The modern customer has the privilege of being picky and demanding — and they have every right to be. With so many different options at their fingertips, your audience doesn’t have to settle for anything short of amazing.
That means you have to go to great lengths to attract their attention, win their trust, persuade them to purchase from you, and turn them into your brand ambassadors.
You have to deliver and exceed their expectations.
But where to start?
The first step of every great modern customer journey is creating high-quality content that meets the target audience’s needs and matches each marketing funnel stage.
In other words, you can’t simply churn out blog posts, videos, infographics, and interactive tools without a clear plan. You need to first map out the customer journey. Then, create content that aligns with your customer’s needs at every stage — from the first impression to the purchase and beyond.
In this article, we’ll explore this path, which is no longer a straight line but a winding road with many touchpoints, channels, and interactions. We’ll also discuss best practices for taking your website visitors from ”I’m just looking” to ”I’m your biggest fan.”
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The anatomy of the modern customer journey
There are different models and interpretations of the customer journey or marketing funnel. Here, we’ll talk about the most common model with four stages.
The first stage is the top of the funnel (TOFU), or awareness. This is when potential customers have become aware of a specific pain point and start looking for a solution.
Creating TOFU content will boost brand awareness and attract potential customers to your website.
This is the second stage or middle of the funnel (MOFU). At this point, potential customers have already done their research. They are now comparing different solutions and weighing their options.
MOFU content aims to showcase the benefits of your solution. It should explain why it’s better than what your competitors offer. It should also highlight your product or service’s unique selling point.
Your prospective clients have reduced their choices to a few and are now ready to buy. The decision stage, also known as the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), is when you should pull out the big guns and promote your product or service.
According to research, 87% of shoppers said that knowing they got a good deal is important to them when deciding which brand or retailer to buy from.
That means that the way you shape your offer, especially if you can provide some kind of deal or discount, will be very important in getting prospects to choose you over your competitors at this stage.
Don’t hesitate to be more sales-oriented than during the previous two stages. BOFU content has to convince and convert. So, use it to illustrate how your product will improve customers’ lives and why it’s a good deal.
Your customer has already purchased from you, but getting them to return for more is essential. Given that 20% of a company’s customers account for 80% of its profits, it’s obvious how important it is to build loyalty with your returning customers.
The content in this stage should engage and motivate them to spread the word about your brand.
Remember that these stages aren’t always sequential. Sometimes, they aren’t even clear-cut. Customers can skip some or return to the previous ones while on the journey. After a purchase or even during the decision-making process, a responsive contact center can assist customers, addressing any concerns or inquiries they might have, ensuring they feel supported throughout their journey.
That’s why it’s crucial to understand your target audience’s behavior and motivations. Then, you can craft content that resonates with their needs at each stage.
Types of content for the awareness stage
In the awareness stage, your potential customers aren’t familiar with your brand, products, or services. Plus, having only recently identified an issue that needs solving, they’re not ready to buy yet.
There are a lot of other companies that can lure your potential customers away from your website. So, your TOFU content must make a great and memorable first impression.
To achieve this goal, create content that is:
- Relevant. Address your audience’s main pain points and add value.
- Educational and packed with useful information. Help your potential customer better understand their situation.
- Engaging. Grab your audience’s attention and get them to explore your website further.
This is no time for the hard-sell approach. Heavily promoting your product will only scare your customers away. Focus on generating leads and establishing yourself as the authority in your industry. Establish your brand as a reliable and trustworthy source of information.
The content formats that lend themselves well to the awareness stage include the following:
1. Blog posts
No wonder blog posts are one of the most popular and effective forms of content marketing. They can help you:
- rank well on search engines
- drive organic traffic to your website
- establish your authority on a topic
Blog posts can encompass various subjects related to your industry, niche, or audience’s needs or interests.
For example, let’s say you’re a software company that helps businesses automate their workflows. You could write blog posts about:
- the benefits of automation
- the best practices for workflow optimization
- the common challenges businesses in different sectors face
Ahrefs attracts and educates potential customers through well-researched, high-quality blog posts. Their blog post on 15 easy tips for higher rankings is clearly aimed at those who aren’t SEO experts. It’s a comprehensive list that explains these useful tactics in great detail while subtly mentioning tools that can help.
2. How-to videos
In general, video is a format that should be part of your content marketing strategy. It’s more engaging than text-based pieces since it adds moving pictures and audio into the mix.
Brand, emotional, or entertaining videos work well in the awareness stage. However, it’s best to double down on educational how-to videos. They’re capable of:
- answering your audience’s pressing questions
- demonstrating complex concepts in an easy-to-understand way
- inviting viewers to learn more
Salomon’s video addresses one of their target audience’s most significant pain points: how to choose hiking boots. The video shows the brand’s equipment and apparel, but it’s not a sales pitch. It’s a valuable resource that pinpoints the main factors when selecting this type of footwear.
