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This article is part 3 of a 4-part article series on customer experience sponsored by Arm Treasure Data.

Customer experience has become a key differentiator for companies, with many viewing it as the main battleground for earning today’s business. But, to deliver a competition-beating customer experience, companies need to know everything they can about their customers to deliver the right content, the right way, at the right time.

Our 2019 State of the Customer Journey research showed just how difficult this process can be, especially given how complicated the modern buyer’s journey is:

  • More than 61% of marketers report having three or more pre-purchase customer touchpoints, with 32% reporting six or more.
  • 40% report that it can take four or more months between initial engagement with a customer to the purchase.

Put simply, your customers require significant resources and time before they’re ready to purchase. Your content is critical to help move prospects through the funnel. That’s why your company needs to optimize its content strategy for each step of the sales funnel to decrease sales cycles, increase close rates and stay competitive in today’s data-driven market.

Related Article: Don't Kid Yourself at Decision Time: Why Bad Data Is Worse than None

Using Multi-Touch Attribution for Sales Success

It’s no easy feat to optimize your content strategy when sales are taking multiple months and spanning at least three touchpoints, but there is help. There are more than 7,000 vendors in the martech space, which means companies should have all the tools they need to organize, analyze, and act on their data, right? Our survey says: that’s not the case.

Despite ample access to technology, nearly half of marketers are not using a formal attribution strategy, meaning they are creating content without knowing if it will drive results — or being able to measure if it does.

An additional area of concern is that a quarter of marketers are only using first and/or last-touch attribution, meaning they are not tracking the vital content that bridges the first and the last touch. This approach is flawed because it often relies too heavily on the easy-to-get data, which can be worse than making decisions with no data at all.

Just 28% of the marketers surveyed are using a multi-touch attribution approach, which is the only way to get the full look at your data to understand how your content across channels is helping move prospects down the funnel.

Before you can confidently develop a content strategy for your customer journey, your team needs to adopt a multi-touch attribution model to understand how long prospects are in various stages of your funnel and what content or activities are most valuable to the process.

Once you have an understanding of your current buyer’s journey and content performance, it’s time to test different content types for each stage of your funnel.

Related Article: State of the Customer Journey: Top Challenges and How to Tackle Them

Top of the Funnel: Awareness 

Your customers at the top of the funnel (ToFu) aren’t ready to make buying decisions — they’re simply curious about the space you’re active in.

These potential customers are just becoming aware of you and your competitors at this stage, and you should focus on creating content that helps your customers do their jobs without overly selling yourself. By providing the content your audience is searching for or attending events where your customers are will get your name on their radar and start to position your company as a resource for creating content that is relevant to them.

Beefing up your top of the funnel content is one of the best ways to increase your total volume of prospects.

Consider these types of content and activities for this stage:

  • Educational blog posts or videos, such as how-tos and 101s related to the industry you are in and the issues your prospects face.
  • Social media posts amplifying industry articles or commenting on trends you’re seeing.
  • Attending trade shows with an engaging booth that sets your brand apart.
  • Optimizing your SEO to drive more traffic to your site.

Related Article: The Modern Buyer's Journey Needs Multi-Touch Attribution

Middle of the Funnel: Addressing Pain Points

Some prospects will consume a significant amount of ToFu content before they are ready to move to the middle of the funnel (MoFu). In the MoFu stage, prospects are becoming more serious with their search, and are seeking resources that make their lives easier and address specific pain points.

Your approach in this stage is much more tailored and customized based on what you know about your customer — personally, if you are implementing account-based marketing tactics, or what you have identified as a general persona.

This stage requires you to cast a smaller net with a much more targeted approach, and appropriate types of content and activities include:

  • Buyer’s guide that details the functions of your product or service.
  • Checklists to help your prospects complete tasks they may be new to or that require expert know-how.
  • Webinars that give an in-depth look at a specific topic or new piece of research.
  • Panel discussions.
  • Live stream Q&As.
  • Proprietary research (to then amplify across multiple channels and content pieces, including through a webinar and/or Q&A).

Bottom of the Funnel

By the time they reach the bottom of the funnel (BoFu), your prospects have whittled down their list of potential vendors and are getting serious about making a purchase. This is when you need to create content that’s more detailed and in the weeds and focused on your product or service, as well as logistics for implementation.

The content and activities here need to demonstrate why you’re the best vendor for your prospect to partner with on their challenges and to take their work to the next level, and this will require a lot of hands-on experiences and third-party endorsement.

For the bottom of the funnel, these pieces of content are vital:

  • Customer case studies that highlight the challenges overcome and the ROI achieved.
  • Tools to calculate ROI for prospects to get funding approved.
  • Analyst studies that endorse your product and place it alongside your competitors.
  • Third-party articles and resources recommending you.
  • Demos so your prospects can experience your product for themselves.

Data-Driven Optimization

Thanks to multi-touch attribution strategies, your team can test any of the above content pieces to see how they resonate with your unique prospect base. Supplement this data with customer interviews and conversations with your prospects and you will better understand their needs and learn how they’re feeling.

Test every variable at play in your content delivery — timing, medium, use of visuals, language use — to fine-tune the process to the best of your abilities. Over time, you’ll find fewer leaks in your funnel, decreased sales cycles, more closes and happier customers.

If you’re interested in learning more about the 2019 State of the Customer Journey, you can watch our on-demand webinar on the report here, and check out our Q&A on the topic, where we answered questions that are top of mind for today’s marketers.