Personalization in the Customer Journey: Tailoring Marketing Messages to Individual Needs

Getting attention of people online

Welcome to the marketing Olympics, where every buyer is an athlete on their own unique path to the podium. Some are just discovering the sport, testing out their strength. Others are deep in training mode, refining their skills. Then there are those ready for Olympic glory, their eyes fixed on the gold.

Our role? We’re dedicated coaches and savvy sports strategists, adjusting our game plan for each phase of their journey. 

This is marketing personalization at its best, meeting each potential customer where they’re at and guiding them skillfully over every hurdle and across the finish line. So, let’s dive into the action-packed world of personalized marketing because every stage is a vital part of the journey here. 

In this post, you’ll learn: 

  • Why personalization is crucial to your marketing strategy success. 
  • How to identify and nurture leads along the customer journey. 
  • How to build compelling buyer personas to tailor your approach.
  • The role of trust and credibility in enhancing your brand’s appeal and conversion rate.

Let the games begin! 

Why Is Personalization Important?

Paying attention to the different stages in the customer journey is important for both the customer and the company. Because each customer’s intent and emotions vary from stage to stage, personalizing your messaging instead of just pushing to buy your products or sign up for your newsletter from the start results in stronger leads and more trust and credibility for your company. 

This is also why establishing buyer personas is important, as it allows you to define different segments of your target audience and address where different users may be in the customer journey.

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Benefits for sellers. When you look at personalizing content for each stage of the customer journey, it may seem like you’re spending more time and money making triple the content. In reality, companies that focus their content marketing in different ways reach more potential leads by providing value from the very start of the customer journey.

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Instead of pushing sales pitches from the beginning, you can build that credibility, strengthening the chances of the buyers choosing you over competitors at the decision stage.

Benefits for customers. For some customers, getting a sales pitch before they have even fully identified their problem can quickly put them off. Taking the time to personalize the content and provide helpful information helps the customers more in the long run and builds trust in your brand.

Understanding the Customer Journey

The customer journey encompasses each of the interactions a buyer has with a particular company or service. While the customer journey is similar to a buyer’s journey, there are key differences. 

Here’s how HubSpot makes the distinction: 

“The buyer’s journey is the entire buying experience from pre-purchase to post-purchase. It covers the path from the customer’s awareness of an existing pain point to becoming a product or service user. … The customer journey refers to your brand’s place within the buyer’s journey: that is, the customer touchpoints where you will meet your customers as they go through the stages of the buyer’s journey.” 

Customer journey stages. There are five stages a customer goes through along this path: awareness, consideration, decision, retention and loyalty. Here’s what each looks like: 

  • Awareness. At the awareness stage, the buyer knows they have some sort of problem, but they want some clarification before considering potential solutions. They are likely not aware of your brand yet or that your products or services could help them, but they are starting to define their problem and move toward a solution.
  • Consideration. Moving down the funnel, the buyer comes into the consideration stage. They are now looking at the potential solutions they have found and comparing them to determine what’s next. By this point, they are aware of your brand and products or services, but they aren’t quite ready to make a purchase.
  • Decision. Finally, it’s decision time. The consumer knows their problem and has narrowed the potential solutions down. As a company, this is the stage where your content should show leads why your product or service is the best solution to their problems.
  • Retention. The customer has made a purchase, and now the company should focus on getting repeat business. Whether that’s providing detailed instructions or personalized assistance to customers as they learn how to use the product or service or offering 24/7 customer service lines via phone, online chat and social media, clients want to be able to reach you with questions at the retention stage.
  • Loyalty. As a business, earning loyal customers is a dream come true. These customers don’t just make repeat purchases. They also spread the word about your brand to friends, family and strangers. In addition to offering excellent customer service, companies can offer perks to embrace the loyalty stage, like special discounts or early access to new products.

The Right Content for Each Stage

Clients will move through the different stages: realization of the problem, searching for solutions, and, ultimately, deciding the best one for them. Because the customer’s intent differs at each stage, you should adjust your content types and tones to provide the most value to users.

Content and tone for the awareness stage. At the awareness stage, your goal is to provide content to help the client learn more about their problem. At this stage, the user is starting to search online, and they may come across your website or social media pages. 

The personalized marketing strategy should focus on content that provides more information about the issue. The tone should be clear, direct, friendly and knowledgeable, positioning your brand as a trusted authority on the topic.

