Despite its name, the buyer journey is not just about buyers. Once they move from awareness to consideration to decision, buyers become customers. This is the point of the journey.
The buyer-customer journey involves:
The “Marketing” Stage: attracting strangers to your company and turning them into leads
The “Sales” Stage: turning leads into customers
The “Success” Stage: turning customers into happy customers and advocates
Your well-planned, well-written, shareable content is what drives strangers to become loyal advocates for your company.
In this blog, you’ll find ideas to help you create content for each stage in the process, and examples of content other companies have made for each stage.
The Marketing Stage
This is arguably the “star” stage, the part of the process that people are already familiar with even if they don’t work in marketing. The point of this stage is to attract as many people as possible to your site so they click around and find something that helps them even more or sparks interest.
Too often a company will try to make a sale at this stage, but the content here should be all about awareness and discovery. It’s like going too fast on a date or you’re doing 100 in an 80 zone.
Think of the blogs or channels you’ve subscribed to or come back to again and again (like this one 😊 ).
Why do you come back? It’s not because every time you read a post or watch a video you’re being sold on the company’s products and services. It’s because you find what they publish and share actually helpful.
Your marketing stage content should do the same thing for the audience you want to attract. This is why it’s important to know your buyers: The more you know about the people you want to help, the easier it will be for you to create content that resonates.
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Blog posts and videos: Answer the top questions based around topics relevant to your buyer persona(s).
Create a guide, manual, or webinar that will help readers complete a task or teach them the best ways to complete a process.
Update a concept or idea in your industry that’s outdated or has transformed.
Create a template or checklist resource that readers can download, in exchange for their contact information.
In Practice: Drift
Buyer Personas: B2B sales and marketing teams.
What They Sell: A chatbot for B2B websites that’s both personalized and conversational.
How They’re Different: Drift takes being friendly to a new level. It’s their brand after all.
Drift’s team creates videos, podcasts, and blog posts on topics that will capture the interest of their buyer personas and answer questions they have, without pushing Drift up front. Their marketing team isn’t shy about using personality and building real human connections in their marketing content.
Drift’s team live what they preach. They’re making money by taking a personal, conversational approach, proving that human connection nets real gains in the B2B world.
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Move your leads to the next stage by getting subscribers. Give the people who read and view your content an easy way to get all of your updates, and get on your contact list.
This is essential for turning "strangers" into leads. Once you know who your readers are, it’s easy to know who will potentially buy your product.
The Sales Stage
In this stage of the journey, your leads are trying to figure out if your solution works for their specific problem. This is the key difference between sales stage content and marketing stage content.
The more content you can create for this stage that shows the versatility and benefits of your product in the context of helping your customers, the better chance you have of moving them to the next stage in the journey.
Here your audience is no longer interested in generalities; they got enough of that in the last stage and are now ready to talk to you about how what you do can work for them.
Hard sales aren’t necessary here either–your prospective buyer is already interested, and all you have to do is show them how great your product is.
You can entice a quick sale by using discounts and offers, but your leads need to see value before making the purchase.
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Interactive product tours or demo videos: Use your solution to show how it can solve problems experienced by your customers and buyer personas.
Contact your happiest customers to ask for a testimonial for your website and sales decks. (Spoiler Alert: This can be combined with the "success" stage below.)
Create a case study: Customers who give you a testimonial may be happy to do more. Send them a few questions about how they’ve used your product to solve their problem(s).
In Practice: Xero
Buyer Personas: Accounting managers, directors, and VPs of finance at B2B companies.
What They Sell: Accounting software.
How They’re Different: They embrace who and what they are and give no bones about it.
Xero has all the sales stage content we’re used to seeing: FAQs, pricing pages, free trials, customer stories, and demos.
What makes their content stand out is a full brand comparison with their main competitor.
In the sales stage, prospective buyers may be deciding between two options or looking to switch from one to the other. Xero knows this and uses it to handle objections and help answer questions prospects might be grappling with at this stage.
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Whatever you use for your sales stage content, include buttons and links directly on the page for prospective customers to make a purchase or book a phone call with one of your sales reps.
The Success Stage
By now, the visitor to your site who was a stranger has become a customer. With the right content at this stage of the buyer journey, you could turn a one-time buyer into a repeat buyer, or a new customer into an advocate.
Content for this stage looks a lot different than it does in the other stages. These customers have read many of your blog posts or watched the videos you had posted in the first two stages.
They know what you offer, and will be more attentive to details, like changes in pricing or updates to your application.
It’s also at this stage when any problems will come up. Your new customer will want to see that your product actually lives up to their expectations.
The content you have at this stage is just as important as it is in the other stages of the buyer journey. Depending on the product or service you offer, your success stage content could include user guides or a setup manual.
At this stage, listening is essential. What your customers need will determine what content you decide to create and publish.
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Start a knowledge base: Create a section of your blog dedicated to common questions customers have asked (or even every question, if you can).
Create setup or installation videos and decks. If necessary, create a video for different account levels or scenarios.
Publish application updates to your blog or website, or send out updates via email to customers.
Host a webinar for customers only to go over best practices and give customers an opportunity to share what they know.
If you’re creating a testimonial for the sales stage of the buyer journey, take this opportunity to ask detailed questions for current customers. Pare down the content for personas in the sales stage and use one or two quotes for a testimonial.
In Practice: Salesforce
Buyer Personas: Everyone.
What They Sell: Everything.
How They’re Different: They sell everything to everyone.
I struggled to include Salesforce as an example in this post because they are a huge company, and like any company of a similar size, when it comes to content for the success stage in the buyer journey, they’re going to be miles ahead of smaller companies.
But Salesforce is still an excellent example of what success stage content looks like. Plus, regardless of how big they are, the concepts stay the same:
Get feedback: A section of their success community allows members to submit ideas and vote on ideas they like for the platform.
Support and train: Help.salesforce.com has content to guide, support, and train customers.
A basic look at the customer journey
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At this stage, you want to make it easy for your most passionate and engaged customers to share how much they love you.
This might be giving them the option to sign up for a VIP subscription list where they get special offers to their email or access to new products or features. Or a referral program where they can get a discount if someone they refer signs up for a demo.
Putting It All Together
Creating all this content doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. One piece of content can be repurposed for different stages of the buyer-customer journey. Host a webinar featuring one of your customers where you interview them asking questions about how they use your product (e.g., case study questions). The webinar is your success stage content, but you can create sales stage content by using their answers for a case study and a quote or two for testimonials.
With a few creative ideas, you can ensure you have content to fuel the entire buyer-customer journey.