Content and the Customer Buying Cycle
The buying cycle is the process a customer goes through before they buy from you. In order to make an effective content strategy, you must understand the stages of this cycle. People will arrive at your site in different phases of this cycle, meaning different content and different keywords are needed.
Essentially, you’ll be using something like the Google Keyword Tool, as well as Analytics, to understand the keywords people are using at the different stages and then integrating correct keywords into the pages that will suit the stage they are at.
The 5 stages are:
A customer realises that you could potentially fulfil their needs.
A customer evaluates whether what you offer meets their needs in comparison to similar services.
A customer’s inclination one way or the other, resulting in a purchasing decision.
A customer buys from/selects you.
A customer’s process that leads to repeat purchases or long-term retention.
Understanding Search Queries
You can understand where a customer is most effectively by the search terms they use.
- ‘do I need indoor football boots’; this is generic and suggests the customer is in the awareness or consideration phases. They want information. They are unlikely to be making a decision but you can still target their contact details.
- ‘best indoor football boots’; they are comparing products, so they are most likely in the consideration or preference phases.
- ‘nike mercurial indoor football boots’; they are now being very specific and so are a good way along in the cycle. They are most likely ready to evaluate prices and are pretty close to a potential purchase.
Creating the Correct Content
Once you understand where a customer is in the cycle, you can start creating the right content to move them along the process and closer to purchasing. If their keyword/phrase is in the early stages, they want information but they are open to making a purchase.
So, for example, as in the quotes above, someone is searching: ‘do I need indoor football boots’ they are probably someone who is playing indoor football and is wondering if they need a specialist product.
The content they land on must be informational, the benefits of proper indoor boots, but to move them along the cycle you could also include some kind of guide to selecting boots. Or, at least a link to another page which features a guide to buying.
If they appear to be in the preference stage, they are a little further along and very open to inclination. This would be the perfect time to present them with customer testimonials and reviews, as well as your brand story. Suddenly, they feel closer to you. They know a bit about you as a service and they can see that others have bought from you already. Have you heard of the Jones Effect?
Rather than just being a great informational source, you are now something they are genuinely considering using. What discount offers are you running? What sort of contracts and trial schemes do you use?
Finally, once they’ve bought from you, they are likely to repurchase from you in future. This might be in twelve months when they need some more boots, or it might be in two weeks when they realise they need some shin pads to go with their boots.
To lead them to Repurchase, you should utilise monthly newsletters with helpful advice to keep your brand top of their mind. This content, in the football boots example, will be a mixture of useful advice on playing football, possibly blog articles and news, as well as latest discount offers, especially around the start of the season and at Christmas and so on.
But, in another industry, such as a pizza takeaway, sending them email discount offers every Friday and Saturday when they are most likely to buy, is used regularly to great success. Adding to this occasional content about how your pizza takeaway uses organic ingredients or recycles regularly would also be useful.