Content marketing is an essential strategy now that buyers do so much of their research online before contacting a supplier. Industrial marketers know that technical professionals crave a constant flow of useful content that helps them do their jobs better. But not everyone knows this content should fit into one of two categories: informational content or decision-making content.
You need both types of content in order to match up to the different stages of your customers’ buy cycle. Early in the buy cycle, when customers are becoming aware of their needs and researching how to meet them, informational content plays a big role.
Informational content is more educational in nature. This type of content might enlighten your audience on a problem it faces, such as an article on “Five Ways to Avoid Pressure Sensor Failure.” Another might be a webinar titled “Evaporation Methods Used in Industrial Coatings.” These types of content are focused on providing your audience with information that will help clarify their needs or point them toward further research in finding an appropriate solution.
Informational content would also include general information about a type of product or industrial process: “Breakthroughs in Diode Laser Technology” or “How Motion Sensors Work.” Background information on your company, product lines or services would also come under the realm of informational content.
Your goal in producing informational content is to help answer the initial questions your customers might have in the early stages of their buy cycle and to get them on the path to purchasing:
- How does X work?
- What types of products should I consider to do Y?
- What are the common approaches to solving problem Z?
- Which companies offer . . . ?
Informational content sets the stage for your potential buyers. It helps build awareness and affinity for your company and products. It puts you in the position of being an expert. It delivers insight and value to your audience, without putting pressure on them to buy before they are ready.
Decision-making content is designed for the later buy cycle stages, when customers have narrowed down their choices to several possibilities and are close to making a buying decision. With decision-making content, your goal is to answer your customers’ final questions and put you in position to win the business.
- Does this product have all the features I need?
- Will it do everything I need it to do?
- How much does it cost? What will be my return on investment?
- Why should I buy this product and not that product?
- Why should I choose this company and not that company?
- What kind of customer support will I get? What warranties?
At this point, buyer’s guides that walk customers through the factors to consider when making a purchase are useful content. As are specification sheets, competitive differentiators, product comparisons, ROI calculators, warranties and customer service policies.
A catalog that buyers search by specification can offer you an advantage by helping customers quickly find exact products that meet their needs. A responsive web page that details important product features would be directed to an audience in the late stage of the buy cycle. Any potential customer close to making a purchase decision is sure to be spending time on your company website looking for that “X” factor that will sway them one way or the other.
Technical professionals tend to use a variety of digital resources during their buy cycle journey. Supplier websites and online catalogs are used during all phases. Online events, e-newsletters and webinars tend to attract technical professionals earlier in the buy cycle when education and awareness are critical. Choose the channels that work best for you and develop both informational and decision-making content to increase your opportunities to connect with potential customers at all stages of their buy cycle.
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How does your content strategy involve informational and decision-making content? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.