For years now, marketers have been watching the customer journey shift. More and more, customers want to self-educate as much as possible before reaching out to a salesperson, even when it comes to B2B purchases.
Now that customers have more power than ever before to shape the buyer’s journey themselves, marketers have the challenge of keeping up. How can you make sure a lead gains all the information they need when they’re not doing you the courtesy of letting you lead the learning process?
Most of us by now know that a big part of the answer is content marketing. As Ann Murphy, Director of Content Marketing for Kapost put it during our recent webinar, “Content is core to the buyer’s journey.”
But tracking the journey from content to revenue is still a tricky proposition for most marketers.
In our webinar on The B2B Customer Journey: From Content to Revenue, Ann and Hive9’s own Patrick Kilgore helped connect the dots. If you didn’t make it to the webinar, you can still watch the full thing at the link above, but to give you a teaser, we’ve provided an overview of what they covered below.
How the Customer’s Journey Has Changed
Ann explained that marketing now owns a significant portion of the customer’s journey – and not just the part leading up to a sale. 75% of marketers now feel they’re responsible for customer experience from the time they hear about the company through the entire life of their relationship with the brand, but only 12% feel they’re doing a good job of delivering a consistent experience throughout the whole journey.
That’s too bad, since McKinsey’s research has shown that improving customer satisfaction with the customer journey can increase revenue by 15% while lowering costs by 20%.
When your customer is able to find what they need, when they need it, in the format they prefer, your success will predictably go up along with their satisfaction.
How to Use Content to Provide an Effective Customer Journey
For as long as customers prefer to stick with self-education for much of the journey, content will be the most powerful tool marketers have to push them along the path. To make sure your content meets the needs of your prospects, Ann provided a few useful tips to guide your content strategy.
Develop a shared content calendar for your team.
One of the first things that anyone who does content marketing learns is the importance of an editorial calendar. You must have a plan and deadlines you can hold yourself to if you expect to get your content completed and published in an organized and timely way.
Kapost’s research recently found that making that calendar available to everyone in the department is also important. 92% of the top performing marketers said they have a shared editorial calendar.
Making sure everyone has access to one editorial calendar comes with a few benefits:
- It keeps your team aligned. You don’t just want everyone to have access to it, you should bring everyone together to weigh in on and come to an agreement on the plan and the milestones you aim to achieve.
- It helps you plan timely, relevant content across channels. A calendar lets you map out specific content and deliverables, while keeping it shared helps your various team members ensure their different campaigns and content pieces will work in conjunction and make each other stronger.
- Provide everyone visibility. It benefits your whole department if every individual is able to see the progress the larger department is making and how their work contributes to it. It provides accountability and ensures everyone is on the same page.
The calendar will help you stay organized, but simply having one doesn’t help you figure out what should go into your editorial calendar. Anne’s next tip will.
Identify Your Content Gaps
Content creation isn’t easy; you want to make sure you’re putting the work in where it counts. A content audit can help you better understand what content you already have covered, measure which content pieces and types are performing the best, and approach your content plan with a better idea of what you need.
Anne offered a few important recommendations to ensure you get the insights you need most from your content audit:
- Make use of your internal stakeholders. No marketing department is an island. You should bring in other departments like sales and customer service to provide their experiences and input on what customers are concerned about and thinking. Incorporating what they’ve learned from customers in your planning can help you build stronger, more relevant content.
- Review your personas. Every so often, your team should revisit your personas, both to refresh your memory and to make sure the personas are still accurate. Good personas will help you identify your customers’ pain points so you can build your content around the information they need most.
- Map your content to strategic fields. Every piece of content you create should be tied to a goal you want to meet. Dig into the data to gauge what content is doing the best job of meeting the goals you’re aiming for now and use those insights to create a better content plan moving forward.
A content audit will help you identify what content your customers really need and which topic areas and answers haven’t been covered yet.
Create Relevant Content
Everything else leads up to this. It’s time to actually create that content.
The content audit will help you figure out what content to put on your editorial calendar and create. Then it’s time for your team to get to work filling in what’s missing.
But Ann also recommended making use of what you already have to make your job a little bit easier. You can repurpose your current content for some quick wins that are easier to achieve than creating new content from scratch.
All this talk about content, but we haven’t really connected it back to the thing that your CEO cares most about.
Bring it Back to Revenue
Patrick followed up Ann’s great advice with some ideas of how to make sure you can use that content to bring in more revenue for the company.
Understanding the customer journey is one of the best tools you have to improve revenue – when you can see what content customers are responding to, you can figure out what content you should provide them next to move them along the path to a sale, and then onto a long life as a happy customer.
Don’t Focus on What You Want People to Do
The approach to the buyer’s journey for a long time has been to try to shape the journey you want customers to take and create a marketing plan that follows that path. But there’s no reason to expect your customers to cooperate with what you want them to do.
If you’re planning your marketing content and campaigns around the path you envision for your customers, you’re more likely to lose them along the way. They don’t care about the path you have in mind.
Don’t Guess At What They’re Doing
When you’re making assumptions about the customer’s journey, you risk pushing customers away.
Irrelevant content isn’t something consumers just ignore. Many are frustrated by it, and some will leave a website altogether based on ads that aren’t relevant to them.
If you’re guessing at what your customers want, you could be alienating them instead of enticing them further along the path to a purchase.
Let Data Show You the Actual Customer Journey
There’s no need to guess anyway. Marketers have more data today than they have ever had before. When properly organized, your marketing analytics can show you the actual journeys your customers are making.
Automated journey maps can show you:
- The most common journey that the leads that become customers take.
- The points in the buyer’s journey where leads that don’t become customers most often drop off.
- The journey that your most valuable customers most frequently take.
That information paints a pretty clear picture for you of what information customers most often need at specific points in their journey. When you know that, then you know not only what content to create, but also the specific moment you should be providing that content to your prospect. That way you face a lower risk of frustrating your customers, and a higher likelihood of helping them find the information they’re looking for when they need it.
When you can serve up the right marketing message at the right moment to keep your customers moving along to the point of sale, your contribution to the company’s revenue will grow.
Understanding the customer journey leads to a better CX for your customers and higher revenue for you. It’s a win-win, all around.Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed under CC BY 3.0