A customer journey map can be a great foundation for building your content strategy
Knowing where to start when you’re building a content strategy can be one of the most challenging parts of the process. Without a framework in place you can end up with lots of ideas but no plan to follow. That’s why I like to use a customer journey map framework as a foundation for the content strategy process.
What is a customer journey map?
A customer journey map is simply a snapshot of how customers interact with your business at different points, layered with various types of information specific to your customer’s decision process.
EXAMPLE OF A CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAP FOR A TOURISM COMPANY
EXAMPLE OF A CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAP FOR THE US GOVERNMENT
Different businesses and organisations will have different maps depending on their offering and the mapping goals.
An organisation might map a journey in order to solve customer service issues or challenges with achieving repeat purchase.
I like to use customer journey mapping to put a framework to content planning.
How to map your customer journey to identify content opportunities
My 8 step process uses the marketing funnel as the top level of the journey (the customer moves from awareness to consideration to purchase and beyond). Under that I layer a variety of different pieces of information to create a rich image of the current state of play and future opportunities for content.
Step 1: Develop customer personas
Before you can start mapping your customer’s journeys, you need to know who your customers are.
The best way to do this is to develop customer personas.
Customer personas (also known as avatars) are fictionalised, generalised representations of your customers. They help you to define and segment your audience.
A persona should outline basic information such as demographics, lifestyle and education. It should also include information such as what their challenges are, what their objections could be to buying your product (or reading your website) and where they usually go to for information. All of these details will help you to plan your content and your overall marketing program.
Here’s an example of a customer persona template I developed for a fictitious clothing boutique selling budget fashion to teens and students.
Tip: If you’re stuck for names or images, head to the website UINames.com, it’s a free persona name and image generator (images are pulled in from my favourite free royalty free image library ‘Unsplash’).
2. Focus on one persona
You will need to create a different journey map for each persona. Start by choosing one persona to focus on – perhaps choose the persona who currently represents the biggest opportunity for bringing new business to your company.
3. Outline the customer journey via funnel points
Does your typical customer follow a traditional marketing funnel (awareness – consideration or interest – purchase) or does the funnel for your business differ slightly? In the tourism example shown above, the funnel includes a planning and experience section.
Here’s an example of a marketing funnel for a financial advisor:
4. Identify the thought process at each stage
What’s going through your customer’s mind at each stage in the funnel – what are their barriers to purchase or pain points that we can solve along the way?
Spend some time writing them down for every point along their journey.
Fashion example: Rule the World Ruby is at the Awareness stage of the fashion buyer journey and is thinking ‘I have nothing to wear for the party this Saturday night and I have zero cash. How can I get something that’s cheap, will arrive on time and make me look good.’
5. Identify the steps they take along the journey
What steps does your persona take as they get to know your brand?
A great way to get started is to decide on what the critical step in the journey is (e.g.: making a purchase or booking a consultation) and work forward and backwards from this until you fill out each part.
Example: Rule the World Ruby’s first step at the awareness stage of the journey may be to do an online search or ask friends for recommendations.
6. Outline the actions your persona take across various touch points/communication channels
How does your customer find out about your company at each point in the journey? Where do they look for information? What are they doing across each touch point?
Example: Rule the World Ruby might do a Google search for ‘cool fashion brands online’ or head to Pinterest to look up the latest fashion trends before she starts her specific brand or product search.
7. List out existing content for each stage
Outline the content you already have for each stage – this can be the start of your content audit.
There may be some content you already have that you’ve forgotten about or can repurpose, or you might find some requirements that you haven’t met.
8. Brainstorm ideas for new content
Now that you know what information your persona needs at each stage of the journey/ funnel in order to make a purchase, you can also see where you have gaps that you need to fill.
What it looks like in practice
Starting your content strategy planning by filling out a customer journey map really makes the process much easier and more visual. It allows you to identify places where you need to create new pieces of content or work out which pieces you can optimise.
Below is a sample I created using the template I use for my client workshops. It shows how content ideas can be uncovered using the above 8 steps from persona identification through the customer journey to identifying content gaps and opportunities (click to enlarge).
More helpful tips:
If you’d like to find out more about how to map customer journeys, software company Smaply has a wealth of information, including their free toolkit.
You can also find lots of great information and helpful templates for generating personas on the Uxpressia website.
Do you need help to create a content strategy for your business? Send me your details and I’ll provide you with a proposal for how I can build a content plan that really works to bring leads and sales to your business.