The road to client satisfaction has its ups and downs. It’s paved with glory but is not without its difficulties either.
It’s teeming with clients looking to buy, looking for information, looking for anything with which they can land upon a decision. By the side of the road, marketers, looking to influence that decision.
So, “how do I convert leads into customers?” – a question asked by marketers across the globe – is best answered by defining the customer journey itself. The good news is that the three main stages of the customer journey – Awareness, Consideration, and Decision – are the benchmarks we measure it by, each one dependent – and just as important – as the last.
Each stage is markedly different and requires a range of content types to engage the customer. In this article, we set our compasses down and use these stages to map the terrain of the customer journey. Understanding the components of each step is integral to success, so pull up a chair…
The Awareness Stage
The first phase of the customer journey is awareness. Within the awareness stage, the prospect is experiencing symptoms related to a problem or issue. Perhaps they are unaware of the exact nature of the problem, and are conducting educational research in order to understand, frame and define the issue.
They are establishing requirements, identifying the nature of their problem but have not yet begun seeking a solution. This is the most formative stage of the journey, and it’s vital that your content strategies at this point are tailored to address the problems in question.
How to Market at the Awareness Stage
As mentioned, the ideal content types for the awareness stage include editorial content, whitepapers and eBooks.
Here’s an exhaustive list of the rest:
- Analyst reports
- Research reports
- Online Guides and eBooks
- Editorial content
- Expert content
- Educational content
At this stage, your strategy should be to create content that offers solutions to the prospect’s particular problem without pushing your service too much. Offer insight - backed by experts, ideally - and endeavour to shape the content around the client’s issues.
You also want to think about moving the prospective client onto the next stage of the journey. Your client will eventually land upon a definition for their problem, at which point they are ready to move onto the consideration stage.
You can move your client onto the consideration stage by creating content that deals with specific problems in terms of a solution. In other words, talk of the solution your service intends to provide (again, without pushing too much). You can incorporate subtle, well-placed calls-to-action or provide links to readily available consideration stage content.
There are plenty of tools at your disposal!
The Consideration Stage
Think of the consideration phase as almost the second research stage in mapping the customer journey. This is where the prospective client dives back into their research but with a better, more-informed understanding of their problem. They are weighing up their options, and have put a name to their want or need.
Whilst the client will be comparing service providers, they are likely not ready to be sold to...yet. At this point, you are still delivering vital information with which the client can arm
Marketing for the Consideration Stage
For consideration stage marketing, you will want to incorporate the likes of podcasts, video content and even some live interaction like a chat box.
It doesn’t stop here, though. Here are some further content types you should consider in marketing for the consideration stage.
● Comparison white papers
● Comparison editorial content
● Expert guides
Such content types are more direct in nature and appeal to the customer a little more than the content of the awareness stage.
With this kind of content driving your consideration stage marketing, you have a wealth of opportunities at your disposal.
● promote familiarity with prospective clients,
● explain your service in light of their problems
● offer branded content
All for the purpose of nudging your client further through the sales funnel.
The Decision Stage
The clue for this part of customer journey mapping lies in the name; the time has come for the client to make a decision. After some extensive research, they are ready to make an investment.
If you have managed the previous sections well enough, you should have nurtured a relationship with the prospect. Through your communication and guidance, they’ll feel confident in choosing your service over others.
Marketing for the Decision Stage
Your marketing efforts for the decision stage are characterised by the fully brand-centric approach. At this point, you can get away with ‘fronting’ your service a bit more.
In a sense, the hardest bits are out of the way. Both awareness and consideration stages contain so much research in preparation for this stage that the client is as informed as they’ll ever be. It’s time to secure that lead and convert!
Here are some of the content types that will help you do just that:
● Comparison content (service provider/service)
● Case studies
● Trial downloads
● Service literature
● Live demos
The name of the game with the above content is to offer comparison-based assets with which leads can make a decision. They have pinned down their issue and are open to options.
The speed of your response is vital, here. Clients in the decision stage can be compared to low-hanging fruit, in that they are most likely to buy soon so you’ll want to be there to scoop them up!
With the above advice, you can help your prospective clients navigate the customer journey and ensure they don’t stray from the beaten path.
If you would like to read more about nurturing great relationships with clients (prospective or otherwise) then take a look at our recent blog post.
What're the Next Step?
In order to take your customer through their customer journey, then you need to understand who your customers are so you know how to market your services to them. How do you do that? You map out a customer profile, which is a look at your ideal, target customer -- the kind of customer who will give you repeat business not a one-off one-stop shopper. Download your free customer profile template today.