Customer journey in content marketing: Why 5-stage model is a better fit?

Note: This article is part of the collection titled content marketing in less than 300 steps!

In the first article about customer journey, I described the classic ACC (Awareness / Consideration / Conversion) model as one of the most popular customer journey roadmaps adopted from traditional marketing and adapted to the digital marketplace.

However, there are two other stages in the journey of the online customer which are more critical to digital success comparing to the traditional marketing in the physical market: Retention & Advocacy:

Customer journey mapping in content marketing

You may say the fourth and fifth stage are not something new in the marketing models, and we have seen then in consumer behavior models since two or three decades ago.

Of course, retention and advocacy have been popular in terms of loyalty and word of mouth in the marketing terminology for years, but, two reasons make them a critical success factor in digital content marketing:

Retention and Advocacy are necessities and not an option anymore

In the traditional physical business, you can build a business model without thinking about retention and advocacy.

Although it would be much more advantageous if you can build customer loyalty and you can motivate your customers to talk about you, still you can imagine many business models which do not consider loyalty and word of mouth as part of their business architecture.

Sure most of the businesses would be happy to have this advantage, but, most of them can survive without it or can leave it without any specific pre-planned process.

In digital content marketing, it’s not easy and feasible to reach all of your audience directly. Despite the availability of low-cost media and channels, every content marketer knows that reaching the target audience on a massive scale would not be cost-effective in the short-run and not sustainable in the long run.

You have to reach influencers and sneezers (as Seth Godin calls them so). They will promote you and talk about you without any cost, and your content will diffuse through their network and reach a mass audience you were looking for.

Also, like the physical marketplace, having loyal customers (or let’s say audience) would be much cheaper that looking for new ones.

You should consider retention and advocacy stages in the design stage of your business

If you have a physical product, just make it with a good quality and keep your promise to make your customer happy. You can underpromise and overdeliver to make them even happier, and a delighted customer would be converted to your advocate automatically.

However, in content-based business or content-based marketing, retention and customer loyalty means providing a never-fishing stream of useful content for her in order to keep her in touch. Also, your advocate needs some viral or shareable content from you in order to distribute it over her network.So, retention and advocacy are not just natural results of a happy and delighted customer, and it means integration of two distinct modules in your content marketing plan:

  • A continuous never-ending stream of fresh content builds up retention
  • Designing and creation of highly shareable and viral content for delivering to your loyal audience for further distribution.