Whether you have been blogging for years or are just getting started, it’s a good idea to take time to make sure you have developed a content strategy that offers your readers helpful content at every stage of their journey with you. If you haven’t taken the time to map out your ideal reader’s or buyer’s journey yet, I hope by the end of this post you will see how valuable it can be to do so.
Expanding your audience will always include gaining new readers who are beginning to explore the services or products you provide. While you are an industry expert, not all your readers will be ready to consume advanced information. Whether readers are a month behind your educational pursuits or decades, if you only provide content currently relevant to you, you miss out on building relationships with new readers.
If you are a blogger and/or writer you might be less familiar with the inbound methodology or maybe you know what a buyer’s journey is, but you don’t think the strategies translate to your niche readers. I suggest you consider the possibility that by limiting your content writing to inform your audience in their current stage, you limit your opportunities to connect with new readers and increase your audience.
For example, if you started your blog several years ago when you were learning how to ride a bike your content is likely still relevant to those beginning the journey of learning to ride a bike. If your current content only focuses on life after you have learned to ride a bike those beginning their journey may not find your website, or if they do they may determine your site is too advanced for their current stage.
It’s important to always consider the four stages of inbound marketing when developing your content calendar. While you may still focus most of your content on one stage, you should still review your archives and touch on subjects you’ve previously featured or update concepts as your industry changes.
Inbound marketing utilizes a buyer’s journey to help you develop content for each stage of your readers’ needs. There are four inbound stages: Attract, Convert, Close, Delight. The goal of this journey is for a buyer to move from seeking information to buying your product or service. We identify the buyer stages as: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
Once a reader finds your website, if you’ve done your part, the one who was attracted to your website will convert to a reader. If they find your content helpful they will download a free offer or seek to learn more about buying from you in the close stage. Finally, in the delight stage your buyer will solidify themselves as part of your community and hopefully will also tell others how great your products and services are as well as how they have helped them. One thing to remember, it’s possible for someone to stay in one stage for weeks or to move back and forth between stages.
Check out this video: Inbound Marketing 101 for more information about inbound methods.
For a blogger, the stages for your reader’s journey are similar to that of a business. Here’s an example. Let’s say you have an informational blog dedicated to buying your first home. Your initial articles will focus on the process of building your credit, securing a loan, and house hunting. As you continue blogging you may write about renovations or refinancing or what to do when something in your home breaks.
All the content will be helpful to new homeowners at some point, but if you haven’t written about the loan process in a while, your article may not be as relevant as it once was. Additionally, just because you aren’t in the stage of currently house hunting doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still write content on that specific subject because every homeowner begins their journey with looking for a place to buy. It’s also an experience that people often walk through more than once in their lives.
Here’s another thing to keep in mind. You may be ahead of the curve in your experiences and your ideal audience may not search for you yet. Ryan pointed out when he first started blogging he wrote for months before he saw consistent traffic coming to the SMA website. The great thing about writing consistently is that when readers do find you, they have a lot of content to read.
While your blog content is important, you must focus on context to build your audience.
The context of your content needs to highlight various subjects, whether you are writing an informative blog, a personal blog, or a business blog. By writing blog posts for each of the three stages in your audience’s journey you will solidify yourself as a valuable resource your audience will share with their groups of influence.
In the awareness stage, buyers and readers are still figuring out what they can take care of themselves and what they need a partner to accomplish. By providing educational content that answers common questions you will attract readers seeking answers to those questions.
By developing informative blog articles, white paper offers, videos, and social media posts around keywords and phrases internet searchers use, you help the right people begin to answer their questions by reading your content. It’s likely your blog is one of many writing on the same subject, so SEO is important for every article.
Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes. Experts are humble enough to admit when they have made mistakes. Leaders are willing to share what they’ve learned to help others avoid the same problems. Spotlighting mistakes you’ve made is another great way to personalize your writing and build trust.
You don’t have to make a mistake to know how detrimental some things will be to someone building a business. If you have information about decisions your reader will encounter and can offer pros and cons about the different choices go ahead and write those posts. By empathizing with your reader and remembering how stressful the beginning of your journey was, you can write blog articles to help your readers avoid mistakes.
Your awareness stage posts address pain points for your ideal reader or buyer. This content isn’t for everyone, so talk specifically about your industry or product. Your writing should establish you as an industry expert whether your blog is about parenting, building homes, plumbing, or essential oils.
Choosing keywords and content that puts your services in the correct context and answer the why will help Google send you the right searchers.
For bloggers, awareness posts focus on why you chose the subject matter you feature. What drives you to write about your experiences? Are you an educator at heart or do you just love to write? Are you inspired by those who cheered you along in life and want to do the same? Perhaps you have a specialized degree and the intent of your blog posts is support students in your same field of study.
An important part of building trust with your awareness stage audience is social media interaction. You won’t build an audience by ignoring those reaching out with questions and comments. It’s important to be social on social media.
As an expert in your niche, it’s important to set the standard. Best practices often vary even within the same industry. Regardless, you have a set of best practices you believe in, so share what they are and why you believe they are important to you. Not only do you need to practice what you preach, but you should continue learning about your field. If something changes within your industry you should be aware of the change as well as resources that teach and explain the new best practices.
In the sales process, when your buyer enters the consideration stage of their journey they will look to have bigger questions answered. They now trust you as a resource and are looking to partner with you or utilize the products and services you provide. Using our pool example, while some pool maintenance is easily accomplished by the owner, more challenging aspects should include a professional. Explaining why a pro will benefit the pool owner helps them make a decision for themselves.
Your best practices posts may include terminology definitions, specific laws to be mindful of, or post highlighting your processes. Blog titles such as “A Behind the Scenes Look at our Schedule” or “Our Favorite Tools and Why They are Important” will allow you feature why your product or service is valuable. Additionally, your reader will be able to picture themselves in your shoes.
In the decision stage, your client has had their pain point addressed and determined you are a valuable asset. For a business, this is the stage where you are moving forward with purchased services or products and continuing to offer helpful content. This might include an informational webinar demonstrating how to use the purchased items.
Free offers are great for offering in-depth content, but they only go so far. When your audience has read your content for a while they will be ready for more. An eBook or web course that goes more in-depth than a blog article will be of interest. More than that, someone in the decision stage also tells others about you and promotes your blog articles because they believe in you.
In addition to the content you create, you can add value to your readers’ experiences by building a community where followers can support each other. Consider the new homeowner example above. A group is a valuable resource where new homeowners can find recommendations on everything from paint colors to hardwood floors vs. carpeting. By engaging in conversations, you will also learn which subjects your readers are seeking more information about and you can create the resources they need.
As I said at the beginning of this article, I hope you now see how developing well-rounded buyer’s journey will help you create a better content calendar to serve a wider audience. If you need help shaping your buyer’s journey or content calendar our team is available to partner with you. We’ve also created a great guide to help you get started. Download our buyer’s journey template below.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.