According to the Content Marketing Institute, creating engaging content is the second biggest challenge content marketers face – after the challenge of producing enough content. It turns out that creating content that drives traffic and keeps readers hooked might be a bit more complicated than it seems.
A common misconception about content is that you only need to create it to get all the attention of the world. Well, that is completely untrue. Derek Halpern believes that the creation process is only 20% of the process. The most important part is to get your content to the hands of people that are ready to buy what you sell.
If you want to attract and engage people, you will need to deliver the right content to the right audiences, and at the right time. People would only engage with your content if it appeals to their specific pain points and needs. Most of the times, it doesn’t matter how good your content is. If it doesn’t speak to people’s sensitivities, they won’t consume it.
So when drafting your content strategy, think about your prospects’ motives and objectives. If you manage to understand what they look for, you’ll be able to deliver content that helps them solve a problem. If you succeed to touch their pain points and make their life a bit easier, you won.
Every prospect goes through a set of steps before completing a purchase. You need to understand their intents at each one of these steps. In the marketing world, the process every buyer goes through before the sale is the Buyer Journey. So let’s look at the buyer journey, and try to understand how customers think at each step.
The Buyer Journey Stages
Every potential buyer goes through a set of steps before reaching the buying stage:
- The Awareness Stage (Top of the Funnel): At this stage, the buyer experiences symptoms of a problem. They usually still can’t name the issue, and they’re seeking to understand more. Prospects are looking for more information at this stage.
- The Evaluation Stage (Middle of the Funnel): Here the prospects understand their problem and are now looking for solutions. They’ve identified the exact need, and they start exploring their options.
- The Decision Stage (Bottom of the Funnel): The final stage is where the buyer has more or less a clear idea about the different solutions in the market. They’re browsing their options with the purpose of buying one product or service.
The buyer journey makes it clear that not every person that visits your site is there to buy your product. Different visitors have different motivations and intents.
Now as a content marketer, you will need to adapt your content to these different stages. Otherwise, you’d be throwing your content in a massive ocean content, hoping it catches something. And trust me, it won’t.
If you want your content strategy to thrive, you’ll need to give people exactly what they want. At every step of the journey.
“Content should be satisfying customers’ pressing questions, regardless of which buying stage they’re at” – Paddy O’Neill
The process of creating the right content for the right stage is called content mapping.
What Exactly Is Content Mapping
Content mapping consists of building a plan for your content based on the buyer’s stages in the journey. In other words, you’ll need to create content that answers prospects’ needs at each of the three stages.
Content mapping is critical in moving your prospects down the journey. Adapting your content to your audience will help you convert visitors into leads. Ultimately, the will be ready to make a purchase.
The process of content mapping might look easy and straightforward at first sight. According to TopRank Marketing, 88% of marketers are creating custom content. However, 65% of marketers are still struggling to understand what works well and what doesn’t. And according to Hubspot, a lot of that challenge is due to a failure to create the right content for the right people and at the right time.
So if you aspire to see your numbers skyrocket, you will need to learn how to map your content.
In this article, we’ll be focusing on the first stage of the buyer journey, the awareness stage. We’ll explain what prospects are looking for at this stage. What type of content you can offer them to fulfill their needs. We’ll help you understand the expectations and motives of your prospects at this stage. And make it easier for you to plan your editorial calendar around it.
Why Is The Awareness Stage Important
Some people might argue that the awareness stage doesn’t deserve that much attention since no sales are done at this stage. Here are a few reasons why you should care about to the top of your funnel.
The awareness stage is your first touch point with your potentials customers. A prospect that lands on your blog for the first time doesn’t know your company, brand or product. They’re usually on your site for information. This stage is crucial because it sets the first impression. You only get one chance to retain customers, and it’s the awareness stage.
The second reason why you need to impress people at this point is that it’s your shot to build credibility and authority in your field. If people read your content and find it valuable, they would trust you as an expert in that niche. And if you succeed to impress them, they may even recommend you to their friends.
And a final reason why you should care about the Awareness stage is that it determines the quality and quantity of your leads. Creating the right content at this point will attract the right people to your website. The more targeted and adapted your content is at this phase, the better leads you’ll get. And quality leads mean higher chances to sell and prosper.
What Do Prospects Look for at The Awareness Stage
Now to create the right content, it’s crucial to understand what people look for at this stage. Prospects at this point, are looking to understand a problem better. They’re seeking information and knowledge. They don’t care about your brand and even less about your product at this point. So don’t talk about your product yet!
