You’ve created a ton of great top-of-funnel content for the awareness stage that helps your readers identify a problem that could be solved with your product or service. As a bonus, this content is also driving traffic to your site. All is well.
Well, not quite.
You still have to go one step further and persuade these people (who are now looking for a solution) to think of your product or service a viable option.
You’ve got to create consideration-stage content.
The consideration stage is where you try to make it to your buyer’s shortlist of options.
Just because you’ve found a bunch of leads doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy. Timing is everything, and the consideration stage is crucial because this is where your prospects start filtering out options that they don’t like.
They’re doing serious research at this point too—47% of B2B shoppers look at three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.
What that means is that buyers aren’t settling on an option right away; they’re taking their time and weighing their options. Just because they’re a little more advanced than awareness-stage shoppers doesn’t mean you should go for the hard-sell here.
Instead, take advantage of the brand awareness you created in the previous stage by clearly differentiating yourself from your competitors while cultivating stronger relationships with the right buyers—emphasis on “right.” Don’t be afraid of letting the wrong ones go.
Some buyers may actually need a different type of solution or won’t be ready to buy for a very long time. There’s a chance they’ll buy from you in the future, but you can put them on the back-burner for now. Otherwise, if you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up diluting your messaging and appealing to no one.
But before you start creating consideration-stage content...
In order to figure out what type of content to create for this phase, you first need to understand your buyer. Is your reader likely to be the decision-maker—and can they afford your product? If you’re selling a product that’s made for teams (like software), you should probably consider the size of your reader’s team.
Questions like these help you qualify leads, write clear messaging, and narrow down your target audience to people who are seriously interested in buying.
And don’t forget: you’re being evaluated too. As they read your content, your audience is asking questions like:
- Is this brand really a thought leader or industry expert?
- Can I trust what they’re saying?
- Is this product something I should look into?
Yes, your consideration-stage content will need to help establish your product as a good purchase option, but it should address many of these above questions too. It’s not easy, and experimenting is key.
What types of content should you create for the consideration phase?
In the consideration stage, you’ve got options
To guide the reader down a path that leads to your product or service, you need to first provide content that answers their questions in more detail than your awareness content did—but don’t show your hand too early. As a trustworthy expert, your ultimate goal at this point is still to be helpful.
Like in the awareness stage, you can do this through a few different types of content:
- Whether you’re selling a tactile product (like leather goods) or something that’s more complex (like software), videos can tell a story that blog posts and articles simply cannot. Not only do videos tend to get more conversions and engagement, they also don’t have to be super short—videos that are longer than 20 minutes account for over half (55%) of total video consumption time on smartphones.
For example, this is a really well-done video by Peter McKinnon that teaches the viewer about basic filming techniques and how to film themselves—all in five minutes. He’s not really selling anything, but it’s a great example of Peter’s expertise and the quality of his work. He’s created valuable content that also makes him look like a great photographer and filmmaker to hire. Oh, and he sells merch and preset filters to film enthusiasts as well.
- It’s always about the budget. If your product happens to be a cost-effective option, don’t just say it; create a calculator that a potential buyer can use to see just how much each option costs (and how they can save with you).
Cost calculators don’t have to be fancy—or even look like a calculator. Sometimes, the simpler the better.
Reports or original research
- Prove that you’re an industry leader. If you can afford it, commission a survey or research that you can package into a downloadable asset. It’s an effective excuse to prove that you’re blazing a trail in your field by figuring out the answers to “what’s next?” for your peers and prospects.
Webinars and podcasts
- Audio and visual engagement? In real time? If you’ve heard of Twitch, you won’t be surprised at the popularity of webinars and podcasts. According to GoToWebinar’s 2017 Big Book of Webinar Stats, the average webinar attendee session time is a whopping 61 minutes. A tip: you have the potential to keep your audience’s attention for an extended time, so don’t be afraid to go in-depth into your topics.
Oh… and try to have a landing page whenever you can.
Whatever type of content you’re creating, think about whether it’s robust or interesting enough for the reader to justify giving you their email address or other information for it.
Here’s one of PayPal’s landing pages. Clean, easy to scan, and a form that doesn’t have too many fields to fill out.
Especially for valuable pieces like research reports and webinars, it’s a common practice to have a landing page that contains a form for your audience to fill out. Use it! (And don’t forget to follow landing page best practices—this will have a huge impact on how many conversions you get.)
Create consideration phase content in 3 steps.
1. Understand your buyers.
Using the buyer’s journey you’ve mapped out, you should have a rough understanding of who your buyer is and what questions they might think of as they research you and your competitors.
What are deal-breakers in the consideration stage? What answers do they absolutely need to have (pricing is usually a big one) in order to feel comfortable enough to move into decision stage with your product in mind?
Pro-tip: Find out where your buyers tend to get their information from. If they love watching videos or learning from webinars, create content in these forms to have a better shot at getting their attention.
According to DemandGen’s Content Preferences Survey Report, the most share-worthy content types are white papers, webinars, infographics, and case studies.
2. Plan your content around solutions.
The consideration stage is usually a longer stage, with buyers taking a second or even third look at each option before discarding it (or keeping it for the next round of review). Your content will be scrutinized at length, so make sure that it’s helpful and centered around solving problems. What’s key here is to not push your own product; instead, position your solution as one of the options.
The balance between honesty and confidence is crucial. Present the facts and talk about your benefits as you would to a jury: don’t short-sell yourself, but try not to sound sleazy or presumptuous either.
One quick test: if you read your content and it sounds like it could be an infomercial for your product, it’s probably too salesy for the consideration stage.
Pro-tip: One common mistake that marketers make is pushing people to buy too early. Your buyers aren’t in the decision stage yet—that’s next, but right now they’ve only just figured out their problem and they’re still doing research. They’re getting closer to making a decision, but the timing isn’t quite right.
3. Know what the next step will be.
The consideration stage isn’t the end of your buyer’s journey; they still need to progress to the decision stage where they’ll make a purchasing decision. Where will your content lead to next? What video will they watch? Or is it a case study? (Here's how to create one.)
Whatever it is, you should be planning the next piece of content and have an idea of where your reader will end up. Remember, you’re leaving a trail of cookie crumbs to get your reader to a destination.
Pro-tip: This is a great opportunity to collect more information and qualify your leads. If you think this content is valuable enough, gate it: add a download button and a form that someone can fill out in order to get to this content. This way, you can get your audience to tell you their budget, preferences, and what they’re looking for.
Tactics for creating consideration content:
Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s look at a few strategies you can take and different angles to try as you’re planning and writing this content. Treat these as launchpads for your content brainstorm session.
- Look at customer reviews online on third-party sites to get ideas of what people love about your product (or your competitors) and use these to come up with topics you can address.
- Optimize your content for search engines. Even though many people will be coming from your awareness-stage content, you can still use this to attract people who are Googling and searching for information online in other ways.
- Make sure you have content that addresses not only the average person who’s interested in your product, but also the final decision-maker (if that’s someone different). What a VP wants isn’t always the same as what someone in middle management wants.
- Always be measuring. You and your team should be tracking and always aware of lead scores for potential buyers who are giving you their information. Don’t let this data go to waste!
You’re now equipped to create consideration-stage content. Start fleshing out the topics that will drive buyers to the decision stage—and think about which tools will help you track this content’s performance. Your buyers are waiting!