- Aligning content to your customer journey is a basic requirement to compete in the industry.
- Consumers are used to a higher degree of personalization.
- Personalization is more than just putting a prospect’s name in an email. It is content that is specific to a customer or prospect at a specific point in their customer journey state, See, Think, Do, Grow or Give.
- The customer journey state dictates the type of message a customer or prospect needs or wants to receive.
Charity of the Week:
We hope you want to join us on our journey. Find us on IterativeMarketing.net, the hub for the methodology and community. Email us at [email protected], follow us on twitter at @iter8ive or join The Iterative Marketing Community LinkedIn group.
The Iterative Marketing Podcast is a production of Brilliant Metrics, a consultancy helping brands and agencies rid the world of marketing waste.
Onward and upward!
Hello everyone, and welcome to the Iterative Marketing podcast. I’m your host, Steve Robinson, and with me, as always, is the insightful – and that’s always with an S never with a C – Elizabeth Earin. How are you doing, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth Earin: I am good, Steve. How are you?
Steve Robinson: I am doing great. So, I was kind of curious, what are your biggest pet peeves?
Elizabeth Earin: Oh gosh! I think it probably depends on what’s going on in my life right now. So, my biggest pet peeve at the moment are people who leave their dishes in the sink. What about you?
Steve Robinson: It is doors left ajar, so cabinets that are left open or if the microwave is left open or one of those sorts of things. Things need to be closed and kind of dress right, dress. And I don’t know if that’s my military or what it is, but yeah. And a funny thing is I think it’s genetic. I think it got passed down to my son and my daughter, because they go around closing things.
Elizabeth Earin: Well, that’s good, then. You don’t have anything that’s annoying you, right?
Steve Robinson: Yeah, exactly.
Elizabeth Earin: It’s as simple as that.
Steve Robinson: So what are we talking about today?
Elizabeth Earin: Today, we are talking about aligning content with both your persona and your customer journey state.
Steve Robinson: I know this kind of comes back to a lot of what we talked about with Iterative Marketing and really your customer journey and your persona being the backbone of your marketing program, but why is it important for us to achieve this alignment?
Elizabeth Earin: Well, I think it’s an important topic for us to talk about today because we have been talking a lot about personas and customer journeys in the past few episodes, but when you are talking about why it’s important in general to your marketing strategy, it comes down to the basic fact that it’s just a requirement to play the game these days.
Steve Robinson: Yeah. I think we are definitely seeing that we are in a moment of change, both in what our competitors are doing and also what the audience expects. I think that, particularly — and you can read all of the studies about millennials, but I think it transcends that to anybody who is used to a personalized, digitally-connected experience demands that in all corners of their lives. I mean, call it the Netflix effect or the Amazon effect. We are used to this higher degree of personalization, based on our own context.
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah. I love that you pointed out that it’s not just tied to millennials. I think a lot of times, those poor guys get a bad rap, but this is something that, across – it’s spanning generations. We are seeing it across the board with different demographics, and not delivering that personalization that customers are looking for is putting businesses at a disadvantage. They are behind the eight-ball.
Steve Robinson: We have talked about personalization in the past in the context of a persona and making sure that you are really speaking to your audience, but today, we are really focused on personalization based on the journey. How is that different from persona?
Elizabeth Earin: Personalization. First, I think it’s important to note that when we are talking about personalization, we are not talking about things like putting their name in the email. We are talking about personalization in terms of the content that we are delivering to them and the message that we are giving them. And so it kind of connects persona and a customer journey in the sense that the state that they are in, See or Think or Do or Grow or Give, is going to determine the type of message that they want to receive. It’s going to determine the type of information that they are looking for at that point. The brand attributes that they need reinforced to feel comfortable with moving forward in the purchasing process, the persona is going to influence that based on maybe the methods that you are using to target them, maybe some of the jargon that you may be using or not using. It’s going to help kind of filter that out, but when you are looking at your content, what you are talking about is specific content that is tied to where they are in the purchasing process at that specific point in time.
