We know that the world of business is challenging. Companies must invest endlessly to acquire customers and convince them their brand is the best choice on the market.
Fortunately, there are many known effective strategies to attract your prospects. It's all about the customer journey. This describes the path your potential customers go through from start to finish.
Marketers and writers must know each stage of the process and tailor their material accordingly. Here, let's discuss the content involved for every stage of the customer journey.
What is the customer journey?
The customer journey (also called the buyer's journey) is the sum of interactions that customers undergo before and after purchasing. It's a framework for business owners to fully understand their clients' needs and how best to respond to them.
It also means finding out about their experience and improving their buying process so they can remain loyal. Each stage of the customer journey can last from a few minutes (for instance, buying low-cost items like food) to several months (for example, purchasing a car).
Of course, business value repeat purchases more than one-off transactions. So, the customer journey continues as clients have new interactions and discover more about your business.
Life would be simple if all an enterprise did was offer a service or product, a customer bought it, and called it a day. But, buyers are more demanding and value their experience with a brand as much as the products or services they offer.
Why is creating content for the customer journey important?
You can produce so much content: think of blogs, videos, and podcasts, to name a few formats. But the key to connecting with prospects is to know which content will work best at a particular stage: delivering the right content at the right time.
For instance, at the awareness stage, it would only make sense to have case studies or testimonials if the buyer is aware of your business. In other words, you can't sell your product straight away when the buyer is still figuring out their problem.
First, create informational content that addresses their needs and how your business can help them. Afterward, you can link certain CTAs (call to action) to the next stage.
Customer journey analysis is about understanding your audience. Content marketers aim to offer material that potential buyers can relate to so they don't lose them.
What are the stages of the customer journey and what type of content do they involve?
Now let's examine the specific phases of the customer buyer journey..
This phase understandably lays the foundation because it's at the beginning. Here, potential clients realize they have a problem and look for answers to solve it. They need more time to think about which companies can fulfill the solution.
Most people do not include brand names in search queries. So, for now, it's about gathering insights, opinions, education, and resources: simple browsing. So, your content will revolve around words like "how", "what", "who", "why", "where", etc.
What content formats does the awareness stage include?
Prospective buyers have just discovered your business. However, they are not ready to make a purchase. Therefore, you have to think about content that would be purely informative and useful to help them make the right decision.
The best content formats here include:
- Blog posts or articles (decent long-form and shareable material)
- Videos (the most engaging content to have, which is suitable for all stages)
- Infographics (best for presenting statistical data)
- Whitepapers and e-books (best for going more in-depth on topics, where you can include infographics)
- Social media posts (nice for short-form content to link to other more detailed content)
- Checklists (another way to offer short-form content)
- Podcasts (useful for presenting general industry information and more about your company)
- Webinars (another way of presenting expertise in your field)
What is your role during the awareness stage of the buyer's journey?
Your role here is to present your business as the authority in its field. In many cases, your prospects may be oblivious that they need or want what you offer. So, the awareness stage is about them knowing your brand exists and why they should care.
This is why the content at this point is only for enlightenment. So, you should refrain from using any sales tactics. Instead, your audience should receive upfront value in the form of useful information without any commitment.
The consideration stage of the buyer's journey is where customers are committed to discovering all the available solutions for their problem. They are a bit more familiar with your company but will evaluate it against others.
So, there is tons of research here. This stage is the longest as prospects look at multiple options, going through a process of elimination. They are still being prepared to buy, looking for the best choice for their needs. So, you'll want to be on their shortlist of potential options.
Keywords to consider here are "solutions", "features", "best", "choices", "options", "comparison", "benefits", "steps", and so on.
What content formats work best in the consideration stage of the customer journey?
At the consideration stage, the content is still informational with subtle promotion. Its goal is to compare with the numerous available solutions on the market while offering greater details about your service or product.
The most frequently used content formats for the consideration stage are:
- Product comparisons or catalogs (here, you can put your brand as the best option among others)
- Case studies (another in-depth look at the advantages of your solution)
- Cost calculators (similarly, you can position yourself as the most cost-effective option compared)
- Downloadable content (e.g., e-books, whitepapers)
What should you do at the consideration stage?
The goal of a business is to position itself as the best option compared to its rivals. Your content should make your product or service as attractive and trustworthy as possible.
Now comes the part where buyers are ready to spend cash and have confidently decided on their solution strategy. All that's left is to find out what it takes to be a customer with a particular vendor from their shortlist.
If they choose your business, now's the right time to have content that covers all their concerns and questions before the sale. But, at the same time, it should also be direct and offer as many incentives as possible to close the sale (don't be shy).
So, key sales words to use here are "discount", "free trial", "buy", "order", "don't miss out", "risk-free", "exclusive", "no strings attached", "premium", etc.
What content formats does the decision stage include?
The material here offers proof that your service or product is legit and performs as advertised. So, the best content to achieve this goal includes:
- Case studies
- Free trials or versions
What is your goal at the decision stage?
Content at this stage aims to showcase why your business is simply the best. By this time, all doubts and concerns should be removed from your prospect's mind. In this way, they can trust your brand and will know the exact steps in becoming your customer.
Salespeople always talk about funnels, describing the many steps we go through before buying from a company. It might seem like a simple choice, but it's multi-layered.
We rarely make impulse buys. That's why understanding the customer journey and using tailored content for each stage is key. It helps with seeing the exact path buyers navigate before landing at your brand and doing business with it.
But, it goes beyond the three stages we've discussed. A business must work just as hard to retain its customers and make them loyal. Yet, if they are happy long enough, they will eventually become advocates for your business through word-of-mouth or referrals.