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Stages of buyers journey
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Knowing the target audience inside out is the ultimate success mantra for any business. 

Google knows this very well. That’s why the Google search engine is increasingly becoming humane with every update. 

Why worry about Mapping keywords according to stages of the Sales Funnel?

Users are the topmost priority for search engines. 

So simply extracting the industry-specific keywords from SEO tools and creating content around it won’t bring in the flood of traffic and sales you’ve been dreaming of. 

If you want to attract visitors to your site through organic search and convert them into customers, you need to understand how they think and behave when they search for information.

In other words, you must identify their search intent to find the right keywords and use them to create content for various milestones of their buying journey. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss how you can effectively map keywords to different stages of the sales funnel and improve your buyers’ experience. 

Let’s get started. 

Defining the Buyer Persona

Before we dive into keyword mapping, it’s important to understand your ideal customer profile. 

For this, you need to create a buyer persona — a fictional representation of the key segment of your target audience. It is also referred to as customer persona or marketing persona.  

Although it’s imaginary, buyer personas are derived from in-depth research of your target audience. 

That’s why, in a way, it’s a super detailed description of your target audience. So besides the basic attributes like demographics, geographic location, etc., you’d also need information about their:

  • Goals 
  • Challenges
  • Fears
  • Likes-dislikes
  • Hobbies, and more

You can collect the above data using email surveys or social media polls. 

Here’s an example of a buyer persona. 

buyer persona defining

Image Source 

This would help you identify:

  • Their objectives and problems at different stages of buying journey
  • How they obtain information or solutions to their problems
  • What kind of content do they engage with at a specific stage of the sales funnel, etc.

Accordingly, you can create content resources that they would likely search for.

Thus, you can create a persona for each customer segment. 

However, if you’re a startup or a solo entrepreneur, you may want to focus on one buyer persona. It’s because creating content for different stages of the sales funnel for multiple personas can be too much to handle for a single person. 

Stages of the Sales Funnel

As discussed earlier, the buyer persona helps you sneak into your customers’ minds and understand their buying journey. Based on this, you’d create content that will satisfy their search queries at different stages of the sales funnel. 

A sales funnel is a marketing term used to describe your customers’ buying journey — from being unaware of their problem to buying a solution offered by you.

This is how a buyer’s journey looks like. 

buyer's journey

Image Source

Before a buyer enters the sales funnel, they aren’t aware if they have any problem or challenge. 

However, once they face an obstacle and have an acceptance that there’s something that is lacking, they start focusing on the problem.  

And here’s how they typically navigate through your sales funnel. 

Stages of Sales funnel

At each of these stages, your content should match their search queries. 

So the key is to think beyond just keyword research and start looking at the human elements of SEO. After all, search engines are made to serve humans. 

That’s where user search intent — why a searcher approaches the search engine — plays an important role. You need to identify the correct search intent for every stage of the funnel.

With that, let’s take a look at the buyer’s behaviour and their search intent at various stages of the funnel.

Awareness

At the awareness stage, the buyer becomes aware of the problem. Though they may not know the exact issue, they have reached a point where they acknowledge the presence of a challenge. 

As a result, they may lookout for information that can help them identify the problem areas. 

So as a business, your content should be visible for the search queries they’re likely to enter in Google. 

Here their quest is purely informational. So your goal shouldn’t be to sell anything yet. Rather focus on creating content that satisfies their need for information. 

If they find value in your content, they’d start recognising your brand and would like to revisit your site. 

Interest

At this stage, a consumer is more aware of their problem and they’d also have a name for the challenge. So they hunt for solutions while narrowing down their search for a specific issue.

In other words, they would know where to go for more information and solutions. Thus, by now they would’ve discovered the solution in form of product or service, and so the solution providers. 

So their search queries are likely to be navigational. For example, a specific brand or product name. 

Hence, you should be appearing in their searches as a solution to their specific challenge. 

So at this point, your content should be focusing on solving their issues and establishing your brand as an authority at the same time. 

If you’re able to establish yourself as an authority, it’s easier to position your brand name when a customer shortlists the solution providers. 

Consideration

As the name suggests, at this stage the customer would consider finalising a solution from the list of shortlisted brands. 

So they would want to compare different options or read reviews about them. 

Or to put it simply, they dive deeper into each of the solutions to investigate the promised benefits. Needless to say, their queries will sound investigational in nature. 

Hence, your goal should be to provide content that proves that you’re a hero they’ve been looking for. 

Think of it like this: what can prove that your solution is better than others?

So give them the content that sets you up as a clear winner to help them resolve their challenges.   

Conversion

At the conversion stage, the buyer has taken a decision as to which solution they want to buy. 

Hence, their search queries will be transactional and will reflect commercial intent. And if they search for such queries, they are most likely looking for a path to purchase. 

So as a business, you need to think:

  • What resources can help them get through the transaction faster?
  • What do customers expect while buying? (discounts, promo codes, etc.)

Thus, when you identify your user’s search intent correctly, it reveals the right keywords you should be targeting. 

Then it becomes easier to map your keywords to your customers’ buying journey and guide them through the funnel with the content optimised for their search queries. 

Sales funnel and type of keywords

Having said that, let’s understand how you can map keywords for users’ search intent at different stages of the sales funnel. 

To make it simple and easy to understand, let’s take a hypothetical example:

For instance, you’re running an SEO agency. A potential customer — Lisa is operating an online Direct-To-Consumer (D2C) cosmetics brand. And her profile quite matches your agency’s buyer persona. 

Here’s how you can guide them through your sales funnel with effective keyword mapping. 

Keyword Mapping for Awareness Stage

Lisa’s brand has its content strategy in place. They publish content on their website regularly and promote it across their social media accounts. 