Steve Robinson: And so if you end up sending the wrong message at the wrong time, it can have detrimental effects because you are – either the audience is not going to be paying attention to the message that you are sending because it’s all out of context for where they are in their journey, or it could actually drive them away.
Elizabeth Earin: Yes, and it goes beyond that. It’s not just the fear of potentially losing the ability to talk to a potential prospect or customer, but you are also being wasteful of your own resources, your own time and your own money, putting that content or that advertising out there that just isn’t resonating with your audience.
Steve Robinson: Yeah. The way I like to think about it is sort of in the context of dating. If you are dating someone, you have to be very careful about exactly what you reveal or what you say at what point in that relationship, right? Eventually, you end up at the point where you are comfortable saying hopefully anything, but in the beginning, you can’t just walk up to someone that you like and say, “Hey, will you marry me?” Or other slightly less PG things that you could say too early in the dating scene. But it’s sending the right message at the right time. And I think that you are right. If you don’t, then you are just wasting. You’re wasting air. You’re wasting air probably that you are paying for.
Elizabeth Earin: Well, tying it back to your proposal example, if I am on my Facebook feed and there’s this company I have never heard of before that’s asking me to come and buy a product that I have never heard of before, I am going to ignore them. Or if its offensive enough messaging and not offensive in the sense that bad words and distasteful images, but if it’s so in my face, it actually turns me off, and now my chances of interacting with that brand in the future are pretty slim.
Steve Robinson: So I think today, probably the most effective way to go through this would be just go through the individual different states within the customer journey and go through kind of some best practices or tips about creating content that is appropriate for that particular state. Do you want to kick it off with See?
Elizabeth Earin: Sure. So our See audience, again this is going to be that pool of people who are our target audience, who fit with anyone who can buy our product, and who has a use for our product. And tying back to some previous episodes, and we have talked about this, they have the ability to buy your product, they have the money to do it. It’s not just that they want to. They can actually afford it. And so when we are looking at See, we are really focusing at this point on brand awareness, because most of this audience either doesn’t know you exist or doesn’t realize that or think that they have any need for your product. And so at this point, we are focusing on simple brand messaging that says or shows who we are, what we stand for and what it’s like to engage with us so that when they do get to that next stage, when they get to Think or when they get to Do, they already have an idea in their mind of who we are.
Steve Robinson: And I think that there’s kind of two core types of content for this audience. You have your advertising, which is — you are trying to get a message in at edgewise. You are interrupting and you are getting a simple message in front of somebody who needs to hear it at that point in time, or you have your content, or as J. Baer likes to call it, utility-type content, where you are adding value that is tangential to whatever it is that you are offering.
Elizabeth Earin: Exactly. And so when we are talking about advertising, we are talking about that interruptive advertising. We are talking about billboards. We are talking about brand banners that have your brand name and your logo, or maybe your brand name and your tagline. Some other examples, we have got product placements that aren’t necessarily getting a message out, but they are getting the user or the viewer used to seeing the brand and the logo being used in a specific context. And then TV ads, and we love to talk about TV ads. Procter & Gamble’s Olympic Moms, I mean I can’t even talk about it without tearing up, so we won’t go too far into that. Or Johnson & Johnson’s Mother’s Day touch, which is another one that makes me tear up a little bit, but they do exactly what they are supposed to. I now have an affinity for a brand that I may or may not have already had an experience with.
Steve Robinson: Yeah, and in all cases, I think it’s really important to mention that these TV ads are not trying to educate or inform the audience about the product or service. If it’s See stage content, it is really just highlighting the brand and hopefully creating some emotional tie to that brand, not hawking the features and benefits of product A, right?
Elizabeth Earin: Exactly. And both of those brands have successfully succeeded, at least in my point of view. When we talk about content, I know you have got some great examples of content that some brands have used.
Steve Robinson: Yeah. And so here — this is content that, again, isn’t talking about your product or service. It may be tangentially related, but it isn’t directly addressing your product or service. Instead, it’s trying to add value to your prospects or your customers’ lives. I think a great example of this is — or at least one of the most fun examples of this is the Charmin sit or squat app, which, if you think about who is your See audience for Charmin, well, I guess it’s anybody that poops, right? So if you think about it from that standpoint, then providing an app that provides utility for anybody who needs facilities and showing them where the good ones and the clean ones are is the right way to do that. And I have got Elizabeth blushing and cracking up on the other side of this conversation.
