A Content Marketing Framework: A Consumer Decision Making Approach
from Occam’s Razor

So, I ran across this great post on content marketing from Avinash’s Blog “Occam’s Razor” (BTW, if you don’t subscribe to his blog, you’re missing the most cutting-edge stuff out there on digital analytics). He calls it the SEE — THINK — DO framework. And, this is kinda the endpoint of your content marketing — the measurement end.

Content marketing 101

One of the things I really like about this post is the recognition that you can’t wait until consumers are ready to buy before you try to earn their business — you have to start at the “SEE” stage. And your content marketing strategy MUST include elements (as well as metrics) to attract and satisfy consumers at EACH stage as they progress between stages.

The content marketing framework builds on the consumer decision-making process:

  • problem recognition
  • information search
  • evaluate options
  • decide
  • post-purchase evaluation

SEE stage

At the SEE stage, you’re really talking about identifying your target market. In this case, people who wear clothes (which frankly is just about everyone). You might refine your target market a little more by geographic area (such as the US or even Southern US) and/or by gender, age, or lifestyle. Once you’ve got your target market and understand what’s important to them, your content marketing strategy should involve creating non-promotional content related to their interests that is informational, entertaining, or educational. At this stage, your content marketing should focus heavily on creating content that will bring visitors to your site — either through search (SEO) or social (SEM).

As opposed to what many firms think, your content DOESN’T have to relate to YOUR BRAND — only something your target market will find interesting. For instance, as a clothing firm, your content marketing strategy might involve discussing celebrity fashion or what celebrity was photographed in what outfit because our culture is OBSESSED with anything related to celebrities. Your content marketing strategy might also involve focusing your content on celebrities currently trending on Twitter or search to attract the widest audience. This brings organic search traffic to your site.

A related aspect of your content marketing strategy at the SEE stage is spreading (amplifying) your content through social media. Again, a focus on clothing in general and specifically about celebrity fashion entices folks to share your content on their own social networks, further driving traffic to your site.

Content marketing at the SEE stage should help consumers recognize their need for new products — products that you sell (problem recognition). This is the first stage of the consumer decision-making process. You can’t expect consumers to simply skip this stage and, with a skillful content marketing strategy, you draw attention to the gap between where they are and where they’d like to be.

Measures important at this stage are listed in the table: % visits, #shares, etc. Trying to assess only conversion misses these critical SEE stage results. And, failure to monitor these analytics causes a firm to miss opportunities and may lead them to discontinue doing social media marketing believing (erroneously) that it doesn’t work.

THINK stage

By the think stage, visitors are considering whether to purchase clothing. And, it’s really where your consumers are in the process that should dictate your content marketing strategy.

At this stage, you can START showing them what your brand offers to fulfill their needs. Your content marketing strategy might shift to information about your brand — the way your clothing resembles that worn by celebrities, the quality of your manufacturing process, or the eco-friendly materials used that support a sustainable planet.

Unfortunately, this is where many brands want to START their content marketing. But, the ability of THINK content to attract organic search is limited and think-type content doesn’t do a great job of being sharable on social platforms.

The THINK stage relates to the next 2 steps in the consumer decision-making process: information gathering and analysis of the information they’ve gathered. Hence, your content marketing strategy should focus on both providing information and reducing analysis demands. Part of your content, then, should contain evaluations of your products versus competitors, rationales for purchasing your products, and other topics that reduce cognitive load.

Key metrics at this stage are also listed: depth of site visits and click-through rate.

DO stage

At the do stage, consumers are shopping to satisfy needs. Now is the time to embed your swanky shopping carts and other sales tools. It’s also time to work on converting visitors to buyers using email marketing, mobile apps, and other tools to enable consumers to buy your product. You might even set up affiliate programs to make your products available (and visible) elsewhere to remind consumers they want to buy your brands. PPC (Pay Per Click) is most effective at this stage, as well.

At the DO stage, your content marketing strategy shifts to more traditional types of content — discounts, coupons, recommendations for additional products, social proof, etc.

Metrics at this stage also involve more commonly used measures, such as conversion rate.

Post-purchase evaluation

Don’t forget this critical step in the consumer decision-making process. In the post-purchase evaluation, consumers determine whether they’re satisfied with the product and the buying process, which is critical for both repeat purchase and recommendation of the brand.

Your content marketing strategy shouldn’t stop with the DO stage, but should continue through the post-purchase evaluation stage — something Avinash calls the CODDLE stage. Your content at this stage should focus on building customer loyalty and community with satisfied customers as this greatly increases both their repeat purchase and recommendations of your brand. Truly satisfied customers may even become advocates of your brand — defending your brand and answering questions from consumers in the SEE and THINK stages of the process.

Content marketing strategies at this stage might focus on your customers (community) to give them power and recognition for their commitment to your brand.

Appropriate metrics at the CODDLE stage might involve CUSTOMER LIFETIME VALUE or qualitative metrics to evaluate your community.

With that said, I’d like to invite you to my community either by subscribing to my email newsletter of joining my Facebook page where I welcome discussions of marketing and social media or my Facebook group, where community members share their questions and advice to help each other navigate the intricacies of social media marketing.

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Read more: Content Marketing: Don’t Make It A Fatal Attraction