However, they’re not able to attract adequate organic traffic to their site. 

So here Lisa has just become aware that there’s some problem that needs to be addressed in order to increase their website traffic. To start with, she would search Google for generic web traffic-related questions.  

At this point, Lisa’s search queries may look like:

  • “how to attract visitors to a site”
  • “how can i drive traffic on my ecommerce site”
  • “ways to increase website traffic”

As an SEO agency targeting buyer personas like Lisa, you should already be creating content assets that provide value to eCommerce brands.  

At this stage, you don’t want to sell them anything. Your intention should be to help them grow by educating them with your content resources even if they’re not your customer.  

Usually, buyers at the awareness stage seek generic information as they only know the symptoms of the problem, not the causes of it. 

Thus, their search queries often start like this:

  • How to
  • Ways to 
  • Reasons for
  • Why 
  • How do I 
  • How can I, etc. 

And here’s the types of content that meet the search intent at the awareness stage:

  • How-to blog posts
  • Tips sheet
  • Checklists
  • How-to videos
  • Educational webinars, etc. 

So ensure you create such content pieces for your targeted buyer personas and optimise it for search engines so that they can find them. 

This makes your brand visible to your potential buyers early on. Moreover, it also helps them identify some of the underlying reasons behind their problem. 

Let’s assume that Lisa found your content for some of the above search queries and she liked what she read. And after reading some articles on increasing organic traffic, she realised that they need to work on their site’s SEO.

Keyword Mapping for Interest Stage

Now that Lisa has a better understanding of the problem, she would want to dig deep into the specific issues and their solutions. 

In the context of the sales funnel, now she has moved to the interest stage where she would look for resources to solve the problem. 

Also, now she knows where to find more information on SEO and related topics. Hence, your goal should be to provide deeper insights into the specific SEO challenges and their actionable solutions. 

Here Lisa’s search queries would be something like this:

  • “your brand name seo guide”
  • “your brand name technical seo guide”
  • “your brand name link building blog post”

Buyers’ search terms at this stage are navigational since they want to refer to resources on a specific site. And they search for queries such as:

  • Product names
  • Specific brand’s content
  • Brand’s blog 
  • Name of service, etc. 

So ensure that you have the content that satisfies your customers’ search queries at this point. 

Consider creating content resources like: 

  • Comprehensive guides
  • E-books
  • Whitepapers
  • Templates
  • Online courses, etc. 

Such content can help you establish your brand as an authority and your target audience would start perceiving you as an industry expert. It’s a big win from a branding perspective. 

After studying some of the resources, Lisa realised that she would need professional SEO services to resolve this issue. Thus, she’s moving closer towards buying solutions.  

Keyword Mapping for Consideration Stage

By now Lisa is clear on her further course of action. She needs to find some competent SEO agencies and select the one that can deliver the expected results. 

Again, she would go back to Google and may search for:  

  • “top 5 seo agencies”
  • “best seo agencies”
  • “brand name vs brand name” 
  • “brand name SEO services reviews”

In the consideration stage, buyers want to investigate the available solutions thoroughly. Hence their search queries may include words like:

  • Top 5 or top 10
  • Best companies for
  • Comparison between
  • Reviews 
  • Specific attributes of a product or service, etc. 

So the content ideas that can work at the stage are:

  • Thought leadership content
  • Industry news/press releases
  • Reviews 
  • Case studies, etc. 

These content resources help buyers compare multiple options and choose the one that suits them. 

By now Lisa would have the list of solution providers that can fix her site’s SEO issues. Moreover, she would’ve also compared their services and read the reviews. 

Keyword Mapping for Conversion Stage

At this stage, Lisa would’ve already finalised the SEO agency that she wants to hire. 

Congratulations! She has chosen your services. 

Thus, she would find a way to contact you.

Mostly, the buyers who seek services directly visit your website’s “contact us” or “book a free consultation” page at this stage.

However, you can’t afford to ignore their search intent at this point. Typically they look for a way to save some money. So they may search for deals, coupons, promo codes etc. before they purchase products or service packages. 

Moreover, some buyers might also need one final push or reassurance before they buy products or services. So they may look out for client testimonials or consultation calls.

Taking the case of Lisa, her search query at this stage could be:

  • “your brand name pricing”
  • “your brand name free consultation”
  • “Your brand name client testimonials”

Ensure that you have testimonials from clients who faced similar problems and how your brand solved them. It works its magic at this stage.   

Other than that, generic search queries for this stage include:

  • Buy
  • Coupon code
  • Offers
  • Discount
  • Free consultation
  • Consultation
  • Purchase, etc. 

And the content that can satisfy such search intent are:

  • Client testimonials
  • Case studies
  • Infographics
  • Free trial offers
  • Coupons, promo, etc. 

Note that, customers who search for the above queries are on the verge of buying from you. And they may need some of the conversion stage content before they take a leap of faith.  

Thinking Beyond the Funnel

Converting a visitor into a lead and eventually a paying customer is great. Sure, the sales funnel ends there but your work doesn’t. In fact, your real work has just started.

Now your goal is to earn their loyalty by delivering the results and converting them into repeat customers. This way, they become the promoters of your brand. Keep in mind, you’ll need their testimonials too!

Here are the post-purchase content ideas to convert your customers into fans:

  • Think of the problems they can face while using your products or service and create content accordingly (Customer complaints are a great source for this)
  • Create product guides and service manuals 
  • Product videos and service tutorials
  • Troubleshooting guides, etc. 

As we conclude this guide — remember, tapping into your buyers’ search intent at different stages of their buying journey is the best way to identify correct keywords and generate content ideas. If you get this right, your sales journey will become an automated process. 

With that, happy mapping 🙂

 

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