Understanding the audience journey (or buyer’s journey) is crucial to creating and implementing your successful business growth strategy.
It’s a process of researching, collecting, analyzing, and addressing the audience group you want to focus on to drive the most profit and revenue.
Doing this correctly will save your budget and resources and build long-term business success.
Guide to Article
- Guide to Article
- Q: Can You Just Quickly Introduce Yourself And Share With Our Audience Your Inspiration? What Inspired You To Get Into Digital Marketing?
- Q: How Do You Help Your Clients Create A Persona To Go Through That Whole Persona Development And Use The Persona To Drive The Content For Their Buyer Journey?
- Q: How Does Minimum Viable Content Can Help Startups?
- Q: How Do You Have Your Clients Do Content Planning? Is That One Year Or Six Months Long?
- Q: Is This The Software That You Viewed To Help Your Clients, Or How Do You Do That?
- Q: What Do You Think Some Writers Missed In Their Process That Would Make Their Content More Effective?
- Q: Some Companies Are In The Startup Phase And Don’t Have Huge Budgets. How Do You Advise Them To Do Content Marketing Effectively?
Q: Can You Just Quickly Introduce Yourself And Share With Our Audience Your Inspiration? What Inspired You To Get Into Digital Marketing?
I am Scott Mclean, and I am the managing director of the content marketing of everything connected. I had my agency called Xenon Red which we merged into everything connected in the middle of last year. So what inspired me to get into content marketing is, to be honest, I feel I’ve been in content marketing throughout my entire career in one way or another.
Because I started as a journalist, and a journalist is all about content. Then I went into PR, and an enormous chunk of what we do in PR is content. Then I made the complete transition into content marketing. Still, I went into content marketing and what inspired me most was I worked with one of my business partners, a technical marketer. She put in place one of the first decisioning systems in the world at the O2, a substantial mobile operator in the UK.
We talked about the need to connect buyers through their buyer journey and that the connection between a buyer and a business is content. Conclusion: there was no focus on all the content that a buyer needs through their entire end-to-end journey steps, so that was an aha moment, and it spurred me to move fully into content marketing.
What does the agency do and deliver? Because we took a particular view of the role of content and how we should form content? We also have a software tool that we’ve built over the last five years to support that.
Q: How Do You Help Your Clients Create A Persona To Go Through That Whole Persona Development And Use The Persona To Drive The Content For Their Buyer Journey?
You can imagine a well-defined process we take our clients through, starting with persona identification. Still, we work out the journey map just before the persona identification. We work with our clients to say the buyer journey map, and we have templates as you’d expect but actually, every single business we’ve ever worked with always tailors that template to be suitable for their sector and market.
We don’t try to overcomplicate it. We’re not looking for 20 steps because that can be unwieldy. We have had b2b technology vendors who have a three-year sales cycle end up with 12 to 15 steps but similarly, we don’t just do a very simplified one. We try to avoid doing simplified four steps because that’s not really what the buyer goes through.
Then you explain very briefly where they haven’t started on their audience journey. They don’t know what the opportunities or challenges are. We work out from what we call the ordinary world, where nothing has been done. We call the threshold steps to do an internal cell through a call to action research.
If they’re b2c, they weigh up whether they want to progress in the process. Then you get onto the consideration and buying steps which can vary. We’re working with bt enterprise in the UK. They have quite a few steps after the review because they have a quote cycle to take people through. So every business is different.
Because we don’t find that particularly meaningful, and the reason we don’t see that meaning is the most important thing we’re looking to identify from personas is to buy needs. We map out the buyer journey with our clients and then identify the persona. We do that in two ways, so we always do our personas based on behavior, not job titles or demographics.
So we work out what the functional social-emotional supporting needs are. Once you layer that against a buyer journey map, then conduct a content audit to look at what they have already got _ which sits against each of the steps, sits against each of those personas, and, more importantly, those needs.
We do this in the tool to see the gaps in the audience journey map. Because what we’re looking to do for all our clients is start them off with what we call a minimum viable journey. So what is the minimum possible amount of content you need as a business to allow your customers, your prospective buyers, to go from the beginning of their journey stages to the end of their journey map; just a minimum.
Then, of course, over time, it will get more mature. You’ll build it out, cover more needs, and make it richer, deeper, and more engaging, but that is how we get our clients started. When you show them the output from the audit, and you say here are the gaps; here’s where your buyers cannot go through the buying journey with you. It is a big light bulb moment or an awareness stage.
Because the clients you know naturally, at that point, go right. Then you can get started, and it helps them on an ongoing basis. It constantly informs our content planning because we’re not just looking to produce content with a good cadence regularly to support all channels, we’re doing that, but we’re looking at it as the audience journey.
Because by using our excellent editions, we can see where buyers are on their decision journey. We can see where the barriers are in the customer journeymap and understand them. For example, SEO brings buyers in successfully because they’re progressing or bringing in traffic.
So many insights allow us to enrich, inform, and build out that buyer journey. Because you understand where your buyers are, you convert more sales by facilitating that journey in a more cohesive and better customer journey map template. So fundamentally, we’re increasing conversions.
Q: How Does Minimum Viable Content Can Help Startups?
