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Use content to guide your customers through the buying cycle

In order to leverage the power of great content it is essential that brands understand how content is used to guide customers through what is called 'the buying cycle'. This cycle can also be read as a funnel of sorts - one where potential clients enter and then later emerge as customers. The important thing to remember is that it's a process - and any content generated by your brand should be structured in a way that complements and facilitates it. When customers are met with content that seems relevant to where they find themselves in the buying phase they are likely to be more engaged - which in turn encourages them to take the next step towards making a purchase.
Plan your content

Plan all the channels in which your brand will be sharing content. This can range from various social networks, blogs, your website and of course an email marketing campaign. Make sure that the tone of your content is inviting, helpful and most importantly consistent throughout all of your content platforms. As you may have guessed - copy writing plays a large role in the planning stages. All copy must be flawless, fluid, and accessible as well as serving as an honest reflection of your brand. Your brand will need to consider which social networks you will be joining and how active you will be on each. The idea here is to find your brand's voice and deciding where and how to broadcast it.

Publish and extent your reach

The next step is putting the planning into practice by publishing and promoting all the material you produced for your brand. Draw people in by actively using social media to establish an online presence and interacting with your customer base. By generating content you will also become more visible to search engines - thereby contributing to your brand's SEO - or Search Engine Optimisation. This step corresponds to the exploration phase in the buying cycle. Customers are curious to learn more about brands and their products and set off to do some casual research - mostly through interaction on social media.

Act to facilitate decision making

This step corresponds to the decision making stage in the buying cycle - which means it needs to be perfect. Customers have sussed out the brands and services they require and now it's up to you to prove that your brand is able to serve them in whatever way. Here the content on your website or blog specifically has to be clear, relevant and helpful. This will help convince customers that you are the brand they need.

Capitalise on marketing investments

At this stage you will need to capitalise on your marketing investments. Your customers are now at the all-important buying stage - so any content that they come across here must make their purchase easy and enjoyable. An excellent content element to implement at this stage would be an automated email. Automated emails could be sent out after customers have made a purchase as a way of thanking them and confirming their order. E-commerce enterprises in particular need to attend to the content at this stage, since in most cases this is the only interaction customers have with the company.

Engage with your customers

Once your company has made a sale it becomes important to keep in touch with your customers. Engaging with them through social media and email marketing campaigns and keep them in the loop with new products, special offers and some general news surrounding your business. Customers who are satisfied with their purchases and the overall experience with your brand will hopefully also advocate your brand through social media. This will allow your company to respond to and thank your fans which in turn will generate more content that will stimulate the advocacy phase as it is known in the buying cycle.

8 Mar 2012 12:46

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