Founded in 1986, Ernst Wintter & Associates LLP (EWA) is an accounting and audit firm that specializes in helping businesses, nonprofits, and individuals with exceptional client service. EWA consists of experienced professionals whose collective knowledge allows them to quickly and efficiently take care of client needs. Their core focuses are broker dealer audits, 401(k) audits, nonprofit audits, and tax services for businesses and individuals.…
LFS Wealth Advisors (LFS) is a wealth management firm serving soon-to-be and current retirees in the San Francisco Bay Area. They use proven and goal-based financial strategies to help clients with portfolio management, equity compensation planning, retirement exit planning, and more. Clients are empowered through the financial literacy education and exceptional care they receive from the LFS team.…
Ehret Co. Plumbing & Heating is a family owned and operated business that provides professional plumbing, rooter, and gas service across the Bay Area. Founded in 1910, Ehret Co. has grown into a fully licensed and insured residential plumbing services provider that is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and has the largest selection of faucet stems in the Bay Area. They stand proudly behind their work, and fix plumbing issues small and large.
The buyer’s journey is the research process an individual takes to transition from a prospect to a customer.
Your customers aren’t all the same, but they go through the same thought process before making a purchase. The process is called the buyer’s journey, and it has three stages:
- Awareness: The customer realizes they have a problem
- Consideration: The customer researches different solutions to their problem
- Decision: The customer investigates specific services or products that fall under their chosen solution(s)
It’s important to craft content specific to each stage, because customers seek different information as they travel through the buyer’s journey. You can predict which types of content are most helpful by understanding the questions customers ask at each stage. The more helpful your content, the more likely customers will buy from you.
Awareness Stage content educates potential customers about their problems.
The buyer’s journey starts with the Awareness Stage, when a potential customer realizes they have a problem. They might not know what the problem is or how to solve it, but they know there’s an opportunity for change. So they start researching the problem.
At this stage, customers look for informational content. Their primary question is “How do I describe my problem?”
Problems can be as specific as splotchy windshields during a rainy winter season, or as broad as an inability to focus. For example, someone with a splotchy windshield window wants to pinpoint what’s causing it: the windshield itself, the wipers, the climate, or something else, whereas someone struggling to focus might not consider their workspace as the problem until they learn about the qualities of an efficient office.
At the start, customers aren’t looking for sales pitches.
Break out the sales pitches too soon and you’ll turn away customers. When customers are first aware of their problem, spending money isn’t the first thing on their mind. If you start off by talking about how your company can help, they won’t believe you truly understand their problem. And if they can’t trust your expertise, they won’t buy from you.
Awareness Stage content comes in many forms, but some are more intuitive.
If your business doesn’t have a blog, start one! Blogging is an easy way to keep your website updated with relevant content.
A common marketing technique is to link related posts together by hyperlinking relevant phrases or keywords. When customers want more information on a topic referenced in a post, they’ll be redirected to more of your content and spend more time on your website. Sample blog topics for the Awareness Stage include troubleshooting, risk prevention, upgrades, and myth busting.
Sample blog posts:
- General Contractor
Simplifying Siding: Facts & Myths That You Need to Know
- Auto Services
5 Risks of Forgoing Routine Car Maintenance
The Cabernet Guide – How to Taste like a Sommelier
Blog posts should have short paragraphs and simple language for an easy reading experience. For a quick guide to formatting your blog posts, read How to Format Your Blog Post [for Better Engagement].
eBooks / Whitepapers
Though long-form content takes longer to put together, they are valuable resources for customers who want in-depth information. Though eBooks and whitepapers both cover specific topics and position your brand as a subject expert, eBooks are extended “how-to” guides for a general audience, while whitepapers tend to contain industry research for B2B professionals.
eBooks are usually easier to create because they can be formed out of blog posts. If you have a sizable collection of blog posts, you can edit them together into a cohesive read. If you don’t have a blog yet, you can write an eBook and repurpose each section or chapter into a separate blog post.
- General Contractor
Siding: Selecting the Right Material, Pattern, and Colors
- Auto Services
Simple DIY Auto Repairs
How to Plan a Wine Tasting Event
- Financial Services
Effective Payroll Strategies for Small Businesses
The Future of Affordable Healthcare
Why Scent Marketing is Underutilized
Some topics are difficult to teach without visual aids. If you can’t get the hang of explaining a topic through only text, try creating an infographic. Infographics are supplementary or standalone content that can distill complex processes into easy-to-follow procedural diagrams or flow charts. They’re also shareable and versatile. You can include them in blog posts, feature them on your website, and add them to your resources page.
