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How To Design Your Marketing Strategy Around The Customer Journey (And Move People Through The Funnel)

To get the most out of your marketing budget and drive business growth, your digital marketing strategy needs to reach the right people at the right time and persuade them to take the next step in the customer journey.

Everyone these days seems to ‘doSEO, SEM, content marketing and social media… but sometimes the focus seems to be around simply being active in these areas and hoping all this activity results in more awareness, traffic and conversions.

With the above approach, you might also struggle to effectively measure the success of your efforts and therefore fail to identify opportunities to improve the strategy over time.

While you may indeed see some results from simply being active in these channels, you’re missing out on a much bigger picture and therefore a bigger opportunity.

The key is in understanding how these channels and the different campaigns within each channel, actually work together to reach the right people with the right message at the right time to move people through the customer journey.

In this post I’ll aim to clearly show you:

  • Which activity is mapped to which stage in the customer journey (a bird’s eye view of your digital marketing strategy)
  • How to use your marketing campaigns to move people from one stage to the next (all the way to conversion and beyond)
  • How to improve the lifetime value of the customer
  • How to identify opportunities (and performance issues requiring your attention)
  • How and what to measure at each stage

The Customer Journey Map

  • Awareness
  • Engagement
  • Subscribe
  • Convert
  • Excite
  • Ascend
  • Advocate
  • Promote

Let’s walk through each one of these stages.

I’m going to be detailed in each of the sections so as to create a sort of digital marketing menu that you might find useful when brainstorming new strategies and campaigns.

Awareness

awareness - customer journey

If people don’t know you exist, they can’t buy your products and services. So the question to ask yourself here is:

“How do people become aware that my company exists?”

Just list down every possible way you can think of, how someone might first encounter your brand.

  • Social media (organic)
    • They see a friend or someone they follow engage with one of your posts (like, react, comment, share)
    • They see someone share your content
    • They see your page as a recommended page to follow
  • Social media (paid)
    • They see your ad which could be:
      • A promoted/boosted non-commercial post
      • An offer for them to follow your brand on the platform
      • An offer for them to opt in to your email list in exchange for something of value
      • A commercial offer for your products and services
    • They see an influencer they follow post about your business, products or services
      • You might pay the influencer a fee or simply allow them to try your products and services
  • Search (organic and paid)
    • They see your website appear when they search for keywords related to your products and services
    • They see your blog post appear when they search for information relating to their problems or interests
  • PR
    • They see your business mentioned (ideally with a link to your website) in a blog post they are reading (not on your website)
    • They see you or your business mentioned by the media, whether local, national, niche or industry-specific
  • Programmatic
    • They see a banner ad for your business on a website they are browsing
  • Video
    • They see an ad for your business while they are waiting for a YouTube video to play
    • They see your video appear in the search results when they search YouTube (using relevant keywords) for videos showing them how to solve their problem or on the topics of their interests
  • Other
    • They see your app as a recommendation from a friend, on a blog, by an influencer, in the app store, on social media or anywhere else they are likely to see it
    • They see your podcast as a recommendation from a friend, on a blog, by an influencer, in Spotify/Podcast app, on social media or anywhere else they are likely to see it
  • Offline
    • They see an ad in a magazine or the newspaper or externally such as billboards, bus stops etc
    • They hear an ad on the radio
    • They see an ad on TV
    • They walk/drive past your store

Example metrics to measure

  • Reach/Impressions
  • CPM
  • Brand recall
  • Search engine visibility (rankings)

Engagement

engage - customer journey

So your prospect is seeing your brand all over the web no matter where they are browsing. They definitely recognise your brand now!

Knowing who you are isn’t really enough though if you want to grow a brand and drive conversions. Often people need to like and trust you before they are ready to open their wallet. You need to acquire share of mind before you earn the right to acquire share of wallet and the more expensive or complex your product, the more important this becomes.

How do you develop the relationship between the target market and your brand and acquire share of mind?

Through regular, positive engagement and this needs to happen throughout the entire customer journey on an ongoing basis.

The next question to ask then, is:

“What are all the ways people can engage with your brand?”

  • Social media (organic)
    • They engage with one of your social posts (like, react, comment, share)
    • They click through one of your posts and consume the content on your website whether written, audio or visual… or all three! (and ideally share it too!)
    • They follow your brand on the social platform to get access to more of your content later
    • They read your posts in a private community group where you are engaging in conversation with people. Some of them engage you in conversation too.
  • Social media (paid)
    • They engage with your ad (like, react, comment, share, click through to your website and consume the content, claim an offer)
  • Search (organic and paid)
    • They click through to your product or service page when they search for keywords related to your products and services and consume the content of the page
    • They click through to your blog post when they search for information relating to their problems or interests, consume the content and find it useful and/or entertaining (and ideally share it)
  • PR
    • After seeing your business mentioned in a blog post they are reading, they click the link to be taken to your website where they browse your site
    • After seeing you or your business mentioned by the media, they search for your brand and browse your website
  • Programmatic
    • They click a banner ad for your business on a website they are browsing, consume your content and browse your site
  • Remarketing/Retargeting
    • After visiting your website previously, they see a relevant ad:
      • While browsing social media
      • While browsing other websites
      • While using search engines to once again search for relevant keywords
  • Video
    • They watch the ad for your business while they are waiting for a YouTube video to play and click through to your website to consume your content
    • They watch your video that appeared for their YouTube search, enjoyed it and choose to subscribe to your channel
  • Email
    • They open your email, read it and click the link to your website if applicable and consume your content (ideally share it too)
  • Other
    • They download your app and start using it
    • They subscribe to your podcast and start listening to it

