Imagine your prospects as mountaineers. Their journey—not unlike the buyer’s journey—is winding and obstacle-laden and often begins long before they even step foot on the mountain.
The peak, should they reach it (and you hope they do), is where they finally become a customer. They feel victorious, elated that they’ve finally reached the end of their journey. And thank goodness they had help along the way, or they may not have made it.
On the buyer’s journey, you are your prospect’s guide, providing them with the resources and support (like content) they need to continue on their adventure. Each prospect will typically trek through three distinct phases before becoming a customer: awareness, evaluation, and decision.
In this piece, we’ll look specifically at the content required for the decision phase, including the types of content you can use and how to create it. But first…
The 3 phases of the buyer’s journey:
Continuing with the mountaineering analogy, let’s say you’ve decided to climb Mount Everest.
Unless you have a death wish, the average person can’t just decide to climb Everest and then roll out of bed the next day and do it. There are preparations that need to be made, research that needs doing, and hoops to jump through.
Here's one example of a buyer’s journey:
One way to visualize the buyer’s journey is (ironically) an upside-down triangle or peak.
- Awareness: In this stage of the buyer’s journey, the prospect is experiencing a problem, but doesn’t know yet how to address it.
- Evaluation: In the evaluation stage of the journey, the prospect understands exactly what is required to solve their problem and they’re looking for the perfect solution. This stage involves research—comparing different products, reading reviews, and more.
- Decision: The final phase of the buyer’s journey is the decision phase, when the prospect is preparing to make their final decision and select a product or service.
Our brave adventurer begins their ascent to the final decision the moment they step on the mountain. Along the way they’ll encounter obstacles and they might even start to wonder why they made such a silly decision to climb Earth’s highest mountain. Your job as their guide is to counter their objections and remind them of their ultimate goal: Reaching the peak and, ultimately, solving their problem.
Types of content for the decision phase:
By this point your prospect has done a significant amount of research. They’ve read customer reviews, asked for recommendations, and watched a few promo videos. They’ve narrowed down their options to a few promising ones, and they’re getting ready to make a decision.
The decision phase is less about long-form written content and more about clearly demonstrating the value of your product.
A Call to Action (CTA) is extra important at this phase, since prospects are teetering on the edge of a decision. If you don’t give them an obvious and easy way to convert… they might just run to one of your competitors who’ve created a more frictionless path.
Here are some examples of the types of content you can use in the decision phase:
Price comparison charts
A well-designed price comparison chart can mean the difference between a sale and an abandoned visitor.
If a prospect is deciding between a few options for your product or service, you need to make it especially easy for them to differentiate between your offers.
Video software company Wistia does a great job showcasing each of their plans while keeping it clutter-free. Not only that, they also specify who each plan is for (i.e., “For professionals improving their websites with video”), a currency converter for prospects outside the U.S., and a clear and obvious CTA.
Customer case studies
If a prospect is torn between two seemingly promising options, they might wonder how you’ve helped other folks like them. Case studies are a great way to do just that, demonstrating the value of your product while building on social proof.
Language learning tool Rosetta Stone features a collection of testimonials as well as compelling customer story videos, like this one featuring medic and Spanish student Christopher.
If you’ve decided to create your own case studies, whether video or text, keep the following things in mind:
- Demonstrate a transformation. Show what a customer’s life looked before they purchased your product or service and how your product or service made things better.
- Provide numbers. If your product helped your customer make 10 times more money than before, include that. If your app helped your customer lose 25 lbs in six months, highlight that.
- Be specific. Vagueness breeds doubt, so be as specific as possible in your case study. In addition to numbers, include details that only a real person could describe, like what it felt to achieve their goal.
- Play to your personas. If you have the opportunity to profile two customers, prioritize the one who most matches an existing buyer persona. The beauty of case studies is that it allows your prospects to put themselves in your customer’s shoes. If you profile a customer who represents very few of your existing customer base, chances are it will also resonate with fewer prospects.
Free trial offers
The ol’ try-before-you-buy method gives prospects an opportunity to experience your product or service without any risk.
