26 May A GPS for marketing: Why customer journeys are key to content that converts
Content marketing. It’s the non-negotiable component driving any hardy inbound sales system.
But without a strategy, knowing what to produce – and where, when and how to share it – can be overwhelming.
So if creating content is running you ragged, lean in. And let us show you how mapping the customer journey can help you craft content that’s relevant, interesting and persuasive.
The yellow brick road to conversion
Recently, I detected a whiff of mould in my car.
I’m talking about the perfume of a major fungal infestation that, if left unchecked, would outlast democracy, religion, and Kanye West’s ability to hold a grudge.
The answer to my mould problem turned out to be a new Ryco cabin air filter – fitted at home in under 20 minutes.
I learned this through a series of well-placed content pieces that helped me diagnose my problem, before leading me to a purchase. Blogs, videos and ads.
My process – from being aware of my problem to making a purchase to becoming a raving fan of Ryco air filters – has a name: the customer journey.
And by knowing the journey your customers go through – and the questions they’re asking at each phase – you too can plan and create content that’s helpful and effective at turning prospects into customers.
What is the customer journey?
The customer journey is a series of stages we go through to make a purchase – and decide if we’re going to continue supporting a brand post-purchase or not.
There are five stages of the customer journey:
1. Awareness: When we become aware of our problem or ‘pain point.’
2. Consideration: When we investigate different solutions to our problem, narrowing down our choices.
3. Decision: When we select our preferred solution and purchase it.
4. Retention: When we decide whether to stick with the brand we’ve purchased by resubscribing or repurchasing.
5. Advocacy: When we promote the product or service to friends, family and random strangers on the internet.
Not everyone passes through every stage of the customer journey.
Personally, I’ve spent a lot of time considering if my life would be better improved by a fighting fish instead of a turtle – but I’ve never bought either.
And while I love how bagel seasoning brings the zing to every morsel, I’ve never felt the urge to dedicate my Instagram feed to the product. (Though a carefully crafted post-purchase prompt might just push me there.)
But one thing is certain about the customer journey: our questions, feelings and sources of information change as we move through it.
So as content creators, our goal is to craft content that addresses those changing needs and encourages prospects towards decision, retention and advocacy.
To do that, you need to get to grips with the customer journey for your business.
How? With a customer journey map.
Customer journey maps (AKA: guides to clever content that converts)
A customer journey map is a visual resource. It depicts, at each stage of the journey, what a customer is asking, feeling, needing and doing.
Let’s look back to the example of me and my fungus-filled air vents. During the awareness phase – when I knew my pain point, but not the solution – I was:
- Asking: Why does my car smell like mould?
- Feeling: Panicked about my health – and the potential impact on my bank account.
- Needing: A list of potential causes for the mould smell.
- Accessing: Answers to my questions on Google.
The very first blog I found answered my question, reassuring me that I wouldn’t need to set my car on fire and buy a new one. It showed me potential solutions – and pushed me neatly into the consideration phase.
Mapping what your customers are asking, feeling, needing and doing takes time. But do it properly – and choosing your content topics and forms becomes a cinch.
So to get started:
1. Talk to your sales team. Don’t ignore the people who interact with prospects every day. If anyone knows the questions being asked before, during and after purchase, it’s your sales stars! So include them in your customer journey mapping process.
2. Invest in keyword research. Sure, this is a little more advanced. But with greater effort comes greater reward, grasshopper. There are many free, online tools with handy tutorials that can help you get started. Or find an SEO expert to speed up the process.
Now that you’ve mapped the customer journey, you’re ready for the fun bit – choosing your content topics and forms!
Creating content with your customer journey map
You know what questions your potential customers are asking during the customer journey. You understand how they’re accessing answers. And you’ve started to identify what might convince them to move through to the next phase.
Congratulations – you’re ready to plan your content!
The topics for your content are easy to identify. They’ll be topics that answer your customers’ questions. And reassure or acknowledge their feelings at each phase of the journey.
But you also need to identify the content form.
Let’s say you sell lighting, and your main customers are women aged in their late 30s, living in metro Melbourne. Some relevant content topics and forms for this group might be:
- Awareness: An article interviewing an interior designer on how lighting can improve your home’s aesthetic.
- Consideration: An Instagram carousel of the top 10 table lamps for minimalist homes.
- Decision: A digital or printed catalogue of styles showing prices, colours and product codes.
Choosing content topics and forms is the fun part. It’s when you can let your imagination run wild as you pair topics with formats in creative and interesting ways. Let your inner Don Draper take over.
To help you get started, we’ve created a free Customer Journey Content Menu – which you can download from the RM Content Lab!
A final word
Bookkeeping. Inventory. Product pricing. You wouldn’t run any of these processes without a strategy. And content creation – as a core component of inbound marketing – is no different.
So before you spitball any more blog articles or LinkedIn posts, take a moment to put your strategy slacks on. Get deep into the mind of your customers. And craft a customer journey that informs, entertains and converts.
Want an expert pair of eyes – and minds – to help you map your customer journey? Reach out to the strategy sages at RM.