Content for the customer buying process: evaluation of alternatives

by Stratton Craig

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So far in our series of blogs exploring content for the customer buying process we’ve introduced problem recognition and information search, which leads us on to the next crucial stage: evaluation of alternatives. Below we’ll explain two types of content that effectively introduce the features and benefits of a product/service, to push a prospect towards a purchase.
Evaluation of alternatives explained
After a potential customer has recognised their problem and searched for a solution to it, they will then assess the options they have to satisfy this need. This involves an evaluation of both the features and functionality of a product/service and the perceived value of the brand based on its reputation. The number of alternatives that are assessed depends on the importance of the product/service and the significance of the problem that needs to be solved. In any case, the content you choose to communicate information at this stage can greatly influence the outcome at the next – purchase decision.
Digital copy
An evaluation of alternatives will no doubt take a potential buyer straight to your website, even if you do have a physical presence. Digital copy here refers to product descriptors if you sell goods or a services page if not. Whereas at the information search stage you should avoid the temptation to sell, here you really need to push the product/service’s features and tie them to a relevant benefit.
Digital copy doesn’t need to comprise a wall of text. For products, include a spec sheet so the reader has all the information they need. If you are selling a service, think about pulling the core benefits out into a bullet point list that is easily digestible. Our blueprint service page is a good example of this as it features bite-sized paragraphs, lists, and links to relevant case studies which all communicate the necessary information while reinforcing the brand. This is where you need to include all the most relevant keywords too, so that what you are selling is easily found during a web search.
Case studies
To complement an informative product/service page you can include case studies which provide proof of how your offering has solved a problem for a previous customer. This reinforces what we discussed in the problem recognition piece linked above, as a case study also highlights a common problem before demonstrating how to overcome it. The difference at this step is that you can explicitly mention the product or service without turning off a potential buyer.
What’s more, you can feature a case study as part of a blog, link to it from a product page, push it out through social media and even create a printed book of stories to mail out to prospects. This means that one piece of content can have massive reach, while the fact that it centres around genuine brand champions give your messages authenticity and therefore more impact. We take a straightforward approach to our own case studies, addressing what we did, why we did it and finishing up with a testimonial.
So here you are; two content types you can leverage to help a possible buyer evaluate their options, while at the same time highlighting the advantages of choosing your own. Once they have this information they can then make a purchase decision, and content still plays an important part at this stage of the cycle.
We’ll talk about the what, why and how in our next piece, which is coming soon. If you have any comments on the above, please share them below or tweet @strattoncraig.

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