For B2B organizations, the carefully crafted stages of a customer journey are a quest to balance customer information with sales numbers. Knowing what content will inspire a purchase can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be a unicorn.

To craft an effective balance of educational value and incentive, it helps to visually map out content based on eight stages within the customer journey and key buyer personas. This visual map ensures killer content is front and center at each stage—and motivates people to take action.

What’s most important is to view the customer journey as a sum of its parts. When each individual step within the purchase process provides powerful, useful information to answer a question or solve a problem for a customer, the content can work for you 24 hours a day.

Then, with a well-curated path to purchase in place, each content piece within the journey serves a need, independently and collectively, regardless the point of entry.

The end result guides people to the right resources, while also quickly and seamlessly answering their questions. Score!

The Art of Crafting Content for an Effective Customer Journey

There is an art to crafting relevant, effective content for each stage in the customer journey. First of all, stage-based content development should sync with an organization’s top, middle, and bottom of funnel path to selling. Content should also address customer needs that turn buying into an educational adventure and, thus, inspire the purchase impulse.

Here are the eight basic stages of the customer journey, which can help strengthen your approach to seamless selling using killer content:

Content for every stage: Awareness. Try social media posts and expert tip sheets that include an email sign-up to download.1. Awareness Stage

People need to know a brand exists, why they should care, and the specific need it fills. Some customers are looking for answers to a question; others are simply doing a general search for resources, education, or stats to support a purchase decision.

In the awareness stage, B2B organizations can cast a wide, yet focused, educational net with content. Social media outreach that shares links to tips and short, educational video content is a good start, as well as an email sign-up in exchange for an expert tip sheet or eBook. All these options slowly build awareness online and in social communities.

Content for every stage: investigation and research. Try blogs and white papers.2. Investigation and Research Stage

At this point, a potential client is interested and wants to see if you actually know your stuff. The key is to craft educational content while showing how your product or service can help fix a certain pain point.

For content options, consider a blog that features current and useful information. Have SME’s within the B2B organization write in-depth content, including research reports, which show relevant statistics and demonstrate thoroughness and transparency. White papers are another content option for taking a deeper dive into a product feature or industry trend, while also demonstrating breadth of knowledge and experience.

Content for every stage: assess and comparison. For this stage, try comparison infographics and client testimonials.3. Assess/Comparison Stage

Now it’s down to you and the competition. How do you stand out? Customer service and support? Ease of use?

As customers weigh the options, infographics that break down key information quickly and simply are extremely helpful. Consider including pricing or feature sheets presented in a clean, simple design. Positive client testimonials, press coverage, or reviews from trusted influencers are powerful content at this stage of the customer journey.

Content for every stage: consideration. For this stage, try testimonials or podcast interviews with clients.4. Consideration Stage

In the consideration stage, potential customers are interested in buying but are still assessing your value. They’re looking for proof your solution solves the specific problem that prompted their search.

This is a vital stage of the customer journey when buyers need key information on how to buy and why. A buyer’s guide outlines key criteria they can use to compare your solutions against their pain points, while also providing overall insights on how to be an educated consumer.

Positive customer testimonials help outline how your offerings address customers’ needs above and beyond other brands. Podcast interviews with clients or SME’s are a unique and interesting content option for this stage.

Content for every stage: purchase. For the purchase stage, create comparison charts with competitors, offer live demonstrations, and trial downloads.5. Purchase Stage

This is the pivotal phase when the focus needs to be on creating killer content that validates why your product or solution is worth purchasing now—and how it can meet future needs.

A simple chart that compares product and service tiers is extremely handy here. Trial downloads or live demos also help people see exactly what they are signing up for, and how easy it is to use. Any information on a loyalty or discount program could act as an incentive for clients on the fence.

Content for every stage: implementation. For the implementation stage of the customer journey, create online tutorials and a customer forum in which questions can be answered.6. Implementation Stage

This is your chance to shine! Now that the customer is invested, you want to get them up and running, using—and loving—your product or service. Are there online tutorials that showcase the basics as well as a how-to guide for more expansive features? Is there push content available through email, or a forum to help clients maximize performance and stay on top of industry news?

Content for every stage: support. For the support stage, providing extensive FAQs and great customer service will wow your customers.7. Support Stage

More often than not, support is the reason a customer decides to either stick around or bail. It’s also the reason they decide to level up their investment with your brand.

Offering reliable, educated, friendly customer service representatives or an extensive FAQ on the website goes a long way in helping customers get all they can out of your offerings. How about a mobile app complete with all the key features?

Content for every stage: renewal and repeat. For this stage, sending newsletters or insider guides can give customers a great impression. Also consider discounts or rewards programs, as well as announcements for any new features you offer.8. Renewal/Repeat Stage

If a customer has already worked with you once, consider ways content can get them to stick around or up their investment. Discounts, rewards programs, or newly expanded features based on specific customer input establish your appreciation for their business and input of what they want.

Consider providing exclusive content like a newsletter or an insider guide for customers that features unique information. Are there ways to introduce complementary products through cross-selling emails or specials?

The content you create for every stage of the customer journey has an impact. Maximize customer attention without overwhelming their consideration by being mindful of the content shared at each stage.

Katrina Pfannkuch

About Katrina Pfannkuch

Katrina Pfannkuch is a creativity consultant specializing in writing, editing, strategy & coaching. She's a bit of a data nerd & loves seeing how pieces of the informational puzzle come together to paint a creative picture. Catch Katrina & her insights on kick-starting creativity at @creativekatrina on Twitter.