John was far down the rabbit hole of research into a new social media tool. As head of digital marketing for a gourmet chocolate company he was on the hook for leading all social marketing and needed a better social media tool.

A piece of intriguing content showed up in John’s social feed: a blog post analyzing how his company performed on social channels over the Valentine’s Day holiday. Netbase, the social media platform vendor, had analyzed how fans reacted to chocolate company social media campaigns during the holiday and dubbed it the Brand Passion Index. Since John was smack in the middle of the consideration phase of his buying journey, he emailed the CMO and after a few days had a demo scheduled for Netbase’s solution.

The Netbase marketing team executed a textbook example of inbound marketing by mapping content to a buying journey to move a prospect further toward conversion. No ads. No media buy. Just great content perfectly aligned to a specific stage of the buying journey designed to move a buyer like John to the next stage. It’s an example of a well designed inbound marketing strategy.

Here we’ll walk through how to use buying journeys to make your content work harder to get more leads and drive more conversions.

Here is the piece of content that showed up in John’s social feed:


The Buying Journey Defined

Hubspot defines the buying journey as “The active research process a buyer goes through leading up to a purchase.” That about sums it up. The definition often extends into part of the larger customer experience across all channels but let’s not get crazy. It’s actually very simple:

Awareness –> Consideration –> Decision –> Advocacy

We added advocacy to the base definition because it’s a lot easier and cheaper to retain customers and have them do the marketing for you than to always go after net new leads. Supporting your advocates is mandatory.

Anchoring your inbound marketing in a buying journey is important because it’s the connective tissue of your content and promotion plan. Let’s say you have a great demo program and you want all your prospects to sign up for a demo because that is a major conversion lever. Why would they register for a product demo if they are in the awareness stage and don’t know about your company? You want to align your content to the different stages of the buying journey.

Netbase’s visual content worked because John was actively considering solutions – he knew the vendors. He knew the important features and it was time to kick the tires. Too many marketers push all prospects to a general landing page with generalized content offer that does not resonate because it is not relevant.

Now comes the fun part. Ready for the secret sauce? The keys to the kingdom?

How To Do It

Here’s how to use buyer personas to rock your inbound marketing:

First, download the Buyer’s Journey Template

Step 1 – Write down the buyer’s behavior in each stage. Where do they get their information? Whose opinion do they trust? What information do they need to make a decision?

Step 2– Ideate or map current content to each stage. This is the fun part. If you have assets such as templates, vendor comparison charts or white papers from industry experts, great. Just map them to the stages. But make sure they are performing and you’re not just recycling bad content. If you’re just building your content engine, get a bunch of smart people in the room and brainstorm 5 and only 5 ideas for awesome content that your target persona will love. Pick one and go create it.

Step 3 – Layer in keywords that resonate with the buyer at each stage. What keywords do buyers actually use? Not what keywords you think they use or that you use. When it comes to keywords, use what they use. Include these in your titles, H1 tags and content.

What are you going to do differently to attract more qualified visitors to your site?