Do you think much about your buyer's purchase process aka their buying cycle? It's sometimes referred to as the sales funnel, too.
From what I have observed researching websites and speaking with business people, many don't. Call it a legacy of the website-as-brochure mentality.
You'll see this manifested via a home page that never gets to the essence of what's being sold on the site.
Or one that offers no distinct path into the website to learn more.
Or, no calls to action based on whether a visitor is at the very early stage of the buying process and educating him or herself, at the mid stage validating the options available, or at the end stage of that process and ready to purchase a solution from you.
With so many of our prospects spending time online - researching, educating themselves, gaining perspective on options available [see Inbound Marketing and ZMOT: Perfect Together? and Why ZMOT is Relevant for B2B Marketing: 4 Data-Based Reasons] - it's time to think about that purchase process and how it affects our buyers.
4 Lessons About Your Buyer's Purchase Process
Lesson 1: not every visitor to your website is ready to buy from you. Neither is every person entering your store, showroom or office.
Lesson 2: just because someone isn't ready to buy doesn't mean that you shouldn't connect and start to build a relationship.
Lesson 3: the best way to start building a relationship is by offering information that educates a prospect.
Lesson 4: once educated, a prospect can appreciate the evidence of your expertise
Lesson 5: the job isn't over when your prospect makes a purchase.
[By the way, you may have heard reference to AIDA - awareness, interest, desire, action. Ardath Albee refers to the 'sales funnel' as the buyer experience in A B2B Marketing-Sales Funnel Disconnect and details the "Buyer Experience Funnel as Interest, Attention, Value, Engagement, Buying Committee Involvement, Conversation, Purchase" per Build a Better Buyer Experience with Marketing Content #cmworld by Lee Odden.]
How to Address Your Buyer's Purchase Process with your Website Content
At the very top of the funnel, once a prospect has become aware of a need and has established interest, consider articles and blog posts about industry trends, product neutral information. Focus on how to educate. Can you create a check list, a white paper, a buyers' guide to help him/her make sense of the category and the options available?
Mid-funnel is when you can offer content that highlights your expertise: webinars demonstrating successes, free trials, demonstrations, case studies...
At your prospect progresses toward the bottom of the funnel, you may want to offer evidence of your competence. For example, product or service comparisons, customer stories, product sheets, one-on-one consultations, and eventually pricing for a specific solution.
Here are Ardath's suggestions, from Lee Odden's notes, "for Content that builds a better buyer experience:
Education: Where, What, When, Why How (not about the product, about the problem that they’re solving)
Expertise: Industry Trends, Methodology, Strategic Insights, Futuristic. (Add your take on general trends – what does this mean to your customers and what they care about) Show that you have more to offer than the product. Are you a partner or a vendor? Give enough actionable information for prospects to implement and see an effect so they come back for the “rest of it”.
Evidence: Customer Stories, Analysts, Earned Media, Reputation, Credibility. Build trust – people buy from people they trust."
Website Content, Keywords and Your Buyer's Purchase Process
If you are listening carefully to your prospects and customers - online and in real life - you will notice differences in how they refer to your product or service depending on which stage of the buyer purchase process they find themselves.
You will also notice differences depending on which buyer persona is interacting with your organization.
The more you pay attention to these differences, the better you will be able to develop website content that delights customers because it makes their purchase process so much easier!
If you go visit your website and experience it as would one of your prospect personas, what do you see? Do you stay for more or do you go? What would you modify so your website homepage engages visitors even if they aren't yet ready to buy?