Content for the customer buying process: information search

by Stratton Craig

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Part two of our blog series on the best content for the customer buying process takes us to information search – the second stage of a consumer’s purchasing journey. Below we’ll explore this important part of the overall process and the best types of content to give potential customers exactly what they’re looking for.
Information search explained
This stage follows the moment when a consumer has identified their problem and now needs to search for information to find a solution. This involves an analysis of internal information, such as previous experiences with products or services and their opinion of a brand. It will also see them explore external information such as the opinion of friends, family and peers, product reviews, and sales messages.
The external information search is where you can have an influence through content. You need to make sure information on what you’re selling is easily found and clearly communicates the benefits of the product/service. At this stage you can call upon a wide variety of content types to get the messages across, but we think the two below are particularly effective, as we explain.
Blog posts
Most people will start online when searching for a solution to a problem. Therefore, one of the easiest ways of getting your own explanation in front of a potential buyer is through a blog post that ranks highly during a search. Keyword analysis will allow you to spot topics that are trending among your target audience, and with these insights you can craft a post that explores an issue many people are currently facing.
For example, we know how important it is to blog effectively as part of a content marketing strategy, but many firms struggle to get it right. Our blog on ‘five reasons why your company blog is failing’addresses this issue and explains where firms are going wrong, so they know what to put right. It also ranks second when you tap ‘failing company blog’ into Google, proving it has been effective in being both informative and a useful SEO tool.
It’s important to remember that at this stage of the buying process your audience doesn’t want to be sold to, they simply want information. That is why blog posts that stay true to the ideals of content marketing – i.e. provide value – are effective here. They shouldn’t be a thinly-veiled sales pitch but instead educate and inform the reader.
Another useful way of providing valuable information in an engaging way is through a podcast, as people turn to them to be educated as well as entertained. The consumption of this type of media has been rising steadily for years, and it offers an alternative to blogging or ebooks as people can gain information while walking to work, for example.
Just as you would through a blog, you can discuss a pertinent issue and how to overcome it, but a podcast enables you to add more of a human touch. You could invite two colleagues to discuss the issue to give your audience a more rounded solution, and use humour to keep them interested. The podcast could also be promoted on your website as part of a blog or through social media to get it in front of people who are hunting for help. I struggled to find examples of brands that already use podcasts to inform their audience, which suggests that it could be a useful tool to differentiate your business from its rivals.
Using the above content types you can help potential customers to find the information they are searching for when solving a problem, and at the same time establish yourself as a credible expert. This is beneficial when it comes to the next stage of the buying process – evaluation of alternatives – which we’ll explore in the next blog post.
Share your thoughts on the above by leaving a comment below, or tweet us @strattoncraig.

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