7 August 2014
Understanding who is likely to be using your site and how, is critical to structuring the kind of content and responses you want to elicit from your web visitors.
Remembering your site is not built for you, but for particular types of web visitor will greatly improve your chances of converting a visitor to a customer. These prospects can be split into two basic behavioural types. The Decision Maker and the Influencer. Both are some way along the Buying cycle.
The customer buying cycle is a useful tool to explain where our prospects are on their journey to purchase and can help us provide the right kind of information and content to satisfy their current position.
Most of them are ultimately and hopefully going to be decision-makers—the type of person who is looking to buy a product or service. These are the people who are looking for a solution that addresses an immediate problem, and are looking to implement it soon. For decision makers, key facts, specific benefits, pricing, and clear calls-to-action that will begin the purchasing process, are going to be essential. Decision-makers have two stages to their journey with you, firstly as a Researcher, and then an Evaluator – before hopefully making that decision to purchase.
Influencers on the other hand are the research-oriented users who are gathering information in order to help make a decision that is usually a bit farther off. Some might just be enthusiasts who will, some day, be in a decision-making position. For influencers, informational content—whether from blogs, articles, whitepapers, webinars, customer forums, etc.—and clear calls-to-action—to subscribe to various content channels or register for events—are going to be critical in engaging their long-term interest, they are the perfect type to engage with social media platforms and other online channels where you are sharing your unique content.
A researcher is aware of their needs and are considering their options. Researchers need content that will answer the questions they have at this early stage. For a company like ours, a researcher's questions could be about a wide variety of topics — brand building, brand creation, print management, art direction, exhibition marketing, video production, content marketing, our credibility, who we have worked for, the quality of our previous work— and, naturally, you'll see them covered right here on our website in blog posts like this one.
Content for researchers is educational, engaging, inspiring. It's also findable and should potentially be sharable.
Though researchers may be aware of their need, they probably are not aware that you are out there, ready to help them. But all the content in the world won't draw researchers unless you properly frame it for their search. That's where SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and your Social Media channels come in. Understanding what your focus is and the type of key words that you want to be associated with, a long with time, effort, metadata and some trial and error will help towards improving your findability and structure of your web content. Your Social Media channels will also help as a constant reminder of your expertise and offerings as you continue to build your online reputation.
Research takes time and attention. Your unique content might be viewed over the course of months, and not all from the same source. So while you have a researcher's precious attention, you need to ensure that you're helping them make the best use of it — now, and later. For now, make sure you prominently offer related content so that they know your expertise runs much deeper than just one article. For later, make sure that you offer them a quick and simple way to stay informed by you via email subscriptions to your content.
Once a researcher has the information they need, they can form criteria on which to judge their options. Now they become the evaluator.
Evaluators need help in establishing criteria to make a case for purchasing from you. So content for evaluators must clarify practical considerations — such as pricing, timing, and process/production. These practical issues should be clearly articulated on dedicated pages and prioritized in your website's information architecture. Content that reinforces and proof points must be data-rich and easily portable, and can take the form of reports, downloadable pdfs, specification documents, FAQs. Lastly, content that answers objections should be considered in the form of case studies that follow a problem → solution → outcome format, linked with testimonials.
From here in your Decision Maker should have all they need to complete the buying cycle and make a purchase.