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Matching Content to the Customer Life Cycle

lisa-barone
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Monarch Life CycleIt's not what you say. Sometime it's not even how you say it. It's whenyou say it. The right message, at the right time, is what it takes to convert a visitor to a life-long customer.

By now we know the power of content; it's been firmly drilled into our heads. We even know the different flavors of content and the options we have to pack our content marketing arsenal like ebooks, infographics, motion graphics and animation, whitepapers, presentations, interactive games, tools, articles, blog posts, and the list goes on. But when do you do what? When is one type of content more appropriate than other?

It ties back to the customer life cycle.

The content your audience is looking for will vary at each stage of their buying cycle. In the early Awareness stages I may be looking to uncover how you do business and the things important to you. In the Consideration stage, I'm less interested in how you approach business, but your specific capabilities and benefits. As an Advocate, I just want to show you off. As the brand, you need to provide me with content that lets me do what I want to do, when I want to take that action.

You do this by first understanding your audiences' triggers in each stage of the buying cycle and then creating content to match them.

While your personas and triggers may vary slightly, below are common distinctions in the consumer buying cycle and specific content types that work well for each. By understanding who your audience is, you're able to offer them a targeted message.

Awareness

A consumer in the Awareness stage is just learning about your brand. They've been able to articulate a need and are now doing research to identity the options that exist for them.

As someone just learning about your brand, I don't want to be hit in the head with anything too heavy. I'm looking to understand the basics of who you are as an organization, the services you provide, and how you approach your business. This initial information will tell me whether your views align with my own and if you're someone I want to invest more time into.

What types of content am I looking for?

  • I'm looking for blog posts that feature both opinion and knowledge about what you do, how you do it and your views on why you do it that way. 
  • I want to read commentary that paints the picture of who you are in your industry. 
  • I'm reading your About page to learn the core tenets and beliefs of your company to see if they are things I can stand behind. 
  • I'm looking at your social media channels to familiarize myself with your voice and your image.

The content at the Awareness stage should be focused on your industry and how you approach it as a business. This includes blog posts, brand videos, infographics and social media updates.

Consideration

In the Consideration stage, I'm aware of you as a business and the need that I have. But I'm not sure yet whether you're the vendor I want to work with. To get there, I need specifics about what you offer and the benefits it provides me.

What types of content am I looking for? Content focused on:

  • How you're going to help me see a return on investment (ROI).
  • Case studies and reports about how you've helped others.
  • Research studies related to my industry.
  • Other proof point to illustrate what you know and what I'm missing out on if I don't ask you to go steady right now.

When I'm in the Consideration stage, I want all the research, the data and the numbers to paint your benefit story.

Purchase

In the Purchase stage, I'm ready to make a decision and am narrowing down my options. My top two or three choices have been identified and I'm looking for the “IT” factor that's going to motivate my decision one way or another.

What types of content am I looking for?

  • Free trial offers.
  • Data sheets.
  • Expanded product information.
  • Demo videos.

I need to be sold on your product and the sense of urgency that says I need to make this purchase today to avoid missing out. This is your last chance to make a case for your company before someone does it for you and I'm gone forever.

Evangelist

Your Evangelists have already purchased from you. You've won them over with your product and previous content marketing, and now you have the opportunity to leverage that relationship for additional word of mouth opportunities.

What types of content am I looking for? I'm looking for non-monetary rewards and other interactions I can use to create a closer connection to your brand or to show off my love for you. This may mean:

  • Creating user guides, webinars, or webcasts to help customers like me get more from your product or use it in new ways. 
  • Additional blog posts to continue to add value around your organization or product. 
  • In-person events where users of your product or service can unite to learn more about it and from each other's experiences.

Just because these folks have already purchased from you once, doesn't mean you can forget about them. Using current customers to attract more is the cheapest route to new lead generation.

Summary

By understanding the needs of your customers at various stages of the buying cycle, it allows you to craft content specifically targeted at them to put them into that buying mood. You'll also learn the triggers that will be most effective in converting them.

Image Credit: Sid Mosdell/Flickr


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