The Discovery Phase: Content Creation for the 5 Stages of Awareness

In this lesson we'll learn what type of content you should create according to where your customer is on their buyer's journey!

Transcript & mp3 file 👇

Hello! Welcome! Danni from Surfer here and in today's we're going to talk about the 5 stages of awareness, and the importance of meeting your customer on the exact spot of their customer journey.

This lesson goes out to my friend Eugene Schwartz. Okay, wait. He's not my friend. I've never met him. I'm really happy he came up with the 5 stages of awareness because it helps SEOs and marketers do a better job at what we do.

So, wherever you are, thanks Eugene!

These five stages of awareness describe how aware your prospect is of: their problem, possible solutions to the problem, And how your product can solve their problem!

Clearly defined stages of awareness are essential to any content strategy. After all, you need to know who you’re talking to - and why.

So, honest question: Would you try to sell a Ferrari to someone who doesn’t even have their driver’s license yet? Probably not!

The way you talk to your prospects will change depending on what stage they’re at. This knowledge should affect your target keywords, your calls to action, and tone.

Schwartz described five stages of prospect’s awareness:

  1. Completely Unaware: The prospect has no knowledge of anything except, perhaps, his own brand or opinion. He doesn’t recognize a problem whatsoever.

  2. Problem-Aware: Your prospect knows they have a problem but doesn’t know there’s a solution to this problem.

  3. Solution-Aware: Your prospect knows that they have a problem and knows what kind of results they seek, but they don’t know which products will fulfill their needs.

  4. Product-Aware: Your prospect knows what you sell but isn’t sure it’s right for them. They might be researching many products, yours included, and comparing them.

  5. Most Aware: Your prospect knows your product and knows it can solve their problems. Now they need a “deal” to make a purchase.

You first need to understand exactly what the prospect is looking for, and then push them down the sales funnel.

Let’s go into a concrete example, shall we?

I’ll show you how to do it with the example of the “SEO services for e-commerce” niche.

The first stage of awareness is Completely unaware.

If someone doesn’t realize they have a problem, how on earth will you be able to sell them a solution?

As a person writing about SEO services, you want your readers to understand they have the following problem:

I need new sources of leads. I want to attract prospects through organic traffic. I want to boost my visibility in search engines.

But there are e-commerce owners who have never had thoughts like that. Maybe they get all their clients from social media or ads and don’t think about SEO at all. Maybe they’ve tried it once and decided against it because they didn’t get good results. Or maybe, they’re not even e-commerce owners yet and are only researching their business possibilities!

Most companies don’t even bother creating content for the “completely unaware” stage. In fact, most start with a solution stage. It’s because it’s easier to sell to people who are already hot than heating up stone-cold leads.

And content creation takes a lot of time and resources. Not to mention, such prospects might never become a customer since you can’t predict if they ever find a need for your product or service. And even if they do, weeks or months might pass before they are warm enough to make a purchase. They may never become customers because the intent is not there.

We would have to start with content relevant to the niche.

Our readers don’t feel a particular need to read about SEO since they don’t understand what it is and they’re not aware they have a problem. So, we have to introduce SEO in a piece about a different topic.

Think of what a small e-commerce owner or aspiring owner might look for on the Internet:

How to build an e-commerce site How to start an e-commerce business E-commerce good practices E-commerce trends Etc.

You can create content that answers these questions and treat it as a gateway to introduce the problem your services might solve. Think about beginner’s guides, “how-to ”articles, and other general educational pieces.

Let’s move on to:


At this stage, the e-commerce owner realizes they do have a problem. Maybe their previous traffic sources are not working well anymore - or they don’t even have them - and are looking for new ways to attract more customers.

They may look for: How to get organic traffic to your website How to increase e-commerce sales Marketing for e-commerce Successful e-commerce case study

Your job at this stage is to introduce them to the solution - SEO.

This is the next opportunity to write a guide, a how-to article, or another educational piece - this time, focusing on getting more traffic.

Moving on to… Solution-Aware

At this stage, the e-commerce owner knows that social media is not the only valid channel for their site, and they have learned about this big thing called SEO.

They may look for: How to climb higher in search engines SEO for Shopify SEO content strategy for e-commerce How to write product descriptions for SEO

This is usually the first stage for which most companies start producing content. It’s also a great starting point if your company is new and/or is just beginning its content efforts.

Producing valuable texts that boost your credibility and offer knowledge without pushing your product is a great business opportunity. There’s a great chance they will trust you and become your customers after a while, or at least they will sign up for more content from you. Selling is great, but trust goes much further.


Now, the e-commerce owner learned their fair share about e-commerce SEO. They know that they have some technical issues on their site, that they have never optimized their meta tags, and that their content needs to be changed.

They know it’s a lot of work, and that companies are doing all that for a fee. What they don’t know is which agency to choose.

They may look for: Best SEO agency London SEO agency e-commerce case study SEO for e-commerce pricing [your company name] review

You should create product-centric blog posts for this stage - like a quick guide on how to solve a particular problem with your product, landing pages, and case studies. Anything that will convince the prospect that your company is a perfect match for their needs.

Lastly, we’ve got:

Most Aware Right

Now, the e-commerce owner wants to know what you can offer. For this stage of awareness, SEO is not really helpful. Your prospect wants to get in touch with sales, maybe get a special offer email or ad.

If you know what the user journey looks like for your company and what topics the prospects might be interested in, you’re ready to start with keyword research and topic clusters.

If you’re a freelancer who doesn’t plan the whole content strategy, all you need to do is figure out which phase the piece you’re about to write corresponds with and adjust your language, keyword research, and CTAs accordingly.

But suppose you’re an in-house marketer or an agency marketer in charge of the whole content strategy. In that case, you need to think carefully and holistically about helping your customers at every stage of awareness.

Time to celebrate! You finished (the discovery phase). You've seen what it's like to do keyword research the manual way. You've seen what it's like the Surfer way. And you've seen that it can be much easier. So I have some news. Congratulations! You've made it to the end of the Discovery Phase Time to celebrate! You did it! Take a break. Walk around. I'll see you in the next lesson. Happy Surfing!

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