For a website to do well, it needs content that engages visitors and converts them into customers. The most effective way to achieve this is through developing a content plan. In this post, we’ll provide you with a strategic, four-stage framework to help you put this into place.
Stage 1: Getting to grips with your business buying cycle
By understanding the path that customers take on their route to making a purchase, you’ll have a much clearer understanding of the content you need at each stage of the buying cycle. Here’s an outline of each of the stages.
1. Awareness of your products or services
The first stage in the buying cycle is when customers become aware of your products or services. This usually happens because they are searching for solutions to problems and come across your website whilst looking for answers.
When it comes to content, your task is to understand those problems so you can provide the best solutions. For example, if someone was stuck for what hat to wear to a wedding, one of the most effective things a milliner’s website could do is to publish a blog post about the best wedding hats. Of course, the post would feature the milliner’s own products. By doing this, users come looking for a solution and leave being aware that they have now found a place where they can buy a suitable hat. Awareness is achieved.
The next stage in the buying cycle is where the customer considers whether to buy your products or not. They’ll obviously look at alternatives and weigh up the pros and cons of each before making a decision.
The content you provide at this stage has a different role to play than simply making customers aware. At this point, you need to persuade them that your products are the best ones. To do this, you need to highlight the benefits your products and services offer to the customers and the advantages of buying from you rather than someone else. This means producing content that compares products together with examples of reviews or testimonials.
If you have done a good enough job at persuading the customer, they will eventually desire your product and want to buy it. Your content’s job now is to help them take the big step to make the purchase. Many potential customers abandon their shopping carts for all kinds of reasons. Your task here is to produce content that convinces them to buy.
One of the big hurdles for first-time customers is having trust in a business they have never spent money with before. Make sure your content provides money back guarantees and user-friendly return policies. You can also encourage sales by offering discounts, freebies or free delivery. Also, make sure that your website contains all the relevant information needed to build trust, such as your address, contact numbers, business registration number, etc.
Above all, you need to convince them of the benefits of making that purchase.
Step 2: Build a profile of your buyers
If you are going to produce killer content, you need to have a full understanding of who you are producing it for. This means building a profile your target market. The more you know about the people who buy from you, the better you can make content that engages them and persuades them to buy. To help, we’ve provided a checklist of questions you should answer about your customers.
- What kinds of things do your customers like to do?
- What things do they see as important? What are their values?
- What are their goals and fears?
- What problems do they have?
- Where do they go to find solutions?
- Where is the best place to reach them online? Websites? Social Media?
- What do your customers expect from your business?
Only when you have created a profile of your audience persona can you personalise your content to meet their needs. However, once you have done this, they’ll discover that your website is highly relevant to them and they’ll keep coming back.
Step 3: Finding the best keywords
For any content strategy to be successful, you need to know the keywords your potential customers are using to find the products and services you have to sell. If you don’t put the effort into researching this thoroughly your content won’t get seen by the people you are targeting.
Indeed, keyword research goes even deeper than this. It can help you know whether the niche you’re targeting is large enough to be viable and give you an insight into buyer intent.
The starting point for keyword research is to use Google’s Keyword Planner which can help you discover the most popular keywords that are relevant to your products and services. You can even enter the URLs of your web pages (or those of your competitors) and find out the keywords Google suggests using. For more information on keyword research check out our post: Best Keyword Research Techniques for SEO.
When doing keyword research, you should look for keywords to use at each stage of the buying cycle, this will help you target users far more effectively at each step in the process.
Step 4: Planning your content delivery
The final stage in creating your content plan is planning your content delivery. This requires you to make decisions about:
- what subject matter is needed
- when it should be published
- what medium it needs to be created as
- what channel it should be published to
Any decisions about what subject matter you need to create should be based on your understanding of your buying cycle and customer profile. You will need separate content for each stage in the cycle and for different customer personas. Of course, if you have a range of different product types or services you may need to produce content for each of these.
When it comes to publishing times, businesses should always produce a content calendar. This will help you publish content at the times of year that are likely to be most effective. Take into consideration seasonal influences, public holidays, sales, and any other factor which is relevant to your business and your customers.
Content marketing is not just about publishing blog posts. It covers all kinds of media: infographics, videos, white papers, webinars, memes, etc. You need to offer content in its most appropriate and effective form to have the greatest impact. At the same time, using a variety of media can make for a more interesting and engaging relationship with your audience.
Finally, you should look at the various channels you can publish your content to. Instead of putting everything on your website, you can use other means to reach your audience. For example, if you create videos, set up a YouTube channel or post news about a sale on your Facebook page so your followers can share it with their friends. You can always publish to multiple channels if you wish but make sure your choices are the ones which will gain most traction with your audience.
Creating a content plan is essential if you want your content to have an impact on your business: without a plan, any success is down to luck. Content plans are there for the strategic development of your business and, done properly, they can help your website rank more highly, increase the number of relevant visitors to your website and boost conversion rates.
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