Go anywhere on the internet and posts about “conversion-focused content” are everywhere. Many of them have helpful tips on the words to use when crafting calls to action or how to hook readers. But what’s even more important than that is knowing who you’re talking to, and there’s a little more to it than simply identifying your target market.

In today’s post we’re going to go over the 3 major stages of the buyer’s journey — the frames of mind a person goes through to ultimately make a purchase — and how you can craft your content more specifically to each.

If you’re using language aimed at someone in a one phase and the reader is in a different one, the message will not connect.

Some marketers say there are 5 stages in the buyer’s journey, but for simplicity here we’ll be going over the big three: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. (These are mentioned prominently in Hubspot’s post on the Buyer’s Journey.)

Traffic stoplights for conversion and the sales process

1. Awareness – Why Is This Happening?

This phase is the beginning of a person’s thinking about something they may eventually buy. They have some sort of challenge or desire, but aren’t sure what’s causing it or how to proceed. A person in this situation tends to start with research for these basic answers.

An example would be wondering why your house is so drafty. Your prospect doesn’t yet know what’s causing it, but an article or video on “The Top 5 Reasons Your House Is Drafty” would be a perfect resource. This information would help them determine what they’re dealing with and assess its urgency.

This is an information-gathering phase. If you’ve written a blog post that answers some of these questions, for instance, it’s important that you’re not pressuring the reader for a sale. The call to action here should have to do with information — whether that’s subscribing to your newsletter, reading more related posts, or even sharing.

Think of planning to buy a new car. This is the phase where you’re poking around online about various models and features. If somehow a sales rep appeared over your shoulder and started pushing you to take a test drive it’ll probably fail outright because you’re not there yet. You haven’t even decided to visit a dealership yet to see the car in person. You want someone helpful, not someone pushing you along faster than makes sense.

The language I would use to persuade you to work with me, for instance, is very different when you’re in phase 3 than if I can tell you’re still here at phase 1.

Common content approach geared toward phase 1:

  • Common causes of _________
  • Top reasons you feel _________
  • What symptoms of _________ mean

2. Consideration – What Can I Do About It?

Now that the prospect knows what their challenge is, they’re interested in learning what solutions are even available. To follow the example above about a drafty house, by this phase the prospect has more or less figured out why their house is drafty. Now they’re looking up common fixes, probably to determine how complicated it will be and whether they’ll need to hire someone.

To use the car buying analogy, this is where the person has decided to start reading about financing options and reading reviews about various cars. They still haven’t visited a dealership to test drive a car yet.

This is partially why “how-to” videos and articles are so prevalent. Being a resource, being helpful, and solving people’s problems are great ways to build rapport. That and even when you’re teaching someone how to do something on their own there’s always a chance they’ll decide to have you do it for them once they see how much is involved.

Common content approach geared toward phase 2:

  • How-to guides (gain weight, make money, save money, etc.)
  • The best way(s) to deal with ________
  • List posts

3. Decision – Who Can Help Me?

This is the final phase where the sale happens. The prospect knows what their challenge is, and they know the solutions available and have decided that’s a route they want to go. It’s now simply a question of where to obtain that solution.

This is the area most landing pages (or sales pages, or squeeze pages) focus on. Assuming that the reader is already primed and ready to buy, and that if the page provides enough value a sale is a click away.

When you’re aiming at this type of reader, remember that they’ve already gone through the first two phases. Too often sales/service pages focus on features or general information. Your reader is already past these things at this point.

The main things that determine whether that person chooses you are:

  • Price – Are you within their budget and do your prices seem reasonable against the others they’ve looked at?
  • Social proof – Do you have enough validation that you’re reputable and that you’ve helped people that a stranger feels like they can trust you?
  • Emotional connection – Has the way you’ve presented your value made the reader feel safe and confident?

Ideally all 3 of these need to be in line. Otherwise, missing one becomes the objection that stops someone from moving forward. We’ve all felt those objections.

Missing on price: “A lot of people recommend him and he seems like a great guy, but he’s too expensive.”

Missing on social proof: “He’s affordable and seems nice, but I’m concerned that no one has heard of him.”

Missing rapport: “He’s affordable and other people speak well of him, but I just don’t get the right vibe.”

Common content approach geared toward phase 3:

  • Landing pages
  • Top 3 Benefits of _______
  • Case studies

If this was helpful to you in piecing together what types of content goes where, please share with someone you think would think so, too!