Words at work

– 9 min read

How to write for each stage of the customer journey

Kristin Hillery

Kristin Hillery

The best marketing makes people feel seen. And you can’t make someone feel seen if you have no idea what it’s like to walk a mile in their shoes.

That “mile” is the customer journey — the full experience a customer has with your company, from initial awareness to post-purchase. Understanding the different stages of this journey, along with what people are typically thinking and feeling during each stage, sets you up to be an excellent (and more engaging) guide once you give that pair of shoes back.

No matter where someone is on your map, language matters. Come across as salesy in the beginning, for example, and you risk losing people. But used later on when you’ve built trust, that tone isn’t “salesy,” it’s helpful. Your writing style must change for each stage of the customer journey if you want to not only reach people, but help them get where they need to go.

Customer journey stage #1: Awareness

Writing style: The storyteller

No one will ever buy your product if they don’t know it exists. The awareness stage is all about making people aware of your business and what you’re offering. People in this stage are becoming aware of something else: that they have a problem or a need. They aren’t ready to buy anything, though, because they haven’t yet defined what that problem or need is.

We call the writing style for this stage “the storyteller,” as the purpose of content here is to be helpful, build trust, and establish your company as an industry expert. Your words should help someone, not sell something. We can’t emphasize “help” enough — give away your knowledge without expecting anything in return.

Whether it’s a blog, podcast, infographic, video, or LinkedIn post, it should be engaging, authentic, and useful — with zero sales pressure. You’re writing to people who need your product or service but don’t yet know it. 

Examples of writing for the awareness stage

We’re willing to bet that blog posts are the most popular type of content for the awareness stage. Just note that blogs can also show up in the next three stages. How are they different, then? If you guessed “writing style,” please accept this high-five. More on that later.

Anyway, one of our favorite examples of writing for the awareness stage is Webflow’s blog. Posts aren’t product-focused — they’re geared towards design education and inspiration. The hero of the story is the reader, not Webflow.

Screenshot of Webflow’s blog homepage.
Screenshot of Webflow’s blog homepage.

The tone is informal and conversational. It feels like an expert is talking to you — someone who knows exactly what you’re dealing with at work and wants to help you. 

Screenshot of a Webflow blog post on the no-code movement.
Screenshot of a Webflow blog post on the no-code movement.

Webflow’s content sets them up as a guide in the field of marketing and web development. A leader in the “no-code” movement, they provide concrete examples on how to become an expert yourself. Plus, the writing is clever and funny without being goofy.

Screenshot from Webflow blog post on web design client tips.
Screenshot from Webflow blog post on web design client tips.

They’re giving all of this advice and knowledge away without expecting anything in return.

Screenshots of Webflow blog post on web design trends of 2022.
Screenshot of Webflow blog post on web design trends of 2022.

Customer journey stage #2: Consideration

Writing style: The expert

Buyers are ready to dig into details in the consideration stage. They’ve defined the problem, and they’re looking at different ways to solve it. They’re putting all their options on the table.

This stage calls for “the expert” writing style, which is all about educational and informative content that helps a buyer determine whether your product is the best solution on the table. This type of content includes long-form blog posts, reports, case studies, and more. Content teams often collaborate with product teams here. When a buyer reads or watches this content, they should be blown away by how valuable it is — and unlike in the awareness stage, the connection to what you’re selling should be obvious.

The expert’s tone is honest and authoritative without being condescending. Writing showcases your brand or product’s outstanding features and differentiators without being pushy or exaggerating. The expert answers the question “Why should someone buy this?” with data, no fluff.

Example of writing for the consideration stage 

Klaviyo’s case study for Premier kicks off with some eye-catching data before getting into the story of owner Eric Blanding and how using Klaviyo specifically improved his email marketing. This is a great reminder to incorporate customers’ words into your writing when it makes sense. 