3. Interactive content
Get your audience to take part in content creation. There’s no better way to captivate them!
Interactive content is more engaging and compelling than static, text-based pieces. It requires input from readers. Based on that, they get highly-tailored outcomes and answers to their questions. That’s how calculators, quizzes, infographics, and other interactive tools add value to your audience.
MarketBeat’s stock portfolio dividend calculator is an excellent example of effective interactive content. It helps the brand’s audience calculate the value of their dividends over time. Thus, it saves them a lot of the time they’d spend crunching the numbers. It comes with some advanced functionality, so MarketBeat also provides a helpful guide on using it.
Types of content for the consideration stage
Your potential customers have done their research and found out what they need to solve their pain points. Now, it’s time to nurture them. They evaluate your solution and try to see how it stacks up against your competitors’ products and services.
The goal of MOFU content is to persuade them that your solution best fits their needs. But it’s still not time to start selling and delivering your pitch. Instead, you should insist on building trust with your potential customers. Trust is one of the most important factors when making purchasing decisions.
To sum up, for this stage, you should craft content that’s:
- Personalized. 76% of consumers get frustrated if a business doesn’t offer personalized experiences. To avoid this, create relatable content that reflects potential customers’ needs, goals, challenges, or preferences. Show how your solution can address them. For example, you can create case studies that showcase how your solution helped similar customers achieve their desired outcomes.
- Persuasive. It should highlight your unique value proposition and competitive advantages. Emphasize points of differentiation and show why your solution is better than others. For instance, you can create webinars demonstrating how your solution works.
- Actionable. It should guide your potential customers through the next steps of their journey. Encourage them to take action! Free product demos work well in this case.
Here are some of the top content types for the consideration stage:
1. Product comparison guides
It’s not easy to make an informed purchasing decision. Customers must explore many products and determine which one meets their needs.
Comparing products side by side offers customers a clear insight into what’s best for their particular use case. Comparison guides analyze solutions based on various criteria, such as:
- Pros and cons
That way, customers don’t have to go back and forth between several web pages to gather information.
For example, look at the Medical Alert Buyers Guide review of the top medical alert systems in 2023. It’s a lengthy resource offering unbiased reviews and comparisons of these potentially life-saving devices.
Despite being exhaustive, this guide is well-organized and easy to scan. Potential customers first get a short overview of each system. They can see the most important details and bottom line before they scroll down to a more detailed analysis.
2. Case studies
Case studies show how your product or service helped real customers overcome specific obstacles and achieve their goals. They’re potent tools you can use in both the consideration and decision stages.
They’ll help you demonstrate your credibility, expertise, and impact. On top of that, they’ll also help you handle potential objections and nip them in the bud. To be effective, case studies should provide the following:
- Your happy customer’s background
- Their challenges
- The results your solution delivers. Express these results through quantitative data. Then, have the customer corroborate them in their testimonial.
HubSpot has an entire website section dedicated to case studies. The brand leaves nothing to chance.
Their case studies cover a variety of industries and are data-driven. Potential customers can find stories that apply to their niche and see how the platform helped similar companies succeed.
The consideration stage is when you should start qualifying your leads and collecting their data. Webinars are excellent lead magnets. They allow you to educate and interact with your audience in real-time. This can do wonders for your engagement and credibility.
Audiences appreciate when brands genuinely share their experiences and insights and, perhaps even more importantly, when they create spaces for sharing knowledge.
You’ll also have an opportunity to elegantly include your solution in the narrative. A well-organized and thoughtful webinar will give you all the space to provide context for your solution and demonstrate how it works without being overly pushy.
Hootsuite‘s step-by-step guide to social advertising webinar is a go-to resource for those who want to learn how to make the most of their social media. Prospects who want to watch a free pre-recorded session must complete a form and share valuable personal data. The brand can later use that data to create even more tailored content and personalized offers.
Types of content for the decision stage
Suppose you’ve followed best practices when creating content for the previous two customer journey stages. In that case, your potential customers should now reach the bottom of the funnel, meaning they’re ready to purchase.
The bottom-of-the-funnel content should work towards removing any friction and potential doubts from the minds of your potential customers. The trick is to tie in some loose ends and underscore the value of your product or service. That’s how to differentiate yourself from competitors and ultimately seal the deal.
The BOFU stage content should be:
- User friendly: Offering multiple options and channels for your audience to purchase or sign up for your solution, such as online, offline, phone, email, chat, etc., will encourage them to convert. Optimize your content by adding calls to action to direct potential customers to take the next step.
- Clear: It should provide all the information and instructions your audience needs to complete the purchase or sign up for your solution.
