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(Basic to Intermediate) Content Experiences for the Pre-Sale Journey

Illustration of two people with a megaphone with a stream being built in the background

Brace yourself. I tend to geek out over this part of my job, often getting comments such as, “Are you talking about content experience again?” from colleagues who catch me talking passionately. So if this article comes across as overly enthusiastic, you’ve been forewarned. :)

For the following two parts in this three-part series, I will dive into how to approach content experience for both the pre- and post-sale stages of the customer journey. Personalizing your content around the needs and goals of your prospects is no longer a nice-to-have for your business. From marketing to sales to customer success, every piece of content your customers encounter must flow seamlessly into the next stage to avoid confusion and instill a sense of confidence in your brand. That’s how you provide a truly memorable content experience.

In this article and the next, I will break down the different touch points, content, and experiences that occur throughout each stage so you know what to take into consideration as you’re mapping out your content and experiences. It’s imperative that you view the journey as a multi-channel effort to ensure each piece of content, no matter what channel, is consistent and complementary. 

(SaaS presale journey example)

Presale Stages of the Customer Journey 

Stage 1: Awareness

Goal: Prospects identify their challenge or an opportunity they want to pursue. 

At the awareness stage, you need to look to your buyer personas. It’s imperative that you understand the goals and challenges each buyer has and how they describe them so that your content makes an immediate connection. 

Touch Points 

This stage is one where you need to cast a wide net and really work that multi-channel approach. You need to make your brand highly visible and compelling across all the channels your buyers interact with, to capture their attention and get that glorious first click to learn more about your solution. The most common touch points to drive awareness that occur at this stage include:

  • Search engines

  • Paid media

  • Website

  • Resource center 

  • Chatbot

  • Social media

  • Newswire

  • Community engagement

  • Content syndication 

  • Events

  • Strategic partnerships

Content Type 

The following content types are the best to utilize throughout this stage:

  • Web pages

  • Marketing stream

  • Landing pages 

  • Ebooks/reports 

  • Educational content

  • Videos

  • Blogs

  • Infographics

  • Podcasts

  • Webinars

  • Influencer, guest, and contributor posts 

  • Press releases

Content Experience Considerations

One of the best ways to create content experiences at scale is by centralizing and organizing all of your marketing content in one location. Most marketers do this by way of a resource center, but these typically do not include all content and only a specific collection. At Uberflip, we use content hubs to house every content asset used in our marketing campaigns, such as blog posts, ebooks, videos, infographics, case studies, webinars, and sales collateral.

Since prospects in the awareness stage are visiting your site for the first time, it’s vital that the content experience matches the touch point they came through. In most cases, they will first land on an individual content asset, but the experience should be set up so they can easily and seamlessly navigate the resource center or hub. A few considerations are:

  • Do the design and copy match the entry point?

  • Is the content under a navigational structure that corresponds to the topic?

  • Is the content personalized to the awareness stage, which translates to top-of-funnel educational content?

  • Is the call-to-action (CTA) contextual to the content asset?

  • Does the content experience have a CTA to capture the prospect’s information?

  • Does the content asset include recommended content matched to the prospect's intent?

  • Has your content been organized and tagged to enable robust search functionality?

 

Social PostGated CTA Experience

As you can see in this example from a recent gated asset Uberflip created, we have everything above checked off the list, with a beautifully designed gated asset, matching the entry point, that is displayed behind a CTA that keeps prospects in an experience that compels them to engage further. It’s also placed in a contextual stream on demand generation and recommends content as readers scroll and at the bottom of the post. 

KPIs

Key performance indicators at this stage include:

  • Clicks from entry point

  • Visitors

  • Leads 

  • CTA conversion rates

  • Time on page 

  • Pages per visit

Stage 2: Consideration

Goal: Prospects have clearly defined the goal or challenge and have committed to addressing it. 

Good news! The prospect is now in buy mode and your solution is on the list. This is where the intensive research phase begins and they start to investigate the best solutions to solve their problems. 

Touch Points

Now that (hopefully) you’ve collected the prospect’s information and dropped cookies onto their browser, you can begin to target them in a much more personalized way. This stage is where nurturing with a consistent brand (and content) experience is essential to move prospects along the path to purchase. Each nurture destination should be tailored to the prospect’s intent and optimized to drive them to take that next step. The most common touch points to drive consideration that occur at this stage include:

  • Paid media (specifically retargeting) 

  • Email

  • Search engines

  • Website

  • Resource center 

  • Chatbot

  • Phone

  • Events

  • Social media

  • Online reviews and forums 

  • Community engagement

  • Content syndication 

  • Direct mail

Content Type 

The following content types are the best to utilize throughout this stage:

  • Web pages

  • Marketing stream

  • Landing pages 

  • Email nurtures 

  • Webinars

  • Podcasts 

  • Expert guides 

  • Comparison whitepapers 

  • Product videos 

  • Demo video 

  • Educational middle-of-funnel content

  • Influencer, guest, and contributor posts 

Content Experience Considerations

Creating specific nurture destinations for each marketing campaign that are optimized for content consumption and self-nurturing can help move prospects to a sales-ready stage faster. This is the stage when you really need to up your personalization game. Your prospects know you have the data to deliver them a personalized content experience, so here are a few considerations to ensure you don’t disappoint:

  • Do the design and copy match the entry point?