The adequate content for this stage is purely educational. You need to provide value and help your prospects understand their need. The quality and helpfulness of your content decide on your relationship with your customers. The better the content, the more likely they are to read other posts, come back for more and share your content.
The purpose of your content at this stage is to get people to stick around and read more. Browsing your website will help them advance in the buyer journey.
At this stage, your Call to Action should offer them other content to read. Don’t put a trial offer at the end of your article. Don’t offer them a discount. They are not ready yet to buy. So exposing them to a sales offer will ruin all your chances of selling.
Instead, invite them to consume more of your content. Show them some other great video you’ve done, or some amazing guide you’ve written. Exposing your prospects to more helpful content will keep them around.
It’s important to note that Awareness qualified prospects usually come from these traffic sources:
- Search Engines Results
- Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest…)
- Forums and groups (Quora, Facebook Groups, Reddit…)
- Backlinks, guest posting
Knowing where your traffic is coming from will help you optimize your distribution strategy. Most of these channels would work for the three stages. However, it would be wiser to focus on optimizing those distribution platforms for the awareness stage. It’s where most of your prospects will be searching for information.
Remember, the right content in the right place.
What Content For The Awareness Stage
Now we’re getting to the exciting part.
By now you must know what your audience is expecting. You also know how to nurture their interest and expectations. You still need to do one thing right to win their heart; choosing the right topics for your content.
If you want your content to rank in your niche, you need to write about the right subjects. Now you probably have an editorial calendar set up for the rest of the month. And maybe it works out fine for you. Yet, if you want to go all the way through with content mapping, you’ll need to work on your content topics as well.
So here are the three major steps that will help you come up with the right content topics for the awareness stage.
- Identify the core problem/need your product is solving.
When people hear that they need to deliver information and knowledge at this stage, they usually fall into this trap. They create very valuable and educational content yet, it’s often unfocused and too broad. And that’s a big mistake
If you want people to look at you as a reliable authority, you will need to narrow your focus and be specific. You should concentrate your writings around the particular need(s)/problem(s) you’re solving. That will help you position yourself as an expert in that niche. Also, your website would become the go-to library for anything related to that topic.
Moreover, writing content around the need you’re solving will make people move faster down the buyer journey. For instance, Kyvio is a multi-services platform that offers multiple solutions for founders to create and sell their online products. One of the solutions they have is a sales funnel building tool. The core need/problem Kyvio is solving, in this case, is Lead Conversion. So the Awareness stage content will be around Lead Conversion. After reading about lead conversion, sales funnels will come up as a solution. And eventually, customer get to know Kyvio as a solution to their need.
You can do the same with your content. Think about one or a few core problems you are solving, and build your editorial calendar around them.
- Research hot topics around that problem/need using Google or tools like Buzzsumo
The second step to writing relevant and engaging content at the awareness stage is researching what’s trending. It will give you an idea of what people find exciting and what goes viral.
From this search, you’ll get an idea of topics that would work out well. Find out what’s performing well and outrank it. Look for the best performing content around that topic and create even better content. That will get you more authority and credibility in your niche.
- Perform a keyword search using Google or tools like Moz keyword explorer.
Finally, a keyword search is crucial at this point. Knowing what people are looking for is very revealing. You’ll get to know the pain points of your audience, and even the exact words they’re using to research them. Using the most searched keywords, start drafting titles for your content
Make sure to optimize your content around the chosen keyword. It’s not enough to have the keyword in your title. You can read more on how to optimize for keywords here.
The ideal content types at this stage are:
- Blog posts
- Youtube videos
- Quora answers
- Medium Stories
By now, you should be well aware that a successful content strategy starts with some content mapping. It’s not enough to have the best content right there. You will need to put it in front of the right people. You need to give people what they need. Otherwise, it would go completely unnoticed. It’s like offering a tasty dish a person who’s dying of thirst. They would not eat it. They might even throw it at your face.
Satisfying your customers’ needs should be your number one priority, and content mapping is how you can achieve that. It allows you to take your prospects by the hand and help them find what they’re looking for. If it’s information they need, then make that easy to find.
At the awareness stage, your prospects are looking for answers. They don’t want to buy your product yet. So don’t feel compelled to push it in front of them. Give them exactly what they want, and one day they will want to buy your product. Be patient, and nurture your relationship with them. Trust me. It literally pays off.