Investing in high-quality content is always an excellent way of reaching, engaging, and offering value to your audience. However, to ensure that you’re getting the best possible results, you must understand that one size does not fit all. Industry experts will argue that the best way to create content is to produce articles, videos, visuals, etc., that target specific stages of the buyer’s journey.
So if you’re looking to create content for the top end of your funnel, you will want to capitalize on awareness. That is, you will want to invest in media that will acquaint your target audience with your brand, your products, and the ways you can offer solutions to problems.
But what exactly is the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey? And what type of content will work to engage the people inhabiting it? Let’s find out.
What is the Awareness Stage?
To best understand how to capitalize on awareness, you must first comprehend the entire buyer’s journey. In other words, you must learn how the sales funnel works.
Essentially, consumers don’t just decide to purchase a product from a brand. Instead, they go through several stages (HubSpot, for example, identifies three) during which they:
- Become aware of needing a solution to a problem. This is the awareness stage.
- Explore different solutions, considering the benefits each one offers. This is the consideration stage.
- Decide on a particular solution that promises to meet their needs in the best way. This is the decision stage.
When creating content for the top end of the funnel, you’re introducing your brand to potential customers from the very beginning of their buyer’s journey.
Be it content in the form of text, video, audio, visual, social media post, or webinar, the goal should be an offer of trustworthy information. You’re aiming to become the preferred solution provider to the problem in question.
In addition to sharing your knowledge, you will also want to make sure that the content facilitates lead generation. Furthermore, it should work to (gently) move consumers further down the sales funnel. And, it should contribute to your branding efforts, positioning up your brand as an authority within an entire industry niche.
With all this in mind, there are several possibilities for investing in awareness-targeted content. The following are a few ideas well-worth exploring.
1. Publish High-Quality Ultimate Guides
If there’s one format you should consider investing in when targeting consumers in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, it’s ultimate guides.
You see, in 2021, consumers want convenience – and not just when shopping online.
Their preference for seamless experiences and well-integrated purchasing options extends to website and social media content as well. So, investing in the production of resources that answer all the questions consumers may have during the awareness stage of their buyer’s journey makes for an excellent strategy in generating viable leads.
For two great examples of how you can structure insightful guides that target consumers in the top section of the sales funnel, check out the very different approaches by Aura and Anchor.
Example #1: Aura
The first brand employs a traditional approach – it invests in blog posts that explain various aspects of Amazon selling. So, in this beginner’s guide to Amazon PPC, the brand uses its experience and industry know-how to help new sellers get started with advertising in one of the world’s most competitive marketplaces.
The post in question includes a general description of how advertising works on Amazon, explains how to get started, introduces key terms and common methods, and offers insights on performance analysis and optimization. But more than that, it’s a well-written piece that’s fully optimized for SEO and readability. Moreover, it introduces further resources for those ready to dive deeper into e-commerce and invest in specialized software.
Example #2: Anchor
Conversely, Anchor commits to doing what it does best: podcasts. Having created the I Should Start a Podcast series, this brand manages to tackle two challenges effectively:
- It offers an in-depth guide for all potential customers who are toying with the idea of starting a podcast.
- It uses the advantage of the audio format to win position zero on Google and beat millions of other content creators targeting the same audience.
2. Tackle Challenging Questions
While there is no doubt about the importance of making the most of every awareness-building strategy out there, it would be crazy to limit yourself to picking only the low-hanging fruit.
That’s why, if you want to reach as big an audience as possible, you will have to invest in content that answers both general and specific consumer needs. Targeting low competition keywords is an excellent way to do this. Especially since it allows newly established brands to compete with popular mediums with high reaches.
So, if you’re thinking about investing in content for the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, make sure that you do thorough keyword research and don’t shy away from taking a deep dive into a specific subject.
To get outstanding results, you’ll also want to explore formats other than blog posts. Generally, multimedia will produce higher engagement rates than text. Podcasts, for example, have seen tremendous growth in popularity over the past two decades, with 57% of Americans being familiar with them. And video performs even better, with 27% of viewers watching 10+ hours per week.
Example #1: Adbadger
For inspiration on how you can expand your content calendar with different formats, check out what Ad Badger is doing with its podcast. Operating in a niche that is already very specific, this brand manages to stand out thanks to an original approach. It optimizes its content for SERP positioning and makes the most of its audience’s preference for multimedia formats.
So, for example, if a person searches “should I segment branded keywords in amazon PPC,” they will get a link to Ad Badger’s podcast among the top results, helping the brand effectively beat competitors whose content relies on “plain old” text.
Example #2: Espro
For a slightly less technical example, check out this post on the connection between water quality and coffee taste from Espro.
Although it sticks to the standard blog post format that many of its competitors use, Espro does a great job of answering a highly technical question by using a combination of text and data. It includes a handy chart that informs coffee lovers on the exact water characteristics at-home users should aim for when brewing coffee.
