Customer Experience: Setting a Strong Foundation

To ensure a strong customer experience for all your marketing initiatives, it’s important to take a couple of steps backward to move forward. Building a strong foundation of customer-centric messaging, content development, campaign design, and channel distribution requires investing time and resources into three essential steps: buyer persona development, customer journey alignment, and conducting a content audit.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into each of these so you can create the building blocks necessary for winning with your customer experience marketing.

1. Developing Buyer Personas

Hubspot’s definition of a buyer persona still holds up: A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. The greater the detail, the more rounded your persona becomes. I like to think of this process as creating a real 360-degree person that represents an essential segment of your buying center

There are some fundamental steps that need to be considered when developing a buyer persona.

Conduct Interviews

If possible, reach out to a few of your current customers and gather information from their perspective. The following is critical intel that drives future marketing strategy and ideation:

  • What specific problems they needed to solve
  • Why a product/service such as yours was important to them
  • What made them decide to purchase from you

Along with actual customers, reach out to key members of your organization to interview as well. Get a representation of all customer-facing departments such as sales, product development, and customer service.

Understanding how each of these areas interacts with your customer is also critical to building out a persona that encompasses the entire customer journey.

Document Your Buying Center

From your customer and stakeholder interviews, it should become more clear who all is involved when it comes to purchasing your products/services. Depending on the complexity of the sale, multiple individuals may have to be consulted before a company can actually sign on the dotted line.

Along with the actual decision-maker, there are champions, influencers, as well as users and technical representatives that my need to be consulted. These individuals make up a buying center and understanding all of the significant players will ensure marketing is more strategic and personalized.

Brainstorm Key Areas

The greater the detail on areas such as demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, triggers, goals, pain points, information consumption, social and professional network, and influencers (to name a few!), the more well-rounded your personas will be.

All of these details play a role in how marketing is designed for a given persona. For example: knowing what industry associations and publications your persona is connected to could open up additional outreach opportunities that are very specific and segmented.

2. Align Personas to Customer Journey

Once you have your set of buyer personas, now it’s time to align them to your customer journey. Here at TPG, we use the TPG ONE™ Customer Journey that encompasses the customer acquisition and customer expansion stages:

The alignment process requires many of those same stakeholders that you interviewed in your organization to participate. If you want to really understand what your buyers need or are seeking at each stage of the journey, you will need representatives from all customer facing areas to weigh in and share insights.

To get the process started, consider coming at this from three different angles:

  1. Choose a product or service that you provide. Working with a specific product in mind, list out as many questions your persona has at each stage of the customer journey.
  2. Take an overall industry approach with questions your persona has at each stage.
  3. Take a specific pain point or trigger and document questions at each stage.

The idea is to create a list of multiple questions for each of your personas that align with every stage of the customer journey. Then, as you get ready to work on your content strategy, the answers to these questions will help you define content ideas that will serve your buyer personas.

The confidence from knowing what your personas need at every stage of the customer journey will allow you to meet them where they are at, whether they are just becoming aware they have a problem or at the stage of evaluating options for a solution. Providing content for every stage allows you to get closer to putting the right content in front of the right person at the right time.

Related: Upgrade your content operations

3. Conduct a Content Audit

Conducting a content audit is foundational work for any customer experience marketing because you must understand your current state before you can strategically move forward!

This definitely applies to your content marketing strategy. For most B2B organizations, the problem is not a lack of content. The challenge is knowing what current content exists across the organization and having a process in place to ensure all necessary stakeholders can access this content for repurposing and distribution

A content audit is a great starting point for operationalizing content across the organization. Things to consider as you conduct this audit:

Meet with representatives from every department that create content.

Make a list of key segments that content should be mapped to so you are prepared for this when your audit starts. Some examples of key segments are journey stages, buyer personas, content type, content medium, publish date, author/owner, and distribution channels. Knowing what is important for all content stakeholders will save you time as you assess each piece of content and map it to these key areas.

Choose a set timeframe for the content you audit.

More than likely, there are hundreds (or thousands!) of pieces across the organization that could be assessed, so you need to give this project a framework to work within.

One way to do this is to only go back a certain timeframe such as 18-24 months. There should be more than enough content from a cross-section of sources, but if you find you are coming up short, then choose an amount, such as 200, 300, 500 pieces of content across multiple content types.

This same group of department representatives should also decide on how the content will be archived and accessed for use. Knowing how you will operationalize the content you are auditing will ensure that you are working with the end in mind while you kick off this project. Having buy-in across the organization will better ensure that this archived content will not just be put in a folder collecting virtual dust, but will be used, repurposed, and updated.

Your CX Marketing May Have A Poor Foundation

To truly improve your customer experience, you must actually include the customer.

Cutting the corners of this foundational work results in subpar content development and campaign design that fails to differentiate you from the competition and provides generic, easily-ignored experiences for your audience.

Those that put in this work will build on this foundation to not only turn prospects into real customers … but create loyal advocates that become clients for life.

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