Since I started Mintedleaf more than 15 years ago, I’ve been in the business of solving customer problems. I’ve written web copy explaining highly technical products, and instructional content for installing, using, and troubleshooting them.
What I didn’t know back then, was that all that work fits into a larger bubble called CX, or customer experience.
CX, according to Hotjar, is the result of every interaction a customer has with your business:
“Everything you do impacts your customers’ perception and their decision to keep coming back or not—so a great customer experience is your key to success. “
CX also happens in more than one place, or channel.
Think retail stores, call centers and chat bots, websites and social media, print and digital ads, radio, and TV. The list goes on. But what I find interesting is that CX also includes the impressions customers form about a brand without actually interacting with it. CX expert Julia Ahlfeldt says:
“I’m driving to work, and I hear an ad for some items on special at my local grocery store, that spikes an idea about what I might make for dinner. And that is immediately followed by a news bulletin about how that same store was caught selling expired milk [and] that makes me second guess my shopping plans. So, while I wasn’t actively engaging with the brand and I wasn’t even grocery shopping, I still had a customer experience that impacted something I was going to do as a consumer and my relationship with the grocery store brand.”
That’s a big elephant.
So for the purposes of this article, I’m focusing on digital customer experiences. But even then, there’s so much ground to cover between first thought, to brand awareness, decision-making, product use, and then super fandom, no wonder that brands blunder along with poor customer experiences.
As a copywriter, you can help bridge this gap.
By adding CX thinking to your toolbox.
Why is CX important?
But before we get into that, why make the case for CX in the first place?
Sure, CX is buzz worthy, but is it worth a deep dive for copywriters? In a word. Yes.
Companies are doubling down on CX. In a Forbes article, Blake Morgan quotes some compelling stats:
“Brands with superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors that lag in customer experience.”
“Companies with a customer experience mindset drive revenue 4-8% higher than the rest of their industries.”
CX has also made it into the C-suite. According to Gartner, in 2017 “more organizations have chief experience officers (CXOs) or chief customer officers (CCOs) or equivalents.”
In the 2019 State of Customer Experience study, Hotjar found that mature companies were more focused on delivering outstanding customer experience than they were on revenue. (Say wha?)
And, then along came 2020. As Daniel Neuman says:
“CX may be the thing that keeps you in business.”
Applying CX thinking to copywriting
Broadly speaking, CX thinking is a mindset that puts the customer first. Conversion copywriting and UX writing also do this but with a narrower focus (on conversion goals, and user goals within products respectively). CX widens the view-finder, and considers all parts of the customer journey (more about customer journeys later).
“Everything (including high conversions) falls into place when you make the customer the hero of the story and not your solution.” – Hotjar
(Uh, isn’t that called ‘marketing’?)
Yup. Partly. According to Gartner, most CX activities tend to consolidate within marketing, but it would be a mistake to think CX ends with the prepurchase sales and marketing funnel. The customer experience after purchase is just as important to great customer experience, especially in when it comes to retention, upgrade, and loyalty strategies.
In a copywriter, a CX mindset considers data from diverse teams: marketing, growth, customer support, sales, documentation, brand story, company leadership.
In writing about customer engagement, Intercom captures CX thinking succinctly:
“Communicating with your customers over the course of their lifecycle to help them get to the outcome that they want.”
So how do you communicate across the whole customer journey? If CX is a big elephant, what does ‘one bite at a time’ look like?
Here are 2 easy ways to apply CX thinking to copywriting.
1. Understand and use customer journey maps
For a conversion copywriter to have a great CX mindset, you have to get comfortable with a customer journey map.
Hubspot defines a customer journey map as “a visual representation of the stages your customers go through to achieve a goal.”
You’ve probably seen different versions of the customer journey. In sales and marketing, there’s usually some form of the Buyer’s Journey. In service organizations, you could see a Service Process Map or Service Blueprint.
No matter what they’re called, customer journey maps make it easy to see where your customer is moving smoothly through the lifecycle, and where they face friction, like the “lowest point” shown here.
Not only that, customer journey maps are tools that easily communicate the insights of voice of customer research. When everyone in the company understands the data, aligning on a CX or customer first approach is easier.
“Customer journey maps help organizations better understand: the needs of their customers, where opportunities lie to align their offerings with those needs, and what has to be done to deliver those offerings, from an inside-out to outside-in perspective.“ – Service Design Show
According to the website, Service Design Show, the most basic map has four distinct sections:
- Timeline or lifecycle
- Customer activities or situations
- Customer needs
- Customer experience or emotion
And depending on the type of journey, you could also add lanes for:
- Customer touchpoints (or moments)
- Copy and content types and formats
- Communication channels
- Back-end processes
- IT systems
- Support processes
In this customer journey map for Rail Europe, customer questions, emotions and experiences map to insights and opportunities at each stage:
So, why are customer journeys important to copywriters?
When you analyze the journey highs and lows from the customer perspective, you find ways to make that journey faster, smoother, and more valuable through your messaging.
Customer journeys help you think beyond the stage of awareness your customer may be in.
Once again, here’s Julia Ahlfeldt:
“Most businesses only think about the customer’s journey from the moment they are interacting with their brand, but the customer’s journey usually begins long before that. Understanding where the customer begins the process (before brand selection has taken place) may unlock valuable opportunities and will improve your understanding of the broader need or desire the customer is looking to fulfill.”
2. Map copy to customer journeys
Once you understand the customer journey for your product or service, you can map conversion copy or marketing content to each stage.
But don’t use the funnel!
You could be tempted at this point to simply add messaging formats to a generic funnel, like this:
In some ways, the funnel is handy visual that gives you a general sense of where specific copy and content formats fit. But, as Lauren Pope from Gather Content explains, funnels are business focussed, not customer focussed.
“…the funnel isn’t a customer-centric or empathetic way of looking at things. It’s too linear to reflect real user behaviour, too sales-focused to be empathetic and, crucially ignores what happens after the customer buys/signs-up, or whatever your goal is.”
Lauren also says that using funnels to capture messaging opportunities misses the chance to:
“…understand the wider context for why your customer does the things they do and create content in response [and] to support the customer after they make a purchase or interact with your brand”
Add messaging opportunities
So, don’t map to the funnel. Map to the customer journey.
You can visually represent copy and content on the map any number of ways. You can map content types to touchpoints as in this example from Conversion XL:
Or, integrate messaging throughout the journey map:
And here, Lauren Pope shows how messaging gaps can be visualized as opportunities.
Now more than ever, companies are prioritizing customer experience. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that people still want to be treated well.
This means that CX thinking is not just a nice-to-have skill for mature enterprises. To be a customer-focused company, everyone needs to double down on CX.
Copywriters, that’s your cue!
As a copywriter who speaks the language of CX, you can connect the dots between Growth, Marketing, Product and Customer Success. By mapping and measuring customer communication across the whole lifecycle, messaging becomes more consistent, on brand, and focused on customer needs.
Copywriters who adopt CX thinking can punch above their weight. And that’s good for customers.