home Customer Experience How to engage customers early in their journey with content

How to engage customers early in their journey with content

Content plays a pivotal role in the digital experiences of customers. Every web page, blog post, tweet, explainer video, ebook, or podcast is an opportunity to create a meaningful brand experience. A customer’s journey may start by reading a snippet of information in a search engine query and continue until the customer is reading a user manual for the product they just bought. It’s the content that has guided them on that journey.

Due to the Internet, customers now have more information about potential products and services than they have ever had access to in the past. It’s easy for them to evaluate and compare different brands and product offerings and research potential solutions to their problems. This knowledge has empowered them.

Consumers use content they find online to raise awareness of their options and to inform their decisions before purchasing. They’ll read testimonials and case studies, download fact sheets and pricing information. And after they make their purchase they will read user manuals and customer support material that offer tips and advice in the use and care of the products they’ve purchased.

This empowerment has made customers less dependent on the advice given to them by sales representatives. Before contacting an organisation, a customer may have already evaluated their options and be well down the path of making their decision. It’s the content they’ve read, viewed or listened to that has led them to this point. According to the Aberdeen Group, on average, conversion rates are six times higher for companies and brands using content marketing than those that aren’t, at 2.9% vs. 0.5%, respectively.

The connection between CX and Content

The content you create should encourage customers to act and take the next step in their journey. It needs to be relevant and useful, unique, easy to understand, consistent in tone and accurate. Research from Forrester highlights, “Customers are three to four times more likely to say they trust brands that communicate clearly. And when customers trust a brand, they prefer it to other brands. In contrast, when companies do not communicate clearly, customers perceive the brand to be deceptive or unethical — as literally trying to cheat them.[i]

Without fully understanding your customer’s journey, it’s impossible to create the right kind of content for your audience and align it correctly to each stage of the journey. Each customer touchpoint needs to be defined and analysed and mapped in line with the most relevant content and other communications to guide the customer through their journey. When creating customer or buyer journey maps there are four main stages. These stages vary for each industry and organisation, but generally include:

  • Awareness – The beginning of the journey when a customer first discovers your brand or product for the first time. Content at this should focus on capturing attention and awareness.
  • Consideration – Your content needs to answer questions and explain how your products and services solve problems.
  • Decision – Content that convinces them to buy your product over your competitors.
  • Post Purchase – Content that offers advice and tips to maximise the value customers obtain from a product or service.

Creating better content

For content to create a great customer experience it needs to be delivered via the right channel at the right time. Consumers often have hundreds if not thousands of different options to choose from.  They are constantly bombarded with information and messages designed to distract them.

It’s increasingly confusing and difficult to make the right decision. To reach your intended audience your content needs to be helpful, unique, personalised and of the highest quality, as well as adapted to the customer journey.

The content you create needs to emotionally connect with your audience. According to research by the Journal of Consumer Research, more than 50% of experience is based on emotion and in most purchasing decisions, emotions are the main drivers. Emotional connection should be a goal, though a difficult one to measure, while building a content strategy.

So, it’s not just relevance and the usefulness of the content that is important, it’s the tone of voice, the style of writing and the visual style of the images and videos used that will impact the level of emotional connection. Does it need to be light-hearted or conversational and sympathetic? Are you trying to reach a young audience or an older more conservative audience?

The tone and styles used will depend on the product or service and the brand values of the organisation. But whichever one you choose it needs to be consistent across all communication channels and content.

[i] Faith Adams, Margaret Rodriguez, Danielle Place, Michelle Yaiser, Laura Garvin Tramm, Harley Manning, Scott Ross, and Rachel Birrell, “Read My Lips: Clear Communication Can Mean Billions In Revenue,” Forrester, July 31, 2017.

Mark Atterby

Mark Atterby has 18 years media, publishing and content marketing experience.