It’s becoming increasingly clear that one of the only ways for businesses to stay relevant and visible is to create valuable content.
But creating content is only one side of the coin. Once we have that content, where does it all sit in the bigger picture of your business? To understand this, we need to look at how we can use content within the various stages of the customer journey.
Together, we will be guiding you through some of the things you need to be aware of when it comes to linking up your content to your bigger business strategy.
To get us started, I asked Lisa to give us a rundown on how we should be thinking about the customer journey:
The customer journey – the common denominator of businesses
Lisa: “All businesses, no matter what kind, need to understand the experience their customers have when they engage with the company. They need to understand how a potential customer moves through their business to eventually end up as a paying customer.”
To give you an example of how this normally works, here is a typical customer journey:
To get a potential customer moving through each level, businesses can use content to keep them engaged and influence them to take the next step. This can be through emails, blogs, ebooks, social media, etc.
The important thing to remember is that, in a good customer journey, these steps are all fully automated and the right content is applied in the right places (more on that later on).
Now, back to Lisa:
Lisa: “Every customer out there appreciates that automation is necessary, but we mustn’t lose the human touch either. The key is in finding that balance between efficiency and personalisation which can make a huge difference to your business.
The problem is a lot of businesses don’t focus on the customer journey at all and just sort of duct tape the steps together instead of automating them. This causes potential customers to fall into black holes, and the business/customer relationship starts to break down.
The last thing you want in businesses is to have people not engage with you. When you get engagements you get buyers, you get referrals, and you get raving fans spreading the word of the wonderful work you are doing.”
Nurturing your existing customers
“There are a lot of people out there searching for new business and there’s always a huge focus around leads, leads, leads, but most businesses already have a wonderful pool of people available who can add value to your business – existing customers! These people are always available and, a lot of the time, open to receiving your higher value products/services.
Getting a customer should never only be a one-way transaction. You constantly need to be looking for new ways to improve the value of your services in order to keep your customer’s journey moving forwards with you, rather than with a competitor.
In order to build a seamless customer journey, you’ve got to know how many steps you want your customer to take and what kind of message should be going out at each step.”
So, a customer journey isn’t only about automation; it’s also about nurturing the right people, picking the right systems and simplifying the entire process along the way.
A simple, streamlined solution for the busy entrepreneur
What I love about this is its simplicity. In the world of entrepreneurship, the tendency is to complicate everything (not on purpose of course). Entrepreneurs are creative and messy individuals who are trying to juggle multiple things at once; so having a simple, clean and automated customer experience is not only going to add cash value to the business, but it will also free up the entrepreneur’s time to focus on growth strategies.
At Write Business Results, I help entrepreneurs create their books, blogs and podcasts, and what I often see is that they really need to get their content in the right places at the right time, in front of the right people – and this is where a good customer journey can really help.
So, when it comes to systemising content, where is a good starting point for business owners? I asked Lisa for some expert advice on how to get started:
Lisa: “Firstly, make sure you identify and understand the different stages of your customer lifecycle. Get out a piece of A4, an envelope or even the back of a napkin and write everything out clearly.
For example, if your website/Facebook page is attracting interest, what happens next in the prospect’s education, and where is that interest coming from? The idea is to literally create as linear a path as possible for your customers to move through, starting from free content/products and ending with your premium paid services.”
Understand the journey and add content around it
“Once you know each step, you will know where each piece of content sits within that journey, and you can begin to insert it into the right places, at the right times, to create the best customer experience possible.
If you have a sequence of emails written up (content) as part of your customer journey, make sure that whatever automation you are using is configured to ensure that your customers aren’t being bombarded with too much content. If six emails are being sent out on the same day, even if they are good emails, people will think you are spamming them and they will most likely unsubscribe from your list.”
Play by the rules when emailing customers
“These days, email services’ algorithms are very good at detecting spam emails but, if you know the rules by which they play, you can win the game. For example, if your emails have too many images in them or links to non-reputable sites, you’re going to look like a spammer and you are going to get put on the naughty chair. However, play by the rules and send timely emails to people who are engaged with you, and you’ll go straight to their inbox.”
Create a warm list for your bigger promotions
Lisa’s “playing by the rules” tip for email content is a great way to ensure you have a nice warm list when the time comes for you to promote your bigger pieces of content – like a book, for example.
Book launches need a flurry of activity and loads of noise around the book in the run-up to launch, not only during it. This is because to get a bestseller, you need to drive traffic to the Amazon bestseller page to create that spike in sales, as well as having a steady, day-to-day flow of sales.
So, as we heard from Lisa, if you haven’t been working your email list and playing by the rules, when the time comes for you to promote your book, your emails may well end up in the spam folder.
Make sure you are keeping your audience warm with timely, valuable content, and your sales figures will thank you when the time comes to run your promotions.
To get a better idea of how this email content can work in the run-up to a promotion, I asked Lisa to share with me her system from her “Funnel in a Box” service. Here’s how it works:
Lisa: “Once our adverts and landing pages are created, we send out a seven-email, pre-selling sequence warming people up before we ask them to commit to any action whatsoever. We do all the automation so it’s an end-to-end sales funnel, and the business owner or author doesn’t have to do anything.”
Good content needs good marketing
Because there is so much work involved in writing and publishing a good business book, I think it’s easy for the launch to be seen as an afterthought for many authors. But there is no point having an amazing book without a solid marketing plan for it because, without a solid strategy (like Lisa’s), nobody is ever going to get to read it!
That’s why at Write Business Results, I start having the marketing consultations with my clients about three months before the launch just to get the thought process going early. That way we have a solid plan in place and a warm audience to promote to when the time comes.
Don’t do it all yourself
One thing that was very clear from my conversation with Lisa was that, as an entrepreneur or author, don’t feel like you have to do everything on your own.
Lisa summed it up brilliantly with the following statement:
Lisa: “A dentist is really good at being a dentist but doesn’t understand the nuances of marketing and how people react to it. I think the sooner you’ve got a partner on board who understands the marketing side, the better. That way you don’t have to feel overwhelmed with learning Google Ads or how to write engaging emails. You can focus on your expertise, and leave the automation and marketing to someone who specialises in that field.”
When I look at my authors who take that approach versus the ones who insist they’re going to do it all themselves, the difference is night and day. Almost every author I’ve worked with who has tried to do everything has ended up becoming overwhelmed and abandoning the project altogether!
As entrepreneurs, time is something we are all short on, so you can’t take your time and energy for granted, especially that creative energy we all run off of. Something I learnt during my time with Strategic Coach® is that you have to take some time to schedule out and prioritise your tasks, and that’s when outsourcing certain things can be a massive help.
When you start to think like this, the results speak for themselves. With the authors I work with, the ones that will see six-figure returns from one book within 12–18 months (which happens regularly) are the ones that follow our marketing plan, but also delegate the right parts to the right people.
So remember, before publishing your content, make sure you think about where it will sit in the bigger customer journey, and use smaller pieces of content to keep your audience warm.
You can listen to the full conversation with Lisa and myself by tuning into my weekly podcast Interviews With Experts.
More to come next week!