In today’s world of “information everywhere,” marketers are no longer in the driver’s seat. Buyers have the world at their fingertips, and they can access product information, reviews, and comparison data 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from the convenience of their couches, offices, and favorite coffee shops.

Buyers—not marketers—are now in the driver’s seat and are researching your product or service before you even know about them. This is where content marketing comes in. By feeding buyers a regular stream of content through a variety of marketing channels, you gradually draw them closer to your business and stay in front of them until they are ready to buy.  To do this, you must serve up that content where they are: in their homes through direct mail; at work through direct mail and email; and out and about through email, mobile, and social media.

Why do you need all of these channels? There are multiple stages in a buyer’s journey when you have a complex sale and higher ticket item, and each channel and type of content is more effective at different stages.

Stage #1: Product/ brand awareness.

Before someone can make a purchase, they have to become aware of your product or brand. One of the best ways to do this is through direct mail. Email addresses and social media preferences change. Buyers can ignore Internet advertising and are used to be inundated online. But nearly everyone looks at the direct mail that arrives at their homes.

Stage #2: Product research.

Once buyers are aware of your product or category, they begin their research. The first step is generally your website or a third party site that your products are listed on (nearly half of buyers say websites are one of the first three resources they use). You can also use email, social ads and other channels to gradually feed buyers new information about your products they are interested in including reviews.

Stage #3: The closer.

Once they’ve done their research, buyers are ready to pull the trigger. Use email to follow up on direct mail CTAs or, if you are engaging via email first, follow up with direct mail for a more powerful punch. Mix up your channels because you never know which channels a customer will respond to at any given time. Give them an easy way to find your products or services and a simple checkout process.