Although content mapping has been mentioned in many of our earlier posts on contact lists segmentation and lead nurturing, very little has actually been said about it throughout these blog entries. That’s why we’re dedicating an entire write-up on this crucial concept in B2B email marketing. This post follows the generic buying cycle that prospects typically go through and provide some tips on the type of email content that’s most appropriate for each stage.
Depending on the nature of the target market, companies follow different buying cycles. However, these processes can be reduced into three basic stages: discovery, evaluation, and decision phases. These stages are very important in lead nurturing since the unique information needs of prospects in each phase determine the type of content that gets mapped to that segment of the contacts list (assuming you segment your list according to buying cycle or sales funnel stages).
Here are the three buying cycle stages and six email content ideas that go along with them (two per phase).
A) Discovery – This stage of the buying cycle occurs when your prospect has identified (or perceived) a need or has become aware of your solution. The key thing to remember here is that prospects in this stage are still refining their need and are not yet ready for committing to any particular solution or option.
1. Focus on content that educates.
At this stage, your email content should resonate with themes of prospect education, i.e., materials that help them in their search for further information related to their problem or need such as relevant white papers and other resources.
2. Help prospects define their need.
The main driver behind your target prospects’ actions during the discovery phase is problem definition. That’s why your email content at this point should focus on helping them clearly identify their problem/need.
B) Evaluation – Contacts who graduated from the discovery phase are becoming aware that your solution can address their particular need but are still evaluating if it’s the best match. As such, they can now become part of your filtered prospects list and are ready for further nurturing.
3. Guide prospects to other educational material.
Your emails should guide leads to additional resources for prospect education. However, you should now begin measuring their level of interest by suggesting content that requires some degree of commitment on their part (such as webinars).
4. Start focusing on your solution.
Leads who demonstrate high levels of interest during the evaluation phase are ready to be introduced to your solution. Your emails are valuable contact points that help in this transition.
C) Decision – This is the stage where your leads are preparing to make the buying decision, whatever it may be. In this phase, the potential buyer adopts a risk-taking mentality as he or she weighs the option and decides.
5. Gauge their commitment.
Email content for this stage should also center on measuring their level of interest by offering high-commitment resources such as free trial signups. If your contacts take your offer, then it’s time to classify them under your qualified leads database.
6. Transfer to sales.
Your emails still play a vital role in the delicate task of transferring qualified sales leads database to the sales team. Aside from initially setting up the appointment, your emails can also help in following up and making sure that the meeting proceeds as scheduled.
Now, that we’ve outlined (albeit roughly) the role of your emails in guiding your target prospects through the buying decision-making cycle, it’s time for you to put these concepts into action. One important thing to keep in mind is that the role of lead nurturing is to help your leads take the buying journey and reach an informed decision. As such, your emails serve as the road signs that make sure your lead won’t get lost along the way.