After customers identify their problem, they narrow their research to solutions.
Keep an eye on this blog for the second part in this series, which discusses the appropriate content for the next stage in the buyer’s journey: Consideration.
Contact WSI Connect for a free consultation, and we’ll help you create engaging content tailored for the Awareness Stage. We’ll also develop a complete content strategy across multiple marketing channels, so you can free up time to focus on the rest of your business.
Have you ever searched for information on Google, only to be recommended blog posts full of massive text blocks? Did you battle your way through, or did you close the posts and look elsewhere?
You likely did the latter, because that’s what most people do when presented with improperly formatted blog posts.
Why is Blog Formatting Important?
Readers usually don’t read blog posts top to bottom. Most readers skim through blog posts to see if anything catches their interest, or to determine if they want to read the whole post. Engaging content isn’t enough to capture your readers. Your post must be easy to read.
Is it easy to scan? Or does it require intense focus to follow?
If your reader thinks reading your post requires too much effort, they’ll seek out content from another source that is easier to follow. In other words, they’ll look for content with good readability.
In general, readability is all about simplicity. To simplify your blog, follow these 5 simple guidelines:
1. Your headline should tell the reader exactly what to expect
The best headlines are intriguing and uncomplicated. They contain no surprises, because the reader knows just from the headline what they’ll get out of the blog post, such as tips on SEO blog writing or a guide to Google My Business.
If your blog post includes templates or downloads, make your headline more specific by including a description of the resources in brackets. The content marketing experts at HubSpot and Outbrain found that blog headlines with clarifying brackets performed better than headlines without brackets, which proves that readers are attracted to straightforwardness.
Sample headlines with clarifying brackets are:
Stress-Free Layouts for Landing Pages [3 Templates]
A Beginner’s Guide to Blogging [Downloadable Guide]
Parentheses with interesting facts also further entice readers to click, such as:
5 Ways to Improve Your Online Presence (#3 Doubled My New Users)
2. Use descriptive headers and subheaders
Readers shouldn’t need to read all your content to understand the direction of your post. An effective post will be broken into headers and subheaders that, when taken together, function as an outline that readers can skim to quickly find interesting sections.
Here’s a sample layout of a blog post that uses a procedural outline:
- 6 Powerful Steps for SEO Blog Writing
- Here are the most important steps for SEO blog writing
- Step 1: Start with the concept
- Step 2: Keyword Research
- Step 3: Identify Related Topics
- Step 4: Competitive Research
- Step 5: SEO blog writing best practices
- Step 6: Guide them to a next step. Use a call-to-action (CTA)
- Conclusion to 6 Powerful Steps for SEO Blog Writing
- Here are the most important steps for SEO blog writing
Even without the content, the reader can piece together what to expect from the post and determine in mere seconds if they want to read the whole post or choose particular sections.
Use the slider above to compare and view how formatting makes a difference!
3. Keep your paragraphs short
A sure way to turn away readers is to write long paragraphs that resemble blocks of text. Break down your paragraphs into small blocks of two to four sentences, and when emphasis is appropriate, one sentence. Vary your paragraph length so your post has rhythm, because too many paragraphs of the same length will feel monotonous. Likewise, too many one-sentence paragraphs will feel choppy.
4. Use whitespace
If you’re using small paragraphs but your blog post still seems cluttered, increase the whitespace, or the empty space on your page, with bullets and lists. Also helpful is incorporating block quotes and getting rid of sidebars and widgets. Anything that doesn’t contribute to your main content is distracting and might draw away your reader’s attention.
5. When in doubt, keep it simple
Stay away from complex formatting designs, such as bright background colors, too many text colors, and fancy font. Use a common font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, and size it appropriately. Font that is too small will strain eyes, and font that is too large will appear as non-professional.
Also avoid filling your text with too many italicized, bolded, and underlined words. Italics is difficult to read for many people, too many bolded words will make your text appear choppy, and people tend to associate underlined words with hyperlinks.
By following these five guidelines, you’ll create easy-to-navigate blog posts that help readers quickly locate what they want to read. You can further improve your blog post by incorporating SEO blog writing best practices, which are covered in this blog post.
If you’re struggling to format your blog posts or develop content in the first place, WSI Connect can help. Contact us for a free consultation, and we’ll help you create engaging blog content that attracts and retains readers. We’ll also help you develop a content strategy appropriate for your audience, so you can free up time to focus on the rest of your business.