Anyone who graduated with a marketing degree before 2000 can attest to the changing face of consumerism in the current tech-savvy age.
Gone are the days of deferring to a generic Business 101 plan to attract customers with catchy incentives and enticements. Instead, that’s been replaced with a growing need for sophisticated methods of data gathering and analysis on topics as diverse as consumer demographics and disposable income metrics.
Many professionals are intimidated by the word data, associating it exclusively with info wonks and analytical gurus. The actual collection and distillation of data can be a daunting exercise for marketers and business operators alike, but it truly has become a necessary skill in today’s marketplace.
How Data-Driven Content Relates to the Buying Cycle
Engineering content that is driven by specific data is an essential part of satisfying the overall buying cycle for consumers. It has become an element that can no longer be conveniently ignored.
- Think for a moment about the various tiers of the customer buying cycle and customer journey.
- From there, visualize the type of content that is needed to capture a particular audience at a specific point in the purchase journey.
- Then, think about how integral data collection and dissemination can be to meeting consumer requirements.
Data and insights can be collected through consumer surveys or by taking a look at engagement rates, consumer funnels and time spent on-page. By using Google Analytics or Omniture, you can gauge where users fall in the cycle.
Think With Google is a great resource for visualizing the customer purchase path across a variety of industries and business sizes. The example below pertains to large businesses from the U.S. in the Business & Industrial Industry.
Image via Think With Google
The customer identifies a particular need and recognizes that your business can be the problem solver for potential consumers.
Your data can help you determine who your potential customers are more specifically, but at this stage, your audience (depending upon your goods or services) has a problem that must be solved. They are looking for a solution.
Imagine yourself as your potential customer. How can you answer their questions without being there? Creating blog content or articles that appear on sites beyond your own may help to raise awareness and posit your business as a problem-solver.
The vehicle by which many consumers enter into the awareness phase of the cycle is usually via the internet. Advertisements on social media, PPC ads and strategically-placed internet marketing campaigns can help drive such awareness to a product and build brand recognition, piquing the interest of potential consumers. Once your content exists, it is important to rush to greet your customers on the Internet by making sure your content is visible to answer those questions.
As to awareness: data will give you an idea of how potential customers are searching for, and locating, your services.
The customer comparison shops and evaluates your business with competitors. Very often, consumers in the consideration phase may already be contemplating a service, however, your brand may be pit against a competitor in their mind’s eye. During this mile marker on the customer journey, customers are in the process of researching, comparing and contrasting products. At this stage, it is crucial to address pain points your potential customers may have. Acknowledge these pain points and you will win them over.
Customized landing pages that concisely offer an at-a-glance look at your product compared to the competition may prove to be the deciding factor during the consideration phase.
For consideration: the data you collect will identify your competitors and pertinent marketing methodologies that your business is up against.
The customer leans toward one source versus an alternative, and ultimately consummates the buying/selling decision. The role data plays at this stage in the game will also help you define hot buttons for customers to ensure that your offerings are those the consumer chooses first.
In order to accomplish such a feat, your website’s content must clearly differentiate your brand, have its own voice and accurately describe your goods and services.
In previous stages (awareness and consideration), it was important to capture the eye of your audience. Now that you have their attention, it’s important to keep it and continue to feed your audience a steady stream of information to keep them moving through the purchase funnel.
For purchase/intent: knowing how your audience best responds to the method of content delivery is extremely important. For those who need to make quick decisions, video can play a key role in this process, disseminating information in a quick, conversational format.
The customer engages in the actual buying transaction. But what will further entice them to purchase beyond the efforts you’ve expended to this point? Coupon codes can play a role in this part of the customer journey. Reach customers with coupon codes via social media or by capturing their email information via newsletters and product alerts.
Image via Twitter
In the purchase stage: driven data can provide a wealth of information regarding buying trends, tastes and future directions.These can be utilized to craft a focused sales plan directed at a specific target market.
If you are able to measure uses of coupon codes, you can correlate data that speaks to timeliness of campaigns and sales initiatives—gaining a greater picture of your audience and what resonates most strongly with them at this stage.
The end goal of satisfying customers’ needs leading to repeat business. Similarly to the purchase phase of the customer journey, social media and email newsletters can be a boon to further driving brand loyalty.
Data that corresponds to the repurchase phase: gives you an idea of consumer follow-up buying patterns and will allow you to pare down/scale up your subsequent marketing efforts for repeat business. Together, data related to these buying cycle components will aid in your development of strong, consumer-centric content.
Make Your Data Work for Your Content
Overall, it is rather easy to accumulate data, but far trickier to distill it into something usable and beneficial for your predetermined content requirements.
Referencing the buying cycle is the first step in aligning data generation with your content, audience and marketing initiatives, but it is truly an initial piece in a grander puzzle.
- What data to keep?
- How to use it?
- Where should content be amended and adjusted?
All inquiries only you can answer based upon your interpretations of customer buying needs and the information you decide is germane to building a strong marketing plan.
Ultimately, you must commit to data and content as symbiotic entities, with each relying on the other to compliment their respective selves. The more useful the data, the better your content will become. In a nutshell: know what data you are looking for, and how to apply it for creating valuable content.
The data you receive will shift over time. Be cognizant of these trends and analyze them accordingly to create new data-driven content and pivot existing strategies to best speak to your audience. Let the data speak for itself.