By Abby Sorensen, Editor
Here's the secret sauce in the Follow Your Buyer methodology: You will win more business if you create and properly distribute relevant content that truly helps buyers throughout the entire buyer's journey.
Every B2B marketer wants in on the "win more business" part. But the rest of that sentence is admittedly a bit dry. It's easy to overlook this very important phrase: "throughout the entire buyer's journey."
Your content needs to align with the early, middle, and late stages of the buyer's journey. But what does that actually mean?
Refresher: The Buyer's Journey Matters In B2B Marketing
If you're asking yourself, "what does the buyer's journey have to do with getting more leads from my content?" then stop and read these three articles. Don't worry; you can come right back to this one in less than 10 minutes.
The B2B Buyer's Journey: Explained
Understanding The Early, Middle, And Late Stages Of The B2B Buyer's Journey
The Sales Funnel Is Not The Buyer's Journey
Now that you're caught up to speed on the basics of the buyer's journey, here's one more refresher.
According to research in Selling To The C-Suite, "At any given time, only 4% of your market is actively buying, 40% are ready to start looking at options, and 56% aren't ready or don't have a current need."
Many B2B marketers focus only on that 4%, and that's a huge mistake.
Yes, you need promotional content that articulates the value of your products/services. But you should devote as many resources toward creating content that caters to the other 96% of your potential buyers.
Buyer's Journey Content Mapping
Follow Your Buyer's sister publications have a team dedicated to organizing and optimizing content across our platform. One of their goals is to ensure partners have a good balance of content so that they don't focus too much on the 4% and not enough on the 96% who are not actively buying.
That team documented their process for what makes a piece of content align with a certain stage of the buyer's journey. It looks like this.
This chart is a guide, not a step-by-step instruction manual. There are no hard and fast rules about what makes a certain piece of content align with a certain stage in the buyer's journey.
Content Examples For Each Stage Of The Buyer's Journey
These content examples are from a CDMO client that partners with Follow Your Buyer's sister publication Outsourced Pharma. Using the above chart as a guide, each of these articles was classified according to buyer's journey stage.
There are endless examples of early, middle, and late-stage content positioning in the B2C world, too. Petfinder's blog posts, for example, help people navigate the buyer's journey that takes place when getting a dog.
- "Feeling Stressed? Learn the Health Benefits of Having a Pet" is for people who don't yet own a pet. That early-stage content might be especially helpful for winning over other members of the "buying committee" who might prefer a fish tank. This article could influence a stressed-out human who is among the 56% of buyers who aren't currently looking for a dog.
- A middle stage content example would be "The Comprehensive Guide To Adopting A Pet." At the middle stage of a buyer's journey to get a dog, 40% of people are ready to start considering options, such as whether to adopt a dog or contact a breeder.
- Finally, the website has a "See Which Dogs Fit You Best” quiz. After answering five questions, readers are “matched” with dogs according to a preselected mile radius. This quiz is perfect for the 4% of buyers who are ready to bring a dog home.
Keep in mind that the B2B buyer’s journey isn’t as linear as sales and marketing teams would like it to be (more on that here). Someone might take the quiz about which dog is the best fit before considering whether to adopt a dog or buy a puppy.
Buyer’s Journey Content In Action
Even though buyers don’t always consume content in a linear way, marketers can still get value from classifying their content according to the buyer’s journey stages. That classification process is step one. The next step is to use those buyer’s journey classifications to understand buyer behavior.
Use that above chart as a guide to “tag” your own content. The designation does not need to be visible to your buyer, but it can deliver critical information on the back end to the supplier.
Those insights can mislead your sales team if your content isn’t labeled according to the buyer’s journey stage. That’s because not every content engagement carries the same weight. For example, a buyer who engages with dozens of early-stage articles might not be as valuable to a salesperson as the buyer who downloads just a single piece of late-stage content.
Creating, classifying, and analyzing content according to the buyer’s journey stage enables marketers to look for engagement patterns, identify potential buying activity, and share insights with members of your sales team. Start mapping your content today – your sales team and your buyers will thank you for it.