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Content & the Buying Process November 5, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Last week I attended the  TechTarget Online ROI Summit ’09 West.  For me, the highlights included a wonderful panel of CIOs providing insight and perspectives on a) how they search for information, and b) how their purchase decisions are made.  Also of interest was a Google/TechTarget Behavioral Research Project that mapped search terms to content types at each stage of the buying process.  I’ve paraphrased here three of the key take-aways, but you can find more detailed information on the TechTarget presentations here.

Mapping Content to the Buying Cycle

This graphic shows what content types are most valued at each phase in the buying process.

1) Marketers should review their campaigns and leverage title/topic, media type, and search by buying cycle results

 In other words, success with marketing campaigns is all about matching the right content to the right stage of the buying process.  The graphic illustrates the point.  The Google/TechTarget Research study confirmed that certain types of content are more valuable in certain stages of the buying cycle.   Makes sense.  However, I was a bit surprised to learn that CIOs and other decision makers are keenly interested in “Comparison Review” data — data provided by vendors or other sources that provide side-by-side solution comparisons.  I’ve always been a bit leery of this — after all, why should a vendor promote a competitor’s product?  However, the CIOs told us that they would like to see some honest comparisons by key vendors.  As was described to me by a CIO, “the IT team will ultimately discover the good/bad/ugly, so vendors can do themselves a favor by being straightforward and honest.”  Another CIO told me that if a vendor slams the competition or their assessment appears too heavily one-sided, they will discount the value/honesty of that assessment as well as the sponsoring vendor.  On the flip side, vendors who show integrity by showing a few blemishes gain credibility in his book.

2) “Top” placement doesn’t equal clicks — but page 1 of SERPS is key for campaigns


Bottom line here is that the #1 organic search link (and even the #1 paid search link) do not necessarily yield the highest traffic.  It appears that most searchers will peruse a few pages of search results.  However, the determination of what they click on is directly tied to the title/description of the searched item.  As an example, CIOs told us that they were more likely to click on a whitepaper with a solutions orientation (e.g. “CIO Strategies: How a Hosted Platform for Unified Communciations Could Save you Millions”) versus a branded whitepaper with a vague description (e.g. “Vendor X Strategies”).

3) Content targeted to the Consideration Phase gets most use across all buying cycle phases


Simply put, if your marketing resources are in short supply and you can only produce a few pieces of relevant content, aim for the considersation phase — as opposed to general awareness or final decision.  Assets targeting the consideration phase seem to get passed around the most during the buying process.

Want more info?  Check out these additional resources on content marketing: