In the previous article, “Every journey starts with a single content step”, we explored the need to define your customer’s buying journey from their perspective and then use this to create truly customer-centric content. This approach creates an end-to-end content journey, as content is the tool being used to facilitate your customer’s journeys. But what does this mean in practice when trying to understand how content fits into customer journeys?

Understanding what content means

First of all, we need to clarify what is meant by content. To date content has been used as this new umbrella term that represents predominantly digital based communications such as blogs, infographics, eBooks and video, which was largely adopted when brands embraced the need to engage audiences on social media. However, content is much broader than just what can be shared via social media. As well as the above, content encompasses adverts, emails, website content, pricing estimates, customer bills and call centre scripts. Anything that involves an engagement between a business and a customer is content.

Challenging the traditional content journey

Now this is established, we need to look at the idea of how content is understood and managed within many organisations. Because of the limiting view of content mentioned above, many organisations see it as only an above-the-line digital or social media discipline, with it only serving as a tool to help with SEO and drive traffic to a website. Within this understanding of content, you often hear content being described as TOFU, MOFU and BOFU (Top, Middle & Bottom of Funnel) content, where the content has been mapped to a rudimentary customer journey in the form of the marketer’s friend the marketing funnel. However, there are three main problems with this approach.

The first is that it does not actually map content to a customer’s journey, but is more a lead generation journey. This is because the content journey stops once the customer reaches a product or service page of a website where it is then over to the UX (User Experience) team to convert the customer through to sale. From a customer’s perspective, this results in a disjointed journey as they will have been engaging with a series of content on a certain theme and then land on a totally generic product/service page that is often unrelated to the journey they took them there. The result is that many of your customers decide to leave as what they are seeing is no longer relevant to them.

The second key problem is that very rarely is a truly customer-centric view taken to the creation of content where the needs of the customer are taken into account in terms of what they need to hear in order to progress to purchase. The TOFU, MOFU, BOFU approach is more to help businesses manage their content and to segment it in an easy to understand way for creation. The result is that they have a great mechanism with which to produce content based on their sales cycle or product offering, but not for creating content that is reflective of what customers actually need to progress on their journey.

The third is that if someone does become a customer despite the previous two problems, the content that helped attract them to become a customer in the first place is then not followed through post purchase. It is as if their relationship with the company never existed prior to them becoming a customer, leaving them frustrated and misunderstood and very unlikely to continue their relationship with you. This is why a content journey is not just the premise of the marketing department, but should be part of every customer touch point whether it is pre or post sale.

Adopting a customer-centric view

Therefore, with the traditional ways of managing and creating content not being customer-centric nor reflective of actual customer journeys, how is this problem solved? The answer lies in clearly defining the customer’s buying journey towards a commercial goal and beyond. This is done by using a proven psychological model that maps the stages someone goes through in their purchasing decisions, giving businesses a whole new level of insight into the mindset of their customers that need to be addressed if they are ever to go through to purchase.

This form of customer journey mapping goes well beyond the more traditional marketing funnel methods of customer journeys in the past. Instead it maps the customer from their first initial engagement through a psychological threshold that will make them receptive to purchase and then onto post sale. It is a real end-to-end, customer-centric journey that tells businesses clearly what their customer needs are so they can then produce more contextually relevant content to address these needs.

Content as an integral part of your customer’s buying journey

This new form of customer journey mapping combined with a broad view of content becomes hugely powerful. Once the limiting belief of content being just a social media engagement tool is removed and is instead understood as being any form of customer engagement, coupled with the customer’s buying journey that is understood from their perspective and not the businesses, it opens up a much higher level of engagement and conversion. This is because businesses now have a much greater level of information of what the needs of potential customers are, what concerns they have, what they need to know, and what psychological barriers they may have in progressing to become a customer. This in turn facilitates the creation of content that seeks to answer all of these questions making it more relevant to them and in turn increasing the level of engagement and willingness to progress further on a journey with you.

In conclusion, it is time to embrace this new approach to customer journey mapping and understand the role content plays in facilitating each journey. Only when this is done will you start to see higher levels of engagement and conversion as you will continuously be providing much more contextually relevant engagements that will guide your customers on their terms and not yours. It will also dramatically improve your content investment as you will only be creating content that is relevant and mapped as part of defined end-to-end customer journeys. To find out how create an effective customer engagement map that will underpin your content journey read the ‘What is CJM’ article.