Content marketing campaigns

If you have worked in the marketing department of a company or marketing agency, you will have seen some highly successful campaigns in terms of visibility, sales, and other indicators. You will have also seen the opposite; a campaign that did not work. Let’s face it: many marketing campaigns offer a negative ROI for the brand. Perhaps too many.

In the latter situations, we tend to wonder: What went wrong? What does the success of a campaign depend on?

The answer, in part, is that in ours and many other professions, there are simply some factors beyond our control. Some of which we might ascribe to “luck.”

Added to this is the fact that marketing and communication have an artistic and inspirational side, which adds a further layer of complexity in efforts to map for systematic success.

This said, there are several factors that affect the probability of defining a winning marketing strategy. One of them is the lack of a formal methodology for creating content strategies.

Ever strategy shares, at least, some of these elements:

  • A well-defined buyer persona
  • A clear customer journey
  • A set of key events
  • Types of actions for each journey stage  

Getting the buyer persona right

When defining a Buyer Persona, the first, most critical aspect is to understand the difference between Buyer Persona and Target clearly. A target would be defined as something like “Men aged between 35 and 55, living in New York,” whereas the definition of a Buyer Persona would be more specific and detailed.

A Buyer Persona is a detailed description of someone representing your target audience. The persona is fictional but based on thorough research of your existing or desired audience. Source: https://blog.hootsuite.com/buyer-persona/

With that definition in mind, endless models and templates are available online to create a highly detailed Buyer Persona. But, do all those detailed descriptions work for you and serve your purpose? Obviously not.

For example, in this link, you can download some great looking, visually attractive templates with different Buyer Persona formats, such as this one:

While this example poses a graphic and user-friendly way to define a Buyer Persona, it leaves out two oft-forgotten aspects crucial to defining a successful strategy.

It’s all well and good to define every social-demographic trait of the individual, complete with hobbies, interests, and lifestyle. However, that information is useless if we overlook the two points of the relationship between the Buyer Persona and the product our strategy is designed to sell:

  • Frustrations: What are the potentially negative points perceived by buyer when using this kind of product? Where are the main friction points that may lead a potential buyer to decide against purchasing the product?
  • Motivations: What is the customer´s primary motivation to buy the product? What “killer feature” makes you buy the product without a second thought? Is price a relevant factor?

The first step is to understand the psychological characteristics of the Persona-product relationship and summarize these within the Frustrations and Motivations category. Only then can we define Buyer Personas that are truly helpful in defining all the ensuant parts of the strategy, such as channels, actions, key messages, and others.

Customer Journey: Getting into the customer’s mind

The Customer Journey is undoubtedly the preferred strategy planning method of marketing professionals. Readers will be familiar with the Customer Journey and have likely used it in their day-to-day work. This said, a review of the basic concepts of the Customer Journey is in order, before offering our own thoughts on the keys to planning a successful Customer Journey.

The Customer Journey is the process by which a customer interacts with a company in order to achieve a goal. Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/service/customer-journey-map

There are myriad Customer Journey models. Each model is comprised of different stages. A cross-check of the nomenclature used to describe stages shows confusion of terms due to lack of standardization:  different names are assigned to stages that are in fact, identical.

At Contegy, we’ve opted for a Customer Journey model limited to five stages:

