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Content Marketing 25 min read

5 Stages Of Awareness In SEO Copywriting: How To Address Different Groups Of Customers?

Top eCommerce Lead Generation Strategies

Copywriter at SEO Angency Empressia
Most seasoned content specialists would agree that being up-to-date with emerging trends in marketing is a must. However, I want to take a step back and dive into a classic from the 60s – “Breakthrough Advertising” by Eugene Schwartz. His five stages of consumer awareness proposed in the book resonate with effective SEO copywriting up until now, and I’ll show you how.

Schwartz pointed out that to sell a product to a prospect, you need to meet them at their level of awareness, i.e., their present state of knowledge about your product. How can you adapt Schwartz’s accomplishments to today’s web writing and other types of digital marketing at each stage of prospect awareness?

Don’t write content for an anonymous internet user. Make sure you know their awareness level and use different keywords for each. Your web content can move them from one awareness level to another, and at the end of this journey is a purchase of your product or service.

Your Product Fits Various Needs And Desires

Let’s imagine you run SEO services and have two potential clients: Daniel and Lisa.

Daniel has just graduated from philology and decided he’d open a language school. His friend has designed a website for him, so he can share it on social media and let people know about his business. He’s never heard of search engine optimization, but he wants his school to have a lot of students and, of course – to generate income.

Now let’s move to Lisa. She’s a marketing director of a company that sells hand-painted enamel pots. She knows that to boost its visibility online, she needs to contract an SEO agency.

As an SEO specialist, you can think of both Daniel and Lisa as your future clients, but you won’t reach out to them in the same way. Speaking of SEO – they’ll type different phrases on Google. Lisa may write, e.g., best SEO agency + city, and Daniel seems to ask Google how to make your website more popular.

Lisa knows that she needs an agency that would perform technical optimization and write SEO-friendly content. Daniel only knows that he wants to do something about the popularity of his business.

They know, want, and need different things. They are at varying levels of awareness, and you need different types of content to attract them.

Awareness Stages By Eugene Schwartz: A Quick Overview

Eugene Schwartz was born in 1927 in Butte, Montana, and specialized in direct-mail campaigns. His observations about human behavior apply to today’s pursuit of identifying your target audience.

In his 1966 book “Breakthrough Advertising” Schwartz described five levels of consumer awareness:
  • 1
    Completely Unaware – the prospect doesn’t know about the problem your product solves, let alone the product.
  • 2
    Product Aware – the prospect knows they have a problem but doesn’t know how to solve it.
  • 3
    Solution Aware – the prospect knows the solution to their problem but doesn’t know your product provides it.
  • 4
    Product Aware – the prospect knows your product solves their problem but isn’t sure it’s right for them.
  • 5
    Most Aware – the prospect is on the point of buying your product, but they’re waiting for the last push, e.g., a better deal.
Let’s focus on them one by one and see what sort of content can address each group of prospects.

Completely Unaware Prospect

The lower the stage of awareness, the more challenging the prospects are. But looking from the bright side – this is the biggest segment of your reachable market, so it’s worth trying. Your job here is to make them aware they have a problem your product can solve.

Focus on a problem, though, not a product. To do so, you must discover situations from your prospect’s life that are more or less related to the problem.

For example, if you sell isotonic drinks, mention electrolytes imbalance and its consequences in an article about reducing stress through exercising, picking the right shoes for the gym, or a proper meal right after a training session. Optimize your content with popular keywords and share it on social media. Maybe you can collaborate with a fitness website and write a guest post about the above-mentioned problem, with a link to your website.

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At this point, you don’t want to attack prospects with sales pitches or link directly to a landing page. Don’t focus your copy around your product, but rather around readers.

They are cold prospects, but you have an asset to share with them – your knowledge.

Remember that to introduce a problem to somebody, you have to explain why it is a problem. Illustrate how their life would change if the problem didn’t exist. Underline short- and long-term consequences of not taking action to avoid it, but don’t scare them. Smoothly take them to another level of awareness.

Problem Aware Prospect

Meet another group of potential customers: people who already sense they have a problem but haven’t found a solution yet. Before you move to show them how your product will sweep their pain away, let them feel understood and emphasize the priority of their current situation. Make your content filled with empathy and emotions that accompany the problem it describes.

