It’s the buyers’ journey.
The intent of our best prospects, what they are all trying to do, is to make one in a series of decisions over time. The stages people go through form a kind of universal decision pathway.
Let’s build our content around visitors and what they look for; it works better.
This guide maps the universal stages in the buyer’s decision journey and how to use journey-related words to plan content for your website.
There are at least seven decision-making stages, with different content
The decisions people make exist outside of search engines, of course, but the keywords are the one place you see them written down in a granular fashion.
The 7 Stages of Decision Making
- Shall I read the page? Does it match my search?
- Shall I decide to do this thing? Why should I? What opportunities are there
- How will it feel to do it? Can I imagine the way
- How do I choose between all the ways of doing it?
- Shall I choose this specific option?
- Do I want to choose this product? What do I get? What are the risks?
- Are you the people to help me make a decision?
Creating website content can follow the path:
Keyword – Decision – Content – Page – Onward Navigation (its a conversation).
Visitors can arrive onsite at any time during their journey. The further along they are, the more likely a commitment to go forward more quickly. Short buying cycles are powerful compound interest.
The searcher intent
There is a vast difference in the words people use when they are ready to do business. Let’s write for them first.
In search marketing, we use the ‘intent of the searcher’ to understand what to say to get better results.
Keywords show us what website visitors want to do
A keyword is not only about what they want; it’s where they are in their research. The next decision is what the visitor is most interested in.
In some cases, the keywords even tell us who they are.Long buying cycles kill marketing projects.
Decision Level Content, Detail
What we write for people will change as people go down this list.
Keywords and Decision Stages
From weakest to strongest intent, from furthest to nearest to doing business
- DECISION: is this relevant to me?
- Content objectives: serendipity, attraction
- Explain why it would be worth considering doing something
- There are vast amounts of these clicks with no intent and very little commercial value, if any
- Those who are only just asking ‘what it is’, they are furthest away from buying
- DECISION: Can I be bothered to take action
- Content objectives: create energy to want to do something
- Inspire – the desire to change for the better, before and after
- Motivate – move people to want “away from” their current situation
- Instil confidence – show how achievable it is for them, before and after
Process keywords (how to)
- DECISION: Is it achievable
- Content objective: visualisation is powerful
- how it’s done
- what are the steps
- concrete details make it stick
- DECISION: Which way should I solve my problem
- Content objective: show how to choose between options (include things you don’t do)
- Pros and cons of each option, often time, quality and costs
- Insights and advice showing expertise in the comparison
- DECISION: What level of service do I want, from DIY to Full Service
- Content objectives: show the commitment required
- The proposition, and how experienced you are
- The levels of service on offer, how you do business
- DECISION: Should I buy it
- Content objectives: explain the value proposition
- What do I get
- Why should I buy it
- Credibility signals – reviews and testimonials
- DECISION: Can I find an expert to help me decide
- Content Objectives: We don’t know, so summarise all the stages above
- Tell me if you can help me make the right decision
- Expertise is a valuable commodity, matching the implied need for consultancy
Provider searches convert higher than any other (especially if we know ‘who’ they are)
Time is the missing dimension
Time changes the level of interest. The same audience needs different content at different times.
On train networks, the journeys of different passengers will be in random directions. But the destinations are always well-signposted and the timetable helps people choose. The tracks stay the same, but everyone gets to where they need to go, wherever it was they started.
How do we design websites to support the maximum number of journies? Which way are the clicks driving us, which routes are most profitable first.
Generally, in the decision pathway, you would have decided to do something about your problem before being interested in a product or service.
Timing of the visit is the main disconnect between the writing and the visitor – do website visitors like being sold to?
Map your keywords
Something we have done for many years is to map keywords around a topic. Get visibility, clarity and insights into the whole audience over time instead of fragmented keywords. See the whole network.
Most free keyword tools can give you the raw data, but you need to do something with it. The best place for existing websites is to extract it from your existing Google search console.
Mapping keyword audiences is good for business.
The benefits of mapping your existing search console data and seeing your audiences.
Better results all round
A website built around search and decision-making perfectly aligns with people in the market right now.
When you build that self-service sales conversation into your website, you’ll find that clicks from all other sources do better too.
See the value of existing traffic
If you have the right keywords going to the wrong content, there could be low-hanging fruit. Dedicated pages might attract and convert more.
This is often key in knowing and deciding on what to produce next. If the bottom of the funnel is not working, neither will the top.
The decision-making mindset encourages us to think carefully about how people choose to work with us. A granular approach to choice and decisions can illuminate gaps in your offer.
Gain insights into your prospects’ thinking
Breaking down these decisions will often help your sales process too. You’ll see the same patterns face-to-face and deploy insights into content more easily.
Planning website content
The buyer’s journey is not always ‘linear’, so we plan sites to have people find it easy to hop about. Self-service sales conversations are what you get.
Next Step: Work out who you are talking to
The better we understand who the website visitors are, what they are looking for and the decisions they are trying to make, the more traction we get.
Good positioning and messaging revolve around target audiences.