Think back to the last thing you bought.
Did you know there is an 8-step customer journey that we go through with every single purchase we make?
This is how we go from no knowledge about a product or service, to a purchase and beyond. Throughout this buying journey, there are several stages involved and at each, we look for specific information before we can progress to the next stage.
This is where a smart content marketing strategy comes in, providing value at every stage to transition our potential leads into advocates.
Let’s discuss each stage and the content your brand should be creating to drive people along their own customer journey.
Prefer to listen, rather than read? Here's the Podcast summary!
The 8 stages of your customers’ journey
With every purchase comes a customer journey that is made up of steps.
Every step involves a different set of behaviours, and if you want to help your audience progress, it’s important to meet their specific needs throughout the whole customer journey.
The different speeds of each journey
While there are always 8 steps in the customer buying process, people progress through these at their own pace. For example, a chocolate bar or soda will be a much faster yet long-lasting journey than a once-off purchase of a home.
Think about it – you don’t take too long to decide if you want a Coca Cola, but you remember the brand for years due to their marketing. Yet, you’ll take long meticulous care to buy property but then quickly forget the real estate agency soon after.
Here’s a quick marketing guide to optimising your customer’s content journey.
Customer Journey Step One: Stranger
As the name implies, here is where people within your target segment are oblivious to your brand, product or service.
However, during the stranger phase, they are aware of their own pain point – they just don’t know you’re a solution yet. For example, they know they have children who need a day-care centre, or their mobile phone is broken and need a new one.
Here, you need to get their attention with general awareness content (also known as hygiene content). This involves producing SEO content, adverts and initial social media posts that talk about their pain points. This way, when they’re aware of their challenge and they begin searching for more general information, they’ll stumble across you.
Remember - you don’t want to push the tough sell here. It’s a gentle start because they’re not close to a purchase yet. Anything too pushy will push them away.
Customer Journey Step Two: Awareness
Right! Now they’re aware of your brand name, business and product.
But this is just general brand awareness – they haven’t connected you with their pain point yet. This is a fairly temporary step as people are naturally curious and have lots of access to more information. So, to drive them to the next stage, you need to start educating them.
You can educate them with interesting web content, articles, lead magnets and blogs which all build on their general awareness and help them connect their pain points with your solution.
For example: they’re aware of your photography studio but haven’t given much thought of actually having photos taken with you.
Customer Journey Step Three: Interest
If your content led the conversation and was effective in the previous stage, you’ve now piqued their interest.
This means they’ve connected your brand and business as a potential solution to their challenge- you’re on their radar. They’re now looking for more information as to why you’re actually a good solution.
Here, it’s time to reassure them by shifting towards producing brand relevance content that aligns their personal values and preferences with yours. They need evidence to progress forward and build trust.
Here is where you need to produce hub content that increases their learning and builds their expectations. This can involve EDM (email) campaigns that take them through educational funnels, as well as testimonials and case studies of previous successes.
For example, they’re aware they need a laptop computer for portability, and they know your brand makes laptops that they’re interested in knowing more about to assess their needs.
Customer Journey Step Four: Trust
This is a big step! If you’ve gained their trust with quality content, your brand is one of the top choices in their customer buying journey and they’re keen to proceed.
Earning a person’s trust means that they’ve been reassured and now they’re seeing your brand as someone they want to be associated with. Here, you can reinforce that trust through valuable content, such as Podcasts, Video, subscription content, articles and absorbing content.
For example: at this stage, they’re feeling like they can have confidence in your legal or accounting services and are feeling comfortable that you’re a strong choice.
Customer Journey Step Five: Consideration
At this step, people are at their final decision before conversion.
Here, they’re weighing up their options, both personally and against your competitors. By this stage, your content should “turn up the heat” – it doesn’t have to be general anymore. Your content needs to sell here.
You need to shift to more bottom of the funnel content, focused on powerful solution messaging aimed to help them feel comfortable about making an actual decision.
Landing pages, Google Adverts and Marketing collateral are all useful here, with prominent calls to action to drive them to reach out and make contact with you, with an intention to buy.
Customer Journey Step Six: Purchase
Congratulations! You converted a lead and made the sale.
This means all of your content across the previous steps were all working in harmony to take people from complete strangers to paying customers. Well done!
But your content journey is far from over. You need to reassure them and continue to offer ongoing value through so that they’re never feeling buyer’s remorse about their buying decision. This can include thank you messages, SMS content, How-To guides, instruction manuals, supportive collateral and more.
For example, at the purchase stage, they’ve booked in your consulting service and it’s time to send them messages that make their sale convenient, streamlined and enjoyable. Ensure a great impression now, so you’re setting up a good experience next.
Customer Journey Step Seven: Experience
Unfortunately, so many brands stop at the previous step and then wonder why they’re spending so many resources, time and effort trying to continually find new strangers to convert.
A smarter move is to continue to nurture your converted customers.
At this stage, sign them up to exclusive newsletters which continues to offer ongoing value. For example, a newsletter that updates them about exclusive offers, new upgrades for your software or loyalty discounts on their next purchase. Keep showing them love.
Customer Journey Step Eight: Advocacy
The final step in the customer journey is turning their experience into a loyal fan who shouts from the rooves about your brand! This is the ultimate goal of Marketing and is its most powerful form.
So, use your content to give them a platform!
Allow them to create user-generated content (UGC) and post reviews, while continuing to use value-adding content to nurture them so they never feel forgotten. When people absolutely love your brand, they will want to be included – so include them.
You can even interview them for case study content.
Again, there are different speeds of the buyer journey
Remember, sometimes these stages can happen so fast that a few merge. For example, one powerful landing page can take people from a stranger to a customer in one view, especially if it’s something small like a mobile phone case, a book or minor home gym equipment.
In these examples, all stages were completed because one piece of content fulfilled a few in one go. That’s great! But not every product, industry or individual is alike.
Sometimes the process takes a lot longer. But your brand still needs to cover all of the 8 stages.
The customer journey can reset, too!
Depending on the person, the type of need and your brand’s actions, your customers can fall back a few steps.
For example, they may get to the awareness stage and then lose interest because they don’t hear from you in a while. This could drop them back into the stranger phase.
Yes! While brands don’t think this can happen, it does all of the time!
For example, real estate agents will convert a lead into a client, and they’ll sell their house. Seven years later, their previous client goes to sell and because they haven’t heard anything from that agent for years, so they don’t even think of contacting them again. There’s a lost sale!
How does your content work in the customer journey?
The point of this story is- you need to be producing content that is aligned with every step of the customer journey. If you have content ready at every stage of the customer journey, then it can create a continual conveyor belt, guiding people from strangers to loyal brand advocates.
The ultimate content goal for a business is to have a fully robust customer content journey; one that is continually updated, relevant, appealing and provides a great customer experience.
How Can Melotti Media Help You?
To engage your customer and achieve ongoing business success today, you need a powerful message, quality copywriting and consistent content. However, this is easier said than done.
Perhaps you’re time poor and spread thin, or writing may not be your expertise.
So, let us take care of your message marketing, copywriting and content marketing needs!
For more information or to speak to a quality marketing copywriter to get the results your business deserves, contact me now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Message Marketing services can sharpen your words into achieve your goals, today.
Melotti Media | Copywriting & Message Marketing Bureau