When it comes to content, companies can reach customers when they're searching for information, comparing products or making purchase decisions. This wireframe model describes what kind of content a company needs to produce and how that content can reach new audiences throughout every step of the customer journey.
1. Basic information First things first. The company needs to crystallize and clarify the reason for its existence. What does the company actually do, and what are the benefits for customers?
Company strengths should be described in a way that stands out from the competition.
Remember: Basic information needs simple language. Stay away from jargon, made up words and marketing fluff. The public, as well as search engines need to clearly understand what the company offers.
2. Let your customers tell the story Sometimes it's good to talk about how great your own company is. Go for it. You should be proud of your expertise. However, a customer's statement will always be more credible than the company's own words.
That's why customer cases and testimonials are valuable. Sharing their thoughts on the benefits of your product or service in a problem/solution model is a recommended way to package engaging customer stories.
Customer stories are especially useful at the stage in the customer journey where they're comparing products, services or other options. With these third party recommendations, customers are much more likely to be convinced about a company's expertise and its ability to deliver.
It's often forgotten that producing case stories is good PR for the clients who are delivering those customer stories, and reinforces relationships with other existing clients. Some might say otherwise, but being in the spotlight can be a pleasant experience.
3. Useful advice Whether it's done on a large or small scale, continuous learning is something that modern working life requires from all of us. That's why there's a continuous demand for useful and practical information through tips and advice. This is the basic premise of content marketing and through great content, it can be used to guide the customer towards the company.
At its best, content can be considered a service that establishes a relationship with potential customers. It's worthwhile to remember that useful content also serves existing customers too. Ultimately, good content builds the company's professional profile: good advice and expertise add credibility and trustworthiness.
4. Make your content insightful In the case that you're reaching for the position of thought leader, your aims should be even higher: the company needs to be the vanguard of its industry. This ambitious objective requires long-term commitment and wider discussions that cover more than the company's own excellence.
With insightful content, the company should explain how the world works and in which direction it's heading in. After all, it's easier to buy products and services from a trustworthy expert. In the end, customers will understand that your company knows what it's doing, and will consider it risk-free to carry on in the customer journey.
Insightful content also engages existing clients. They also want to keep up-to-date about what's happening in the world and will more likely look to you as the provider of relevant, timely content.
5. Generate news A well-produced company news flow is a sign that the business is open and active. If there's no news on your website, customers will assume that nothing is happening in the company. And that's not a good thing. Passive social media accounts have the same effect. Would you buy from a company that remains the same?
A company's business generates news continuously, whether it's through product launches, events, big deals, acquisitions, new contracts or awards. These are all factors that can be turned into news, increasing the visibility and awareness of a company's actions.
6. Make sure there's a call to action A call to action, commonly known as a CTA, isn't a specific form of content. CTAs deliver the goods within the content, predominantly in advertisements or websites. But they're such a vital contact point in the customer journey that they deserve much more attention than they usually get.
When the customer arrives on a web page, CTAs guide them to make certain desired actions. It could be subscribing to a newsletter, inputting information, contacting customer services or ultimately, buying a product. Active prompts - 'subscribe', 'download', 'add to cart' are the final push towards an effective action.
How content works along the customer journey Some of those reading this may have noticed that I have Avinash Kaushik's 'See-Think-Do-Care' model in the back of my mind. It's one way to represent the traditional sales funnel in an innovative, new way that's relevant to today's various stages of the customer life cycle. Kaushik's thinking differentiates from classic models in the sense that it emphasizes the customer's point of view.
See-Think-Do-Care helps us understand the different stages of the customer journey and what kind of requirements are needed in each stage of the process:
•See: This is the largest audience that's possible to reach. In other words, all potential customers - those who have the need and the money. •Think: This group is considering making the purchase. They are aware of the need and have expressed the willingness to buy. •Do: This is the group that intends to buy. •Care: This is the group who have bought the product. These are the existing customers.
With a content strategy, you can ensure that content covers every stage of the customer journey and all the relevant contact points. Producing a content strategy is a long story, and I'll return to that in a later post. But the table below outlines how a content audit can help identify potential gaps in the customer journey.
This is how different types of content serve the different stages of the customer journey.
This wireframe model is just one of many different approaches companies can take to produce their content and classify how they communicate with the world.
This is the overall goal of content and its theory: to simplify and classify how we see and understand the world. At the same time as this method helps us take on huge amounts of information quickly, it also constrains the true diversity of the world out there. This is why you need to think about your approach carefully, making sure you encompass your company culture into the final model.
That may seem a little overwhelming, but using this simple six step approach will help get you started on a new road to reaching new audiences throughout the customer journey.