Meal delivery service Fresh Prep offers new customers two free meals when they sign up. Notice the clear banner with simple copy and a clear CTA along the top of the website.
Not only that, there’s also microcopy under the main CTA to assure prospects that delivery is free and that they may skip using the service any week, without any repercussions.
Fresh Prep doubles down on their free trial content with on-delivery coupons to share with friends and family, as well as social ads and retargeting.
Other types of decision-phase content
Beyond the content types mentioned above, other content in the decision phase includes:
- Vendor comparison guides
- Product demos (live or recorded)
- Contact forms
- Audits or consultations
Choosing the type of content you’ll make is an important part of the creation process, but don’t skip ahead! The following three-step process will help you identify your content gaps, create your brand-specific content, and distribute it strategically.
Create content for the decision phase in 3 steps:
1. Complete a content audit.
Before you create any content for the decision phase, it’s important to first take stock of your existing content.
Make a spreadsheet that lists every piece of content your team has created. For each piece, identify which stage of the buyer’s journey it belongs to, where it lives, if it’s current or needs updating, and whether or not it should be retired entirely.
Your spreadsheet will look something like the one below.
Feel free to add additional columns like conversion data on CTA, content type, or anything else you find helpful.
Next it’s time to identify the holes in your content. There are a number of ways to do this, but a few good places to start include:
- Digging up your personas and listing common pain points, objections, questions, and goals.
- Asking other members of your sales team what they wish they had based on common questions and objections they get.
Once you’ve done some research, take a look at your existing content. You might find that you have content that your team didn’t know about, or content that with just a few tweaks can be used by your team tomorrow.
If not, brainstorm content ideas to fill the holes, assign the pieces, and then (and this is an important step) circulate the content so that every team member knows it exists and where to find it.
2. Be brand-specific.
The decision phase of the buyer’s journey is not the time to be shy. Whereas your awareness content focuses more on identifying the problem and your evaluation content focuses on solutions in a broader sense, decision content should call your products, services, and features by their proper names.
Not known for their subtlety, Apple highlights both the features (12MP camera, TrueDepth camera) and benefits (“stunning photos,” “perfect for Portrait selfies”) of their dual cameras.
Apple can’t get more brand-specific than this.
While this degree of detail might overwhelm a prospect in the awareness phase, in the decision phase these details may be the selling feature.
3. Place your content strategically.
Now that you’ve identified the gaps and either updated or created the brand-specific content to fill them, it’s time to make sure your prospects see it… at the right time.
Do some digging to discover the pages and/or platforms most prospects visit immediately before they convert and become a customer. Likely it’s your pricing page, but maybe it’s also your products page, or your retargeting Facebook ads. In any case, these are great places to start optimizing and improve your conversion rates.
Also identify any pages that have no clear CTA. Since every page should have a clear CTA, these could be good pages to test out some of your new content—whether in a sidebar, a banner, inline with text, or at the bottom of the page.
Of course, if you’re running email nurture or promo campaigns to your prospects, these pieces of content should also be worked into them. Take the email below from Canva, for example:
You may notice some key things we’ve mentioned already:
- Branded feature names like Magic Resize and Brand Kit.
- Detailed features alongside benefits like “Design folders to keep things organized and easy to find” and “Convenient team settings, templates, and sharing that make collaborating a breeze.”
- Clear CTAs, including a secondary CTA offering a free trial.
Plus a few things we haven’t…
- Urgency: “It’s your last chance” and “It’s an offer you can’t miss.”
- Exclusivity, in the form of a locked-in price for the lifetime of your subscription.
Guide your prospects well.
In a perfect world, your prospects discover your brand, immediately understand the value of your product, and convert right there on the spot. But we don’t live in a perfect world.
As a sales or marketing professional, it’s your job to guide your prospects through the buyer’s journey, countering their objections and showing them the value of your product through a variety of targeted content.
When creating content for the decision phase, remember: your prospects are ready to purchase, so make it easy for them.
Bolster their confidence with detailed customer case studies, empower them to compare their options (between you and your competitors and between your offerings), and—if you can—give them an opportunity to try your product or service, risk-free.