Make it to the top of their list: Give your customers what they want.
The Customer Consideration Stage
(Get your customer’s consideration set right)
Prospects love content that gives them a sense of the possibilities available to them.
The best way to develop leads is to offer content that helps prospects consider their options.
Consideration content has a distinct purpose: It reveals what’s different about your approach to helping the customer. It doesn’t talk about features of your product or service. It talks about the experience and outcomes that customers can expect.
Consideration Content Positions Startups in Customer’s Eyes
The nurturing process helps customers consider what they will want to choose. From their perspective, their choices aren’t limited to your products, or even your product category. Many possible options could deliver the outcome they seek.
Your content needs to position why the outcome you deliver is the best option — and for whom. You can use consideration content to screen out prospects who expect the wrong things from your product. Your content should match the right customers to your product. It can block negative word of mouth by steering away the wrong customers. Consideration content is the first step to finding customers who will become fans.
Consideration Content Previews Products
Consideration content helps prospects become familiar with the possibilities your product offers them. Products can be previewed through content such as videos, or by offering a product trial. How can you show the value of your approach? A short-term or small-scale trial may not showcase your product’s capabilities fully. Yet content alone may not represent the product experience sufficiently.
Many startups offer products that are original. Their products aren’t exactly like other products that customers may be familiar with. Sometimes the startup is creating an entirely new category.
If you have a product that customers can tryout before buying, a range of content can help them understand your product more completely.
Some startups that offer free versions make a big mistake. They assume the product’s value will be self-explanatory when the product is used. As a result of this belief, they create little content that previews the product. But trials, while free in cost, can still require customers to make an effort, investing considerable time to learn how your product works.
Prospects may be thinking about several options, and are interested in comparing them without needing to try them all. They may seek reviews and comparison content from third parties, especially if your content doesn’t answer their questions. Don’t rely on trials alone to convert interest into sales.
Startups target the prospects they believe will be most interested in their product. But targeting is not enough. Startups need to connect to individuals to form a direct relationship with them. This is the first step in the process of personalization. The prospect is starting to actively express their interests and preferences. Their behaviour using your content provides useful clues about what they might want to buy. Analytics about your consideration content usage can provide valuable marketing intelligence.
Consideration Content Clarifies Options for Prospects
During the consideration phase, prospects are trying to define what they really want.
Consideration content helps to frame the opportunities available to prospects. Prospects have various outcomes they’d like. They have a mix of motivations. Some motivations relate to the gains they hope to experience by making a change. Other motivations relate to existing pains they want to escape. Sometimes an unpleasant event in the past will influence what they want to avoid in future.
Startups need to explain the value of their approach in the context of other options available.
Consideration content helps prospects preview how an option would benefit them. They want to know if they’d like it.
The more that your consideration content helps prospects taste what a choice will be like, the more likely they’ll be ready to decide that choice is the right one for them.
Goals for Startups
During the consideration stage, the core KPI is conversion or activation. Your goal is to get promising leads. A lead is anyone who has signed up to get content or a product trial from you. For physical products and services, lead generation is about marketing qualified leads (MQLs) — people who have expressed enough interest to indicate they might buy from you. For apps and services delivered online, leads are about getting users to sign up for a trial period or in a cost-free status.
Despite some differences in the customer consideration process, both lead generation and trial activation share a common goal. Both approaches seek to build enough interest for prospects to make a non-financial commitment to starting a relationship with your brand.
Tactics for Effective Consideration Content
Consideration content educates prospects about the solution space, without talking about one’s own products (save that discussion for the decision stage, later.)
During the consideration stage, prospects want to choose the best approach. Later, at the decision stage, they will choose who can deliver the best approach. If you are selling a unique product or service, the customer is starting to evaluate you as a supplier, since you alone offer the option. But it’s important not to talk about your company too much in educational content about the category of your product or service.
Successful consideration content will:
- Provide research on solutions and options
- Answer unasked questions
- Justify recommendations
- Clarify how much is being risked in terms of expense or effort
Above all, provide impartial advice. Make prospects feel they are in charge of their choices. Let them feel they are getting better educated. They will be more excited and motivated if they feel they have more than one good option, and that their task is to select the best option for them personally.
Some firms even offer content that mentions their competitor’s products. This content doesn’t try to denigrate the competition, saying they are flawed or inferior. Rather, the content acknowledges what the competition offers, but then highlights what’s different about one’s own approach to helping customers. Such content shows self-confidence, and demonstrates helpfulness.
Consideration content can focus on various themes, such as:
- How To’s
- Competitive Comparisons
- Evaluation Guidelines
- Technical Benefits
Where possible, present third-party perspectives that will help prospects evaluate their options. These could be peer opinions, such as customer reviews or stories. Or they might be expert opinions from recognized authorities.
Prospects interested in these themes may search for content using keywords such as tools, solutions, software, or suppliers. They favour educational formats such as instructional videos, white papers and explainers.
The Transition from Consideration to Decision
Once a prospect has expressed a strong interest in a specific approach, they will start to think about their decision criteria.
Yet the boundary between consideration and decision is fluid.
Conversion or activation doesn’t not end the consideration phase. In the prospect’s mind, they have identified a candidate approach. But they haven’t necessarily decided to use that approach permanently. So it’s important to keep nurturing with consideration content. Pay attention to their content behaviour. They may still be looking at content from your competitors.