What is the buyer journey? And why is it important to make sure that you’re creating the right content marketing for each stage of the buying journey? And what is a sales funnel strategy?

The buying journey describes the journey that a prospect takes from having their first thought about purchasing a product or service to the actual point where they’re ready to choose a supplier and buy from them.

98% of your visitors won’t buy on their first visit to your website.

The closing for pay per click advertising on the internet is just 2.5%.

Why is that?

Some of it may be down to the quality of the content on a website but most of it is likely to be because your visitor is just not ready to buy yet.

They’re just not at the right part of the buying journey.

If you use email marketing, a 2% interaction rate will probably look familiar to you.

For companies using telemarketing, that number is probably around your average conversion to appointment ratio.

The buying journey and why it matters

The buying journey governs all forms of marketing including content marketing.

But content marketing campaigns handles purchaser readiness in a very different and customer-centred way.

More Than Words notethe buying journey is sometimes called the buying cycle, the buying process, the procurement cycle, the customer journey, or the selling cycle. For certain types of goods and services, it may be referred to as the replenishment cycle.

In this article, we consider:

  • the three stages of readiness a customer engages with before they buy for the first time,
  • an example of a buying journey in action,
  • how your sales and marketing team can work together for better content production, and
  • why it pays for your sales and marketing team to align.

What is a content marketing and sales funnel?

A content marketing funnel (sometimes called a marketing funnel, a digital marketing funnel, a consideration funnel, a customer engagement funnel, a purchase funnel, or a sales funnel) is a way of mapping the buyer journey from the initial flicker of interest to the point of decision.

With your sales funnel strategy, you create content marketing for the three stages of the buying journey, specifically:

1. Top of funnel strategy (awareness stage content)…

…where a potential client has just realised that they have a problem that they need to be solved or that they have a desire that they wish to have satisfied (sometimes called the awareness stage),

2. Middle of funnel strategy (interest stage content)…

…at which point a potential customer requires detailed information about the products or service they are considering purchasing and which company might supply it (also known as the consideration stage, the interest stage or evaluation), and

3. Bottom of funnel strategy (consideration stage content)…

…when a purchasing decision is imminent (sometimes split into the decision stage and the action stage)

Only around 2-3% of the people who see your content for the very first time will be at the stage where they’re ready to buy.

Aren’t there four steps on the buying journey?

Some content marketing companies split the process into four stages, sometimes known as:

  • discover learn try buy
  • awareness consideration decision retention

At More Than Words, we believe there are three stages in a buying journey when you’re attempting to sell to them the first time.

There is a fourth stage – retention – and we cover this in a later article.

What is the key to effective content marketing with regards to the buyers journey?

Many UK companies hire either vehicles or other business equipment on a time-limited lease.

Let’s say that your target customers use hire purchase agreements lasting 2 years for CNC drilling machines they require to run their business.

When a prospect you’ve identified has agreed to a 2-year lease with your competitor, it is reasonable to infer that:

  • they needed and still these machines to meet customer demand,
  • they understand that they will never own the equipment,
  • their intention was to enter a new 2-year lease for brand new equipment when the old lease expired, and
  • they knew that they were legally obliged to commit to the agreement for two years.

Assuming that the company has just taken out their latest lease, what options are open for other CNC drilling machines suppliers wanting to sell to the prospect?

What options a customer has for buying the new product

There are three options:

  1. they wait until close to the end of the 2-year lease and pitch them for their business,
  2. they try to sell them more of the same machines which they bought from their competitor so that they have spare capacity if needed, and
  3. they attempt to sell them additional CNC drilling machines on lease which their current supplier may not stock or being able to sell.

For our CNC drilling machine supplier, the ideal outcome would be that the prospect buys an additional CNC drilling machine now so that their client appreciates what a good company they are so that they shift all of their business across when their current leases expire.

What content should a CNC drilling machine supplier produce to help persuade a buyer to choose the second or third option?

Much of the inspiration for this content will come from the sales teams – and there are significant benefits to integrating the sales and marketing teams shortly.

The best content marketing strategy is inspired by both your sales and marketing teams

To understand why it’s important to join together as closely as possible the marketing and sales teams in your business for the production of effective content, it’s important to appreciate that each team has different responsibilities and skillsets.

For the avoidance of doubt, your marketing team’s job is to deliver leads and enquiries.

Responsibility for handling those leads and enquiries then are then transferred to the sales team whose job it is to convert them into revenue.

Telemarketers require tenacity and stamina

Sales and marketing require very different abilities to perform the roles well.

For example, a telemarketer whose job it is to make appointments requires the strength and the stamina to be told “no” one hundred times in a row.

They need to keep their spirits up so that, when they there is a chance of making an appointment, they have the presence of mind and the quickness of response to capitalise.

The unique angle of a sales rep

Sales reps’ working experiences are very different.

There is a lot of pressure on them when they go to an appointment – pressure to hit sales targets and pressure to persuade the customer to go ahead.

Marketers and sales reps rarely transition well into each other’s roles.

And it’s this misunderstanding that leads to many frustrated reps complaining about the quality of the appointments they’re being sent on.

Conflicts between sales and marketing teams are one of the most significant factors holding back the growth of businesses.

There is no perfect way to combine together the efforts of two different teams with different targets and priorities however focusing the efforts of your marketing and sales departments delivers:

  • improvements in the quality and quantity of leads generated,
  • overall company efficiency, and
  • improved growth prospects.

The process is called “sales and marketing alignment” and the most significant advantages to embarking on this process is that it:

  • drives sales,
  • builds client relationships, and
  • reduces wasted marketing expenditure.

Aligning teams to create the optimal sales and marketing funnel strategy

The need for alignment is just as strong as ever with HubSpot Research reporting that 72% of companies with fewer than 50 new opportunities per month didn’t reach their revenue goals. This is 57% less than those who generated between 51 and 100 opportunities per month.

So, are marketing teams delivering the wrong types of lead to reps?

It’s not quite as simple as that but it’s not that far away from the truth.

Your sales reps have a far better understanding of the people they’re selling to.

To follow up on our earlier example for a company selling CNC drilling machines, a sales rep will understand on a far deeper level than a marketer why companies actually purchase them in the first place and the main reasons why a company may wish to invest in additional machinery to give them spare capacity.

It’s the sales reps who have these conversations and who know how to handle client objections.

Your marketers do not have these conversations – much will be achieved by getting your sales reps to share with the people responsible for your content marketing what customers talk to them about when they’re pitching to them.

One effective way of doing this is to encourage your sales reps to build up a series of “buyer personas” for your content marketing campaign staff as well as your outbound marketing teams.

The four non-negotiables in content marketing

The four most important factors in any successful content marketing campaign are:

  • the relevance and usefulness of the information you provide to clients – are you answering the questions that clients are actually asking?
  • making sure that this content can be found easily and that Google will rank highly,
  • producing content of such a high quality that it lends credibility to your brand leading to potential clients (even if they are a year away from purchasing) voluntarily leaving their details with you, and
  • where possible, being proactive and distributing as much of this content yourself or working with a content distribution agency.

Talk to us about your funnel strategy

We want to help develop your content so it hits the right reader at the right time.

To speak with us about developing your funnel strategy for each stage of the customer journey, please call us on 0330 010 3495 or click here to email our content marketing and copywriting teams.

Call 0330 010 3495

Creating compelling content for each stage of your sales and marketing funnel

To speak with one of our content planners, please call us on 0330 010 8300, click here to email us, or fill in the form below and we’ll get back in touch with you.