How to do that naturally and convincingly? You have to pinpoint your target group. Discover their needs and desires.
This is the copywriter’s task: not to create this mass desire – but to channel and direct it.
Eugene Schwartz
People who could buy your isotonic drinks are more or less aware of the benefits of filling their bodies with fluids and electrolytes. But what they actually want is to kick up their workout endurance and – consequently – lose weight, run a marathon, build muscles, feel less self-conscious, etc.

Address these issues and ensure your prospects know your solution will give them what they sincerely want.

Creating content for Problem Aware users is perfect for SEO with informational keywords. People ask Google what to do every day, so they search for a solution on the internet. Let them find it on your website, e.g., in a blog article at the top of the SERP.
With the Serpstat Keyword Research tool, you can pick the right keywords to attract the audience at all stages of awareness. Besides, Search Suggestions and Search Questions reports will help you generate title ideas for your articles that will answer actual questions asked by users:
using search questions for generating best headlines
And there's much more!

Insert any keyword to start analyzing:

Solution Aware Prospect

At this stage, your prospect knows the result they want, but they’re not aware that the product you sell would provide it. If at Problem Aware level you show the prospect that isotonic drinks are a solution to their problem, then at this level you have to let them know that products from your company are worth considering.

Prospects who know the solution aren’t ready for a hard sell yet. They’re still gathering information because they’re aware of the diversity of products on the market and don’t know which one would suit them (in terms of quality, price, trust, and other factors).

A copywriter who addresses the prospect at this stage should help them make a decision and naturally introduce the product. Write content that explains how to choose X, presents both pros and cons of several products, compares them, or describes current trends.

You can also expose your product on Google by writing powerful content for your category and product pages. Keywords shouldn’t only contain the name of your product, such as cycling isotonic drinks, but also qualifiers, such as best cycling isotonic drinks. 60% of people feel inspired to seek out a product after reading about it.
Also, at this awareness level, local keywords could help. Your prospects may look for the best solution in their neighborhood. It depends on what you sell.

Local Awareness: SEO Methods To Increase Local Involvement

Product Aware Prospect

Let’s wrap it up. Your prospect knows he or she has a problem that can be solved by a product or service you sell.

However, they may be far from making a deal for several reasons: they’re comparing you to your competitors, they’re looking for a cheaper option, they haven’t read enough good opinions about your company/product – they just don’t trust you enough. According to Salsify’s research, in the US, UK, France, and Germany, consumers pay more for brands they trust:
In Google, Product Aware Prospects type keywords like [brand name] reviews, [product] versus [product], so your job is to expose the qualities of both the product and the company. You can do so by writing case studies and polishing such pages on your website as Home and About.

Try elaborating on your product in an explainer video, and make sure your past customers have posted their opinions online. Offer a product/service demo or a tutorial. It’s still about engagement, knowledge, and values of your content, but don’t hesitate to smuggle polite sales pitches.

Remember to have a well-crafted landing page and link to it from content pieces for Product Aware users.

Most Aware Prospect

Your prospect is perfectly aware of everything you offer, but they still need a further incentive. Be it a discount, a coupon, a bonus – ideally a time-sensitive offer. Give them a reason to act quickly.

Your online shop should be on top of your priority list. You’ll keep Most Aware Prospects ready to buy if your e-commerce website is secure, intuitive, fast, transparent, and nice-looking.

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This awareness stage also includes customers who have bought from you before. Try your best to make them repeat customers. Offer them a community, where they could share experiences related to your product or service. Using isotonic drinks as an example – you can invite repeat customers to join a Discord group for sports lovers. Write gated content for them, in which you’ll educate them about further problems that can be solved with other products from your website.

Create Content For Each Stage Of Consumer Awareness

Now, when you know the basics of each awareness level, you should incorporate this framework into your digital marketing strategy. How? Let’s start with SEO copywriters’ kingdom – a business blog.

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The three lowest stages of awareness – Completely Unaware, Problem Aware, and Solution Aware are a perfect ground for dozens of blog topics. Each of them should rank for popular keywords to generate organic traffic to your website.

Take SEO services as an example. Let’s see how we can draw users to an SEO agency’s blog by writing articles for each of three levels of awareness:
This classification of topics related to different stages of awareness goes hand in hand with classifications of keywords. People ask different questions at each awareness level, and you have a chance to answer them all on your website. As a result, you’re able to rank for far more keywords than just general and highly competitive main ones.

