Content to support the customer journey

The customer journey can be a bumpy ride at times. From the moment someone comes into contact with your brand until the end of the shopping experience, they will go through different stages and moods. The journey has transformed from a linear path to a continuous loop of touchpoints. This makes it essential to develop content that caters to each stage of the journey to maximise marketing opportunities for brands.

The customer journey itself is a powerful concept that maps the progression of a prospective customer from awareness to purchase. There are a number of phases a prospect moves through as they make their way toward conversion, each with its own strategic implications for marketers. For this reason, it's important to map content to those phases as well as specific touch points within those phases.

To simplify this, many marketers have broken the journey down into four or five stages: awareness, consideration, purchase, and loyalty. These are all important steps in the journey, but there are actually seven distinct stages to keep in mind as you're planning your next campaign —Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, and Refer. Within this blog, we'll take a look at each of these stages and how these can be applied to your content marketing strategy.

Stage One – Know

The ‘know’ stage is the phase where people first become aware of your brand. It’s a time when a name enters a potential customer’s consciousness, and you want them to remember yours. In this stage, your best weapon is an informative piece of content. Smoothly written, persuasive content grabs reader attention and helps you get your foot in the door before you even ask for it.

By publishing thought pieces, opinion pieces, and industry news pieces, you open yourself up to new audiences, set yourself apart from competitors, and position yourself as an authority worth following.

Stage Two – Like

At this point in the buyer's journey, consumers need to be convinced that your product is worth investing time and money in. Focus on educating them on how your product will make their lives better — simply and visually — and they'll provide you with permission to reach out and continue the conversation.

Now it's time to make them fall in love with your brand. There are plenty of strategies for doing this, but one of the most valuable is valuable content. Update your blog with helpful posts, create social media posts with pertinent, interesting information, and run contests that giveaway your products. Make sure that there are strong calls-to-action on your website's landing pages.

Stage Three – Trust

Building customer trust is an essential part of growing a business — and it's essential to the customer journey. The more you can do to build trust, the more likely consumers will be to buy from you and recommend your business to others.

Content that builds customer trust goes beyond basic product information. It includes blogs, videos, infographics, ebooks, white papers, case studies, and more. The content serves as a vehicle for your business to establish its expertise in the market or become an industry thought leader.

Stage Four – Try

If you’ve done your marketing right, your existing customers will be talking about how much they love your product. In other words, you’re building up a referral engine to bring in new clientele. This is the perfect time to introduce a free trial of your product or service. You can do this by applying a time limit to a free trial or creating a free trial that comes with only a few limitations to get people familiar with your value.

This is where you let loose, put on your creative thinking hat and think of ways to make your product or service stand out. These are the elements that will make up the core of your marketing copy. If you're writing content for this stage, you should focus on how your product or service excels over competition. It's important to note that the goal of this phase is to craft content that speaks directly to target customers' emotions and rationales. As a result, the information presented should be valuable for all readers, not just those who are familiar with your product or service.

At the try stage of the customer journey, businesses can encourage trial by offering content that helps customers find value in the potential solution. Content can be offered both online and offline depending on your audience. For most marketing channels, it's important to remember that quality leads to quality leads. Try providing ebooks, webinars, or video demos that allow customers to explore your solution with ease.

Stage Five – Buy

This is the goal all businesses strive to reach, but it should be viewed as the beginning of a sustained commitment to delivering a remarkable customer experience. Successful businesses never stop engaging with their prospects, and providing useful content in a variety of formats is one of the most effective ways to do that. To continue increasing sales, your site needs to continue delivering value to your visitors.

There are a number of different types of content that brands can use to engage customers at the buy stage. In addition to providing clear instructions and information about your product, you can create content that reflects the interests and needs of your target audience. For example, if you're looking to expand into new geographic areas or begin selling additional products, you may want to create a buyer's guide for prospective customers.

Stage Six – Repeat

To keep customers coming back time and time again, you need to stay top of mind. And a great way to do this is to provide them with high-level content. By offering your customers content that they’re specifically looking for — like key takeaways and insights — you can help them feel like they’re part of a community, and you can reinforce the trust that they place in your business.

In the repeat phase, the key is to stick with your customers. In addition to reviewing results and discussing goals, it's also important to continue forging a relationship with them. Touchpoints like results reviews, upsells, and cross-sells ensure that customers stay engaged with your brand and continue to receive value from you.

Content in this stage should mimic the content you created during the like stage. While the like phase was about the product, you can now focus on how your customers can make your product or service fit their lifestyle. This is also a good time to cross-promote other products and services.

Stage Seven – Refer

It's a simple fact that happy customers refer their friends and family to businesses they love. This is the whole point of the customer journey — but to turn happy clients into referral clients, brands must build processes and campaigns that make it easy for existing brand champions to refer their business.

Content for this referral stage needs to be targeted towards your existing customers, featuring their stories and products. This is the perfect time to implement co-branded books, DVDs, or gift cards, all of which can be designed specifically to support the launch of your product. Gain even more attention during this period by producing a series of sneak peeks or tutorials that show off your product's capabilities.

Building those stepping stones

Content marketing isn't easy and can be time consuming — but it's the key to your business's long-term success. Every piece of content should be looked upon as a stepping stone towards customer acquisition or retention.

Content is the catalyst that drives all customer interactions in the digital age, and it's the most powerful tool in your sales funnel. But creating effective content isn't easy — it requires a strategic plan, an understanding of your customers' journey, and a clear set of goals. Put together, these elements will give you the tools to build a solid content strategy that will benefit your business for years to come.