We all do it. We all get stuck writing content for the same persona and the same stages of the buyer’s journey, neglecting to diversify. Either because that persona or buyer’s journey stage is important to our business, or simply because it’s easier to write about.
Ashley Mortimer, the Search Optimization Marketing Specialist at American Family Insurance (AmFam), spoke about the buyer’s journey in her C3 presentation. She discussed AmFam’s overabundance of homeowner insurance content — despite the fact that they actually sell multiple different types of insurance.
Realizing they were losing out on customers, AmFam performed a serious content audit analysis to fill all their content gaps and reach the customers they were missing out on.
This is how they did it.
AmFam’s Journey With the Buyer’s Journey
AmFam took the buyer’s journey process to the next level by following these 3 steps:
- The Skeleton.
- The 12-month Timeline.
- The Road Map
They found their content gaps by not just creating one single buyer’s journey, but every potential buyer’s journey to get a full view of their content landscape.
Step One: They begin with a skeleton.
But not every buyer’s journey would be the same with every persona. Here is a single customer’s buyer’s journey AmFam mapped to a “first-time homeowner” persona buying home insurance.
This is a good example that shows how a buyer’s journey does not need to be linear. In this example, the customer is pre-shopping. In two visits, they’re in consideration. They go to intent, and come back to consideration.
“Think of the buyer’s journey as never-ending. They can go left; they can go right. They can go up; they can go down. Think of the journey from onboarding, to features, to filing a claim, to having babies. And that’s where we meet them, where their needs are. It doesn’t matter what persona they are, we still need to give them the best experience.” – Ashley Mortimer
Step Two: After all the buyer’s journeys are mapped (each persona assigned a color), AmFam creates a 12-month timeline.
This timeline encompassed every AmFam persona, every buyer’s journey, and every touch point (including direct mail and email).
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The “gaps” included the content that AmFam did not currently have. But they realized that filling the content gaps wasn’t enough for a customer to complete a purchase — AmFam also had to look at “ideal” content, which was content that catered more to the customer’s needs, rather than cater to the AmFam brand and products.
After a six-month process of creating personas and buyer’s journeys and pinpointing the content gaps and ideals, AmFam was ready to put that into a practical road map.
Step Three: AmFam builds out a road map.
Armed with a carefully planned road map, AmFam was ready to create content that could reach the right customers at the right time.
Creating Content That Helps Customers
Instead of focusing solely on highly competitive late stage terms like “auto insurance” and “renter’s insurance,” AmFam targets early and mid-stage keywords where there is high demand but less competition.
One example is their “Home Safety Inspection Checklist.”
This checklist is an interactive, educational virtual tour of a typical house, which offers safety tips, a personal checklist, as well as a way to purchase safety accessories. The great thing about this piece is that it targets both an AmFam customer as well as a potential customer who is looking to make sure their house/apartment is protected. Essentially it targets anyone who is looking to protect their home.
This piece is jam-packed with a ton of valuable, early-stage content, and makes no mention of AmFam’s products or a “Get a Quote” until a customer makes a more mid-stage or late-stage choice.
For example, like adding a “Talk with my Agent…” action item to a checklist as seen below:
This piece feels not pushy, informative, and just for the customer.
Take the Long Journey with Content
AmFam’s doesn’t necessarily focus on a problem – they care more about answering questions and helping the customer. If it doesn’t focus on the customer and the customer journey, the AmFam team won’t work on it.
So the real question is: will the AmFam customer go through to the end of the funnel? Is this early-stage content really enough to complete the buyer’s journey?
Ashley Mortimer believes yes. “We’re not only trying to get a lead. We’re trying to help somebody. We’re trying to provide them with the information that they need. If we’re there three times to help them, and they’re finally ready to make a purchase, they won’t need to consider anybody else. They’re going to consider us.”