Look, at the very least, your prospective buyer can consume all the content they need to go from the beginning of the audience journey to the end of the audience journey. But, I’ll be candid; I’m sure anybody would agree that budget will always be the key definer here. So you could build out a prosperous minimum viable journey if you’ve got an enormous budget. We focus on that.
It doesn’t matter what your budget is. Mainly, you just need this amount of content, and once you’ve got that content, we can start to track people through the buyer journey. It’s not that you can’t do content marketing; it’s not that you’re not ready to engage your prospects. It’s just that when they come in, they’re going to find gaps in the user journey, and that’s not a good place to be as a provider.
Q: How Do You Have Your Clients Do Content Planning? Is That One Year Or Six Months Long?
I am a quarterly planner. I think the world changes so fast over time, the business has changed so fast, and buyers change so fast. It’s hard to plan marketing strategy or content strategy beyond a quarterly basis. But you also need to learn as you go, so if you take a buyer journey approach, you are continually accumulating insight into how your content is performing to facilitate the audience journey mapping.
We are not just talking click-through rates here; we’re talking about audience journey progression. We are talking about how your content adds value to your business and customer experience, and therefore, you both need time to see the data related to the customer journey. You don’t want to be responding in a knee-jerk fashion; you want to be taking a considered response with customer journey mapping for a target audience.
So usually, it’s like 99% of the time, we find that quarterly planning is the right thing to do so. It allows us to analyze what’s going on, and then we plan out the content for the quarter ahead across all channels.
I want to clarify that content still has to be outstanding and engaging and based on customer personas. Just because you’re doing it from a buyer’s journey, that’s the foundation and the art of content. So you need to write excellent content. The video still has to be unique, engaging, and relevant to the customers’ journey.
Q: Is This The Software That You Viewed To Help Your Clients, Or How Do You Do That?
We built it, and it’s a piece of software called Odyssiant. It’s not that we made it as a separate company so that anybody can use it. We don’t use it across many businesses because it’s a startup itself. But we do have the likes of bt on it company called Splitter; it’s a company called Roslyn; great companies who see the value in what it’s able to deliver.
Q: What Do You Think Some Writers Missed In Their Process That Would Make Their Content More Effective?
I find that writers are as good as their brief. All our writers are given details on the personas they are writing for the needs that we want them to be drilling down and what step in the journey that piece of content fulfills those basic insights.
Then got the content’s principle, is it a thought leadership piece of content? What’s it going to be drilling down? All of that is informed by those initial things because we create a successful part of the content that will be contextually relevant, and I know this because I come from a journalistic background.
No newspaper has any notion of a reader consuming every single article within that paper; that would be nonsense all. So they write education stories because they expect parents to be interested in education stories. They write entertainment stories because they expect 20% to be interested in what’s going on in entertainment or cars or whatever.
I mean to say that they write a whole raft of different articles to satisfy their audience’s needs. Businesses need to do the same. I find that one of the biggest weaknesses of businesses. They always just want to get to the cell, or this can be even worse, or they just want to drive traffic, and neither of those is a good idea to drive action.
If you’re driving traffic, you need to be driving the right sort of traffic; it’s got to be contextually suitable. If you want to make a sale, you’ve got to meet people’s needs, know pain points not just say our product is the best, sure you want to buy it. I know that all seems obvious, and I know people will be nodding ahead and going yes, of course, that’s the case.
So it’s not hard to get your content contextually right for your buyers’ journey and still be great content. It could still be good and engaging content. But if that is the case, why do businesses still do it all the time?
If you write to people’s buyer needs, you will be writing good content. Sophie’s difference is essential between outbound content and the content sitting on your site. We always work with our clients and ensure that outbound content drives people to a specific place within their website.
It’s vital that if we put a video out on social media, that video has to call to action at the end of the links to drive people into the right place of the site to continue the journey. We never conceive of and deliver standalone content which doesn’t, in some way, pull people through into the site or onwards into the journey.
Q: Some Companies Are In The Startup Phase And Don’t Have Huge Budgets. How Do You Advise Them To Do Content Marketing Effectively?
I have run two startup companies. Odyssiant is a startup company, and I did an energy company initially. I don’t think there is one, and I would defy anybody to come up with a single answer. You know building brand and brand love depend on your sector. We’re working with a drinks company at the moment; they need to build a community.
A b2b company we’re just starting up with, frankly, they don’t need to build their brand. It’s as simple as that because if they’re going to get stocked in the major supermarkets and cafes, they want to be stored in, those stockists wish to see that as brand love and a community behind it. So that’s more important than the direct sale to that community.
They need to develop clear differentiation and clear blue water as to why they’re different in the space. The brand will follow if you like, and they can build brands, not awareness. They can make that kind of brand identity over time, but first and foremost, they need to have that clear blue water.
So I think every business, every startup is different. I think what you’ve got to understand is what your brand needs to achieve for you. Because you can spend a lot of money and a lot of time doing brand content and brand marketing, then sit back one day and say, hang on a second, is that driving what we need? and it might not be.
If you need sales, brand marketing will drive sales when you’re a startup, and maybe it won’t. But, you’ve got to be clear on what you’re seeking to achieve because you’ve got to work those budgets hard. When you’re a startup, the only real thing which matters is growth. Some startups, all they’re after is an investment.
If they’re really after the investment, it’s just about building brand awareness. So you’ve got to be clear on what you’re after and then make the content plan and audience journey accordingly.