  • Is the content destination tailored to the prospect’s role, industry, interests, or, if you’re doing ABM and they’re a target account, by the company? 

  • Does the content destination offer multiple content assets, including different formats, matched to the consideration—and even decision—stage so prospects have the option to self-nurture?

  • Does every asset within the destination have a CTA that’s contextual?

  • Is there a request a demo or meeting request CTA within the content destination?

  • Does the content asset include recommended content matched to the prospect's intent?

master how you mingle emailBlackbaud Stream

One of our customers, Blackbaud, does an amazing job at nurturing prospects to effectively generate demand for their product. As you can see in their nurture campaign, they have matched the design of their emails to the content destination, which includes a variety of assets tailored to the prospect’s industry. They also use an AI recommendation engine within the content destination on the article pages to drive up content consumption. This one nurture alone generated over $100,000 in pipeline—that’s the power of focusing on the content experience. 

KPIs

Key performance indicators at this stage include:

  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)

  • Sales accepted leads (SALs)

  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs)

  • CTA conversion rates

  • Time on page 

  • Pages per visit

  • Engagement by channel 

Stage 3: Decision 

Goal: Prospects have decided they need a solution—this is where the trusty pros and cons list comes into play. 

The decision stage is arguably the most important from a content perspective and can cause major delays in the sales cycle if you don’t have the right assets to address all possible concerns your prospects may have with your solution.  

Touch Points 

Here comes the buying committee—your solution has been selected as the front-runner, but now you need to satisfy the needs of the notorious B2B committee. This is where all your personas come together and need convincing from all sides. The decision stage relies on a smaller set of touch points, although, depending on the knowledge level of any given member of the committee, they may rely on information from other stages to feed their decision. The most common touch points that occur at this stage include:

  • Email

  • Phone

  • Search engines

  • Website

  • Resource center

  • Marketing stream

  • Sales stream

  • Online reviews and forums 

  • Chatbot

  • Social media

Content Type 

The following content types are the best to utilize throughout this stage:

  • Case studies 

  • Sales presentation

  • Live demo 

  • Vendor comparison 

  • Product videos 

  • Product sheets

  • Product collateral 

  • Sales contract 

Content Experience Considerations

Sales and marketing alignment is the ultimate driver for the content experiences required at the decision stage. One of the best investments you can make is to create a hub of marketing-approved content that sales can pull from as requests come up throughout the sales cycle. What’s even better is if you create content destinations to fuel one-to-one sales conversations. Things to consider while building content experiences at this stage are: 

  • Do you have your marketing content in one central location for your sales team to access?

  • Is your content tagged by persona, account, industry, topic, and stage of the funnel so that your sales team can easily find what they are looking for and personalize their outreach?

  • Does your sales collateral have consistent messaging and design?

  • Is there a bottom-of-funnel CTA attached to each content asset?

  • Can your sales team curate the content into a one-to-one experience personalized for their prospects?

Nanolumens Stream

Take a look at how the NanoLumens marketing team enabled sales with Uberflip Sales Streams. They effectively organized content by vertical, persona, and activity so that sales could easily spin up one-to-one content destinations to better communicate with their prospects. 

As you can see above, the content destination is beautifully designed, personalized to the prospect’s company, has a picture of the sales rep, and includes a personal message based on previous conversations. Imagine as a prospect having all the content you’ve received throughout the sales cycle in one central location rather than having to scour your inbox for attachments—this sounds like a dream to me. 

KPIs

Key performance indicators at this stage include:

  • Opportunities 

  • Content assets influencing opportunities at each stage

  • Content attribution influenced pipeline

  • Content attribution influenced revenue 

  • Funnel velocity 

  • CTA conversion rates

On to the Next Stage of the Journey

You should now have a good sense of not only what goes into creating a remarkable content experience, but the different elements that change at each stage of the presale journey. As you build content experiences, I suggest you look back to the Content Experience Checklist I provided in the first post, as a sanity check. 

Next up, we will tackle the post-sale experience, where we will review how to carry over a consistent, memorable content experience that will help successfully onboard new customers, drive product adoption, and increase customer loyalty.