Buying guides are one of the most effective forms of content you can write from a marketing perspective. In theory, they’re very simple—a buying guide is an instructional document that informs a customer about a given product (or type of product) with the intention of helping them make a buying decision. However, in practice, buying guides are more nuanced and demand a clever, researched approach if you want to make the most of them.
Benefits of Buying Guides
Why are buying guides such a powerful medium?
- Search prevalence. First, buying guides are highly searched-for pieces of content. If you have a strong, specific headline and meaty content to back it up, you’ll be more likely to rank for high-volume searches in this area.
- Audience factors. The only people reading buying guides are people interested in buying those products. Accordingly, you won’t have to put much thought into audience targeting—you’ll instantly be left with a relevant crowd!
- Conversion potential. Listing different products gives you an easy opportunity to lead customers to a conversion, which makes buying guides especially valuable.
Strategies for Better Buying Guides
So how can you secure more value from your buying guides?
- Cater to specific customer needs. First, make sure your guide is hyper-specific. Don’t just write a guide on “how to buy a car.” Instead, cater to a specific demographic or dig deeper into one niche product. For example, this guide on choosing the right boat seat is highly specific and narrows down its potential audience significantly. You may think that a bigger audience is better, but a bigger audience is a less relevant audience—not to mention, you’ll face stiffer competition for general-term queries. In most cases, specificity will give you an advantage.
- Show multiple different options. Though you may be tempted to do a side-by-side comparison between two competing products, it’s better to show a wider berth of potential options. For example, this guide on buying the right bicycle shows a number of different styles and options, catering to virtually any bicycle purchaser’s needs. This also gives you more flexibility to show inferior products (if you’re trying to promote yours), so other products look strictly better by comparison.
- Avoid selling your brand. However, don’t get carried away trying to promote your brand. Customers are looking for a buyer’s guide to obtain neutral, accurate information, and if they perceive you trying to steer them in one direction, they may abandon your guide entirely. Guides like this one on smartphones get popular because they fairly assess similar products with no clear winner. Make sure to give your competitors’ products equal treatment, even if you end up giving the edge to yourself. Never let your readers feel like they’re being overtly persuaded or pushed to one option.
- Include visuals. If you can, include more visual information. For simple guides, this might include some photos of the products in question or video demonstrations of how they work. For more complex guides, this may take the form of an interactive comparison chart, like this one for buying laptops. People have an easier time processing and digesting information that comes from visuals than they do from written language, so include a mix here.
- Test your guide and get feedback. Finally, don’t let yourself become too satisfied with your first draft. Once you publish your guide, take note of any comments your readers have and pay attention to how often it is shared on social media. If you notice the guide isn’t getting much traction, you’ll need to take further action—consider including more technical details, or speaking more directly to your target audience. You may also need to perform some competitive research to see if another guide like yours already exists.
You could also roll your guide out to a small test group, potentially including your existing customers, to collect their thoughts. Listen to your readers—their responses will guide you in better developing your finished product.
With these strategies, you’ll be able to create buyer’s guides that give your customers better information and increase your ability to convert. Ultimately, that means you’ll earn more money for every piece you produce (and improve your brand’s reputation at the same time). With practice, you’ll be writing masterpieces—just be sure to go back and update your older works with new details as they emerge for your target products.