Look at the content on your blog holistically and check if it addresses prospects at each of the three lowest awareness levels. If not – you’ve just found a content gap – a topic your prospect looks for online, but your website doesn’t cover it. Always remember that an article should contain the doors to the next level of awareness.

Blog articles can perfectly cover topics searched by Completely Unaware, Problem Aware, and Solution Aware Prospects, but we also need to attract users at the remaining awareness levels.

Let’s see what other types of content can be designed for different groups of potential customers.

How To Write Better Blog Posts: 12 Experts Share Their Best Tips

Digital Marketing For 5 Levels of Consumer Awareness

Apart from outstanding SEO writing on your blog and other pages of your website (texts for category and product pages should also be search engine optimized), there’s an ocean of options for content marketing and more broadly digital marketing tailored for different levels of awareness.

Video Marketing

In 2021, video was the number one format in content marketing strategies, followed by blogs, images, and infographics.

An animated video explainer about your product or service is a great idea for Solution Aware Prospects or – along with a case studies video – for Product Aware Prospects who compare your offer with others. Such content as webinars or “how to” videos may attract Completely Unaware and Problem Aware Prospects during their internet journey.

Video interviews, event recaps, mini-documentaries, behind-the-scenes – they can all contribute to increasing a number of repeat prospects.

Social Media

Your company’s Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter provide you with endless ways of interacting with your prospects. 93% of brands got a new customer thanks to a video posted on social media.
Use Schwartz’s awareness levels as an inspiration for your posts, e.g.

  • ask a question that introduces a problem (for Completely Unaware Prospects),
  • organize contents and giveaways (for Product and Most Aware Prospects),
  • gain and publish social proof such as reviews, interviews, or photos with customers using your product (for Product Aware Prospects),
  • schedule a live broadcast with an expert (for Problem Aware Prospects),
  • share educational infographics (for every awareness level),
  • collaborate with influencers (for every awareness level).
Of course, you should also use social media to promote pieces of content you’ve published on your website.

Use These 10 Social Media Tips to Skyrocket Your SEO Now

Email Marketing

Encouraging prospects to subscribe to a newsletter and nurturing subscribers with engaging email marketing can help you lead them through awareness levels.

Design autoresponders that match a specific stage of awareness, e.g. if a prospect decides to subscribe to a newsletter by clicking a CTA element in a blog article dedicated to a problem (converting Unaware to Problem Aware Prospect), introduce a solution to them in an email (converting Problem Aware to Solution Aware Prospect).

Send emails to inform your prospects about a survey you’re carrying out (introduce a problem) or share a compelling story with them (introduce a solution). Let them know about the unique benefits of buying your product or service and of being your customer – creatively used email marketing takes part in building a relationship between a company/brand and its customers.

What’s more, email marketing is a perfect marketing tool for Most Aware customers, who like being up-to-date with new products and even more with new discounts.

27 Smart Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing Campaign

CTA Buttons Or Lines

Internal links can take a user from one stage of awareness to another in just one click, but they have to fit into their current awareness level. For example, in an article about marketing ideas for a particular industry, use a CTA related to online visibility rather than buying an SEO audit.

CTA buttons or anchor texts can lead a prospect to a landing page, email subscription, product trial, blog article, video, or another piece of content – but be careful with skipping awareness levels and going straight to purchase.

9 Lead Magnet Ideas For Every Stage Of The Buyer's Journey

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Conclusion

The ideas described above don’t close a list of possible uses of Schwartz’s framework. Feel free to apply it wherever you want to capture your prospects’ attention.

Either you can use one type of digital marketing to target one awareness stage (e.g. SEO copywriting for Problem Aware Prospects, email marketing for Product Aware Prospects, and so on), or you can juggle with them through different channels.

Eugene Schwartz’s 5 levels of awareness aren’t just another marketing theory – they’re hints of how people behave. If you analyze your prospects’ needs, desires, and – most importantly – problems, considering their awareness level will help you address them more effectively. In “Breakthrough Advertising” Schwartz wrote:

Copy cannot create desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears, and desires that already exist in the hearts of millions of people, and focus those already existing desires onto a particular product.

When receiving content adjusted to a specific awareness level, your prospects won’t feel attacked by insensitive hard sell tactics.

Get to know your future customer and let them know you through caring education, honest empathy, shared experience, and compelling stories. The purchase comes right after.
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The opinion of the guest post authors may not coincide with the opinion of the Serpstat editorial staff and specialists.

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