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah. If anyone’s watching our video feed I am bright red right now. I told Steve when we talked about this earlier that he was going to have to talk about this example, because this is not something I am comfortable talking about necessarily in public. I think the toilet paper commercials are a little odd, but that’s okay.
Steve Robinson: But the key is that it adds value to the audience.
Elizabeth Earin: It does.
Steve Robinson: By no means is it going to directly sell toilet paper. Instead, it’s going to hopefully enrich the lives of those that are on the go.
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah. I think Nivea has another great example. They had a magazine ad that I believe they only ran it — I think it was in Brazil. But a magazine ad that included a solar panel charger. Well, Nivea doesn’t sell solar panel chargers, but they do a lot that has to do with skin and skin being in the sun, and so they were really going after beachgoers and giving them the ability to charge their phones while they sunbathed. And so again, adding that utility, adding that value that doesn’t necessarily tie back to the product but met the needs of the audience they were trying to reach.
Steve Robinson: Right. So now I am sitting on the beach, getting a lot of sun that may or may not be good for me and may require some product, and in front of me the whole time is the brand and logo of Nivea, so… And I like Nivea, because they charge my phone for me so it’s a win-win. And flipping this a little bit when we move into Think, now that that content has to shift a little bit because now you are approaching a prospect who is actually considering a purchase in the product or service area that you are offering, right?
Elizabeth Earin: And again, generally, we want this to add value and help someone in the decision-making process because they are getting closer to it, now they are aware of the product, they are ready to – they are starting to evaluate their options and getting ready to potentially move into that Do state. And so when we talk in terms of our advertising and of our content, again, we are looking for something that’s more engaging than what was delivered in the See state and something that’s going to make someone think differently about the purchase. A lot of times, this can include a call to action. We are sort of laying the path to help them move down that purchase process, although it may not — I mean, there’s a good chance that it doesn’t include that. It may just be something that’s helping to change their perception. Great examples of these in terms of advertising and content are white papers and webinars, or really any print or web advertising that makes you think about how to make that purchase.
Steve Robinson: Right. And we are not getting into offers here. We are not advertising sale prices. We are not talking about features and benefits. We are helping the consumer think differently about the product category overall and making them feel like a more informed purchaser generally, and so the same thing is true of content. A couple of examples in the content area, one that I really like is that the project color app by Home Depot. So if you think about it, if you are in think state and you are thinking about repainting the inside of your house, what are you going to be doing? You are going to be looking at different colors and trying to figure out where you want to go and trying to create a vision of what it could look like if it’s been repainted, and this app does exactly that. You snap a picture of your room and you pick a color, and boom, your room is that color. Well, it works most of the time. But it helps solidify that vision and get you thinking about that purchase without offering a sale on Behr paint at Home Depot this weekend, 20% off. It’s, instead, facilitating that Think state of the buyer’s journey.
Elizabeth Earin: Exactly. You take your phone and you say I want this, and it makes it that much easier, so you have removed some of those barriers based on this app that has been created. I think that Hubspot and Marketo on the B2B side also do a really phenomenal job in terms of Think state content.
Steve Robinson: So, what happens when we move to Do? What does that look like?
Elizabeth Earin: When we get into Do, that’s when our prospect is ready to buy. They are ready to make that decision, and so now our messaging changes and it’s different than what we have seen and think, in that we need to create a sense of urgency and present an offer to them. And so to your point earlier, this is where we start introducing things like coupons and limited time offers, anything that sort of has a buy now call to action. These are things that are going to instill that sense of urgency and get them to take action.
Steve Robinson: Yeah. And on the content side, really, we are trying to grease those skids. We are trying to make it easier for somebody to follow through with that purchase, so we want to give them buyers guides, we want to give them the features and benefits, comparisons, our product versus another company’s product head-to-head, anything that’s going to help them really make that buying commitment and follow all the way through to being – completing that purchase and becoming a customer.
