Table of Contents
- Stages of the Customer Journey
- How to Create a Content Strategy for the Customer Journey
- Competitor Research
- Conduct Interviews
- Content Map for the Customer Journey
- Step One: Create Personas
- Step Two: Identify Goals, Communication Channels, & Touchpoints
- Step 3: Content Development
- Step 4: Measure Marketing Tactics
Your brand is defined by your customer’s experience.
So how can you improve?
By aligning your marketing strategies with your customer’s goals.
To connect with more customers, businesses need to think like a customer and analyze the steps or stages a customer takes to accomplish their goals or meet their needs.
Let’s get started.
Stages of the Customer Journey
The customer journey is a process in which they discover, encounter, and interact with your brand. You might have heard this referred to as the buying cycle or purchase process.
The customer journey stages include:
- Awareness: Prior to this stage, the customer may not be aware they have a need or problem. Then, something happens. They have a moment of realization which causes them to find a solution.
Example: The customer’s car breaks down and to fix the problem, they need a mechanic.
- Evaluate & Compare: The customer researches, compares, and evaluates possible solutions.
Example: They search online for “the best mechanic in (location).” There are several options to choose from, so they compare hours, locality, pricing, or reviews.
- Decision: Then, based on information and their priorities, the customer makes a decision.
Example: The customer likes your great reviews and hours, so they decide to schedule an appointment.
- Try/Advocate: The customer not only uses your products and services, but their experience was outstanding, they refer you to others.
Example: The customer appreciated your excellent customer service. You were even able to fix the car ahead of schedule. This brand experience built customer loyalty and they told their friends.
However, if the experience is lacking, or there’s not enough online content to support the process, then you’re losing out.
Let’s go back to the awareness stage example. If your website doesn’t give the customer information they want, about services, hours, and pricing the customer may leave your website to look on another site that provides detailed information to help the customer choose.
Improving communication, content, and touchpoints with customers online and offline is essential to a positive customer experience.
How to Create a Content Strategy for the Customer Journey
To support a customer’s journey through the various stages, you need great content.
Address a customer’s needs, thoughts, and concerns so they can make informed decisions.
But, to get true wins, your content must provide value by answering the most common questions at each stage.
Do an audit of your content. Consider:
- What does a customer need to know at this stage?
- Does my content accurately reflect my brand?
- Is my business information consistent across platforms?
- Is the messaging clear?
After the audit, evaluate communication errors across every touchpoint with the customer. Are there areas of improvement?
If so, try developing new content through competitor research and interviews.
Research your competitors to find opportunities.
In what ways are you similar to your competitors? Different?
Whatever they’re doing, you can do it better.
Define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Going back to our mechanic example, let’s say you offer mobile service, but your competitors do not. This may be part of your USP especially if customers value it, and choose it. It doesn’t count if you think your staff is more experienced if customers don’t notice or validate the benefit.
Interviews provide good insight about your target consumer. Their input will help you understand their decision process, needs, and goals.
Start with the demographic basics, and then dive deeper for better insights.
Use the stages of the customer journey to come up with questions.
Questions for the Awareness Stage
- Describe the problem you’re trying to solve?
- How/why did you realize you had a problem or need?
- What goals or challenges did you have?
- What information was helpful?
Questions for the Evaluate & Compare Stage
- What steps did you take to research your problem?
- What criteria did you use to compare products/services?
- Were there any solutions that stood out more? Why?
- What information or resources would have helped?
Questions for the Decision Stage
- Why did you decide to take action?
- What was the most important decision criteria?
- What motivated you to do x, y, and z?
- What’s an example of a bad experience you had with a brand?
- Were any other people involved in making the final decision?
The next step is to align the customer experience with the right type of content, using the right medium.
There’s an easy way to do this. All you need is a map.
Content Map for the Customer Journey
A customer journey map is a visual framework to align your content marketing strategies with customer goals.
You can use the map to explore opportunities to address their problems and needs through useful content and a great brand experience.
Step One: Create Personas
Using insights from your research and interviews, develop a persona.
Personas are a way to profile your target customers. They help shape marketing strategies and tactics. They allow you to generate content in a tone and style that addresses your target customer’s needs, thoughts, opinions, expectations, and more.
Start with one persona and test content and tactic strategies. Over time, continue to evaluate and adjust personas to improve messaging and content.
Step Two: Identify Goals, Communication Channels, & Touchpoints
There are several ways a customer interacts and experiences a brand. It could be an email, Facebook, In-store, on the phone, a website, and more.
One persona might favor connecting through Facebook, while another persona prefers online text help.
How does your organization support the customer through the various stages of awareness, comparison, and decision-making based on how they prefer to interact?
Are your channels of communication working? Do the messages and offers relate? Are your employees delivering excellent customer service?
Identify gaps between your customer’s expectations or perceptions.
Step 3: Content Development
As you begin to map content, offers, etc. to your purchase process, prioritize content which will answer the customer’s key questions quickly.
Marketing is always changing. And so is how customers make their purchasing decisions.
As customers move to online platforms, make sure you have valuable content to support their online research.
Mapping the customer’s journey and addressing their questions helps you maintain a customer-centric perspective and identify growth opportunities in your content strategy.
But how do you know if the content is working? By measuring your content’s value.
Step 4: Measure Marketing Tactics
A measurement plan for each tactic tracks effectiveness and helps identify needed adjustments.
You can use an Economic Value Measurement Model, and assign values to specific parts of your website, including email signups and contact forms. Or try Google Analytics to measure the traffic of website pages.
Data helps you make smarter decisions about your marketing plan and content strategies.
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