who will make the right purchase from the right company (yours!)
Over 90 percent of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase. Over 70 percent of B2B sales start with online research. The online research involves comparisons of at least 10 different competitors.
Focusing on a specific keyword’s ranking doesn’t necessarily result in sales or leads. But, having supporting content for each stage of the buying process will.
How can you beat out the competition? How do you get your content in front of them in a way that leads to a sale rather than a ranking? It has to do with understanding how people searchand drafting specific content for each stage of their search process.
Search Engine Optimization
How People Search
When people are searching for product information, they search like… people. They have a question in mind. They’re not just entering a keyword or a keyword phrase. They’re often doing a voice search by speaking into their phone while they walk to their car. They’re looking for the right response to their question. Have you figured out their questions so you can get your products in front of them?
Now what about “link building”? Times have changed! Find out more.
Google is now searching like people do. Google’s algorithms changes, released as “Hummingbird,” mean that now, more than ever, search engines are focusing on the meaning behind words—semantic search. This algorithm looks at each word in a search query in relation to the entire query. This ensures that the meaning of the whole sentence is taken into account and not just one or two keywords. Hummingbird’s goal? To match the questions to the best result.
Search Engine Optimization is a never ending process.
Be the best match with your content. Your content has to be engaging, informative, like a conversation, answering the questions that your consumers seek answers to.
Content for Specific Buying Stages
Content has to be unique and specific to each buying stage.
Search engine optimization for the initial stage of a purchaser’s search, your content should cover a broad range of information about your product or services. Consumers at the initial search stage aren’t sure what they need—they’re still doing research.
Content for this stage should provide pertinent information about what it is the customers are searching for. Figure out the questions your consumers will have, and draft conversational content to answer those questions. Determine the needs and wants of your buyer, and write to appeal to them.
Search engine optimization for the mid level of the buying stage, help them compare. You’ve answered their first few questions, so now your content must entice them further. This is the content that makes up category pages (products and services), case studies, reviews, testimonials, and white papers (for any B2B purchases). This information should supply facts, but also speak to their emotions.
Even though customers are doing comparisons, their decision will be based on how your content speaks to key motivators. Understand and speak to their motivators which fall into 3 categories: What does that buyer desire? What does that buyer fear or want to avoid? What does that buyer want to attack or get rid of?
Search engine optimization for the final stage of the purchase, include stats and comparisons toconfirm their purchase decision. Buyers want facts to close the deal and their searches will now be narrow enough to focus on this. Make it easy for them to find the comparisons, justify their decision and make the purchase.
For more information about search engine optimization, please check out some of our recent blog posts:
Contact us for help with your content marketing strategy.
Why Content Development?
To succeed at content marketing, focus on the needs of humans, not just the algorithms of search engines.
For winning content development, you’ll need to create a buying persona for each kind of prospective customer you hope to engage. Then you can create your own content, or work with content marketers to get the job done.
Start with insights into your buyer persona(s). What’s in a persona? Each persona stands for a specific type of buyer. It includes the buyer’s demographics, attitudes, behaviors and much more:
First, learn all you can about your buyers as individuals, including age, gender, education level and job level.
For B2B buyers, learn about the company, industry and competitive dynamics.
Then, figure out what drives each buying persona to action during the moments of truth in the buying journey.
Capture these key insights about each buyer persona in writing.
Use your insights into buyer personas to develop ideas for content marketing.
Great content development addresses the needs, passions and fears of each buyer persona. That makes it much easier for buyers to find you.
Successful content marketing is all about buyers. It’s not just about your company. Websites that focus primarily on sellers are a turn-off to buyers.
Buyers prefer vendor websites to other sources of information. But too often, they can’t find what they need on vendor websites.
Build content around your buyers’ questions. Provide buyers information that delivers high value, so they come to you first. Make it easy to buy by considering their information needs:
What’s in it for your prospects?
Why should they read your content?
Why should they subscribe to your blog?
Why should they give you permission to email them?
How will you help them become well-informed buyers?
How can you help them compare your offerings?
How can you help them compare your offerings with competitors?
How easy or hard it is to buy on your site?
To win, help before you sell. If you sell first, you may get a sale. But when you help first, you create long-term customers. They’ll always remember that you helped them when they needed it.
Your buyers’ needs vary at each step in the buyers’ journey. That’s why your content development must make the buyers’ path clear. Take one step at a time. Offer the right content in the right media at the right time.
Close the gaps between buyers’ needs and your content. Don’t create uncertainty and force buyers to turn back. Buyers who look at your site and then go to Google cost you up to half your potential online sales.
Use content development to guide buyers step by step. The right content helps buyers discover you in the first place.
Then, you need to lead them smoothly through each step of the buying journey. Keep buyers on track with the:
Right topics: Synch up content marketing topics with the needs of buyers at each step.
Right media: Provide content in the form that media buyers prefer at each step.
Right path: Make it easy for buyers to take the next step.
Deliver content on the right topics. Topics are driven by buyers’ needs, which vary at each stage of a purchase. Here’s how buyers behave during a complex, high-dollar B2B sale:
During pre-sales, buyers ask: Is there a need? Do we have a problem? How serious is it? Do we need to change they way we do things?Collect and understand customers’ questions. Create content to help buyers discover, analyze and understand problems. Tell buyers something they didn’t know about a problem or opportunity they already have. Gain their permission to send regular emails.
During initial sales, buyers discover options, evaluate each and ask questions: How well does each vendor perform? Who can do the job cheaper? Who provides the best service?Create content that differentiates your offering from others.
During mid-sales, buyers need to reduce risks and resolve concerns. They’ll seek validation from customers through testimonials, site visits, social and news media.Offer case histories, videos and news stories about similar customers.
During final negotiations, buyers select a vendor, negotiate terms and conditions, and finalize the purchase.Reinforce buyers’ decisions by reminding them of your solution’s benefits and your differentiation.
After the sale, buyers seek verification that they’ve made the right choice.Thank each customer for the sale. Provide users the in-depth information, service and support they need to succeed with their purchase from you.
Celebrate customers’ successes through case histories, videos, news and testimonials. When happy customers are using your solution, it’s time to cross-sell and up-sell.
Creating content is only half the battle. Make sure buyers see your content by promoting it. That’s the path to sparking inquiries, qualifying leads, generating sales and building your revenue.
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