So you’ve started developing content and the results are trending positively. You’ve got followers and subscribers that are benefitting from your expertise. Now you’re wondering about expanding your content and customizing it to be effective for each stage of the customer lifecycle.
First, let’s take a quick look at the customer lifecycle. Called by slightly different names depending on the source, the five stages of the customer lifecycle are Awareness, Interest, Purchase, Retention, and Advocacy:
Awareness and Interest are “before” stages. Purchase is the “during” stage and Retention and Advocacy are the “after” stages. Providing content that is relevant to your audience has everything to do with timing it with these stages. Are they in the before, during or after stages of purchasing.
Awareness In the awareness stage, your target audience has identified a need or desire to learn more to resolve a problem or improve a situation. They are probably casting a pretty big net with their online searches.
The businesses that have the answers to the immediate questions will earn a deeper search of their company website and possibly return visits for more information.
Interest In the interest stage, your target audience has moved beyond early research to seeking for a solution. They want to make a good decision based on their needs and budget and are more likely to go directly to the websites of the resources they have found helpful up to this point.
The businesses that provide substance and education about the needs of the target audience are more likely to find themselves in the short list of preferred resources.
Purchase In the purchase stage, your target audience has narrowed down the list of candidates they want to buy from and they’re looking for very specific product information. They will use this information to sell your solution internally.
The businesses that present information in easily digestible but comprehensive forms will be able to quickly communicate the value of their product and earn themselves the sale.
Retention In the retention stage, your customer has new needs. They want to ensure they are getting the value they expected from the solution they purchased. They are very receptive to associated education and any materials that help them become more knowledgeable.
The businesses that deliver useful information and provide opportunities for the customer to gain expertise are demonstrating to the customer that they value the relationship and want to retain it.
Advocacy In the advocacy stage, your customer is open to other relevant products and solutions. It is important to remain useful so that customers continue to feel compelled to read, view, or listen to your materials.
The businesses that are consistent in the quality and consistency of their materials will be rewarded with brand advocates. Their advocates will continue to buy from them. They will also bring them new business.
What will this approach do for your business? Customizing your content to each stage of the customer lifecycle makes sense for two reasons. The first reason is that it prevents you from leaving your audience for dead. The second reason is that it shortens your sales cycles.
Does the first reason seem a little dramatic? Maybe and maybe not! If your content is not mapped to each and every one of the five stages of the customer lifecycle you abandon your customer mid-stream. As in, you left your audience for dead.
The most common way businesses do this is by wooing their audience with valuable content for the first three stages until the sale is made, and then disappearing.
The final two stages are post-purchase. Delivering relevant content to your target audience during these stages enhances the customer experience, builds brand loyalty, and enables repeat purchases.
And it allows your business to continue a relationship with a group of people that already trust you and love your product. To abandon them part way through the lifecycle is the same as saying,
“I’d rather continuously convince new customers to buy from me to replace the existing clients that already liked my products…”
The second reason customizing your content to each stage of the customer lifecycle makes sense is that it shortens your sales cycles. Here’s how.
Your audience learns to expect that your business will provide the information and education that matters most to them at the very moment it matters. You are there when they need you before, during and after the sale.
This advances the sales process by defining the next steps your audience will take. Consistently providing content that addresses what matters to the audience ensures that your audience won’t see a need to deviate from the path.
It is true that buyers are more likely to purchase from the business that builds a meaningful relationship with them. Worst case scenario and they don’t buy from you? They are still your brand advocates and have the power to influence others who will buy from you.
Content marketing doesn’t stop when your target audience first learns about you or you make the sale. It works hard for your business at every stage to nurture long, healthy, profitable relationships for you and your target audience.
Start cataloguing your existing content according to lifecycle stage today and you will be able to identify your gaps and start filling them in!