It’s no secret. The content marketing revolution is here. Marketers left and right are scrambling to build up company blogs, Pinterest accounts, YouTube channels, email lists–it goes on and on.
Some brands are really nailing it: American Express with OpenForum, Red Bull with Red Bull Media House, Guitar Center with At: Guitar Center, and even Driscoll’s Berries with The Berry Blog. Notice that each of these examples has something in common: each of them are clearly NOT focused solely on search engines. Sure, some of the objectives may be search engine traffic, links, and social shares, but all of this really engaging and successful content is focused on one main thing: the users.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward
The key to successful content marketing is a solid content strategy, and the key to a solid content strategy is to focus on making your BEST POSSIBLE impression at each moment that your customers experience your brand across their journey to an ultimate purchase. Each time a prospect does a Google search, visits your website, follows you on Twitter, or reads a blog post is an opportunity for your brand to stand out, communicate its unique value proposition, provide information or entertainment, and make an emotional connection.
The key to winning with content marketing is to make your BEST POSSIBLE impression at each moment that a customer experiences the brand across their journey to an ultimate purchase.
Optimizing Your Digital Touchpoints Across the Customer Lifecycle
I first came across this concept after reading Lee Odden’s Optimizing Social Media Across the Customer Lifecycle last year. This approach really helped me realize that the only way to truly invest in a user-centric marketing strategy was to actually go through the process of putting myself in the customer’s shoes, entering the flow of a typical purchase cycle, and experiencing the brand from the user perspective. It allowed me to fully emphasize with the various need states that customers go through in the path to purchase and better evaluate potential interactions with the brand through its digital content. The user-focused perspective will help guide you through the production of content, investment in new platforms and channels, surfacing internal inefficiencies, and uncovering new opportunities to engage with your audience.
3 Steps to Creating Your Own Touchpoint Map
Sure, this touchpoints stuff sounds great, but how do you actually make it happen? This process involves a combination of online research, internal data, and insights from customer interviews to paint the picture you need to guide your plan.
1. Map the journey, or flow of events, that a typical customer moves through as they interact with your company and purchase your products or services. A lot of times, this fits the Awareness > Consideration > Purchase > Retention > Advocacy model as pictured above, but you might discover a different model based on your company’s industry or business model.
- Talk to internal sales and marketing teams. How do they interpret the customer journey?
- Interview real customers. Get a feel for how conscious they are of this journey and the needs and emotions they experience within it.
2. Identify all the points that a customer or potential customer might interact with the brand online through content.
- Talk to internal sales and marketing teams, study CRM and sales data to get an overview.
- Interview real customers and get a personal view on the customer-brand interaction.
- Pull search and referral traffic sources in Google Analytics
- Look at yours and your competitors’ backlink data
- Mine social mentions and discussion board conversations for insight
3. Plot touchpoints against the customer lifecycle to show when and where the two interact. Use this data to:
- Prioritize the optimization and enhancement of existing content
- Guide the production of new content
- Justify investment into new platforms and channels
- Recognize trends in your customers’ behavior
- Identify inefficiencies in your internal processes
- Uncover new opportunities to reach and activate your customers to buy more, say more, and become part of the growth engine that sustains your business for the long-term.
There you have it! Keep this graph handy near your desk and distribute to your team to continually remind everyone of the customer experience that’s happening right alongside your content marketing activities. Digital touchpoints are constantly evolving, so be sure to review it regularly to uncover new opportunities in your market. And the next time you feel stuck on topics for content development, hooks for social promotions, copy for landing pages, triggers for email automation, or assets for link building, use your digital touchpoints map to help guide your way.