  • Awareness: People in this stage lack an understanding of the problem the product intends to solve. Many are not aware that they have a problem or need. Consequently, this stage entails a considerable amount of evangelism. Usually, this is done when we have a medium-high budget, or the product is so new that there are still not many potential users in the Interest or Consideration stage.
    In this stage, we never talk about a solution or a product. It’s too early for that because the person is not ready to receive that information. In this stage, the conversation focuses on the need and the problem to make the person aware of need.
  • Interest: When they enter this stage, people are previously aware of their needs and begin to show interest in possible solutions. It’s time to deliver content about the brand and the product with a single goal: to seduce the audience.
  • Consideration: In the Consideration stage, Personas are aware that they are likely to move into conversion (buying a product, downloading an app, etc.) and start to analyze and compare possible solutions.
    This is when we can impact potential buyers with actions and contents more focused on the specifics of the product, such as price, sales channels, etc.
  • Conversion: This is the stage where everything falls into place and the campaigns reach their final goal: sale, app download, channels, subscription, etc. People in this stage are brand and product aware, and very close to the moment of purchase, e.g., they have tested a free trial version of the product.
    The rule of thumb at this point is to enable a smooth purchase experience and eliminate any friction prior to purchase.
  • Advocacy: Advocacy or Referral is a step beyond the conversion stage to achieve further KE conversion (sales, downloads, etc.), by leveraging converted customers, who will then act in different ways as brand ambassadors and attract new customers.

The key to harnessing the full potential of the Customer Journey is an understanding of the stages and psychological timing of the customer experience. The stages are not “types of actions” that can be performed (see next section) rather, they refer to the target buyer´s state of mind. Creating content for each stage, fine-tuned to the state of mind of the Buyer Persona is essential.

The Key Event (KE)

The Key Event is the primary action we want the Buyer Persona to take (buy the product). But to get there, prior actions are needed along the way: the lesser, but no less important KEs in each stage of the Customer Journey. For instance, in the Conversion stage, the Key Event is usually “Buy” or “Download App,” whereas in the Awareness stage, it could be “Read a post,” etc.

Examples of KEs for a SaaS type tool like Contegy:

  • Awareness: user reads one of the three main blog posts on the description of needs met by the tool (as this is the Awareness stage, the posts discuss the need, not the tool/solution).
  • Interest: user visits one of the key product pages: /pricing, /demo or /sign up.
  • Consideration: user creates a new free account in Contegy (trial).
  • Conversion: user signs up for a paid plan.
  • Advocacy: existing customer creates an affiliate link and generates traffic.

Examples of KE in fashion, B2C e-commerce:

  • Awareness: visit to brand homepage.
  • Interest: visit to a product page.
  • Consideration: begins checkout process (puts product in shopping cart).
  • Conversion: completes purchase process (buys product).
  • Advocacy: customer recommends brand on social networks.

Note that achievement of an intermediate KE indicates the likelihood of change in consumer attitude and decision to purchase, not a clear-cut change from one stage to another.

The KEs are merely indicators of potential for change from one stage to another. So we should avoid considering the stages of the journey as watertight compartments, and forget about clearly defined boundaries that strictly determine when the user is in one stage and when they move on to the next.

Types of actions: The neglected factor

We have frequently heard phrases like “OK, now we can build some social media content for the Interest stage!”. Good intentions, BUT not well-thought-out to include the whole picture.

Many marketing campaigns neglect a crucial element: the type of action.

For each buyer persona at a particular stage of the journey, we can implement three types of actions:

  • Acquisition: Actions aimed at impacting users in a particular journey stage. Users lacking any touchpoints with the brand.
  • Activation: Actions aimed at encouraging users in a specific stage to perform the KE of that stage.
  • Retention: Actions aimed at ensuring that users in a particular stage who have not taken the KE action do not abandon and stay as long as possible in that stage, to increase the chances of fulfilling the ´big´ KE.

Acquisition actions to win new users for their first touchpoint with the brand are not applicable for the Conversion and Advocacy stages. By definition, users in these stages have already had contact with some contents or elements of the brand.

Hence, the definition of a strategy on a journey is closer to a matrix than a funnel. For example, in Contegy, when creating a user journey, the next step is to determine which platforms to use for each combination of Action Type and Journey Stage:

As you can see, mapping out the whole customer journey while considering all those other factors is crucial to achieving an effective strategy.

This post is an abridged version of our white paper. Click here or on the side-banner to download the fully-fledged document for additional strategic tips.

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