By Foster Commerce
Mar 14, 2023
The buyer's journey is the path shoppers take to buy a product or service.
In an increasingly content-rich internet, shoppers can easily avoid a path that doesn’t suit their buying habits — and they do.
That's why targeted content that answers potential buyers’ questions about products and services is critical for the success of ecommerce companies.
The modern buyer's journey is iterative. With 71% of customers shopping on mobile, purchases are made after repeated engagements with a brand over time, fueled by search.
Marketers who understand search intent can support a buyer's decision-making process by sharing the right content at the right time.
The right content positions a brand as an authority, differentiates it from competitors, and helps to accomplish broader business goals.
In other words, content marketing focused on search intent can turn shoppers into buyers and buyers into lifelong fans.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a strategy marketers use to help shoppers get to know, like, and trust a brand.
A good content marketing strategy supports the buyer's journey by building brand awareness, encouraging engagement, and driving sales.
In addition to the marketing content, how and where it is delivered is vital to cultivating customer relationships and loyalty.
Various content types, like articles, videos, social media posts, or case studies can be used in a well-optimized marketing strategy.
But deciding which content and content type is best at each stage of the customer buying journey can take time and effort.
That's why a good place to begin is creating an ideal customer persona.
The ideal customer persona explained
A good content marketing strategy starts with making an ideal customer persona for your product or service.
Customer personas are powerful tools and have many benefits, providing insight into your actual customers and their motivation.
For example, is your ideal customer searching for a solution to a painful problem? Or are they researching an exciting new opportunity?
Answering these questions reveals ways to reach customers with educational, entertaining, persuasive, or inspirational content.
A good customer persona has other benefits too. For example, it can inform decisions about brand voice and tone or which platforms and content types to use.
It's also helpful in getting your team on the same page as you develop your marketing goals and objectives.
To generate a customer persona, research online or interview current customers to develop a one-page profile of your perfect buyer.
When you craft your persona, add your ideal customer's name, profession, income, age, and hobbies.
Then, go a little deeper and think about the following:
Where do they spend time online?
What does your ideal customer value?
What challenges do they face?
What opportunities do they have?
Who influences their buying decisions? (e.g., a partner, manager, parent, or friend)
How will their life be transformed after they purchase your product or service?
When you answer these questions, it's easier to identify content that supports actual customers as they look for solutions online.
Defining an objective
After completing your ideal customer persona, decide what you'd like to accomplish with your content.
Sometimes, it's obvious where you want to focus marketing efforts. For example, many ecommerce businesses have great products, but their ideal customers need to learn that they exist.
In that case, the objective of a content marketing strategy might be to raise brand awareness.
Or a business might have customers who know about their services but need more leads for their sales team.
In that scenario, creating a content marketing strategy that supports prospective buyers to connect to sales might be the answer.
Occasionally, it's not clear what your objective is until after you start mapping out a general buyer's journey, but don't worry.
You can still map the buyer's journey with your ideal customer in mind. Doing this will likely reveal gaps in your marketing efforts, and the objective can be to fill those in.
Documenting the buyer's journey
Traditionally, the buyer's journey was considered a linear process, progressing in a straight line.
But according to research done by Google, user journeys are more like touchpoints fueled by "micro-moments" and the searcher's intent.
Today, shoppers have much more control, do research at the moment they have a need, and expect instant results.
While this may make it more challenging for marketers to document a user's buying journey, understanding the customer's goals can help.
With your ideal persona in mind, consider what your customers are looking for and their questions. Then, brainstorm the content you predict will be helpful to them when interacting with your brand.
For each step of the buyer's journey, think through the answers to the following questions about your ideal customer.
What content would be valuable to them at this step?
What content type will appeal to them?
Where will they be online?
What action do you want them to take?
You can find many templates online to map a customer journey. Some templates have more or fewer steps and different labels for each.
However, the important thing is that they help marketers move potential customers forward with engaging content.
Below is each step of the buyer’s journey as informed by intent. Each step includes a definition, suggested content types, and a useful tip.
After you brainstorm possible content, do keyword research to validate your assumptions, discover new opportunities, and optimize for search.
Stages of the buyer’s journey
Stage 1: Research
Shoppers research online to find new opportunities or solutions to their problems, and micro-moments fuel much of this activity.
The goal at this stage is to generate awareness. Awareness stage content includes videos, articles, social media posts, and SEO magnets.
Tip: Think about your customer persona and where they spend time online. Then choose the content type and platform accordingly. For example, if your prospects are on Instagram, reels could be a great way to generate awareness about your offer.
Stage 2: Compare
After researching, shoppers will narrow their search to a few brands they believe can help them. They then compare various products or services to find the best one.
At the consideration stage, content should help your prospect make an informed decision and demonstrate your brand's authority. An example is "vs." pages that include comparisons of two or more products.
Additional content like webinars, white papers, or case studies can further engage prospects with your brand and position it as an authority.
Tip: According to Google's research on consumer trends, shoppers might go back to step 1 before narrowing down their choices. The compare stage can take months, so focus on content that answers your prospects' questions about your products or services.
Stage 3: Buy
When they feel they've found the right product, shoppers buy. At this point, they will likely have done extensive research on how your offer satisfies their needs and desires.
The goal at this stage is to make the buying process as frictionless as possible. Content that helps seal the deal can be FAQs, testimonials, thorough product descriptions, or a well-written return or exchange policy.
Tip: Think about how to go above and beyond at this stage to reward customers for their purchases. For example, loyalty programs or subscriptions can help shoppers feel that they made a financially smart choice.
Stage 4: Succeed
Once they've purchased, shoppers look for ways to be successful with their new purchases.
The goal at this stage is to provide content that helps your customer learn how to use your product more effectively. Anticipating customer support needs by providing FAQs, how-to videos, articles, and blog posts is a good bet.
Tip: Shoppers who are happy with a product or service make repeat purchases and recommend favorite brands to others. Learn what common questions customers ask by interviewing your internal support team and then create succeed articles, FAQs or videos.
Or ask your customers for feedback about their experience and use their testimonials in your marketing materials. Lastly, consider providing perks for ongoing loyalty, and think of ways to further personalize their experience with your brand.
The buyer's journey is fueled by shoppers' search for information that answers questions about products and services.
Search-related content can help marketers successfully move shoppers on the path to becoming customers. That's because shoppers are more likely to purchase from a brand that has satisfied their research with helpful content.
However, nurturing shoppers through the customer journey unfolds over time and is a dynamic process. That’s why anticipating customer needs is at the heart of developing a competitive marketing strategy.
Creating an ideal customer persona can give clues about your potential customers' motivations and desires. A well-crafted customer persona allows you to predict your customers' search intent.
It can also help you develop relevant content that supports buying decisions, turning shoppers into lifelong, loyal fans.