Marketing. We turn leads into prospects, prospects into opportunities, and opportunities into customers. It’s our bread and butter. But, what happens after? What’s possible? And most importantly - what do we want to happen after?
There is a heavy focus on securing purchases and not enough on the customer journey as a whole. Yes, the buying process has changed. With information so widely available, the power has decidedly shifted from suppliers to customers. Marketing must now throw its full weight behind the banner of customer-centrism, armed with content, marching in fervent support of solving their customer’s pain points.
Marketing is now more in the business of providing support rather than convincing. Helping, rather than persuading. Surely, a shift welcomed by customers the world over. The problem arises when the point of purchase is seen by sellers as the end of the journey - job done! Marketing doesn’t continue to assist customers with helpful supportive content beyond the point of purchase.
Why is this a problem?
Simply, because it’s not the end. Retaining existing customers and growing their lifetime value to your business by creating advocates for your brand — should have marketing at the helm.
Beyond the Purchase
The Customer’s Journey features three connected phases — Buy, Own, and Advocate.
Modern marketing has placed heavy emphasis on optimising this phase. The Buyer’s Journey sits squarely within the Buy phase. It is the transitioning from a state of unawareness to purchase.
The era of the digitally empowered customer now demands collaboration between departments to improve the journey before and after purchase.
The Own phase, as Augie Ray, Research Director from Gartner, puts it: “begins at the point of purchase and ends when your customers aren’t merely satisfied with your product, but are in love with it — deepening the relationship with the brand”.
Ray argues that frequent purchases aren’t enough to warrant labelling a customer as loyal. These purchases are often dictated by convenience and habit rather than positive and active affiliations with your brand.
An effective Own phase is looking beyond purchase frequency to determine a customer’s loyalty.
Advocacy is the phase that follows true loyalty to your brand. It is the phase which buyers are so entrenched within the Own phase, they purchase more, deepening their loyalty, and seldom return to the Buy phase to consider alternatives.
It is also the phase where customers are turned into advocates for your brand — evangelists for your products. Loyal advocates, when properly nurtured become a powerful force, positively impacting the Buy phase for others.
They become willing participants in the propagation of your brand and its message.
Mapping Your Content To Each Phase
The Buy, Own, and Advocate phases form a cohesive journey that evolves prospects into advocates. So, how must your content evolve to align to these changing needs and perspectives?
The key point to remember:
Alignment should always be around the customer and where they are throughout the entire Customer’s Journey.
Planning content through the Buy phase is about providing the right content at the right time to move prospects through the buyer’s journey.
It’s with this same mindset that content should be planned for the two successive phases. Post-purchase content helps transform habit-defined return customers into loyal champions.
It requires an alignment not only among goals and intent, but between departments. Though Marketing owns much of the Buy and Advocate phases, it is Customer Experience that will play a major role in fostering the loyalty within the Own phase.
CX must enable content focused on solving post-purchase pain points and improving the overall experience of using the product itself. Content in the Own phase should help cement your brand as the right purchase decision and foster “love” for your brand.
Once loyalty has been established and customers are within the Advocacy phase, your content should help facilitate the spread of your customer’s evangelism to the uninformed. It’s also prime time to tailor your content to promote up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.
The Never-Ending Journey
Content marketing has evolved into an exercise in relationship building that extends far beyond the point of purchase. Content marketing as an exclusive staple of the traditional buyer’s journey is being usurped by a content strategy that must reflect the demands of customers post-purchase so we can maximise the potential for business growth.
Aligning your content to the entire Customer’s Journey demands an understanding of these three phases. Collaboration between the marketing, sales and customer success teams, departments that are often siloed, requires thoughtful planning and a commitment to achieving a common goal. Marketing should provide the framework, goals and direction.
Marketing will be the conductor to the Customer Journey’s content symphony.
If you'd like to talk about aligning your entire customer's buying journey we’re happy to have a short informal consultation about some steps you could take.