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah. I think wayfair.com is really, really great at Do state content. They have a phenomenal resource gallery that has how-to guides and different sort of buying guides, and they have got how to measure flooring for installation. I mean that seems so overwhelming and they have this phenomenal easy to understand downloadable PDF that you can go in and kind of walks you through the whole process and eases that fear of going and buying wood flooring online when that may be something that you might be too scared to do before you have read this guide.
Steve Robinson: See, Think and Do are all of those states that occurs prior to somebody becoming a customer, but then we have the two states that occur after somebody becomes a customer and content is just as important then as it is prior to that. It’s a whole lot cheaper to retain and grow existing accounts than it is to acquire new ones or existing customers if you are more on the B2C side. And so when you are working within Grow, here you are really trying to come up with content that helps cross-sell, up-sell, or drive a greater bond to your particular brand or company, right?
Elizabeth Earin: And so on the advertising side, we start to see our brand advertising coming back into play because, again, we want to reinforce those brand values and help reinforce why making it a purchase decision from us, buying from us is a good idea. It’s also an opportunity to provide some relevant offers, and that’s where the kind of cross-sell or up-sell comes into play.
Steve Robinson: And then on the content side, here’s where your classic email newsletter type of content comes in. How can you help your audience better consume your product or service? How can you highlight features and benefits of the existing products and services that they are using that they may not be aware of? How can you make them aware of other things that you offer in a way that isn’t so “salesy” that it makes them unsubscribe or pushes them away, but is really adding value to them of the other things that you have to offer? And I think recipe sites are a great example of this, and pretty much every major food company has a recipe site. Some are better than others. I think, Elizabeth, you stumbled on a really good one.
Elizabeth Earin: Oh yeah, Campbell’s Kitchen. I have used it for dinner myself a few times, but they have got great recipes, cooking tips, they even have a section for 30-minute dinners. I mean, who doesn’t have 30 minutes to try and get dinner together? So great resources, and I think this is an opportunity here when we get into Grow. So many companies and so many brands are so focused on See, Think and Do, and getting those new customers in the door that a lot of times, they kind of let that communication drop off once that customer becomes a customer, and this is a great opportunity, I think, to help strengthen that relationship and to further that relationship, helping them feel comfortable and giving them new avenues of using the product. And so this is, I think, a really great opportunity for a lot of our listeners out there.
Steve Robinson: And that brings us to Give. So these are your current customers who kind of go a little bit above and beyond your normal customer. And they have moved into that advocate scenario, where they are now advocating your brand to others. They are the evangelists of your brand or your mission or your product or service. And I think it’s important to identify these individuals and target them with slightly different content than your grow audience, because these are the folks that you want leaving you reviews. These are the folks that you want sharing your message, and you want to make sure that they are on point when they are doing it, right?
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah. You have worked so hard on crafting this brand message and creating this brand image that while we want our customers to talk about us, it would be great if they could talk about us in the way that we have crafted in our brand guide. And this is kind of our next step to getting there, and we use things like brand advertising to reinforce that key message and referral programs. There are so many great examples of referral programs out there. I think Dropbox’s Refer a Friend is a really great example. It’s very clean and concise messaging. It makes it very easy to share and it’s a very successful program for them. On the content side, we are looking at things like joint case studies that, when you ask a customer to participate with you so the two of you are working on that together. And there’s, I think, a couple other examples of really great content opportunities where you can help to give customers the chance to talk about you in an educated way.
Steve Robinson: I think a really great example of this is actually with Lego, which of course is kind of the poster-child for content marketing as well. But when you look at their ability to co-create content with their audience, particularly those that are their biggest fans, they are evangelists of Lego content. They do a phenomenal job. If you go on their Facebook page, it’s riddled with contests and competitions where you have people trying to, both kids and adults, trying to create various things with Lego, take photographs of it, share it. All of that’s going to their friends, their followers and sharing their love of Lego with a broader community and helping to really reinforce that brand through word of mouth. And it’s a great example of taking their Give audience and really nurturing it and putting it to good use. I think this is a great point for us to take a quick break and go help some people.
