To get top results from content creation and content marketing, you’ll want to direct your content toward the specific people who will be the most interested in it. The best way to do that as you plan, create, and publish content is to consider the customer journey stages that your target audience passes through.
Here’s a look at how to use the customer journey concept to make smart decisions about your content marketing efforts – decisions that will affect not only your brand, but also your bottom line.
Why is the customer journey relevant to content marketing strategy?
Your customers take a path on the way to their purchase. It’s called the customer journey.
And you? You’ve worked hard to develop a marketing strategy for your business. You carefully shape the messages that you disseminate, across a variety of platforms, about your business and all that it has to offer. But have you thought about how those messages will be received? If you can understand the needs (and wants) of your audience, or their customer journey stages, your message is much more likely to be understood. We like to think that our customer’s journey will be linear – that they’ll find out about us on social media, click, and learn, and then buy. Or that they’ll do some online research, somehow find our information and click through until they’ve made a purchase. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, it takes days – even weeks – before a customer is ready to make a purchase.
Avoid turn-offs and frustrations
A potential customer can end up being frustrated because she couldn’t find the information she needed to make a smart decision. I’m sure it’s happened to you. You think you might want to buy something. The research begins. And when you finally get in touch with a company, it appears as if the company doesn’t care if you purchase. It doesn’t seem to want to give you the information you need. Why, that’s enough to make you want to check out competing brands! Sometimes, even after the purchase, a company sours you by bombarding you with texts, social media reach-outs, and emails. That’ll keep you from recommending them to friends and colleagues. Why waste great content because it doesn’t reach the customer at the right stage? Instead, roll out effective content designed to meet the customer’s needs each step of the way.
Mapping the customer journey stages
Customer journey mapping and the development of a buyer persona, a profile of your ideal customer, help you figure out how to turn a shopper into a buyer. And journey mapping also will help you turn a buyer into an ambassador for your product.
You can map every touchpoint, or interaction that a customer can have with you along the way, including post-purchase. That extends from his gaining awareness of your business to his thank-you note.
A thorough look at the buying journey will reveal pain points that your marketing team, as well as other parts of your operation, must address. Customer-focused marketing requires a deep, step-by-step investigation your customer engagement.
What are the stages of the customer journey?
Different experts define them in different ways, but many marketers consider these to be the four stages of a customer’s journey:
The awareness stage, in which customer begins searching for the answer to a problem and encounters your brand for the first time.
The consideration stage, in which the consumer researches your brand and your competition. He or she is visiting websites, review sites, and other informational sites, examining ads and marketing material, and perhaps visiting brick-and-mortar stores.
The decision stage, in which the consumer has completed the research and is ready to commit.
The retention stage, in which the customer evaluates his or her experience with your business. This is a more important stage than you might think – this is where you build brand loyalty.
In customer journey mapping, you’ll want to consider each of your business goals at every stage. If you are concerned, for example, with being sure that you have the right staff in the right places, you might want to look at that issue through the lens of how it affects your customers’ awareness, consideration, decision, and retention.
The role of content in creating customers
Based on the customer experience, determine how to lead them through their journey in a way that helps you both. You’ll want to create content that speaks, as specifically as possible, to your customers’ specific needs, not to the needs of your design or IT staff. Company leadership might need to lead a long conversation with the IT and web design team and the marketers to make sure they can work together on the new service blueprint.
Another way of looking at the path that shoppers follow as they consider a purchase from you is the sales funnel, which can be summarized in a simple format as: Awareness, Consideration, Intention, Conversion. It is not a coincidence that it is so similar to the basic model of the customer journey. At each stage, the funnel narrows, representing the smaller number of consumers making it from one stage to the next.
We raised the concept of the sales funnel because content marketing marketing can drive sales by increasing the number of people who travel all the way through the sales funnel or complete the customer journey. This leads to a key question about the customer journey: How does your content creation strategy address each of these customer journey stages?
This is the stage at which you’ll create content that describes your business or product. And make sure to distribute it as widely as you can across as many channels as you can. You’re trying to offer solutions to customers’ needs or problems. The content format used most often here is the blog post. This is the stage most often targeted by businesses using content marketing. You can best market your business by blogging about your product or service and being sure to use search engine marketing (SEM) to put your business at the top of the search list. Develop social media posts, checklists, how-to videos, tip sheets, ultimate guides, and other tools to tell potential consumers exactly what your business offers.
Not all the folks who become aware of your product are going to seriously consider it. The content creation process should focus on this question: How do you drive people from the awareness phase to this next phase? Use your knowledge of your customers’ problems, concerns and desires to develop intriguing, knowledgeable, welcoming content that directly addresses those issues.
This is the stage to showcase your brand and build a relationship – one of trust and caring – with the customer. The tools that best fit this stage are marketing via email; remarketing (reminding them of their prior interest in your business); offering a product comparison guide, a free trial, a consultation, or a coupon; and using social media.
At this next stage, the customer decides to buy a product or service, but it might not be yours. Try to convince them that you have the solution to their specific problem. This is where brand awareness and sales outreach come in. Get that call-to-action out there, engage interested prospects, and continue to do so through personalized and contextual marketing. Some of the best methods to do this include the digital marketing tools: email, remarketing, and social media.
This stage should fall quickly – and easily – after intention. If it’s not easy to buy, customers will move on, even if they had the intent to purchase. This is the time to address issues like purchase methods and UX design (or user experience on your site).
Once someone becomes a customer, he or she can become an advocate for your business, as well. When you strengthen your customer relationship after the sale, you are likely to engender a lifetime customer. His or her word-of-mouth referrals will carry your message into places where your marketing strategy might never have reached. Make your purchasing process frictionless.
The best methods of marketing to customers at this stage are email, remarketing, the use of knowledge bases for support, FAQs, live chat/chatbots for service issues, and the use of loyalty programs.
How do you develop content for every stage of the customer journey?
The key is to write to your target audience.
Mining your customer data and considering the phases of the customer journey help you determine what types of content can serve as stepping stones.
Think of your content as signposts on your customers’ journey. And put those signposts in the right places, which are the various channels available to you.
Shoppers in the Attention and Consideration stages are looking for answers, research, education, resources, and insights. People in the Intention and Conversion stages want to know exactly what it means to be one of your customer. Can you solve their problems? How easily?
Your business journey
High-quality content strategy can come from the use of the customer journey concept. It can be a difficult process, but it can bring you gains in key performance indicators (KPI) such as customer satisfaction, and retention rate.
Contact rellify to learn how its content performance platform can help you create and execute a successful marketing strategy.