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May 29, 2013


Killer Content along the Buyer’s Journey: A Practical Guide to Monetize Your Content

by Tom De Baere
killer content along the buyer's cycle

The Mafia at Cleveland’s Hotel Statler. Photo:

Content can be actively used to move buyers through the buyer’s journey. Organizations need to visualize this journey. Visualizing this journey allows them to better understand which content they have and which content they are missing. Visualizing the content along the buyer’s journey also allows you to actively move buyers to the next stage in their journey.

Not so long ago Eric Wittlake (@wittlake) wrote an article why you should stop mapping content formats to the buyer’s Journey. He explains how marketers tend to map formats to certain stages in the buying cycle.


This post will learn you how you can:

  • use a practical method to create the right content along the buyer’s journey
  • how you can actively drive buyer’ss through the buying cycle, with content
  • how you can link content with marketing automation
  • understand which data the method produces to show real marketing ROI 

To understand the role of content in this, you first need to understand the difference between content formats and content itself.

The difference between information, formats and content

buyer's journey

Heat map of runners using Nike+. source :

It’s not all that difficult to understand the differnece. Information is what you have at hand. A nice example is the data produced by runners using Nike+. They run through Central Park in New York, and some electronic device captures the time, speed, and location information. That’s information.

Using content formats like videos, blog post, or tools that information can become real content:

  • Visualize where New York, Tokyo, London Residents run
  • Find the least busiest and most beautiful running tracks in Central Park
  • 10 Best places to Advertise in Central Park

So that’s the difference. Nothing complicated, but really important to understand the next part.


The role of content in the customer life-cycle

We all know the buying cycle, the marketing funnel or the sales funnel. It’s the marketers’ simple representation how B2B buyer’s buy. Some say it’s a matrix, but to me it works, so we’ll use this one for now.

Buyers don’t know you at first. Then they discover you, and buy from you. Simple. We all know that one.

You can split the funnel in 3 parts:

  • Early funnel – Why they need a solution to their problems?
  • Mid funnel – How do you solve their problems?
  • Late funnel – What do you have that solve their problems?

The nice thing about this model is that each time you have an idea for content, you can test it against this model. And know where to position the content. And know what kind of call-to-action to put against it.

And that’s where it becomes interesting. If you know what content you need at each of these stages, and what call-to-action to run, you can actually start driving customers through the so-called buyer’s journey.

buyer's journey - the role of content in the customer life-cycle

The role of content in the complete customer life-cycle (click to enlarge)


Linking content with marketing automation

In an earlier blog post I wrote that you should not start with marketing automation. At least, if you don’t have your content marketing strategy  ready, don’t start with marketing automation.

Content and marketing automation work well together.

  • “Awareness” content should not be behind registration forms. But the call-to-action on that content should point to content that does require identification of the prospect.
  • When you understand which content fits in the “consideration phase”, it’s easier to understand when you want to put your content behind registration forms.
buyer's journey - the role of marketing automation

Using marketing automation to activate and monetize your content (click to enlarge)

Showing real Marketing ROI

When your content is mapped out along this cycle, you can start measuring how well each piece of content is performing. This is where you want to track the results of your call-to-actions. These results are reflected in KPI’s, of which I formulated a few in the tables above.

Based on the results, you know what has worked, and what was a failure.  And what worked, can be repeated or optimized. And that’s when you are really making a meaningful impact to the bottom line of your business. You’ll have real information to show to your management, instead of “wuffy fluffy” stuff.

That’s when you will be able to show Marketing ROI to your CEO.


Am I forgetting something here? What would you add to this guide ? Feel free to comment.


Warm regards,

Tom De Baere