It’s probably every marketers’ worst fear.
You spend days mulling over ideas, creating content, editing it, promoting, trying to get your audiences’ attention only to realize that, well, nobody cares. That you get no response whatsoever.
No retweets. No likes. No comments. No newsletter signups. Nothing.
Perhaps it was just bad timing, you think. Or the content will pick up eventually. Or perhaps some news broke and stole your audience’s attention. Yes, perhaps.
But perhaps your content just didn’t click with the customer. Simply.
Everyday, countless numbers of marketers try to get their buyers’ attention. Posts, videos, graphics, memes and many other content types are being created with a single goal in mind, to reach out to and attract the target audience.
But the result is often noise. A lot of it.
In his book “The Story Book” David Baubolene compares writers trying to get a publishers’ attention to people bringing small pieces of gold to show off. Some come with one piece, others with buckets. And they all try to be noticed. But the one who really stands out doesn’t shout, show off or does anything else to get the publisher to see her. She doesn’t have to. She just stands there amongst all the others. Yet in her hand, instead of a piece of gold lies a cut and polished, solid gold necklace.
I love this analogy. In spite of it being conceived to describe fiction writers I feel it fits the content marketing world well too. We are all trying to get attention, by showing those pieces of gold we have, our content. But only a handful among us have the content that truly stands out, the necklace piece.
And the question is, how you can create one too.
How marketers create content
Most of the time the process probably looks like this. You conduct keyword research, pick few you think might do, create personas you’d be writing for, come up with exact topics and then, set off to write. In other words, you create content based on what you think your audience wants. Right?
Now, there is nothing wrong with such approach, in principle, except that it’s often a hit or miss. But what if it could be hit all the time?
In order for that to happen, you need to get a grasp of few concepts:
Understanding how people actually buy is crucial to creating the right content for them. Naturally we would all love our audience to just decide to buy our stuff one day and do it. The world, well, our world at least would be a much happier place then, no?
Unfortunately, that’s not how this works. Most people go through often a lengthy process before finally making a purchase. There are five basic phases in such process:
- Need Recognition — this is where your customer realizes that he or she might have a problem or a need.
- Information/Solution Search — once the problem is realized comes a stage where the customer starts to gather initial information about possible solutions. However, customers at this stage are not ready to start evaluating their options yet.
- Evaluation — this stage is all about evaluating alternative solutions. This is when your offer is compared with those of your competitors.
- Purchase Decision
- Post-Purchase Evaluation (Buyer’s Remorse) — a highly important stage of the process. This is the time when customers begin to wonder if they made the right choice with the purchase. This is the moment when they might decide to return the item and therefore it is very important for every company to have systems in place that will reassure their customers of their decision.
Using Buyer Intent for Content
All 5 stages of the buying process relate to the buyer intent a customer has when going through different stages of the process. By realizing the intent of a customer you can feed them with the exact information they are looking for.
There are three types of intent you need to focus on:
»Intent to Learn
This intent is represented by consumers who might not have fully realized their problem yet. They are also not at the stage when they would be ready to evaluate their options. Therefore their intent to buy is very low. Having said that, they present a great potential to become leads. The key thing to remember when writing for this group is that you need to help them to understand their problem and by doing so, position yourself as a trustworthy resource they can go back to for more information.
Actions: you should try to understand what type of research your potential consumers would be doing and where. With that information you can create a content around it and make sure that it is available to them in every avenue they would be searching for it.
Ideal types of content for this intent:
- blog posts
- how-to guides
- short videos
»Intent to Compare
Consumers at this level already understand their problem and are becoming to consider their options. They are also entering the buying mood, however, they cautiously research their alternatives, compare vendors and their options before making a decision.
Action: Your marketing challenge for this intent is to create content that will highlight the benefits of your product. This time you are communicating with people who are fully aware of their problem and solutions available on the market. In such case your content needs to highlight why your solution is better than your competitors.
Ideal types of content for this intent:
- images of product in use
»Intent to Order
Lastly is the stage where buyers are ready to buy. They already know what they want and are ready to place the order.
Action: The key for this intent is to offer the quickest possible path to purchase. Customers with this intent are the most likely to land on your product or sales pages, rather than informational content and therefore your focus should be on helping them to complete the purchase as quickly as possible. Your content should also reaffirm their perception of the product or service as being the best choice to solve their problem. Remember, you are targeting people who already have their credit card in hand. They don’t want to hear the whole sales pitch. They just need to be reassured that what they are buying will work for them.
Ideal types of content for this intent:
- product pages
- sales pages
- landing pages
How user search is structured in various intents
To turn that theory in practice, let’s look at how users structure their search for each intent and what sort of content you could create to satisfy them at each stage of the buying process
Below list shows how potentially a search for a laptop computer would look like amongst all three intents.
|Intent to Learn||Intent to Compare||Intent to Order|
|laptop computers||compare laptop computers||best price HP Chromebook 11|
|best laptop computers||laptop reviews||HP Chromebook 11 reviews|
|desktop replacement PC||best Chromebook laptop||buy HP Chromebook 11 online|
Coupled with that information we could set off to create content for customers looking to buy a laptop computer:
Intent to Learn:
- Blog post — laptops as desktop computer replacements
- Cheat sheet — Things to pay attention to when buying your first laptop
- Cheat sheet to typical laptop PC terminology
- Blog post or video — how to evaluate if a particular laptop is good for me
Intent to compare:
- Video — review of two same range laptops
- eBook — What’s inside my laptop
- Case study — how a laptop helped this freelancer live a remote life
- Webinar — setting up a laptop for remote work
Intent to buy:
- A laptops product page
- Landing Page for a line of laptops
- Regular newsletter with new laptops and tips & tricks
- In Depth Blog post on HP Chromebook 11
Getting your content noticed isn’t an easy task. You have to break through all the noises caused by your peers and still reach the target audience. Having a clear message that is exactly what your customers at various stages of the buying process want definitely helps.