Let’s use an example of a person who drives a car. The car seems to be having trouble starting up in cold weather. The person thinks it could be an issue with the battery, but they’re not entirely sure. They don’t want to land on content pushing them to buy a new car battery right now; they want to learn how to test the battery and inspect it for any issues.

At this stage, some types of content to create include: 

  • Videos for social media
  • Infographics for social and your website
  • Keyword-optimized blog posts that will rank highly in search results

Guest blogging can also be beneficial at this stage if you work with guests who share the same target audience. The guest posts will already have the trust of the guest’s audience, who will then be directed toward your website for more information.

Content and tone for the consideration stage. At this stage, the user knows their problem and wants to find potential solutions. Your content will need to be educational, and it can be helpful to show your expertise with original research, studies or tests. You should also focus on explaining different solutions to the buyer’s problem, outlining the pros and cons of potential solutions.

In the example with the battery, the person has now tested their battery and determined it is old and producing less power than it should. They now need more information on what to do next, whether jumping the battery, cleaning off corrosion on the terminals or replacing the battery entirely. If they are considering a replacement, they may also need to figure out what kind of battery they need for their specific vehicle.

Some content types to explore for the consideration stage include: 

  • How-to blog posts
  • Instructional videos
  • Webinars
  • Live events or demonstrations
  • Guides or comparison-focused content that will continue to build your authority and credibility by thoroughly explaining potential solutions

Content and tone for the decision stage. Finally, it’s time to nudge the user to decide, and you want that decision to be a purchase from your company. You’ll want a strong call to action, and the tone should be warm, friendly, welcoming and accommodating to ensure the client feels understood and trusts your brand.

But that’s not all. Now is the time to do a bit of bragging, especially since those in the decision stage are looking for confirmation that your brand is the right choice. 

Customers want to see: 

  • Customer testimonials
  • Positive reviews 
  • Case studies validate their choice to buy from your brand

At this stage, you can also offer conversion-focused blog posts and landing pages that make it easy for the customer to finish the deal.

In the battery example, the personalized content can now show testimonials or even performance reviews and statistics for the company or specific batteries to prove their high performance and longevity.

Content and tone for the retention stage. The user has made a purchase, but it’s not time for the customer’s journey to end. During the retention stage, you want to be friendly and helpful to encourage the customer to stick around rather than switch to another company.

After a customer buys the product or service, they may need help learning how to use it. At this stage of the journey, clients are looking for:

  • Accessible customer service
  • A knowledge base
  • Product or service how-to guides

For example, after buying a battery, customers may want help with recycling their old batteries or scheduling with a pro to replace the battery. They may have questions about how to clean the terminals or refill the electrolyte. Providing multiple methods of reaching the customer service team, such as through email, phone and social media, is a great way to retain customers by ensuring they feel heard and cared for.

Content and tone for the loyalty stage. Customers who love the products and the company can reach the loyalty stage, recommending the brand to their friends and family. The tone should remain warm and friendly, but you should also show your knowledge and expertise at this stage.

Aside from selling excellent products and services, your company will need to consider all the details, down to how easy it is to navigate your website or app.

At this stage, loyal customers may be looking for the following:

  • A referral program or referral discounts
  • Loyalty discounts
  • Exclusive sneak peeks of new offerings
  • Brand events

Clients may not buy new vehicle batteries month after month, but if you’ve mastered the retention stage, they will recommend your services. 

Developing Personas for a Marketing Strategy

When someone builds a company brand, they will define their target audience, or the people their products or services will cater to most. But if you’re looking to create a personalized marketing strategy, you’ll need to create buyer personas to reflect the needs of different types of people throughout the customer journey stages.

To create buyer personas, develop semi-fictional representations of different types of customers.

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You can work with the sales team to determine any common or repeat pain points that potential buyers bring up during their journey. This can help you define the buyer personas and later develop more tailored messaging to the personas representing different portions of your target audience.

Keep Reading: 5 Must-Haves for Buyer Personas (and How to Integrate Them Into Your Content)

Personalization Means Stronger Leads

Your content marketing shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all strategy where the content speaks similarly to every segment of your target audience. Not all buyers are experiencing the same problems, and even those clients with the same issues aren’t going through them at the same time. 

By tapping into a personalized marketing strategy, potential clients will see the value and expertise of your brand long before they are ready to make a purchase. Hard sales pitches that come too early can push many potential clients away. Personalization helps nurture your brand’s relationships with its audience, leading to stronger leads and, eventually, more satisfied clients.

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Paige Bennett

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