Think about the last time you bought a toothbrush. How long did it take you to decide which toothbrush to buy? Did you research the best toothbrush, read reviews, ask friends and family for their opinion, try the product in-store, and then finally look for the best deal online? Probably not. You likely just picked up a new toothbrush when you were standing in line at the store.
Now think about the when you last bought a new TV. The decision-making process was likely quite different. You probably did spend hours poring over reviews, checking out specs, looking at different brands in store, and reading articles to educate yourself on which brand is the best fit for your needs.
Both of the above are examples of B2C products, but the length of the sales cycle is very different for the two products. Individual consumers will spend much longer researching and deciding on the right brand when forking out a few thousand dollars for a TV, rather than a few dollars for a toothbrush.
If your brand sells an expensive or niche product with a long B2C sales process, you have to think about your marketing differently long-term. If you want customers to choose your brand, then you need to use content to power your marketing efforts and convince people that your product is the best.
Use content marketing throughout long B2C sales cycles
If you have a longer sales cycle than most, you’re likely well aware that the traditional ecommerce playbook doesn’t work for your product. Your buyers don’t just click on an Instagram ad and make an impulse purchase — it takes a lot more work and is more similar to B2B sales. First, you have to educate your buyers about why your product is right for them.
However, the content your customers want to read today depends on exactly where they are in their buyer’s journey. What are these steps? Different industries have different ideas about how many stages there are in a sales cycle, but these can be broadly defined as:
An example of the awareness stage would be if a customer is casually browsing Amazon for TVs and stumbles on your product, or if they Google “best 70 inch TVs” or “must-have TV features”. An example of consideration would be Googling “which TV is better – Samsung or Panasonic”. If they are at the purchase stage then they might be checking prices on Amazon or Google Shopping, or using search terms such as “best HD Samsung TV”.
No matter which stage of the B2C sales cycle a customer is in, you need to have content that answers their most likely queries as they move through each stage. As a marketer, it’s your job to educate buyers on why your product is the best so you can nurture them through the process.
Use triggers to improve content marketing
As part of your B2C content strategy, you also need to understand the triggers that push a customer to visit your website or buy your product. For example, say your customer moved to a new house recently and they accidentally smashed their TV screen in the process. They now need to make a purchase in the next few days so they can watch the newest episode of Game of Thrones before someone spoils it.
This is just one of the many situational triggers that might push a customer to visit your website looking to make a purchase. You need content at the ready for all of these particular situations to explain why this customer should buy your product today. This content doesn’t have to be an article, however. It could be:
- Social media posts
- Customer reviews
- Website copy
- A newsletter
- Product descriptions/FAQs
- An ad
But whatever platform it’s on, you have to think through the likely scenarios that would lead your buyers to your site, what questions they have, and then map your content to those exact challenges and stages of the B2C sales cycle.
Companies with killer content marketing strategies
It’s tricky to persuade customers to buy your product when it is more expensive or more complex. You need to offer up concise, but compelling, content that will educate your buyers.
So what does great B2C marketing content look like? Here are three brands creating content for different stages of the sales cycle to help nurture their customers and eventually, drive a purchase.
If you have a technical product and you’re selling to a buyer without technical knowledge, content can help. Home security alarm company Scout Alarm provides content to customers who know they need an alarm, but aren’t quite sure what specific features they want or need. The website has a Build Your Ideal system page, which details the different aspects of the alarm pack, what each does, and how much the whole package will cost with the selected features. It’s a great way to understand exactly what the buyer is looking for and give them the right options.
It also provides a comprehensive Knowledge Base that explains all the different features included in a Scout Alarm and includes an evaluation of sensor placement and security needs, as well as system requirements.
Spectrum King LED
Content can also make an impact when you’re in a competitive space. Spectrum King LED designs, manufactures and sells professional-grade LED grow lights for indoor grows and greenhouse applications for the growing cannabis industry. To persuade customers to buy its products over the competitors, the brand publishes the results of independent tests that determine whether its LED lights work better than others for growing plants. This content is perfect for customers that are Googling terms such as “Spectrum King or Fluence – which is better”.
Spectrum King LED also provides content for many different stages in the B2C sales cycle — everything from customers at the awareness stage trying to understand light spectrums in LED lights to customers about to buy considering the right size light for their space.
Luxury products can also make an impact by using content to build brand identity. Men accessories brand William Henry provides such unique and unusual products that it needs to educate customers about why they should shop with them. The company uses its product descriptions to appeal to their specific buyers by describing the unique properties of the materials.
The company also uses pop up ads and next best actions to good effect to collect customers’ email addresses by offering them a chance to win $1000 (instead of going straight to the discounts).
The key for any B2C brand with a longer sales cycle that wants to use content effectively is to be more customer-centric. Get to know your customer by creating a buyer persona and unify the data you already collect on them. This requires an approach that has a lot in common with how B2B companies think about sales cycles.
From your detailed customer data, you can get a clearer picture of what triggers work and where your buyers are in the B2C sales cycle. With the right insights into the customer experience, you can understand the type of content you need to create and how to effectively nurture your buyers along their journey until they make a purchase.