We all know about the importance of knowing your customer needs, and focusing on the digital journey. But all too often, we overlook the content that customer experiences — and how well it pays off the journey. A few months ago at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association  conference, I shared five steps to tune the customer  journey and the content needed to support it. Here are some lessons learned (and what you can do to get started).

1.  Build out customer personas.

The first step is to bring your customer targets to life. Who are your customers and what do they care about? What are their key go-to sources for web, mobile and social?  The key is to understand the roles these target buyers play and the interplay within the purchase process. At Cisco, we started with three target personas for our Data Center buyers and did a deep dive into careabouts for CEO, BDM and Technical Influencer roles.

2.  Map content.

Once you understand your target buyers, it’s time to align high-value content by journey point – from awareness to preference to post- purchase. Don’t just focus on your owned properties, but your earned and third-party ones too. Dig deep into the data and get down to what is the most high-authority content that moves the needle. For our Data Center buyers, we assessed the role search, social and our Cisco.com web site play in the awareness process. And followed this through consideration to purchase and post-purchase cycles, noting the content that performs best at each stage.

3. Develop use case scenarios.

Next, take the time to create representative purchase scenarios to guide a content journey. What are the typical scenarios your buyers will encounter? For us, we developed sample scenarios for our Data Center customers – from hitting a refresh cycle for a key product to a CEO-mandated reduction in operating expenses. These serve as triggers that kick-off a typical  customer journey.


4. Take the journey.

Letting the use case scenarios be your guide, follow the content path from awareness to purchase – both ON and OFF your digital properties. Be the customer! Spend time searching, exploring and experiencing what your customers and partners experience every day. One team at Cisco recently did this and deemed it a “Secret Shopper” program – and assessed the experience for their sample Service Provider target buyers all the way through the sales funnel. They reported findings to senior management to make a case for continual improvements.

5. Audit and diagnose.

Audit your content against key filters and decision points in the journey, from awareness to post-purchase. This is where the heavy lifting happens. For each stage, you’ll want to audit your content for areas such as:

  • Relevance to persona
  • Content Type (format)
  • Maturity (date)
  • Accessibility
  • Visibility

Once you have your diagnosis, it’s easy to create a plan to start to address content needs and gaps. For Data Center buyers, we started with the areas that were quick wins to gain momentum. And we will continue to address and refine our content journey  based on progress and new findings.

As a reminder, here’s a  handy graphic on the top 5 tips for improving the content journey:


My best  advice: choose to start small with a pilot first. It gives you an opportunity to test, learn and refine. Be brutally honest about what works, what doesn’t and what you need to do to improve. It can build momentum and become a model for others to follow.  After all, it’s  all about the journey – and letting  your customers be the guide.



Heather Alter

Senior Manager

Digital Engagement