From the time a customer first becomes aware of their need for a product or service to deciding to buy a product from you, they go on a journey.
Some customer journeys are very short – they search for something they want to buy, find your website, and buy your product. Other journeys may be very long and complex, involving many brand-customer interactions while the customer is learning and building trust in your brand before making a buying decision.
When you sketch out all the potential paths a customer can take from brand discovery to purchase, you’ve created a customer journey map. This map can help you to make better decisions about when and how to market to each customer at every stage of their journey.
Keeping your customer journey map in mind when you’re planning out your content marketing can help you to capture customers faster and prevent them from falling off the map entirely without ever making a purchase.
How a Customer Journey Map Helps You Create Better Customer Experiences
Today’s consumers have more choices than ever before when it comes to what products they buy and which brands they choose to buy from.
Customers in 2020 are also fully capable of doing their own buyer research, as they typically have all the information they could ever need available to them.
Traditional marketing practices are no longer as effective because your audience is no longer passive. They’re taking charge of their own buying decisions, rather than waiting to be swayed by a marketing campaign or sales person.
This has made the customer journey map more complicated. And it also means that brands can no longer rely solely on good products or competitive prices to make sales.
In 2013, consulting firm Walker predicted that 2020 would be the year of the customer, and that customer experience would be a more significant differentiator than products or price. It certainly seems that their prediction is becoming a reality.
According to Gartner, 64 percent of people say that customer experience is more important than price. And, after one negative experience, 51 percent of customers will never do more business with that company again.
So how can you provide better customer experiences?
The first step is to understand the journey they’re on. Once you understand your customers’ needs and challenges at each step of their journey, you can decide on the best ways to reach them and optimize your communications to provide a better experience.
How to Create a Customer Journey Map
There’s no one single way to create a customer journey map. Because most customer journeys are no longer linear, and may involve many steps, channels, and directions, it can be challenging to capture all the information in a usable way.
1. Defining and Selecting Customer Personas
The first step is to nail down your customer personas, or at a minimum your audience segments, and choose which ones to focus on. Different personas will take different journeys, and you need to make sure your map is accurate for the personas you are targeting.
2. Listing Touchpoints
The next stage is to list all the touch points at which a customer or potential customer may have an interaction with your brand. These may include:
- Finding your website via search
- Noticing a paid ad
- Reading posts on your blog
- Seeing your posts on social media
- Seeing your content linked from another social media account
- Receiving an email from you
- Watching a video on your YouTube channel
- Seeing mentions of your brand on review sites
All these touch points are potential places where you may already be using content marketing to reach your customers, and they could potentially improve the customer experience.
3. Listing Actions
As well as listing the customer touch points with your brand, it’s also important to list out the actions they must take to interact with your brand. This might include:
- Searching for products they’re looking for
- Signing up to your mailing list
- Submitting an inquiry form
- Clicking to read an email from you
This step is important because if you can reduce the number of actions a customer must take, you can improve their experience.
4. Identifying Pain Points and Frustrations
Finally, see if you can find any potential sticking points that may be preventing customers from continuing their interaction with you or creating a poor user experience. This may include:
- Not finding the product they wanted on your site
- Too many form fields within an inquiry form
- Having to fill out multiple forms with contact information that you likely already have
- Searching for your email address or phone number to contact you
- Having to talk to a person to get basic pricing information
- Discovering your shipping rates are high, so they abandon the transaction
Mapping Your Content to the Customer Journey
Once you’ve identified the customer journey and the areas where it can be improved, you can figure out what content you need to create or improve in order to provide a better customer experience.
Start with the customer pain points and frustrations, as these are the points at which you’re at risk of losing your customers.
For example, if your content is ranking for a particular search query but it’s not really answering that query, you can adjust it so it more fully answers the searcher’s query.
If they’re looking for information about your brand by Googling because they haven’t found it on your site, you can create a more detailed about page including reviews from other customers.
Once you’ve addressed the pain points, you can go back to the main customer journey and figure out what content you can create at each stage to help the customer achieve their goals.
The Awareness Stage
At the start of the buyer journey, the customer may not be aware of your brand or even what kind of product they want to buy. All they know is they have a problem, a need, or a desire. By providing educational content that is developed specifically to address those things, you both inform the customer to help them get started on their journey and make them aware of your brand.
For example, a user may search for “how to take better pictures in low light.” If you own a business selling camera equipment, you could write a blog post explaining all the ways to take better photographs in low light and the equipment that would be helpful for this scenario. The buyer might not be ready to buy at this stage, but they’d be more informed about the type of product they need. And, this might be their first introduction to your brand. If this was a positive experience (you taught them something), your chances of them ultimately buying from you have grown exponentially.
The Consideration Stage
Later, the user might search for “best lens for low light,” narrowing down their search to a specific type of product. You could, again, produce a high-quality piece of content addressing this query, which further educates the buyer, reinforces your brand authority, and directs them towards appropriate products.
The Decision Stage
Depending on the nature of the purchase, most customers will continue their research and have many further interactions with your business before clicking the buy button. Some people may spend years in the consideration stage before they fully commit.
This is where content can come in clutch. Most customers in the decision stage have narrowed their consideration set down to a very short list of two or three options. The products or services themselves may be very similar in their features and benefits, thus other decision-making factors come into play. Said another way, customer in this stage are often looking for validation of why to choose one option over another. Key types of content in this stage may include:
- Customer reviews
- Case studies/success stories
- Third-party market reports
- Influencer recommendations
The point is that you strategically create and optimize content to help the buyer meet their goals at each stage of their journey, providing an excellent customer experience and laying the groundwork for many future potential transactions.
Organize Your Content for Every Stage
To create the best customer experience possible, you need to leverage your customer journey map to get organized and plan your content campaigns across multiple channels. Early stage content will likely fall within public, digital channels like search and social. Mid-stage content may fall more within the email channel.
Bottomline, you need a platform that can help you be strategic in planning, producing and publishing content for the entire journey. DivvyHQ is a full content process management platform for teams designed to streamline processes, help you to create better content, and build customer engagement.
To find out more about how we can help with your content marketing strategy and processes, request a demo today!