Screenshots from a Klaviyo case study.
Screenshots from a Klaviyo case study

Ahrefs has an Academy with videos on how to use their tools. Carefully crafted titles and teaser copy were written with potential customers in mind, not just existing users. A quick scroll down the page gives you the confidence that should you become an Ahrefs customer, you’ll easily be able to learn how to get the most out of it. 

Screenshot of Ahrefs Academy page.
Screenshot of Ahrefs Academy page

Customer journey stage #3: Decision

Writing style: The closer

This one’s all about conversion. Here, people are done looking at options and are ready to buy. 

“The closer” writing style makes this decision easy. It uses persuasive language with clear CTAs and benefits-driven copy. Think of this kind of writing as a closing argument for why someone should pick your product. This may take the form of landing pages, customer stories, demos, or a free trial.

The closer is copywriting, and not all writers are strong at this. Content writing and copywriting can be similar; however, their intended immediate effects are different. Copywriting tends to evoke an emotional response, while content writing isn’t explicitly designed to do the same. In a world in which consumer purchases are driven by emotion, tapping into your copywriting skills is essential.

Great copywriters say a lot with just a few words. That’s not easy to do.

Examples of copywriting for the decision stage 

Buffer’s homepage lays out their product’s features and benefits using benefits-driven copy. What’s even more important is the clear and relatable CTA: “You have many things to do. Let us help you with social media.” 

Screenshot of Buffer’s home page.
Screenshot of Buffer’s home page

The decision stage calls for colloquial vocabulary with a familiar voice. Writing for this stage emphasizes the relevance of the product or service to the consumer. By repeating different words in the same word field and highlighting actions to be taken, the content marketing team can convert prospects to customers.

Lattice uses impactful language that evokes emotion and speaks directly to their audience. By using the second person “you/your,” Lattice highlights the benefits their customers will reap when using their tool. They also examine the ways in which their users can develop in their role as they transform into better versions of themselves. Not only does the user benefit, but so does the team they work with.

Screenshots of Lattice information page.
Screenshots of Lattice

Customer journey stage #4: Retention

Writing style: The helper

The journey isn’t over once someone becomes a customer. The retention stage is about keeping your customers happy — and, ideally, turning them into brand advocates. “The helper” writing style supports this mission through expository writing that includes help centers, knowledge base articles, training videos, and other types of product or service learning guides.

According to HBR, 81% of customers prefer to use a help center before seeking out a customer service representative. If most people prefer to find the answers to their questions themselves, then creating a top-notch help center should be a priority. Your help center should include easy navigation between knowledge base articles and an FAQ page, both of which should be optimized for mobile.

Knowledge base writers resolve customer questions

The best knowledge base writers provide customers with solutions through engaging, well-written help center content, documentation, onboarding flows, and support email templates. These writers understand how to think from the user’s perspective rather than the expert’s perspective. By paying close attention to how people are using the product or service, writers can compile the most useful information for their customers’ problem-solving needs.

Want to keep your customers happy? Use common language, straightforward sentence structure, and active voice. Readers are 38% more likely to understand the text if it’s written in plain language, with the average US adult reading at a 7th–8th grade level. Moreover, they’re 41% more likely to remember information written in plain language. 

But if they forget or need a refresher, easy access to these resources will help reinforce both the knowledge they’ve forgotten and the loyalty they feel toward your company.

Writing styles for the retention stage

Intercom’s help center is a brilliant example of a company that embraces the “helper” writing style. Rather than describing features or listing actions users should take with their product, Intercom clearly explains what users can achieve by using their product. The explanation of these results tends to resonate more with users. Intercom also shows real-world examples in which their writing is paired with imagery that helps their users visualize what success looks like.

At the start of each help center page, Intercom defines how the article will help the user with clear instructional language and guided prompts. Plus, they tailor their language for ease of comprehension with simple, easy-to-follow syntax and semantics. They also make the articles easy to scan by using section headers, bullet points, and lists.

Screenshots from Intercom’s help center.
Screenshots from Intercom’s help center

The North Star

If you ever feel lost while writing, just think of your company’s North Star — the reason your organization exists. This is different for everyone, but it always comes down to serving customers.