6 Stages of the Client Journey

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This blog post is second in an 8-part series about client journey. Read part 1 here.

You know you need to create content for your audience. As we discussed in the first blog in this series, content is what draws your audience to you. It helps you establish a voice in your industry, and it allows your audience to grow to know, like and trust you.

But when you start to create that content, you need to know who you’re creating it for.

There’s a lot of talk about targeting your ideal client avatar, and while that might be helpful, it’s definitely not ideal. Here’s a few reasons why you shouldn’t write your content for an avatar.

  1. An avatar is fictional. As in, not real.
  2. An avatar is made up of characteristics of someone you want to work with–not who you’re actually working with.
  3. Your actual audience (the real people) are all at different stages of their journey with your brand.

Instead, as you’re planning and creating your content, think about who you like to work with (the real, actual people) and who do you want to work with (the real, actual people). You’ll get a lot closer to hitting the mark with your content if you think that way.

The Content You Need.

Once you know who you’re creating content for, what do you need to create? Like most questions relating to business, the answer is, “It depends.”

A lot of factors go into deciding what content to create and where to put it. And the biggest factor is who, exactly, you’re creating it for and what you want them to do as a result.

The biggest factor in content strategy and creation? Who are you creating it for? Click To Tweet

Enter the Client Journey.

Every client you have had in your business has gone through a journey with your brand. First, they got to know you and your brand, then they learned more, eventually they bought and then they continued working with you or purchased more.

Some of these clients travel through this journey quickly, in a matter of days while others might have taken weeks, months or even years to complete the journey. In fact, you likely have audience members at every stage of the client journey right now.

The rate at which a client moves through the journey depends on a lot of factors, only one of which is relates to the content you create for them. Each stage of the client journey requires a different type of content to move the audience member to the next stage. Each stage serves a different purpose and, therefore, includes different types of content.

Content_Journey

Now that you know what each type of content does at each stage of the journey, let’s look at what type of content serves these purposes best.

Stage 1 – Brand Awareness

When someone first discovers you, they’re trying to get to know you. They do some mild internet stalking (you know you do it too) to get to know you, often started because they saw your guest blog on someone else’s site or stumbled upon a YouTube video. Or maybe they heard your interview on their favorite podcast.

At any rate, you gained a new audience member–someone who recognizes you by name and likes the message you presented. At this stage, they’re not ready to give up their email address to you quite yet, but you’ve piqued their interest.

Content you can create to help grow brand awareness includes:

  • YouTube videos
  • Blog posts
  • Facebook group challenges
  • Guest blogs
  • Infographics

Of course, there’s a lot of other ways to grow brand awareness that may not include you actually creating content. Online summits, podcast interviews, being part of roundup blog posts. But that’s a conversation for another time.

Stage 2 – Educate & Inform

You now have followers who are watching what you’re putting out there. But they want more. More value, more information and more content from you.

At this stage, your audience knows your brand and believes in you. They’re ready to fork over their email address so they can gain access to some exclusive content. To grow this relationship, you need to have that content available and easy to access.

Content that can help you educate and inform your audience includes:

  • Ebooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Opt-ins
  • Free courses
  • Webinars
  • Slideshares
  • Nurturing emails

They key here is that you keep the content coming so you can stay in front of your audience. They know who you are now and they’ll notice if you suddenly stop creating!

Stage 3 – Demonstration of Expertise

You now have some loyal followers. They’re reading your emails, downloading your freebies and attending your webinars. And they probably know that they want or need your help–if only you offer exactly what they need.

This is when your audience dives into your website to gather more intel on you. They want to make sure you’re legit before they commit to buying something from you. And this is also where the look and feel of your content may shift a bit, so bear with me.

At this stage, your audience knows what your free content looks like. Now they want to know that you can deliver if and when they pay you for something. They’re looking for proof–something that isn’t delivered through traditional blog posts and free webinars.

Content that demonstrates your competence includes:

  • Case studies
  • Testimonials
  • Client interviews
  • Samples of your work
  • Free discovery calls
  • FAQ page

While some of this content isn’t necessarily something you would create (the testimonials, for example), you absolutely want to include them on your website or on your social platforms. Put this information out there for others to see, and see often.

Not sure of the right platform for your business? Watch my recent Wednesday Writing Tip for help!

Stave 4 – Convert to Customer

Your audience is hooked. They’re almost ready to buy, but they need one more piece of content from you before they pull out their wallets. They need specific information about the exact product or service offering they’re interested in.

So you haven’t closed the sale yet. Content that helps to convert your audience to customers includes:

  • Sales page
  • Work with me page
  • Pricing sheet
  • Free trial
  • Proposal/quote
  • Fact sheet
  • Demonstrations

Once you’ve nailed these pieces of content, your audience is ready to buy. Now it’s up to you to nurture that client relationship.

Step 5 – Expanding Relationship

Now that you have this wonderful new relationship with a client, it’s up to you to provide the clear communication needed to keep it moving forward. So your client’s journey doesn’t end when money changes hand. Now comes the hard part.

Your clients bought from you for a reason. You provided tremendous value in the first four stages of their journey with your brand, and you earned their trust. The content designed at this stage is aimed at maintaining that trust while continuing to deliver exceptional value.

The content that expands your relationship with your client includes:

  • Onboarding materials
  • Added bonuses
  • Webinars
  • Nurturing emails
  • Limited time offers
  • Nurturing videos
  • How-tos

You’ll notice that we’ve gone back to some of the original brand awareness type content here. You’re at a very different stage in your relationship with these audience members; now they need similar content, but at a different level. Think about what happens next and how you can establish a community with these clients.

Think about where your audience is and give them the right content for that stage. Click To Tweet

Step 6 – Retain Relationship

Whether you offer one-off products and services or you’re in it for the long haul, it’s important to maintain communication with the people you work with. So even after the project is over or the client is ready for the next step in their journey in your industry, you’ve stayed top-of-mind because of the amazing service and content you’ve provided.

It doesn’t matter if you want to keep the client around or if you know your client will move on after this project. The people you’ve worked with are your biggest cheerleaders and most important marketing assets.

The content that helps to retain your relationship with clients includes:

  • Nurturing emails
  • Custom, 1:1 emails
  • How-to content
  • Real-time contact, including Voxer messages and phone calls

At this point in your relationship with your clients, you’ve likely developed a rapport that makes it easy and natural to communicate. If not, I recommend working on this.

Want to come back to this information later? Grab my ebook on the client journey right here!

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