How to Create Targeted Content Using a Customer Journey Map
What should I write about next? Will it be relevant to my audience? And what's actually the best way to reach my readers? Find out here.
What should I write about next? Will it be relevant to my audience? And what’s actually the best way to reach my readers?
Anyone who has created or published texts will be familiar with these questions. Reaching the right audience with the right content in the right place can often be far from easy. Many factors come into play with content creation, and content producers need to take many unknown variables into account. Too often, content can appear to be created entirely at random, which means the audience won’t be engaged and time and money is wasted.
Creating the right content requires both good planning and meticulous preparation. The more accurate your analysis and the more precise the data on which your planning is based, the more likely it is that you will create successful content. Using the right tools will help you to optimize your content planning and reach your customers at the right time and in the right place.
From the Customer Journey Map to the Content Schedule
A classic Customer Journey Map visualizes the way a visitor selects a product. It describes the relevant customer interactions with the company and displays relevant factors – such as the context or customer satisfaction – for each of these points of contact.
There are plenty of sources offering guidance on how to create a Customer Journey Map. Among others, there is a helpful article on this topic at CMO Digital Forum.
A Customer Journey Map not only maps relevant content, but it also shows precisely what content is needed and where it can be used most effectively. Therefore, a Customer Journey Map is an ideal basic tool for any content strategy.
Use Excel to Organize Your Information
Marcia Johnston Riefer from the Content Marketing Institute has supplied a helpful and very straightforward template for a Customer Journey Map, which can be used to enter, store, and organize appropriate content. With all the important data clearly set out in an Excel spreadsheet, this excellent guide shows marketers how to organize the production of content throughout the customer journey. This procedure is broken down into six steps.
How to Create Your Customer Journey Content Map
You can either use the column descriptions offered by Marcia Johnston Riefer or choose to invent your own, but in either case you will find it helpful to complete the following steps:
1. Create Personas
The foundation of a good customer journey map, and therefore any resultant content schedule, is the use of accurate personas. Personas are images based on the target group a company has defined according to certain socio-demographic and emotional factors.
To determine your personas as accurately as possible, you should take a careful look at your data. The more valid the data available to you for this purpose, the more accurately you can select your audience and define their goals and expectations.
The tracking information from your website is a suitable source of user data for this exercise. Among other things, it will help you determine who your customers are, what pages they visit, and how long they remain. Google Analytics can provide this basic information, and A-B testing or a social media analysis can also generate useful data. Additionally, don’t underestimate the value of surveys or interviews with your customers, and with your own team – including colleagues from Customer Service.
TO DO: All the data you receive from your analysis will form the basis of your personas. Create fictional characters based on this data who will serve as customer examples. Record these in the first column of your Excel table. Ideally, column 1 items will eventually cover your entire customer base.
To discover precisely how to create accurate personas, this practical information from the Content Marketing Institute can help. In addition, Sabrina Sturm also provided some helpful tips in a Textbroker blog.
2. Define Your Customers' Needs and Objectives
If you’ve made your personas as detailed as possible, then you are already halfway towards completing the next task. Because when you know who your customers are, you can also determine what they want from you.
In order to define what needs, aims, and objectives each persona may have, ask yourself questions like: What does the customer want? What problem is he trying to solve?
Here it can be incredibly useful to ask those who know best – so get help from your employees. Other departments in your company can often make a decisive contribution towards determining customer needs. Usually, no one knows your customers and their problems better than colleagues from customer service. And similarly, sales should be able to indicate the most frequent types of customer requests.
TO DO: Meet together to determine and gather the most frequent customer questions, problems and needs. Then enter them in column 2 of your table.
3. Anticipate Possible Customer Solutions
Having formulated the major problems and wishes, you then use this information to determine what a visitor is actually doing in anticipation that it will satisfy his needs. What possible measures could be taken to solve his problems? And above all, what can you do to help him?
TO DO: In column 3 of your table, gather together all the possible solutions customers could find to solve the above problems. Write down all the possible ways in which they try to solve these problems, and pay particular attention to how you can help them achieve their goals.
4. Derive Possible Points of Contact
Once you are aware of what the customer is doing to solve his problems, you can deduce the various points at which he will interact with your company. These points of contact include not only channels such as TV, newspapers or social media, but also various media within each channel such as the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal (newspapers), forums or expert blogs (Internet), etc.
To avoid having to consider too many options, it can be useful to (initially) focus on the most important of these and possibly address less important points later. Moreover, there will always be some interactions where you will not be able to intervene or exert an influence. You can either choose to exclude these from your map or address them separately.
TO DO: For each customer persona, use the fourth column to record the possible points of interaction on each customer journey. These are the places where you should arrange to publish your content.
5. Planning Solutions
After defining the problems and needs of your potential customers, comes the most crucial step: considering the type of content needed to provide solutions and helpful assistance. How should you respond to the needs of your customers? What solutions can you offer? Here, it is important to think outside the box, and (as a precaution) perhaps also address possible challenges the customer may face that have not yet been raised. Organize your solutions as concrete ideas in the form of “headlines”. These ideas will later serve as the basis for your content.
Remember to pay careful attention to how far the customer has progressed through the purchase process. Depending on whether he is still in the orientation phase or has already entered the purchase phase, he may take other actions which may in turn generate further interactions requiring different solutions.
TO DO: Column 5 in your table should contain solutions that you and your product can provide for the customer. In addition, you should also outline content that deals more broadly and thematically with these aspects of your industry in the usual content-marketing style and format. Create and record these as concrete ideas which will serve as the basis for your content.
6. Develop Relevant Content Formats, Dependent Upon Needs, Channels, Solutions and Sales Progress
Depending on your final content-related solutions, you then decide which formats you could best deploy to present these solutions. Would a text, an infographic, a video, or an entire microsite be the best answer?
TO DO: List all relevant content formats in the last column of your table. This column details all ideas and formats that you could use to produce matching content.
Developing a Customer Journey Map and enriching it with suitable content is a lot of work. However, once created, it will serve as an optimal schedule for your content strategy. Based on accurate information and giving proper consideration to each context, it will detail all the important areas of interaction between the customer and your company. Thus, it will provide a comprehensive picture of your target audience that will enable you to create optimum content.
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