The CEO of a $100 million tech company recently asked me, “How do you articulate the value of content marketing?” This customer journey graphic was my answer.

Where Content Matters Linegraph

The vertical axis is customer value; the horizontal axis is time. Content marketing plays a critical role in moving customers from the lower left to the upper right. For technology marketers, content is an essential tool for driving new revenue and maximizing revenue from each customer.

Let’s take a look at the importance of content at three critical junctures in the customer journey.

1. Creating brand awareness: Discovery
At the beginning of the customer journey in technology sales, the prospect doesn’t even know who you are. You’re just noise to them, represented by the dot at the far lower left of the chart. You need to introduce yourself to each prospect in a way that sparks interest and begins to build the association of your brand with whatever attributes are most important to you, from a certain lifestyle and aesthetic to specific products and services.

You create brand awareness to lift your brand above the noise. You need to distinguish your business—its image, values, and products—from every other entity that is bombarding your prospects with information. The goals are to get your prospects to recognize your brand and recall it when it’s time to make a purchase.

Creating brand awareness is part of the “discover” phase of the buyer’s journey. This is when your prospects are first finding out who you are. You can facilitate that discovery process through a broad array of media and collateral content, from traditional advertising to blogs, infographics, videos, Instagram feeds, tweets, and Facebook posts.

Creating brand awareness can move you to that second dot on the upward slope: considered choice. Getting to that point might require a decent amount of time and resources. But once you’re a considered choice, you’ve just started the brand conversation, and you still have a way to go.

2. Helping your prospects get to know you: Learning and exploring
Once you’ve achieved some brand awareness—and your technology offering is a considered choice for a prospect’s purchase decision—you need to start, facilitate, and support conversations with that prospect. You must provide opportunities for the prospect to get to know you and fully understand your value proposition. This is the “learn” or “explore” phase of the buyer’s journey. Ultimately, you want the prospect to find the motivation and justifications for purchasing.

How can you enable learning and exploration? Again, through content. From traditional brochures, data sheets, and case studies to blog posts, videos, smart papers, and ebooks, you need to give your prospects some meat to chew on. They require content that is relevant to their challenges and desires—content that helps them understand the alternatives, and demonstrates why your technological leadership and expert services are the right ones for their organizations. That content should also help provide readers and viewers with the knowledge they need to feel confident in their decisions and the rationales they must use to convince other decision-makers that your business is worthy of consideration.

3. Closing the deal and moving beyond: Loyalty and evangelism
The primary measure of success is the purchase—that’s the middle point in the chart (the unmistakable one with the dollar sign). By creating sufficient brand awareness and allowing your customers to explore your value proposition, you have a much better opportunity to land that sale.

But the journey is not over at the point of purchase. You don’t want each prospect to buy just once—you want a large and growing group of loyal, returning customers.

How do you repeat the purchase and build loyalty—even foster brand evangelism to the point where customers are so impressed with your offerings that they recommend your business to friends, colleagues, and peers? These are the next few points on the upward slope. Reaching these points is critical for maximizing the lifetime value of your customers.

You want to cultivate customers who “get it.” They understand who you are, and what makes you and your products so great. When customers get it, they renew subscriptions, upgrade products, and stay loyal to your brand. They view you as a partner, not just a supplier, and they’re willing to come to you with ideas and challenges before reaching out to other companies. They’re not particularly price-sensitive. They shop the competition less. And they refer new business.

Understanding is what creates these valuable customers. And that understanding is developed and enriched through content. Existing customers want to see content that shows your thought leadership, enables them to explore additional products and services, and assures them that you have a strong roadmap for the future.

That content might also incorporate your satisfied customers. Creating customer case studies, producing video testimonials, spotlighting customers in social media posts, and so on, demonstrates how much you value your customers—and it gives selected customers opportunities to showcase their own value to others.

Content gets you from there to here
Moving from the lower left to the upper right of the technology customer journey chart requires understanding. Content is the tool you use to foster that understanding—that’s the value of content marketing. It’s what you need to find prospective customers, incubate them into sales-qualified leads, convert them into customers, and then transform customers into long-term advocates for your brand.

Want to learn more about how TDA Group can produce the content you need to promote understanding and ramp your company up that customer journey slope? Let me know how we can help. Contact me and let me know we can help.