Content strategy

Align Customer Journeys and Content Strategy

More content is not always a good thing. I once worked for a company that had over 30,000 pieces of content, most of which was introduced to the target audience in one fell swoop with no strategic plan. Only 2% of that content was ever viewed.

What that told me was people were creating content without intent. Who is the audience? What were they looking for? How should it be disseminated? How did it fit into the overall go-to-market and content strategy? How to keep it going? There’s a much smarter way. Let’s explore, shall we? We’ll look at the following four areas:

  • Understand your audience through the entire customer journey.
  • Understand what content is needed at any given point along the customer journey.
  • Do a content audit: Keep, modify, archive or create.
  • 4 R’s: Repeat, Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose.

Map Your Content Strategy to Your Customer Journey

Let’s face it, most content is underutilized, if used at all — as my 30,000 example above demonstrates. Maybe it’s because it wasn’t what our audience was looking for. Maybe it’s because no one can actually find it. Or maybe it’s because it was not thoughtfully developed with the audience and go-to-market strategy in mind.

Most companies don’t have a go-to-market strategy, let alone a content strategy. But content is key to getting people into and through the marketing funnel, as well as onboarding, adopting and using the product or solution. Here are some easy steps to ensure you leverage your content to its fullest extent, while aligning with corporate goals.

Related Article: How to Unleash Your Omnichannel Content Strategy

Understand Your Audience Through the Entire Customer Journey

When defining both the subject and format of your content, consider your entire customer journey. Start with the product, then through marketing and sales, and finally through the customer success and life of that customer. Who is your audience at each of these steps in the journey? Let’s say your company is the market leader of cloud-based software that back-office financial processes for SMBs. The first stop along the customer journey is people recognizing a need for this type of solution and the features, functions and benefits.They have a pain, and your solution fills a market need or gap.

Maybe that first touchpoint is with a person who just spent 22 hours reconciling something they know can be automated. Or maybe it’s the small business owner who wants to focus on their core business, not administrative malarky. As this prospective account or client makes their way through the funnel the IT department gets involved because they have to integrate it. Then sales talks to all of these folks in addition to several partners in the ecosystem. Then the end user, someone on the finance team, along with the IT person, starts the onboarding process with customer success.

Understand What Content Is Needed at Any Given Point Along the Customer Journey

The solution described above is relatively simple and inexpensive, yet there are already five or six people involved in the discovery, purchase and implementation. You need to make sure you understand your different audiences along the customer journey, what their pain points are, and what types of content they are looking for.

The end user is going to need to understand if the solution alleviates their pain, how best to use the solution, and what they should be looking for in terms of results. They likely also want to see it in action and see best practices, use cases and case studies from customers who have a similar process. These types of content span the entire customer journey. Whereas, the IT person might come in at the beginning of the process to help define requirements needed for integration and then once the solution has been purchased, return to go through the onboarding process. They are looking for specs as well as potential development and product documentation, maybe how-to videos, and some examples of how others have successfully implemented.

The champion of the solution is sticking their neck by advocating for a specific solution, so you need to help them validate the decision they have made in choosing your solution. Each of these people, at different stages of the customer journey, are looking for different types of content to help move them from prospect to happy customer, AND to ensure that everyone involved understands from their perspective what the offer is, what it will do for them and how to use it.

Related Article: The Customer Journey: Content Marketing for B2B Software Buyers

Do a Content Audit: Keep, Modify, Archive or Create

Now you know your audience, their journey, and the types of content they will need to help make decisions and adopt a content plan internally. This is a great opportunity to evaluate what content you already have. In some cases, you have what you need. In other cases, you might need to modify what’s there and update it with new outcomes. And in some cases you might have a gap and will need to develop new content. Everything else is just noise, so you can archive it or get rid of it if it is truly obsolete.

Repeat, Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose

Let’s say you have a video that shows how to use a feature that was recently new and improved. Can you edit it with the new feature, or does the video need to be created from scratch? I am a huge fan of taking what already exists and extending its life by being smart about how you initially develop it and how you use that piece again and again. Imagine creating one really stellar piece of content a year as a foundation, calling that your pillar piece, and leveraging that piece over a hundred times — in multiple programs and channels, and for all your target audiences and segmentations. Creating it with a bit of flexibility for when times call for a quick adjustment? And maybe even personalizing it a bit?

By strategically thinking about what content is needed and who the content is for, mapping it directly to the customer journey, you can develop better content and less of it, which can be repurposed and reused.

Related Article: Structured Content Gives Companies Room to Scale

How to Implement the Above Tactics

  • With a new audience — This one is simple. Just start sharing content with them.
  • With new marketing channels — Try your pillar piece in a different channel. See if it works better on Facebook versus LinkedIn.
  • With a new campaign — Think about how you can repurpose something for a new campaign.
  • With new types of content or mediums — Take multiple blog posts and turn them into an e-guide. Or transcribe your podcast and turn it into a “tips and tricks” blog post.
  • In new markets — Thinking of expanding into new markets or regions? Leverage your content, especially your main pillar piece, to test these areas.
  • By creating quick hits — Need more prospects in the pipeline? (That was rhetorical.) Leverage good-performing content in new programs for quick hits.
  • By modularizing — Turning something into bite-sized pieces can exponentially increase your reach and extensibility.
  • By aggregating — Consider compiling multiple pieces into a “new” document.

The Bottom Line: Less May Be More

Now you know why more content is not always a good thing. Once you do your content audit and discover which pieces to keep, modify, archive or create, you’ll be able to fully see your customer through their entire journey. Better yet, when you repeat, reuse, recycle and repurpose you’ll save yourself time while learning how to create content with intent that is useful to your defined audience and aligns well with your product or solution. You’ll be able to understand what your audience is looking for and how they want to best receive it. Best of all? Your customer will thank you!

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