Following this approach, the brand proves that offering helpful answers to complicated questions doesn’t require a complex production process. However, what it does need is targeting a wide variety of keywords. Moreover, it necessitates a fully consumer-oriented approach. Get it right, and this strategy will make for the perfect way to move your target audience from the top of the sales funnel towards the consideration, and ultimately, the decision stages of their buyer’s journey.
3. Compose Authoritative How-To Guides
When targeting the top end of the sales funnel, it can be easy to zoom in on generalized, beginner-friendly content that doesn’t get too technical. And in most cases, that’s not a mistake. After all, awareness stage content needs to be approachable, easy to understand, and reader-friendly.
Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that not all your potential customers require you to introduce them to basic concepts. Whether they’ve already done some research or have previous experience in your niche, they might be looking for instructions on how to solve their specific needs.
In these cases, composing how-to guides for your potential clients can be an excellent strategy, especially if you’re aiming to produce content for the lower end of the awareness stage and looking for opportunities to subtly move your audience down the sales funnel.
Example #1: ASICS
For example, this pronation guide by ASICS makes for an excellent instance of content targeting the interest stage. It offers some basic information on the subject of pronation. But, instead of getting stuck on the definitions, it focuses on the actions runners can take to use the knowledge about their physical features to identify the products that will serve them the best.
This guide includes actionable steps runners can take to identify their pronation type, including professional-grade and DIY solutions. Then, it teaches them how to choose footwear, listing desirable technical characteristics for each product.
The company could have made its content even more effective at targeting the top end of the funnel by including links to specific products or product categories. That way, they’d make it even easier for consumers to move through the buyer’s journey.
Example #2: PresetLove
For a slightly more thought-through example of a how-to guide aimed at the lower end of the awareness stage, you can check out this post from PresetLove.
As a step-by-step instructional resource, PresetLove’s article educates its readers on a technical process that might come off as intimidating to those new to photo editing. However, thanks to on-page anchor links, GIFs, and detailed explanations, it makes the technical side of installing Lightroom presets less daunting.
Additionally, this resource goes even further in moving consumers down the funnel. It actively presents readers with suggested products they can try based on the version of Lightroom they use. The strategy may not guarantee that every single reader will convert into a customer. But, it does prevent the issue of consumers coming to the page, educating themselves on the topic, then leaving to spend their money with a competitor.
4. Explain Technical Concepts
One of the common reasons for failing to market effectively to top-of-the-funnel consumers is that brands make their content too complex for entry-level customers.
The thing is, while experts do look for technical specifications and in-depth feature descriptions, average Joes tend to have a hard time keeping up with this sort of content.
Take the smartphone industry, for example. The majority of manufacturers use mAh numbers to explain battery life. But by going this route, they’re effectively alienating consumers who don’t care about the numbers. Most people don’t care about battery capacity nearly as much as they care about the daily use they can get out of a new device.
But while promising X hours of screen-on time makes for a viable route (Apple has been doing it successfully for years), it’s also wise to actively make complex topics easier to digest.
This example shows why investing in content that explains technical jargon is such a great idea when targeting the awareness phase.
For example, brands looking to do this might explain technical features in approachable ways that work for the average consumer. Alternatively, they can target high-volume search terms related to technical jargon and create content that will provide value to consumers trying to make sense of complicated concepts.
Mixam does this well on its YouTube channel.
Instead of filling its homepage with technical specifications that won’t mean a thing to a person looking to get flyers printed, the brand’s marketing team chose to reverse engineer SEO.
Mixam created video content for prospects searching for information about “bleed in artwork,” explaining the term in the most approachable way possible. In the case below, they would be googling the term “bleed in printing.”
5. Share Facts, Figures, or Stats
Finally, when it comes to targeting consumers in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, you need to give them concrete answers to the questions they may have.
While people looking for solutions to their needs may be searching for instructions or overviews, it is also possible that they’re still at the very top of the sales funnel and are just curious about specific topics. They might want to know how many people lead similar lifestyles to theirs. Or, they could be interested in learning about popular brand/product choices.
With this in mind, it’s not a bad idea to invest in content that caters to these prospects and gives them information that will nudge them further down the funnel. These may include overviews of statistical data, like this post on vegan stats by Future Kind. Or, they could take a step further and use the available information and present it visually, like in the infographic below by eFulfillment Service.
If you choose to go this route, consider that this approach may require more maintenance than evergreen posts. So make sure that the data you present is regularly updated with the latest stats and figures to ensure it’s relevant to your target audience.
Successfully Targeting the Awareness Stage
As you can see, meeting potential clients at the beginning of their buyer’s journey doesn’t have to be a challenge. It can benefit just as much from standard practices as it can from innovation.
However, there’s one thing to keep in mind about creating content for the top end of your funnel: these resources have to come as close to perfection as possible.
Awareness stage content is a potential hook that will effectively determine whether consumers decide to buy from you. As such, it needs to be 100% optimized for success. So, before you hit that publish button, make sure you’ve done everything in your power to make the content valuable. And not just to the consumer, but to your brand as well.
To learn more about content creation and best practices on social media, check out one of our upcoming social media strategy conferences.