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Ask 10 different marketers what the customer lifecycle looks like and you’ll likely get 10 different answers.
Each business is unique and each target customer segment is unique. No matter how you try to boil the customer journey down into one of the dozens of models, only knowing your customers will get you the right answer.
How do you get to know your customers, though, to learn what their lifecycle looks like?
You ask them.
This is, in my opinion, the greatest thing about interactive content. It gives the user great value – up-front and for free – while allowing you to gather information about them that can help you create an even better customer experience.
Throughout each unique customer lifecycle, from awareness to advocacy, interactive content offers this opportunity.
Let’s start by looking at one of the most popular customer lifecycle models: the Buyer’s Journey. But be prepared – I won’t let you stop at the conventional “end of the road.” We’re going to go much further in this post.
There are three main steps in the Buyer’s Journey: Awareness, Evaluation, and Decision. At each stage, the needs of the customer are different – and the action you must encourage them to take is different.
In the Awareness stage, prospective buyers have discovered that that they have a problem, and they are just beginning to search for a solution. They are actively looking for information, but aren’t looking for specific vendors yet.
Making a hard sales pitch at this point wouldn’t be a smart move. However, creating active experiences for these customers can get them to focus on your specific business as a possible solution to their problem.
In the Evaluation stage, a customer has clearly identified their problem and have chosen a few possible solutions. They’re comparison shopping, now.
Content that allows the customer to learn more about themselves, their problem, and different approaches and methods to solving that problem is highly engaging to customers at this stage.
Interactive content such as maturity assessments and interactive white papers can make your company stand out in the narrowing list of solution alternatives. By assisting your buyer’s in understanding their own needs more, your solutions become more tangible and immediate.
At the Decision stage, the buyer knows exactly how they want to solve their problem, and they have narrowed down the list of possible vendors who could provide that solution. Now they’re looking for company-specific information such as data sheets, benchmark reports and testimonials to help them make that final decision.
Content that provides results for the buyer as they engage with it, such as ROI calculators and product comparisons, will help to get the customer off the fence at this stage.
Though the main part of the buyer’s journey appears to end at the Decision stage in this three-step model, marketers know the road goes on. The customer has purchased from you – now is not the time to drop the ball.
Now is the time to turn new customers into loyal customers, and grow those loyal customers into advocates.
So how do we keep our customers engaged and committed to our company past the sale?
Interactive content may hold the key.
Interactive Content Engages Customers Past the Decision Point
Connecting with existing customers is often low on the priority list when it comes to allocating marketing budget. Instead, marketing teams are asked to focus their efforts on engaging new prospects and generating more MQLs.
Clearly, the more benefit you can squeeze out of marketing initiatives designed to grow customer advocacy, the better off you are – and the easier you’ll be able to make the case for more budget toward customer loyalty efforts.
The revenue from strong customer retention can sometimes be overlooked. Harvard Business Review has reported that the new-customer onboarding process can be 5-25 times more expensive than renewals.
Interactive content is a great place to start. Here’s why:
You have a variety of options for customer engagement, like polls, contests, and fun personality assessments.
Interactive content allows customers to give their voice back to the product. It creates an opportunity for a two-way conversation where we can learn from our customers.
It’s a more effective and engaging way to showcase new product features and updates, as well as additional services for upsell or cross-sell.
Interactive content is, by nature, more engaging to customers.
It requires the customer to participate with the content rather than just consume it.
It engages consumer brains that have begun tuning out static content simply because of the sheer mass of it online today.
It turns a one-way conversation into a two-way conversation.
In essence, while interactive content certainly works to capture the attention of prospects, it can also be used to maintain and boost the attention of existing customers.
For example, Blackbaud used interactive content to engage their existing community of nonprofit customers. In a nutshell, the company built a photo contest and allowed users to upload their own organizations’ photos to a gallery. The nonprofits were able to use this gallery as a medium to share what they are passionate about. Participants were encouraged to click the “like” button on submissions that they liked best, and at the end of the contest period, Blackbaud determined which nonprofits won the most likes. Read the whole story here for some serious inspiration.
Penguin Group recently used a contest to drive its followers to share their favorite book genres with the company.
The New York Times just launched a new series called The Daily 360, which offers “a new way to experience the journalism of The New York Times.” In each 360 video, you are immersed in the center of the scene – no virtual-reality headset needed.
The mayor and the city of Los Angeles have caught the interactive content bug, too, creating an interactive map that shows residents how their street matches up with city priority areas.
The aim for this type of advocacy approach is not to always “be selling.” Sometimes it’s just about reconnecting and giving some inspiration or distraction.
An example from here at SnapApp. We created this spooky personality assessment to celebrate Halloween with our audience.
Persuading a prospective customer to buy from you is only the first step in a (hopefully) long and gratifying customer relationship. Don’t forget about them once they’ve clicked that buy button. Keep them engaged, keep them conversing with your company, and keep building their loyalty until they’re raving fans of your brand.