Business-to-business (B2B) buyers rely on content to make a purchasing decision.
So, in order to engage customers throughout their purchasing process, your company needs to invest in content marketing.
Content marketing is an encompassing business process that involves producing content to market your company to potential customers. Common examples include blogging, producing videos, and guest posting.
To engage customers through content marketing, your company needs to understand the type of content they consume during their buyer’s journey and why. In other words, you need to understand user intent.
Recognizing user intent and its impact on the content people consume and their purchasing decisions can help company create a content marketing strategy that:
- Engages customers throughout their buying journey
- Earns customer trust
- Convinces people to purchase from your company
Mapping the Customer Journey According to User Intent
One way to illustrate the B2B buying journey is the conversion funnel.
The conversion funnel maps out the path to customer purchasing according to people’s interest – starting at the top with the “awareness” stage and funneling down to “conversion,” at which point a customer purchases.
As people advance through the funnel, their level of interest in a company and its services increases: Learning and shopping around (“awareness”), comparing providers as business partners (“evaluation”), and choosing a company and coming to agreement terms (“conversion”).
Customers’ stage in the conversion funnel determines the content that they consume during their purchasing journey.
For example, customers in the “awareness” stage are interested in learning about services and providers. Based on their intent, they may read a blog post about the best SEO services.
On the other hand, customers at the “bottom” of the sales funnel – in the “conversion” stage – are interested in content such as customer reviews or product tutorials. This sort of content address topics relevant to people about to purchase a product or service.
Understanding a customer’s intent helps inform how you can effectively move them through the funnel to conversion using content.
Identify User Intent Through Keyword Research
Customers start their buying journey through online search.
So, to understand certain customers level of purchasing intent, your company needs to identify the terms that people search online to demonstrate that intent.
For example, top-of-the-funnel customers search terms such as “what are the top SEO services,” in efforts to learn more about a certain type of business services.
Bottom-of-the-funnel customers, however, search terms for concerns associated with partnerships or product usage, for example, “how much does an SEO company cost?”
This group has moved beyond the learning intent of the “awareness” stage and is now concerned with the logistics of partnering with a company for SEO services.
Use keyword research tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, or Moz to identify the traffic volume and competition for search terms that relate to your company, or terms that your target customers are likely to search.
With this insight, you can identify the subjects of the of your content your customers consume. This, in turn, informs the topics of the content you create as part of your content marketing strategy.
Value of Content Marketing Throughout the Buyer’s Journey
Engaging customers only at the end of their buyers’ journey is enticing for many businesses: these are the people that are most likely to actually convert on your products.
This approach, however, overlooks the value of establishing familiarity with customers early in their purchasing journey.
Customers don’t encounter a brand and immediately purchase from them – rather, they need to be familiar with your company before they trust you enough to consider partnering with you. This is why people consume so much content during their purchasing process.
Top-of-the funnel content allows you to directly engage customers according to their initial intent – to learn more about your services or industry.
If you can effectively accomplish this, customers will trust your brand as an authority in your industry– a sentiment that improves the chances they advance through the conversion funnel and ultimately purchase from your company.
Mapping User Intent Informs an Effective Content Marketing Plan
Businesses need to identify and target for user intent in order to engage B2B customers through content marketing.
Targeting for user intent helps your company design a content marketing strategy that engages customers throughout their purchasing journey.
As a result, you can inform customers about your company and services, earn their trust, and ultimately gain their business.