Category Archives for "Marketing 101"

Pile of balanced rocks

The Changing Role of Content – Are you adapting?

The Changing Role of Content Upgrades

The idea of creating a content upgrade is web marketing 101 these days. Every online business needs using some form of content upgrade on their site today.

The classic formula for content upgrades  is the following:

  1. Develop a piece of digital content such as an ebook or whitepaper
  2. Create a landing page or lightbox which requires an email address to download the content
  3. Drive traffic to the landing page
  4. Grab the email address
  5. Nurture your new contact until they convert and purchase your product

This classic formula works, but the problem is that everyone is doing it. The result is that your search traffic and ranking may be lower than you expect.

Cornerstone articles & pages

The key idea here is to modify your strategy to create several cornerstone pages or articles on your site.

"Cornerstone content pieces are those articles on your website you’re most proud of. They reflect your business, communicate your mission and are extremely well written. " (from the Yoast article)

By setting up cornerstone pages and putting your best content (or linking to your best content from a cornerstone page) you help the search engines to list the page ranking for this specific content on your site. The result should be that your cornerstone page(s) will rank higher than any individual page with an element of the content on the cornerstone page. The cornerstone page functions like the chapter of a book, collecting like-minded content from your site by topic or theme

Create and execute monthly or quarterly themed cornerstone pages

As a result you should modify your content publishing calendar to include the publication of monthly or quarterly "themed" cornerstone pages. The idea isn't to make every page a cornerstone page, as this defeats the purpose. Rather the idea is to continue to create and publish individual blog articles and THEN collect the relevant topics and publish both a cornerstone page and an ebook which summarizes all of the other articles. Drive your traffic to the cornerstone page and offer the ebook content upgrade there, rather than on the individual blog posts.

So the new formula is:

  1. Create and publish blog content
  2. On a less frequent schedule (monthly or quarterly) aggregate relevant content into a digital ebook and publish a cornerstone page.
  3. Drive traffic to the cornerstone pages
  4. Offer quality content upgrades 

Content Upgrades

Content upgrades are still a viable marketing tool. What's changing is the "bait" that you use to capture traffic. This new formula requires higher quality content and a thoughtful content development plan which offers your target audience higher value in the content download.

Content Options

  • Ebooks remains a great digital marketing tool. Ebook can be on any topic and in there are very few rules for the design aspects of an ebook. 
  • Whitepapers have stricter design requirements. A prospect expects a whitepaper to be more neutral and educational. They shouldn't focus on selling your product or service.
  • A webinar or video can also be a content upgrade, especially if your audience is more likely to be drawn to a video response.


Improving the quality of your content upgrades will have a positive impact on the value of your content to your prospects. Increase the scope and quality of cornerstone pages is a content strategy that should help increase your traffic** to the content upgrade pages and help the search engines optimize how they rank these pages.

**Your results will vary, be sure to carefully benchmark and track the impact of your cornerstone pages.

Runner on road

The Buyers Journey starts here

The Buyers Journey starts here

Every buyer goes through three distinct stages as they progress from being a prospect to a customer. It doesn’t matter what your product or service is, the concept of the buyers journey can be applied to your solution and it should be an intimate part of your marketing plan.

In this article we’ll look at the buyers journey and how you should be modify your communication to your buyers at each stage of the process.

The three buyer stages are:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision
Three stages of buyers journey

Step 1: Awareness

At the awareness stage the buyer becomes aware of a need. For example, if your buyers’ pants develop a hole in them, this would be the start of the buyers awareness that it’s time to buy a new pair of pants. The location of the hole will change the urgency and time frame for getting a replacement. Alternatively, the buyer may desire to have a second pair of pants in a different color, in which case their need is different, although the outcome will be the same.

At the awareness stage, you need to understand both the need and the urgency of your buyer. To be effective you must create marketing messages that connect their need to your solution. This is why this step is called the awareness step. The buyer become aware that they have a need, and they become aware that you have a solution to that need.

Marketing Tip: Brand awareness marketing should help a buyer connect a their need to your brand. Think of it as a shotgun approach to get general exposure for your solution. Ideally you want the customer to quickly find your solution once they identify their need.

Step 2: Consideration

At the consideration stage the buyer is actively gathering information about all of the possible solutions and evaluating the fit of each possible option. At this stage the buyer is shopping around for different solutions. If shopping for a new pair of pants, the buyer may go to the mall and visit all of the different stores, or the buyer may search online.

At the consideration stage, you must separate your solution from any competitive offerings and make it stand apart. Your buyer must already be aware of your solution (the awareness step), so that they are considering it as a possible solution to their problem. Any communication to the buyer during this phase should highlight why your solution is the best solution against any of the alternatives.

Marketing Tip: At the consideration stage, you are educating the buyer about your solution. At this stage, you want to knock down any barriers that might exist in getting the buyer to the decision stage (where they purchase your solution). If the solution is an emotional purchase, they you need to address any emotional roadblocks. If the solution is a technical purchase, then you need to address all of the relevant product/solution data that helps the buyer make an informed choice and “checks all the boxes” for their technical requirements.

Step 3: Decision

The decision is the point at which the buyer decides to part with their cash in exchange for the goods. But it’s not that simple. Many factors can complicate the decision, most important is the cost of the goods and the urgency of the need. The best ammunition to help the buyer through the decision process is a testimonial from a current customer. Amazon perfected this idea with product recommendations. You should use customer testimonials to help the buyer understand that they are making the right choice, and that others have already been satisfied by their decisions.

At the decision stage, you make an offer to the buyer. If your offer fits what the buyer is willing to pay, then deal can be made. The key here is that communication with the buyer will be about the value of the solution and helping them to make the choice of your offer. Therefore you need to know when the buyer has arrived at this point in the process and modify your communication appropriately.

Marketing Tip: Price is always a difficult aspect of the decision process, but ultimately the price of the solution will be a deciding factor. If the need is urgent and you have an effective solution, you can likely make a deal at a higher price. How you communicate the value of the offer to your buyer effectively will determine if they make the purchase choice.


It’s critical to understand the three basic stages of the buyers journey, and to know when your buyer is transitioning through each of the stages. You will want to communicate differently to the buyer at each of these stages in order to progress them as quickly through the stage as possible and get to a purchase decision.

A well designed landing page or sales funnel can cover all three stages in a single webpage for a solution offered online. This process can take the buyer from the step of awareness all the way through a purchase decision (a “call to action”) at the bottom of the landing page. See our recent article on Designing effective landing pages.

Help your prospects through the buyers journey with FIRE Business Platform, where you get everything you need to market, sell and support your business in a single, integrated solution.

Related Links: