Iterative Marketing Podcast Episode 27: A Deep Dive Into ‘Think’ State

In the buyers’ journey, there is an audience segment that is thinking about making a purchase, but is not yet ready to commit. This audience is in the Think state. Marketers can learn how to be a friend to those in the Think state and guide their decision making without pushing the sale too soon.

Episode Show Notes

Introduction to the Podcast: A Deep Dive Into Think State

(0:00 – 2:27) Introduction to Iterative Marketing Podcast: Welcome to the Iterative Marketing Podcast, where, each week, hosts Steve Robinson and Elizabeth Earin provide marketers and entrepreneurs with actionable ideas, techniques, and examples to improve marketing results. 

The topic of this episode is the Think state, an aspect of the consideration states we’ve previously addressed. We will delve into the specifics of the Think state, discussing our objectives for this stage and the content used to influence it. Additionally, we’ll explore various targeting methods appropriate for the Think state. Finally, we’ll discuss measuring success, specifically how we can evaluate progress in enhancing the journey for individuals in the Think state.

The resources discussed on the show can be found at, which includes a blog and a LinkedIn group for community interaction.

Review of Journey States

(2:27 – 5:11) Journey States: Before diving into the Think state, let’s quickly review the journey states as mentioned in Episode 16: See, Think, Do, Grow, Give:

  • See State: This is your qualified audience – they have the means or authority to purchase your product or service. However, they’re not currently considering purchasing your product or service, possibly because they already have a vendor they’re happy with. More detail can be found in Episode 23: A Deep Dive into the See State.
  • Think State: This is today’s focus. This is where the qualified audience is considering purchasing or changing vendors for a product or service in the future, but there is no commitment or timeline for this change.
  • Do State: This state involves a readiness to purchase. There’s a commitment to make a purchase within a definitive timeline.
  • Grow State: This state occurs after the prospect becomes a customer. They are loyal and will consider your brand first for future purchases but aren’t yet fully advocating for your brand.
  • Give State: The customer in this state is completely engaged with your brand. They are referring you to others, leaving positive reviews, and acting as brand ambassadors.

Please note that these states are inspired by Avinash Kaushik’s ‘See, Think, Do’  framework and have been slightly modified and expanded for the iterative marketing methodology.

We’ll now proceed to explore the Think state in detail.

Basics of the Think State

(5:11 – 6:31)  How to Approach the Think State: The main goal of the Think state is to serve as a valuable resource for the audience during their buyer’s journey. Although the ultimate decision rests with the prospects, our aim is to subtly guide their choices and establish trust and affinity. It’s crucial to avoid direct selling tactics that may push prospects away. Instead, the content should subtly influence prospects without appearing like a sales pitch. Rather than promoting a specific product or vendor, the focus should be on providing informative content. In summary, here are the four essential requirements for the Think state audience:

  1. Be a Trusted Resource
  2. Subtly Influence Decisions
  3. Build Affinity
  4. Avoid Direct Selling

Why the Think State is Important

(6:31 – 8:34) Indirect Interaction with Brand: Prospects in the Think state are typically not directly interacting with your brand, meaning they’re not conversing with your sales team or visiting your physical locations. Instead, they’re independently conducting research and consuming your content.

Lurking Prospects: These prospects may seem invisible as they’re not actively engaging with your brand or leaving identifiable traces of interaction. They’re ‘lurking’ – researching, gathering information, and learning about your brand without initiating any conversation.

Peer Influence: During this phase, prospects are likely talking to friends, getting referrals, and hearing about your brand from influencers or others within their network. They may also be considering your competitors’ content.

Opportunity for Influence: It’s essential to be present and impactful at this critical juncture in the buyer’s journey. Your brand needs to provide relevant content tailored to the prospect’s needs during the Think state.

Building Affinity: The Think state offers an opportunity to build a relationship with the prospect, instill a positive impression of your brand, and secure a spot on their shortlist when they are ready to make a purchase.

Charity Outreach

(8:34 – 9:19) Charity Break: Cure Epilepsy

Creating Effective Content 

(9:19 – 17:20) Content for the Think State Audience: Think state refers to the mindset of potential customers who are interested in a product or service but are not ready to make a purchase yet. Recognizing and addressing this state is vital in shaping your marketing strategies and content to guide these potential customers further down the sales funnel. When creating your content, it’s important to remember the following:

  • The Differences between Think, Do, and See State Content: Think State content differs from the Do state (ready to buy) and See state (not interested yet). It focuses more on providing relevant and useful information rather than direct sales messaging.
  • Avoidance of Sales-Focused Content: It’s important not to push direct sales messages to prospects in the Think State as this could turn them away. They are not ready to buy yet.
  • The Balance of Content: Think State content strikes a balance between being informative and subtly promoting your brand, keeping it top-of-mind when the prospect is ready to make a purchase.
  • Influencing Decision-Making: While you cannot directly influence the product the customer will buy, you can influence their decision-making process by emphasizing the best attributes of your brand or product in a helpful, non-pushy manner.

Here are a few practical examples of strategies to consider when developing your own Think state content strategy:

  • B2B Example: Marketo held a webinar titled “Selecting a Marketing Automation Solution that Scales”. The webinar did not directly sell Marketo’s solution but served as a resource for those considering marketing automation.
  • B2C Example: Home Depot conducts in-store workshops and provides how-to guides, creating an affinity with customers who may later choose to purchase their supplies from Home Depot.

Think State Content Formats: Think State content can come in various formats, from in-person workshops to online articles, blogs, and how-to guides. The key is that it serves as a resource for potential customers.

Transitioning from Think State to Do State: One example of successful transitioning can be seen in Blue Apron’s content strategy.  Blue Apron offers free recipes, which solves a problem for potential customers. Once they become familiar with and enjoy the recipes, they may be more likely to subscribe to Blue Apron’s meal kit service.

The Question of Gating Content: There’s a delicate balance between gating content (requiring personal information for access) to build a contact database, and freely providing valuable content to maintain goodwill with potential customers. Gating content must be done thoughtfully, ensuring that it aligns with the user experience and doesn’t feel like a violation of the prospect’s privacy.

Importance of Content Value: Whether content is gated or not, it must provide value to the prospect. Valuable content helps build relationships with consumers and guides them further down the sales funnel.

Strategies to Reach and Engage the Think State

(17:20 – 20:34) Leveraging First-Party Data: Using first-party data is crucial in determining a prospect’s current buying stage. By closely examining this data, marketers can discern key signals that a prospect is interested and has moved into the Think state. This can involve tracking behavior on a website, monitoring interaction with past marketing materials, and other forms of data analysis.

Utilizing Digital Tools: Two major digital tools that can help in this process are marketing automation systems and retargeting technology. Marketing automation systems allow for detailed tracking of who engages with what content, allowing marketers to segment their audience based on interest and readiness to purchase. Retargeting technology can be used to keep tabs on individuals who have shown interest in specific content on your website and to then directly target them with further relevant content.

Advertising Think Content to See Audience: One way to gauge if a prospect is ready to move from the See state to the Think state is by advertising Think content to them. This content should be relevant and of interest to the prospect, and their interaction with it serves as an indicator of their readiness to move further along in the buyer’s journey. The engagement with the Think content helps identify those who are ready to consider a purchase more seriously.

Stay Top of Mind with Varied Content: To effectively move prospects through the Think state, it’s important to have a variety of content available. This ensures that there is always something new and relevant to engage the prospect, and keeps your brand top of mind throughout their decision-making process. The varied content also helps cater to different interests, preferences, and informational needs within your target audience.

Consider Time Spent in the Think State: The timeline a prospect spends in the Think state can vary greatly, depending on factors such as the nature of the product or service, the individual’s prior knowledge and experience, and external influencing factors. Being aware of this timeline can help marketers tailor their content strategy, ensuring that they provide relevant and timely content throughout this stage. It’s essential to keep the content fresh and engaging over this potentially extended period to maintain the prospect’s interest and to encourage their progression into the Do state.

Measuring Success

(20:34 – 24:20) Strategies to Measure Success: The success of your strategies for engaging your Think audience can be measured through a variety of indicators that focus mainly on user engagement. Here’s a detailed breakdown of these metrics and how they can help in assessing your success:

  • Engagement Time: This refers to the amount of time users spend interacting with your brand or content. It could be measured in terms of time spent on site, on a particular page, or on individual pieces of content. The more time users spend engaging with your content, the more likely they are to move forward in their buyer’s journey.
  • Content Interaction: How much of your content are users consuming? Are they scrolling all the way down the page, reading multiple articles, or watching your videos till the end? The depth and quantity of content interaction can serve as important metrics.
  • Downloads: The number of content pieces downloaded, such as ebooks, white papers, guides, etc., can be a strong indicator of user interest and engagement.
  • Video Watch Time: If you’re using video content, keeping track of the total seconds or minutes of video that an individual user watches can give you a good idea of their level of engagement.
  • Sharing Statistics: If your content is compelling and provides value, users are likely to share it with others. However, the relevance of this metric depends on the nature of your content and your target audience. It’s typically more applicable for B2C contexts where content might have a broader appeal.
  • Contribution to Conversions: While Think content might not directly lead to conversions since users in this state aren’t yet ready to buy, it can contribute to conversions down the line. Using a sophisticated attribution model, you can track whether engagement with Think content assists with eventual conversions. Google Analytics, for instance, provides options for such attribution models.
  • Contacts Gathered: If you’re gating some of your content, the number of contacts gathered can be a valuable metric. But remember to use gating cautiously to ensure it aligns with the user experience you aim to create.

Join Us Next Time

(24:20 – 25:35Conclusion: In this episode, we discussed the Think state, focusing on its specifics, objectives, content, and suitable targeting methods. We also emphasized measuring success, particularly in enhancing the journey for individuals in this stage.

Join us for next week’s topic where we discover how to make marketing more effective with long-term assets.  

Have a great week and we’ll see you next time. This concludes this week’s episode. For notes and links to resources discussed on the show, sign up to the Brilliant Metrics newsletter.

Iterative Marketing is a part of the Brilliant Metrics organization. If you would like more information on the marketing services provided by the expert team at Brilliant Metrics, reach out today for a free discovery call.

The Iterative Marketing Podcast,  a production of Brilliant Metrics, ran from February 2016 to September 2017. Music by SeaStock Audio.

Learn more about Iterative Marketing and listen to other episodes on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.

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