How to map your content for different stages of the Customer Journey

Let’s be honest our clients do not typically wake up one morning and decide ‘I am going to buy something today.’ Instead, they take a journey, which includes research and consideration before committing to part with money.

Unless someone has worked with you before, your typical buyer will likely take their time researching and gathering information on Google in order to form a decision. It’s only natural, right? And with the search tools all of us have at our disposal, today’s buyers are more informed and more empowered than ever before, so it’s critical you always understand your buyer persona and the journey they are likely to take to engage with your services and plan your content strategy accordingly.

Month after month a lot of what I share explores the importance of content marketing but in this blog and with the context above, I thought it might be useful to take a closer look at the typical customer journey and share some high level thoughts on how you should look to map the right content for each of the three common stages a customer will pass through.

Awareness Stage

This is your typical top of the funnel stage. Your target buyers are doing their first Google searches and are beginning to scope out information on a particular issue or topic. As much as we like to think everyone knows us, they don’t. More times than not your target buyers will be unfamiliar with your brand at this point, so thought leadership and showcasing your expertise and credibility is key.

There are numerous ways to generate awareness. Social media, PPC ads on Google and Linkedin and coverage in the media. But these are only successful if they are underpinned by the right content. Types of content that can work well at building awareness include white papers and reports, blogs, webinars, social media posts, videos, infographics, seminars and podcasts. Having an SEO strategy becomes important here as all of this content should adopt appropriate keywords, in some form. Whilst we always say don’t go overboard with keywords, using top keywords in your content will improve your Google search rankings and make your target buyers ‘aware’ of you when they’re searching.

There isn’t anything complex in this awareness stage but just remember it’s primarily about sharing your expertise.

There isn’t anything complex in this awareness stage but just remember it’s primarily about sharing your expertise.

One useful tip though, for any touch point you make, consider sending a warm friendly email with plenty of calls to action – but don’t make them salesy.

Consideration Stage

Once you’ve created awareness you’re moving that lead through to the consideration stage. You’ve ticked the box with your credibility and expertise. Your target buyer has become a ‘lead’.  Their research has provided them with information on their particular painpoint, and they now want to learn more about you and the services that you provide.

While it might still be tempting to push for the sale, it’s important to remember they are at the consideration stage so your content should be designed to address the interest the target buyer is showing.

While it might still be tempting to push for the sale, it’s important to remember they are at the consideration stage so your content should be designed to address the interest the target buyer is showing.

This is where you can introduce your product or service collateral together with case studies. Try and be engaging through. Video case studies are great. Personalise the sales collateral. Short demonstration videos can be extremely effective. You don’t need to reveal your full hand here, but enough to move them to the next stage, while eliminating as many competitors as you can. While you should never publicly criticise your competition – it’s not professional – there are tactics you can use. If you know the competitors you’re likely up against, include case studies from organisations who have made the switch from them to you.

Social proofing is hugely valuable at this stage so include your existing clients as much as you can. Buyers want reassurance and who better than your existing clients.

Don’t stop sharing the ‘types’ of content you shared at the awareness stage though. Things like blogs, white papers/reports, and webinars are all still incredibly important, but be mindful of the stage the lead is now at and develop your messaging accordingly. Continue to invite leads to relevant events, maybe invite them as a ‘guest’ to a client only event – let them see the added value you give to people once they become clients.

Decision Stage

You’ve now ticked another box and your buyer is at the final stage of their journey. They are close to making the decision so it’s now the right time to introduce content to help you close the deal. Content here should be targeted and aimed at removing any doubts they might still have. Depending on your service this is where more in-depth demos can be useful, FAQs can be great, and testimonials/client references come into play. The key is being proactive with the content you produce. As you plan this stage out, what are the likely challenges a buyer might put forward, does your content address those challenges? What you don’t want is to lose the opportunity because you weren’t prepared. Build your content here to proactively address the likely things you’ll be asked. Your goal is to remove any final lingering doubts.  

A bit of a whistle stop tour, but hopefully you get the drift. Some journeys are fast, but we all know in professional services it can be slow to move people through the stages. It can be tempting to push people straight to the more direct content, but honestly nurturing them through will pay dividends in the long run.  Just remember though, there is no one size fits all approach to your content. It needs to be the right content for the right stage of the journey.