Imagine for a second.
You’re driving around town, and you found a nice shirt inside a shop from the window—and you know it’d fit perfectly on you. But at that time, you’re not ready to spend $44.99.
Often times, in real life, that’s exactly how purchase decisions are made. In most cases, customers go through a journey before they finally place an order, or buy from your store. The buyer’s journey is a marketing concept that has been around for years. It’s not a buzzword either.
Sadly, 65% of marketers are still challenged when it comes to understanding which types of content are effective and which types aren’t at the different stages of the buyer’s journey.
More so, considering that 81% of buyers conduct research online before making a buying decision, it’s important that you optimize your content at each stage that your ideal buyer is in—and ensure your pages are found in search engines.
This would help you to attract and deliver value to your target customers who are actively searching for the solution you offer.
That being said, I wrote this article to help you understand how to use content and SEO to attract customers and deliver value in your marketing funnel.
Let’s get started…
Stage #1: Top of the funnel: Discovery/Awareness
TOFU – Top of the Funnel is the first stage the buyer must go through before buying a product. Recall our story earlier: It’s the point when the customer drives by and sees (discovers) the shirt.
It’s important to note that at this point, customer’s aren’t ready to buy anything yet.
Of course, they’re trying to solve a problem. Obviously, they’ll be looking for answers which you’re expected to provide. At this stage, they’re looking for top-level educational content to help point them in the right direction.
Your goal at this stage of their journey is to allow them to discover your brand (Pro Tip: create brand awareness). Your goal isn’t to sell them your solution yet but to educate them.
If you provide helpful information to your customers, it positions your brand as a trusted authority which is very important for creating a distinctive brand identity.
According to a recent study by Key Difference Media, 78% of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building a good relationship with customers.
Creating custom content for your target customers is extremely important. Here are the types of content that are proven to work—when you want to make it easier for the target customers to discover your brand and become aware of your solutions:
On one hand, you have to identify informational and educational keywords which you can use to optimize your content properly.
On the flip side, you need to determine your best-performing landing pages from Google Analytics—they usually generate the highest amount of traffic to your website.
For these landing pages, you need to improve them with the keywords you found to boost their search rankings and traffic.
To find landing pages on your Google Analytics account, simply log in and follow this path:
BEHAVIOR > Site Content > All Pages.
Ensure that the keywords are also integrated into the landing page’s meta data (i.e., URL structure, meta description, title tag, header tags) and align with user intent.
Stage #2: Middle of the funnel: Consideration
The middle of the funnel (MOFU) is a very critical point in the buyer’s journey. It has a smaller more targeted audience than the Awareness/Discovery stage.
In this stage, the customer is already aware and they are either considering your offer or your competitors. To stand out from your competitors and inspire potential customers, make sure you create dedicated landing page for each piece of content in your funnel.
If your marketing funnel is synced with your email autoresponder service (it should), then you can easily segment your list based on user behavior and content.
What potential buyers need now is information that can help them determine the best solution out of the lot they have read. They are usually looking for product reviews, product comparison, best brands for xx, and the like.
This stage is where you drive your marketing message into hearts of your target audience. No marketing hypes or trick, but by delivering enormous value.
Note that their search pattern will equally change. For example, they might likely search for “best stain removal” instead of “how to remove stain”. Do you see the difference?
This shows a transition from TOFU (top of the funnel) to the middle of the funnel in the marketing funnel. Your targeted keywords for this second stage should change as well—as you’ll be targeting a more specific potential buyer who is expressing interest.
Of course, the content that you produce for potential buyers at this middle stage will still be educational, it must be actionable as well because you want people to take an action.
The content that performs well include expert guides, webinars, live interactions, case studies, data sheets, swipe files, buyer guides that compare your features and benefits with that of your competitors, and a lot more.
Don’t stop at producing great content though, there’s a lot more you can do at the stage to maximize your impact and sales as the buyer moves to the conversion stage.
Acquiring links from authoritative and industry-specific websites can boost your domain authority and improve your rankings, as well as drive targeted search traffic to your landing pages.
Stage #3: Bottom of the funnel (BOFU): Conversions
The bottom of the funnel is the stage in the buyer’s journey where your prospects make a buying decision—the prospect becomes a paying customer.
Your goal at this stage is to close the sale. You want to create content that will convince your prospects to pull the trigger and to feel happy and empowered to make a buying decision right now.
At this stage, it’s important that you leverage your branded keywords to drive sales from search engines.
Because customers are aware of your products and services and are already familiar with your brand. If they add your branded keywords in their search query, it will help facilitate the buying process.
According to Kapost, 34% of B2B buyers said the number of team members involved in making a purchase decision has increased. That means you must create compelling content that your customer can share internally with stakeholders to keep the purchase conversation smooth and rewarding.
With that in mind, the bottom-of-funnel content should clear all customer’s doubt and prove that your solution is worth their time and money, and of course, it should explain how the products and services will be implemented within the organization.
The type of content that makes a lot of impact at this stage includes case studies, trial offers, demos, product literature, among many.
This example by KISSmetrics is my favorite example of the type of content that will nudge customers to complete a transaction.
All in all, search engine optimization plays a vital role in ensuring that your target customers find you easily. Of course, it takes a lot of time but the rewards can be worthwhile.
However, don’t try to compete with big brands with a huge marketing budget, but instead, research and optimize your content pages for long-tail search terms. This would help you generate 70% of search traffic without building too many backlinks and social signals.
In all, you’ve got to understand that no stage in the buyer’s journey is more important than the other. However, each stage plays a key and dependent role in the marketing funnel.