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How to Cater for All Stages of The B2B Buying Process

By William Steward on Mon, Aug 4, 2014

Visitors to your company's website are looking for different things, depending on which stage of the buying process they're in.

Broadly speaking, the buying process can be broken down into three stages -- awareness/research, evaluation/consideration and purchase/decision: 

consumer buying stages

In today's post I look into the types of content your company needs to be producing to cater for them.

Awareness/Research Stage

These are buyers that don't yet know what product or service they need to solve their problem. They've stumbled across your website somehow, but need further education to better refine their needs. The most important thing is that these visitors leave your website more educated.

Awareness stage buyers aren't interested in your product/service features, or being sold to. They want objective expert advice that helps them to solve their problems, and improve their understanding of what they can do to overcome their challenges. 

If you were an accounting firm, an awareness stage buyer might be interested in learning how to reduce corporation tax. Your website could therefore provide a blog post offering some tips for reducing corporation tax liabilities, and then an eGuide that digs into the ideas in more detail. 

The idea is that by educating the visitor on how they can solve their problem, you lead them in through your front door. They realise that there's a lot they can do to reduce their tax bill, but that they're going to need professional help to do it. When they reach that stage of awareness, they've left the awareness stage, and entered the evaluation/consideration stage.

People in the awareness stage will be interested in reading your blog posts, eGuides and whitepapers. They'll want to watch your educational webinars and tutorial videos. They want to learn, learn and learn some more.

Businesses tend to be poor at producing awareness stage content -- they are often inherently too "salesy" and try to force the sale on the visitor, rather than producing objective educational material. Most of the content produced as part of an inbound marketing strategy tends to be awareness focused content. It's what will attract the majority of your visitors to your website.

Evaluation/Consideration Stage

These buyers already know that they have a problem, and that your product or service can potentially solve their problem. This is where your company needs to differentiate itself from its competitors. The buyer at this stage is looking for as much proof as possible that your company is the one it should work with to solve its problems, rather than a competitor.

Going back to the accountancy example, this is where your buyer would be looking for information like case studies. They want to see that other companies have been successful working with you, and that your methods for reducing corporation tax liabilities are completely legal and above board.

The buyer will want to see FAQs. What's it like to work with your company? How much does it cost? How long are the contracts?

People in the evaluation stage will be interested in watching product webinars, downloading product brochures, reading case studies, consuming FAQs, looking at data sheets and watching demos. All branded content which explains why someone should work with your company, specifically. 

Companies tend to be better at producing evaluation stage content than awareness stage content, but are often still thin on the ground. The more high quality evaluation stage content you have, the more likely you'll be to convert the leads you generate with your awareness stage content into sales.

Decision/Purchase Stage

This is when a buyer is about to make a purchase decision. They want to work with you, but may have some final questions or objections. This is when your buyer needs to be able to talk to your sales team. It's unlikely that any website content you produce will be specific enough to manage their individual needs, concerns and objections.

Going back to the accountancy example, this is where the buyer might fill in a request for a free consultation. 

People in the decision stage will be looking for things like contact forms, consultation/assessment offers, live demonstrations, free trials or discount coupons. These are the things that you find on almost every business' website. 

Make sure to make these offers easy to find on your website. It should be easy for a buyer to make a purchase -- confusion at this final stage can be the difference between closing a deal and not.

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