Outstrip Your E-Commerce CompetitionLast updated on November 19, 2021 at 12:28 PM.
Many consumers complete the best part of their consumer decision journey before they seek out an online shop or have a chance to hear a sales pitch from a dealer. This is the sad reality that online retailers must face. The question they must ask themselves is this: how can such a challenge be overcome? Content marketing is one possible answer – and has the power to steer the course of the entire decision-making process, even in its early stages.
According to CEB, consumers in the B2B segment complete 57% of the their decision-making journey before approaching a company sales rep. This number is just an average: for some customers, this step occurs closer to the purchase decision, while for others, it occurs earlier. But why should this number be of interest to online retailers? Well, those who understand the frst 57% of the process also have the power to influence and steer it.
UNDERSTANDING PURCHASE DECISIONS: THE BUYER'S JOURNEY
The "buyer's journey" is a model that helps us better understand the purchase decision. It illustrates the phases through which a potential customer passes prior to deciding what to buy.
- Awareness: The buyer establishes that they are facing a problem or an opportunity. The information they are seeking in this phase will help them form a more concrete idea of this problem or opportunity.
- Consideration: The buyer is able to state specifically what their problem or opportunity is – to give it a name. They are now searching for information that will enable them to solve the problem or pursue the opportunity.
- Decision: In this phase, the buyer has determined how they wish to approach their problem or opporunity. At this stage, they are interested only in information that will support their final decision.
The buyer's journey shows why the online retailer and the sales rep enter the decision-making process so late – after 57% of the decision-making process: by their very definition, the awareness and consideration phases cannot play out in an online shop or during a conversation with a sales representative, since the potential buyer still has no idea of which product or service will further their personal goal.
STEERING THE PURCHASE DECISION: CONTENT MARKETING
While it's true that potential customers will visit an online shop or contact a sales rep only once they arrive at the decision phase, this does not mean that online retailers cannot exert infuence over the awareness and consideration phases. In fact, if potential customers are seeking specific information during these phases, all online retailers must do is to make sure they provide the right information.
Here's where content marketing comes in, since this marketing flow engages the potential buyer's natural interest. Companies who publish the right content can capture the reader's interest and thus exercise a driving influence over any possible purchase decisions. In this context, context fulfils several functions simultaneously:
- Achieving visibility: When online retailers optimise their content for search engines, more potential customers will be able to find what's on offer.
- Develop potential customers: Content can guide potential customers through the buyer's journey. With the right content strategy, online retailers can take future customers so-to-speak "by the hand".
- Demonstrate expertise: Content makes it possible for online retailers to prove their expertise. Through this, product and service promises gain in credibility.
How an online shop uses content marketing depends on the products it offers. When it comes down to it, it's possible to produce content for just about any service or product – no mater how mundane, tangential or abstract it might be. The right content marketing strategy thus enables online retailers to access the potential of that all-important 57%. Those who fail to do so leave the field to the competition!
Gerrit Grunert is the founder and CEO of Crispy Content®. In 2019, he published his book "Methodical Content Marketing" published by Springer Gabler, as well as the series of online courses "Making Content." In his free time, Gerrit is a passionate guitar collector, likes reading books by Stefan Zweig, and listening to music from the day before yesterday.