Creating the right balance of content to explain what you do, while also engaging customers in a way that inspires a purchase, is the ideal customer experience. They are happy, the brand is happy, and you know the content strategy you have in place is working well.

It all feels magical—but make no mistake. Behind the scenes, it took some real work to get there. To keep things flowing, brands need to pinpoint and acknowledge sticking points and growing pains. This requires an open, honest review of how customers rate the quality of their buyer’s journey and personal customer experience.

An in-depth assessment of content quality and placement can be eye-opening, especially when content performance is in question. But before scrambling and changing things up for the sake of sales numbers, remember there’s a lot to learn from lack of engagement, too. Insights on how content performs is a powerful tool in understanding how to improve the overall customer experience.

Marketers can’t read minds (at least not yet) so they need to leverage content as a gauge of customer interest (or lack thereof) as well as an engagement point—all at the same time. From here it’s easier to tweak the big picture shopping experience to flow with customer needs and habits.

However, when brands see engagement falling off and want to improve things in a hurry, they can get lost in the details of doing it without a strategy. Especially a content strategy.

It’s important to remember the customer experience is first and foremost emotionally driven and not necessarily logical. It’s based on discovering the needs and desires of key buyer personas, and that doesn’t mean getting the latest of everything to woo customers. Nor does it mean focusing on the competition and just one-upping everything they do.

A richer customer experience is about:

  • Honoring the information and insights customers need as they research a path to purchase that instills trust and confidence
  • Ease and quality of the buying experience
  • Filling information gaps in content and offerings to accommodate various paths to purchase
  • Creating a content strategy that manages these key points

Brands need to put in the time and resources for content infrastructure improvements to create a solid foundation and strategy before creating any more content without a specific purpose. To get started, look for the leaks.

Look for Content Leaks to Build a Better Buyer’s Journey

There are simple ways to tell if a ship is sinking: water comes in. But with a complex website that has lots of content, it’s not so easy to see the leaks as clearly. At times, two or three content gaps can compound each other, making it hard to spot the source.

To start, look at the data analytics you’re measuring ask some questions. Why these metrics? Are they helpful? Is there a pattern you notice? Should you measure something else?

Analytics for a website or social accounts help as initial identifiers of a content leak. See where visitors consistently drop off or lose interest and what pieces of content consistently convert. Then, examine the gap between the two. When you can look at both objectively, you’re given a chance to re-examine why one content piece works in a context and how to apply the same tactics in other areas to bridge content together differently.

Researching sales challenges, however, requires tapping into the human experience to understand why it’s not as engaging as it could be. Brands need direct human input from customers to answer deeply targeted questions about the quality of a website’s tools and software, content comprehension and usefulness, customer support, and more. It also takes time—the one thing brands are always trying to save.

To help boost customer intelligence, employ surveys, data analytics, social data, buyer personas, and try to understand how each leads to customer behavior results. Then, refresh the dots and connect them in new ways to save time in the long-run.

Connect the Dots for a Richer Buyer’s Journey

The most powerful part of reshaping the customer experience is taking the data, new ideas, and content strategies and applying them to key areas of the buyer’s journey—but not in the same old ways.

Instead of seeing each area of the purchase path as a separate entity, view the customer experience as a cross-section, one part on top of the other. I like to think of it as a layered dip. Each layer can be good alone, but they have to work together to taste delicious.

Here are key areas to consider when looking at how to improve your brand’s customer experience and close gaps with both strategies and content served up at just the right time.

Quality of Website and Customer Support Performance

Nothing about the customer experience is positive if people are confused by how to use your site, can’t find the content they need, or are disappointed in the response time.

At this point in the game, the customer experience is a digital experience, and content cues need to be laid out in a path that makes sense for an online brain. This is even more important when it comes to B2B persona-based marketing outreach via email or other means.

To keep things flowing, use the content gaps discovered in research and determine if it’s a matter of the content itself or content placement creating the challenge. Add fresh content cues for clearer direction, or utilize icons more prominently to reach the same goal.

Clarity and Convenience of the Customer Interface

With mobile so hot right now, people expect a way to interact with a brand through any available device across channels. They also anticipate the online shopping experience to be the same no matter what device they use.

Instead of creating a separate shopping experience for each channel, including mobile, build a core brand experience with consistent, familiar elements and content markers. It makes it easier for customers to find what they need or guess where it could be based on previous shopping experiences.

Content Personalization Based on Location and Preferences

Content takes time to create and develop from the perspective of the brand, but the customer expects relevant, personalized content to be served up as soon as they connect to a site.

To take advantage of these opportunities, explore how to take advantage of location, preferences, and shopping history to make the shopping experience more contextual and meaningful.

These insights also provide clarity on the types of content to develop for the end-user experience. Branching out beyond a one-size-fits-all customer interface helps a brand stand out.

Consistent, Safe Customer Experience Builds Trust

Now more than ever, customers expect a high level of privacy and trust in sharing contact information with you. If that’s not respected, it can sideswipe engagement on downloads and other cornerstone content pieces that require sharing an email address to access.

Think about how you communicate aspects of privacy in content, and be upfront with how you share a customer’s data. Also, be sure to clearly define a customer experience strategy in writing that you share company-wide to generate a consistent experience with any person on staff.

In addition to these core content areas, also look at specific disconnects within each layer on a deeper level, and in each piece of content.

Satisfaction Rating

Are we setting expectations and meeting them for the customer?

Execution Rating

Is the technology we’re using not to deliver the content needed but the content quality is fine? Is legacy technology a hurdle, and how can it be fixed to deliver the right content quickly and in the format required?

Insight Rating

Are customers simply not satisfied with the content delivered because the brand is unclear on what they need and want in that stage of their personal experience or in general as a buyer persona?

Key Takeaways

Drilling down into these ratings is critical because they reveal the cobwebs gunking up the works and the ways content may be under-serving customers overall. Taking this time also gets you looking at content within the buyer’s journey  differently as a whole, not just the pieces.

Then brands can dive into:

  • What content can be standardized? What can be “unsiloed”?
  • How can you improve your use of customer intent to drive content needs, making the whole content experience more refined, more free-flowing?
  • What unique interactions and content experiences can you create regarding a specific step in the buyer’s journey to improve each customer experience?

Overall, brands need to commit to consistent timelines for reviewing content, then decide what to keep or release each quarter.

Making it a regular practice keeps content timely and fresh, while also creating pieces that fill the right space along the buyer’s journey to generate a peak buyers journey that translates to an amazing customer experience.

Ready to streamline your content operation, and go from chaos to calm? Get this guide.

Katrina Pfannkuch

About Katrina Pfannkuch

Katrina Pfannkuch is a creativity consultant specializing in writing, editing, strategy & coaching. She's a bit of a data nerd & loves seeing how pieces of the informational puzzle come together to paint a creative picture. Catch Katrina & her insights on kick-starting creativity at @creativekatrina on Twitter.