Elizabeth Earin: Before we continue, I would like to take a quick moment to ask you Iterative Marketers a small but meaningful favor, and ask that you give a few dollars to a charity that’s important to one of our own. This week’s charitable cause was sent in by Brittany Tamminga in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Brittany asks that you make a contribution to Micah Ministries, a faith-based organization addressing the basic needs of the homeless in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Learn more at www.micahfredericksburg.org or visit the link in the show notes. If you would like to submit your cause for consideration for our next podcast, please visit iterativemarketing.net/podcast and click the “Share a Cause” button. We love sharing causes that are important to you.
Steve Robinson: And we are back. So prior to the break we talked about the different customer states and the different states in the customer journey and what type of content is most valuable to a prospect at each step in that — or customer in each state as they move through the customer journey. But I think it’s important to note that, just because an individual happens to be in an individual state, they are either in See, Think, Do, Grow, or Give, doesn’t mean that you should only be targeting that individual with content for that state. You have to introduce content from the following state in the path that you want that prospect to follow so that you can know exactly where they are in the customer journey.
Elizabeth Earin: Exactly. If you don’t provide Think stage content to your See audience, you are never going to know when they have moved to Think, same with Think to Do. Do grows a little bit different, because they have made a purchase so there’s a different way to acknowledge that. We are going to talk about that in a little bit, but if you haven’t given them a path to make the move, then we don’t know when they have made that move. With that being said, I think it’s very important to note that we cannot force someone down this path. They have to make that decision on their own. It’s our job to provide them with that pathway to light the path for them, but they have to make the decision when they are going to move into the next step, into that next state.
Steve Robinson: Exactly, exactly. I think it’s also important to note that when we are saying that you need to introduce Think state content to your See audience, that we are not saying that you should mix your content and you shouldn’t be providing one piece of content that is both See and Think. We are saying that the bulk of your content should be See state content, and that you should introduce small pieces of Think state content in addition to that See state content.
Elizabeth Earin: And then once they have acted on that, [they] will have a bulk of Think content and introduce some small pieces of Do stage content until they make that next move. And that’s how we can, again, determine what state that they are in.
Steve Robinson: You want to do the same thing from Grow to Give. So when a customer is in Grow state, you are going to drop a little bit of Give state content just to see, hey, is this somebody who wants to promote our product or service, our brand or is this somebody who is still just focused on becoming a loyal customer?
Elizabeth Earin: Now earlier, I mentioned that Do to Grow is a little bit different. What makes it different?
Steve Robinson: Well in this instance, you are usually not going to be using content to detect when somebody moved from Do to Grow, right? Because there’s usually a point where they have decided to make a purchase and they have followed through on that purchase and that’s when they move from Do to Grow. Now everybody’s definition is a little bit different of when is somebody a loyal customer that you are working on growing into. That’s different for every company. In the case of e-commerce, you are probably going to set a threshold on they need to make two purchases and have a user account before they are considered a loyal customer. But in the case of if you are selling a car, people only make that purchase decision every three to five years anyway, so you are not going to really – they become a customer after one purchase. So content — you are not going to really dangle your Grow content in front of your Do audience. Instead, you are just going to wait for them to cross the line and then you will move into providing them with Grow and a little bit of a Give content. Why do we need content at each one of these states? Can we just skip around and provide some See content, maybe some Do content and leave it at that?
Elizabeth Earin: Great question. And I think we alluded to it just a few minutes ago, but if we want to lead them down this purchasing path, to light the path for them as we referenced earlier, then we need to have content at each of the states.
Steve Robinson: I think it’s important to note that if we skip states, then we leave holes, right? So you have chunks of your audience that is in each one of these states. And your audience is in one state; they are not in multiple. So if you are not offering content that adds value to an individual state, then you either are providing them with the wrong content at that state or you are leaving a gap and perhaps your competitor has come in to provide the content for that state.
