Tanoy Chowdhury

Map Customer Journeys with Content Marketing

Let your content be the guiding light on the pathway of your customer journey
A customer journey is a series of steps taken by a user to reach your website and take action. An action on a website can be a purchase, signing up for your weekly newsletter, or even downloading an ebook. 
So, as an example, for a business selling herbal products online, any purchase will be termed as an action. For a digital marketing company, looking to increase the membership of their monthly newsletter; any new subscription will be considered as an action.
As a business owner, if you know the customer journey, then it’s easy for you to understand what are the needs of the user at the different steps of the journey.
Once you know the need, it becomes easy to plan and publish the right content — the one that appeals to the reader and connects with their needs. This kind of content targeting and hand-holding strategy helps in improving the conversion in the long-term.

Let’s try to understand this with an example. 

Imagine you’re an interior designer and you have a business website. As a business owner, one of the best ways by which you can attract the attention of the target market is by producing content in various forms targeting different needs. 
The needs of the users will be varied. Here are a few examples of the search queries — 
What are the basics of interior designing?Which colour will be the right fit for my bedroom?How to choose the right interior designer for your home?
Do you think a single type of content will answer all the questions of the above online users? No.
For the first category, a video mentioning the seven essential steps to choose the right colour will work. Whereas for the second, an ebook on the basics will do the trick and for the third, a simple infographic mentioning the parameters on which an interior designer should be evaluated will meet the requirement.
By identifying and categorizing the customers based on their needs, you can produce a series of content and keep the different sections of the target market happy and engaged. Once your reader or viewer get hooked to your content, you can expect a good increase in website traffic.
Now, that we’re through the basics of understanding the customer needs and how content can help to target them, let’s dive deep in to the buying journey. Depending on the industry you’re part of, the buying process of a user or a customer will differ. But, broadly there are three steps in a buying process. 
Let's try to understand what are they and what type of a content will attract the most attention for a particular stage.

Attention and Awareness

(Photo by Tra Nguyen on Unsplash)
Here the attention span and the curiosity of the user is the highest. In this phase, the user will be open to reading a lot of content and try to learn as much as they can. 
To understand the behaviour of the reader at this stage, let’s try this with the help of another example. 
Assume that you’re in a new city with your friends. You’ll are hungry and looking for a nice cozy restaurant which serves great food. Since you’re unaware of the locality you will be mostly dependant on the various advertisement and billboards that you’ll come across on your way. To learn about the cafes and restaurants that are in your vicinity, you’ll be paying close attention to them to get as much information as you can. 
Even if you’re using an app like Yelp, you’ll be eager to click on more links because you want to read through them and then compare them to find out what suits the best to you and your friends. 
When a user is out there with an intention to learn more about their requirement, they’re more willing to read and interact with content online. This is a good moment to build on the attention and produce good long-form content to educate and enlighten the target audience.
If you write an excellent piece of content with good take-aways, then the reader will surely appreciate that and it will also create an impressive branding in the mind of the reader.
What kind of content will work largely depends on the type of your product and the audience. But, usually these types of content work really well:
1. E-book
2. Series of conceptual videos
3. Blogs
4.Articles with detailed explanations

Comparison and Consideration

(Photo by Dietmar Becker on Unsplash)
This is the subsequent stage of the customer journey. Here, the customer is already aware of your product. But, they’re most likely also exploring other options.
If we continue the above example of restaurant hunting, then it will not take much time for you to realize what will be your next set of actions after you’ve shortlisted a couple of the restaurants. You’ll check the menu, reviews, photos, ratings and compare them so that you hang out at the best place with your friends. 
An online user will also exhibit a similar behavior. At this stage, the user has already got exposure on the subject. They’re ready to put down their buck on the solution, but they’re still contemplating which product or service will bring maximum value for their money and match their requirements.
You can feel the user getting more concentrated or tapering the choices that are available to them. The attention will be more shifted in what the product can do or what the service can offer. The content presented to a target customer at this stage holds a big value, almost a break or make a deal.
Now, that the customer is more curious about learning your product, an e-book or an instructional guide won’t be very helpful here. A landing page with the apt description of the content, not too long or short, might work.
The other ideas that you can think of at this stage are as follows:
1. Product-specific webinars
2.Comparison pages
3. Infographics highlighting the business performance 
4. Customer testimonial videos

Decision

(Photo by Thomas Drouault on Unsplash)
At this stage the customer has almost made up their mind. They’ve a good overview and they know what you have to offer. But, till this point the customer was mostly interacting with your different types of content. 
Here, the veil will be lifted and they will reach out to you for a more personal experience. So the content that needs to be mapped at this stage has to be more personal and direct. 
In-person demos and webinars will help you keep the concentration centred and deliver something that is uniquely designed for them. One of the most crucial thing that has to be remembered here is that the quality of your content has to be kept at the highest level. 
This doesn’t means that you compromise with the quality at any of the above stages, but here you’re just a final step away from converting a prospect. Also, while the prospect is interacting with you, they’ve might already have a couple of competitors in their mind. If you fail to impress them at this stage, then they might fall back on the other options. 
Having a few prototypes ready as a webinar script or sample demo videos can save a lot of your time and help you deliver better results. 
Other types of content that can help you sustain the attention of the customers at this stage:
1. Product Battle Cards
2. E-mail templates
3.Partner list ( if you’ve a wide range of partner network)

And…that’s a wrap

Content strategy can seem to be a daunting task at first. But, it becomes easy and a lot clearer when you try to step into the shoes of your customer and try to look at things from their perspective. Once you understand what your target audience is looking for and what are the problems that they’re looking to solve; your content strategy will start gathering steam and take-off in a better direction.
(Featured Image by Melissa from Pexels)

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