While Bloodhounds get all the glory for their tracking abilities, many other dog breeds, such as Great Danes are excellent trackers. I take pride in my ability to find all kinds of good stuff, from groundhogs and rabbits, to leftover pizza (why would anyone throw something so yummy in the garbage?). Tracking is an awesome skill. In fact, did you know there are three phases in the tracking process?
- Searching Phase – Dogs take short, quick sniffs and move quickly to find a track.
- Deciding Phase – Once we find the trail, we move more slowly, taking longer sniffs to determine the direction.
- Tracking Phase – After determining the direction, we follow the track by sniffing at a uniform pace, sometimes moving in a zigzag pattern to hone in on the prize.
As a content marketer, these phases may sound familiar. Before a person makes a purchase, he or she goes through a process called the buyer’s journey, which includes awareness, consideration and decision. While the process is often likened to a funnel, many buyer’s journeys are more like a meandering path or trail.
Your job is to “track” prospects and guide them along the trail right to your door! In fact, developing relationships with buyers at every step of the journey is called “lead nurturing,” and 78% of B2B content marketers say that’s their number one goal (Source: CMI).
But, to do that successfully, you need to match content to each phase of the journey. As an experienced tracker, here’s my advice for guiding customers with content strategy:
- First get the scent down. Just as each person has a distinct scent, each buyer has unique problems or needs. At the awareness stage of the journey, people are looking for information. The more you know about what type of information they’re looking for and what questions they have, the more relevant your content becomes. Content should be focused on the buyer’s pain points, anticipating their needs and providing helpful/educational material, such as blog posts, research reports, eBooks, webinars, and white papers. Remember, 80% of people enjoy learning about a product/brand through online content and use it to make purchase decisions.
- Once you have the scent, stay focused. When potential customers get to the consideration stage, they begin comparing different options and conducting in-depth research. You’ve captured their attention, so now it’s time to provide helpful content such as vendor and product comparisons, case studies, product literature, how-to videos and live demonstrations.
- You’re getting close – time to hone in on the prey (Er.., I mean the customer) – As buyers start to assess the final criteria to make a decision, they are looking for the solution that best fits their needs. They may want to reference vendor and product comparisons, take your product for a test drive with a free trial, read case studies, see live demonstrations or consult with a sales representative.
Of course, every buyer’s journey is unique depending on your industry and the product or service being offered – not to mention the habits of your target audience. For instance, I’ve learned that groundhogs are slow, but mean, white rabbits are fast and tricky!
It’s also important to remember that “tracking” is different from “stalking,” which can be creepy. Providing helpful, relevant content is a great strategy, but inundating folks with promotional material is considered a no-no.
Personally, I don’t know how humans can find anything with their inferior senses, but I’ve seen my co-workers and our clients successfully follow and guide prospective buyers along the path to a purchase with a focused content strategy. I guess my skills are rubbing off on them!
For more information, check out “Building Relationships with Content Marketing.”