers in the decision stage are typically the most common found in a website’s resource catalog. These offers are
arranged to entice an agreement, and include:
- Case Studies
- Free Trials or Consultations
- Live Demos
- Product or Vendor Comparisons
Although the sales process technically ends after a purchase is made, a positive relationship following that purchase is what truly matters. Keeping your new customer happy is vital, considering that 65% of new business comes from referrals (New York Times) and 74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision (Ogilvy, Google, TNS).
Keeping your prospects engaged during the buyer’s journey is key to converting the most leads into customers possible. Are you ready to start using video during your inbound sales process and get 2016 cranking?