There are many different types of content that can help generate leads and boost your marketing efforts, but which is right for your campaign?

That depends entirely on who you're targeting and what stage in the buyer's journey they're in right now. The secret to figuring that out is to develop an understanding of these buyers and to use that knowledge to tailor your content offering. The better you understand your prospective buyers, the better you'll be able to create content that gives them what they need to move closer to a purchase. So here's what you need to do:

Developing personas

Personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on market research and real data. To create one you need to consider demographics, behaviour, income, problems and motivations - try to get to know them so you can be as detailed as possible when making profiles.

The goal when creating a persona is to develop an understanding of the pain points and goals that have driven them to seek help. This information will help construct their buyers' journeys.

Identify the persona's stage in the buyer journey

Once you've developed a persona that represents part of your target market, you next must consider where they are in the buyer's journey (Awareness, Consideration or Decision stage).

To craft these buyer's journeys think about the following:

  • What they think and feel at each stage.
  • What level of detail they need to progress.
  • How much time they have to research.
  • Where they are searching for information.

If a persona is at the earlier stages of the buyer journey (the awareness phase), they're generally trying to identify their problems (or their goals) and begin to find solutions that address those pain points or goals. In this stage, you'll want to create attention-grabbing content that speaks to them on a personal and emotional level.

Your persona will next enter the Consideration stage of the buyer's journey in which they have a better (if not full) understanding of their issue - and they want to fix it. They'll be looking for content that helps them easily compare and contrast solutions. To help them make a decision more involved, in-depth content like comparison tools, case studies and webinars are usually very effective.

Later in the buyer journey, in the Decision stage, your persona will be getting closer to a purchase and will, therefore, require more detail in your product or service. Pricing pages, company profiles or About Us pages help to finalise their decision.

With an understanding of your personas and their buyer journeys, you can also identify the right topics, the tone of voice and calls to action to help them make informed decisions about your products or services. It's all about crafting content to give them exactly what they need, when they need it.

Focus on engagement and bang-for-buck

Once you've thought through your persona's buyer journey, consider which content will grab their attention and deliver the best return on investment (ROI).

You may be able to produce an eBook quickly and easily to target personas at the start of the buyer journey, but you might find that the same topic delivers as an instructional video series will be more engaging. At this point, you should consider your budget - if you can afford the higher expense of creating a video series it may provide better ROI and generate more leads justifying the cost.

If cashflow's tight there's no reason why you can't produce the eBook now and save the video series for when you have more money to spend.

A/B testing and analysis

Every business is different and will need a unique mix of content, but here are a few of the formats you should consider:

  • Blogging: Hubspot data shows that 43% of marketers cite blogging as their top priority.
  • eBooks and case studies: 96% of B2B buyers want more content from industry thought leaders before purchasing, according to a Demand Gen report. An eBook or case study is often the ideal way to deliver this.
  • Webinars: An InsideSales survey discovered that almost 3/4 marketing industry leaders agreed that webinars are a great way to generate quality leads.
  • Video: Cisco has forecasted that by 2021 as much as 81% of internet traffic could be video, making it an essential tool for marketers.
  • Infographics: Quicksprout has found that content with images gets almost double the views of content without. An infographic is the perfect marriage of informative content and eye-catching imagery.

Your target market is unique so you need to figure out what content types get the best results. The best way to do this is to measure the success of each type of content using A/B testing and results analysis. The secret to improving your results is to test, analyse and adjust continually to better reach and engage your prospects.

If you're still a little lost you don't need to go it alone - a conversation with an expert in person is often the best way to clarify your goals and create a useable plan.