Elizabeth Earin: Again, our customers and our prospects are looking for a personalized experience and if you are not offering it, they are going to find someone who is. So when we talk about content, let’s start with See. If we are not putting See content out to our prospects, to our possible audience, then we are ignoring anyone who isn’t thinking about our product right this second and that hurts our brand awareness. And when our brand awareness hurts, then that hurts our long-term growth.
Steve Robinson: Exactly. And if we skip Think content, then we are not helping people be more considered in their purchase. We are not building any brand affinity or trust along the path and chances are your competitors are. So they will be getting that content from somewhere as they try to figure out — become an informed consumer of your product or service.
Elizabeth Earin: I think at this point, it’s important to note when you get into Do, if you do have Do content, you think, well, I am just going to share it with my Think audience or my See audience. It’s not a big deal. It is a big deal, because if you turn them off too early, if you go at them too hard with too much of a sales message too early in the game, then you are going to turn them off and you are going to lose that potential sale in the future.
Steve Robinson: And then if you skip Do, and not many people skip Do, usually we run across brands that are only doing Do, but if you did somehow skip Do and you build this really loyal tribe of people who love your articles and your content, that helps them or makes them feel good but then you do nothing to monetize it. Well then, you don’t make money, so that’s not a good thing either.
Elizabeth Earin: Grow is another area where I think I mentioned earlier a lot of brands have opportunities. If you skip Grow, you have provided this great service up to this point, and now you have just sort of disappeared. You have fallen off the face of the earth, then you have started to lose that trust that you had built up during your sales process and you also lose the opportunity to cross-sell or up-sell or maintain retention, and that’s important because the cost of acquiring a new customer is so much more than maintaining a current customer.
Steve Robinson: And then finally, Give. Really, if you skip Give, it’s more of an opportunity cost, because you are losing the opportunity to, (a) direct or influence your evangelist, your advocate audience, to make sure that they are sharing the right message as they go and talk about your brand to others. And (b) you are missing the opportunity to nurture that audience and really amplify your word of mouth marketing, which is a really powerful force. Some businesses grow only on word of mouth. So the opportunity to influence and accelerate it is really one that you don’t want to squander.
Elizabeth Earin: Now, people that love you want to talk about you, so help them do it. Give them the words to make it happen.
Steve Robinson: Yeah. One of the questions I get is so why can’t I just create some fits-all content? Some content that actually just works for all of these audiences, and then that also really save on my production costs and really make things a lot simpler. Do you want to address why that’s not a good idea, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah, it comes back to that — a message that is pertinent to everyone is not interesting to anyone. So if you write this message that’s going to appeal — in your mind, appeal to See, Think, and Do audiences, chances are that it’s not meeting the needs of the individual users in each of those states, and so at that point, they are just going to tune it out.
Steve Robinson: Yeah. Our brains are naturally wired to go out and find signal among noise, right? We are great at identifying patterns, even some that don’t exist, but if you start producing content that has too much clutter, too many different things in it, it just becomes the noise, and your audience, your prospects, your customers will be unable to find signal in it, and they won’t latch onto it because it isn’t relevant to where they are, their context at that particular moment. I think we have pretty well summed up, beat this topic to death as it were, and I want to thank everybody for their time this week. And I know time is precious, and I appreciate you making it for us. Until next week, onward and upward!
Elizabeth Earin: If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to the podcast on YouTube on your favorite podcast directory. If you want notes and links to resources discussed on the show, sign up to get them emailed to you each week at iterativemarketing.net. There, you’ll also find the Iterative Marketing blog and our community LinkedIn group, where you can share ideas and ask questions of your fellow Iterative Marketers. You can also follow us on Twitter. Our username is @iter8ive or email us at [email protected]
The Iterative Marketing Podcast is a production of Brilliant Metrics, a consultancy helping brands and agencies rid the world of marketing waste. Our producer is Heather Ohlman with transcription assistance from Emily Bechtel. Our music is by SeaStock Audio, Music Production and Sound Design. You can check them out at seastockaudio.com. We will see you next week. Until then onward and upward!