Today's user journey's success (or failure) is based on the holistic visitor experience. And, thanks to digital, the modern user is in complete control of their own journey. This means your content needs to be directly tailored to your audiences’ user journeys. In fact, 25 percent of associations say that creating targeted communication boosted member engagement.
It's a new age for marketing. The traditional funnel needs to account for the digital, tech-savvy user; hence, its evolution.
Standing alone, the traditional funnel (awareness --> consideration --> conversion --> loyalty) over-simplifies the user journey, not giving credit to the many touch points (or specific personas) that contribute to an overarching experience, or for that matter, the experience after someone becomes a member. The funnel model also excludes the impact of evolving technologies as it relates to the user journey. But let's take a few steps back.
First, get this: Three-quarters of companies using highly personalized marketing content report growing market share, according to McKinsey & Company.
Marketers understand the importance of offering the right content at the right time. Is your content strategy moving in this direction?
Content strategy is not one-size-fits-all, so begin by taking inventory of your association, member personas, and engagement cycles before mapping content ideas. Engagement cycles can include factors like renewal periods, the build-up to annual conference registration, or the release of a new version of a standard.
Determine Cycle Specific to Your Member Persona(s)
From CMS Wire: "Instead of pushing them through a cascading sequence that metaphorically resembles movement through a funnel, Forrester said, businesses (associations) must now figure out how to entice them down the road."
The best way to "entice" your website visitors is to get to know them. Find out what they do and don't like on your site and how they interact with current content offerings. We suggest starting with a benchmark of performance metrics. These might include:
- Top visited blog posts or site pages.
- Popular keywords driving organic traffic.
- Most downloaded content pieces.
- Most shared posts / content pieces.
- Visitor flow / page drop offs.
Key performance metrics will also help identify critical touch points along the user journey by chronicling the most frequent potential users’ journey and pinpointing the content that is most (and least) essential to conversion. But there are ways to get even more scientific. Google Analytics 4 offers attribution reports designed to assign credit to touchpoints on conversion paths.
Next, evaluate which personas tend to spend more or demonstrate stronger loyalty to your organization. Make these personas a top priority during content creation; they will likely have the most impact on future ROI.
The final step during this stage is to map out the user journey on your website, per member persona. (Creating some kind of visual can be helpful.) As a starting point, try to put yourself in the shoes of your members before you start writing or planning.
Create Purposeful Content For Each Stage
Make the best use of association resources and production by being diligent during the planning stage. The best content will answer common user questions and will, ultimately, inspire them to move closer to becoming a member.
A user journey map (visual) will come in handy at this point in your planning. Begin by creating a custom content calendar based on the visuals you created. Content ideas should correspond with the member persona and user journey stage. A solid calendar will do the following three things:
Align the entire journey with key pain points/touch points.
Provide varying content formats corresponding with the different stages (i.e., case studies, e-books, blog posts).
Result in targeted, valuable content (i.e., a great sales tool).
HubSpot reported via Demand Gen: "Leads nurtured with targeted content produce an increase in sales opportunities of more than 20 percent."
Looking Ahead: Marketers Act Like Scientists
Today, the art and science of content marketing are colliding. New technologies are allowing marketers to operate like scientists. HubSpot smart content lets associations personalize their website, emails, CTAs, and more based on users' properties, site interactions, or channel engagement.
Marketing automation technologies are allowing marketers to step in when sales cannot. In the words of Kapost: "Through technology, marketers can engage buyers [users] and measure their progress despite the new dynamics preventing sales from interacting with them until much later in the process."
From a holistic perspective, these technologies have the potential to close the gap between marketing and sales while simultaneously creating an exceptional visitor experience from screen to screen and persona to persona. And not surprisingly, marketers are looking to take advantage of these opportunities immediately. MarketsandMarkets predicts the global marketing automation market size will reach $9.5 billion by 2027.
There's a lot to look forward to this year and beyond. Is your marketing plan ready? Is your content strategy evolving with user cycles and personalization technology?
Discover more ways to personalize content by checking out our on-demand webinar, How Content Strategy Can Enhance User Experience During and After a Website Redesign, below.