Answer: Content is king. Inspired, relevant content will capture buyers' interest and move them through the sales pipeline. As a marketer, you are charged with providing valuable content to your customers in each stage of the purchasing process.
Buyers access content for more than just getting hard data on products and doing competitive analysis; buyers go to trusted sources for tactical tips and advice, for higher-level strategic insight and to stay on top of emerging industry trends. They use broader, more business-oriented content at the beginning of the solutions search, and more detailed, technical content further along in the buying cycle. These buyers want to know what other people—especially experts—think about solutions and information in your industry. The earlier you can capitalize on expert content in your e-mail newsletter, the more value your customers perceive that you bring to the table.
According to "Define What's Valued Online," a joint study done by KnowledgeStorm Inc. and the CMO Council, buyers access independent, third-party content to make more informed buying decisions. The top six most-trusted content sources outside your company are professional associations, industry associations, analysts, journalists, independent product reviews, and peer forums and online discussion groups. White papers, product reviews and analyst research reports are the most frequently consumed content provided by these professional organizations, according to the study.
"They say" messages are powerful tools because they come from independent professionals who understand the industry as a whole. That is exactly what buyers need as they gather research to determine the optimal solutions for their business needs.
Laurie Hood is VP-marketing at KnowledgeStorm Inc. (www.knowledgestorm.com), a search resource for technology solutions and information.