- Reassuring: Your customers need to be confident that purchasing from you is safe in terms of the quality of your product and customer service, as well as sharing their personal information with you. Hence, the BOFU content should reinforce your value proposition, address any remaining objections, and create a sense of urgency or scarcity.
Here are some content formats indispensable for this stage of the customer journey:
1. Social proof
When the customer journey is in the home stretch, it’s essential to nudge your customers toward buying. You have to minimize their concerns over whether your product fits their needs.
- Customer reviews
- Social media shares
- Celebrity endorsements
- Earned media
These are examples of how others, not affiliated with your brand, vouch for you and your product. They serve as a stamp of approval and show that your product is trustworthy and valuable.
Check out Whoop‘s homepage for a good example. Besides branded messaging, it also features the ”Hear what the pros are saying” section. When potential customers see it, they think, “If it’s good enough for Rory McIlroy, it’s definitely good enough for me!”
2. Product pages
Product pages are where the final instance of decision-making and purchasing happens. So, they have to provide detailed information about your product or service. This includes features, benefits, and pricing.
They’re a precious piece of real estate. Use them to showcase your solution, persuade your audience, and drive conversions.
If you have multiple products, organize them into categories and display tabs. Doing so will help customers browse your offers and find what they’re looking for. Check out how Golf Cart Tire Supply did that on their Golf Cart Accessories page.
Product pages should contain the following elements:
- A headline that captures attention and conveys the value proposition
- Subheadline that expands on the headline and provides a unique selling point
- Hero image or video that showcases your product or service in action
- A clear and prominent CTA button that invites your audience to buy or sign up
- List of features and benefits that highlight how your solution solves your audience’s problems or meets their needs
- Social proof elements that prove your credibility and trustworthiness. These include testimonials, reviews, ratings, awards, logos, and trust signals.
- FAQ section that answers common questions or concerns your audience may have.
For example, ATH’s starter bundle page covers all the bases so potential customers can find all the details they need — trust signals, customer reviews, ingredient lists, product overviews, and primary benefits. The CTA is highly-visible, while the option to pay in interest-free installments makes the offer even more enticing.
3. Product tutorials
Sometimes potential customers sit on the fence because they aren’t sure how complicated it is to start using a product or service. By publishing product tutorials and how-to’s, you can solve this dilemma. You’ll thus start the onboarding process ahead of time.
This way, you also show that customer support is your strong point. Customers will know that you won’t leave them stranded.
For example, Canva‘s website features a section called Design School. Here, they share free courses and tutorials. They aim to help customers learn more about design and make the most of the tool. These resources are bite-sized and split into different topics for easier following.
Types of content for the retention stage
The modern customer journey doesn’t end with the purchase. The point is to recruit returning customers who are willing to spend again. You want them to spend more and tell others how amazing your products are.
The retention stage is when your customers become loyal fans and promoters of your brand. But that won’t happen by itself — it’s up to you to continue wowing them. Continue delivering value and ensuring an exceptional customer experience.
These endeavors won’t go unnoticed. They’ll result in generating referrals and word of mouth.
The content you create for this stage should be:
- Rewarding. Provide your customers with extra benefits for staying with your brand. Offer incentives for recommending it to others.
- Engaging. Capture your customers’ interest and curiosity. Encourage them to interact with your brand or share their feedback.
Here are some content formats that can help you achieve these goals:
Newsletters are regular email updates you send your customers to keep them informed, educated, and entertained. They are a crucial part of email marketing, which 73% of marketers regard as the most effective marketing channel.
Newsletters can help you maintain contact, build trust, and increase loyalty. If you want to stay top of mind with your existing customers and be the first brand they think of when the need arises, don’t send a regular newsletter just for the sake of it.
Newsletters aim to share news and valuable resources with your customers. They should inform people about new product features, upgrades, promotions, etc.
2. User-generated content
Your customers create reviews, testimonials, ratings, photos, videos, or social media posts talking about your brand. All of this counts as valuable user-generated content (UGC).
You put your customers in the spotlight by sharing UGC on your website or social media channels. This makes them feel more valued and invites them to become members of your community.
Besides, sharing UGC adds a layer of authenticity to your messaging. It also boosts engagement and sparks conversations about your brand. Now you see it’s time to invest in social media more seriously and put greater emphasis on the best social media management tools.
For example, Apple’s Instagram account rarely features any branded content. Instead, the tech giant showcases the awesome photos and videos that customers capture with their devices. This strategy has mutual benefits. Apple gets free and genuine promotions. Meanwhile, its customers get exposure through the brand’s massive following. From a retention and advocacy perspective, it’s no wonder that Apple has one of the most passionate and loyal fan bases.
It pays off to synchronize your content with the customer journey stages. You can then provide value to your audience and help them navigate the modern customer journey. It’s an effective way to guide them toward making the right purchase decision.
So, try your best to follow these best practices. They’ll help you build trust and foster long-term relationships with your customers.