Example metrics to measure

  • Engagements, for example: clicks, social interactions, scroll depth, bounce rate, pages per visit, social followers, watch time, downloads, time on site, email opens, email link clicks etc
  • Cost per engagement
  • Engagement rate
  • Traffic
  • Links/Coverage
  • Retargeting list growth

Subscribe

subscribe - customer journey

Most people will not visit your website and instantly convert into a customer there and then. The overwhelming majority will leave after having browsed your site, never to be seen again…

If most people are going to take time and multiple engagements before they trust you enough to become a customer, then ideally you need to get their contact details (email address as a minimum) so you have an open channel of communication with them. There’s a high chance they know who you are at this stage and have had several engagements with your brand already.

By getting them to take the next step and opt in to your email list, it allows you to easily reach them time and time again and continue to build the relationship between them and your brand via more engagement.

The question to ask at this stage then, is:

“How can people subscribe to your email list?”

  • They can sign up to your newsletter via the call to action in the footer
  • They can choose to claim the offer in the popup that appears if they go to leave the site
    • They can download your lead magnet from the landing page
    • They can access the lead magnet landing page from the calls to action in the blog posts and sidebar and also from the remarketing campaigns
  • They can make an enquiry
  • They can opt in to access your webinar
  • They can opt in to get a demo of your software product

Example metrics to measure

  • Subscribers
  • Opt-in rate
  • Cost per subscriber

Convert

convert - customer journey

OK so ‘some’ people will search for keywords relevant to your products and services or see your ad and click through to your site and make the decision to buy from you there and then. Woohoo!

The more successful you are in the awareness and engagement stages of the customer journey (sometimes referred to as the marketing funnel), often the greater the number of conversions.

You might think this is sufficient to sustain and even grow your business, but the reality is you are probably missing out on a significant amount of conversions if you only rely on this.

You see the majority of people are still leaving your site without converting because they are simply not ready to sign up to your complex service or buy your expensive high-end product.

So what do you do?

How can you effectively convert this sizeable audience who isn’t quite ready to buy your main product or service?

You convert them with an offer that is much easier to say yes to. This offer could be a time or monetary investment.

Once they convert at this level and have an exceptional experience with your product or service, they will be much more trusting and receptive to the main offer of your ‘Gold’ standard product or service, your upgrade offer or other related products and services.

The objective at this stage is to simply entice the prospect to become a customer or take the first step into the process of becoming a customer. Customer acquisition basically.

Some examples of this could be:

  • They attend your consultancy company’s training day event (could be free or a no-brainer price)
  • They choose the ‘Starter’ package of your software product
  • They claim your heavily discounted offer of a product or service

Important to note is at this stage, they might not be very profitable. It’s part of your funnel to move them to a place where they are happy to purchase your higher priced products, services and upgrades.

Example metrics to measure

  • Number of marketing qualified leads (MQL)
  • Number of sales qualified leads (SQL)
  • Sales
  • Revenue
  • Conversion rates
  • CPA
  • ROAS
  • AOV
  • Lifetime value
  • Retention rate

Excite

excite - customer journey

If your newly acquired customer doesn’t have an exciting (or at least positive) first experience with your product or service, then you’ve lost them. Period.

You need to ensure that no matter how small a transaction or how much or little time has been invested, that they receive an absolutely outstanding experience. Think about it from their point of view…

They will think something along the lines of:

“Wow, if this is the experience I’m having at this level, their ‘Gold’ standard product or service must be phenomenal!”

Guess what product and service they are probably much more interested in now? 🙂

So the question to ask is:

“In what ways could a new customer be excited when they first receive your product or service?”

  • They have a seamless, stress-free and pleasant onboarding experience with your software product and can start getting value from using it quickly
  • Your product arrived in the post the very next day and they had a great unboxing experience (e.g. really nice packaging, an unexpected greeting card in the box, beautiful product and clear instructions)
  • They get access to your video course instantly and get incredible value from the very first video
  • They have a great first meeting with one of your consultants who were extremely friendly, helpful, patient, not pushy and took the time to explain everything to them in detail and answer all their questions.

Example metrics to measure

  • Sentiment
  • Feedback (including any scores)
  • Returns/refunds

Ascend

ascend - customer journey

As you can see, by the time a person reaches this stage, you’ve invested quite a lot of time and resources into this relationship. You might not have generated much of a return either if they haven’t taken your main product or service yet or bought multiple products and upgrades… and that’s the objective of this stage of the journey.

“How can a customer be upgraded?”

Having now had nothing but positive experiences with your brand and making the decision to become a customer (or at least move much closer towards becoming a customer depending on your sales process), it is now time to either present them with your main offer or other relevant products, services and upgrades.

  • The take out a subscription to your food delivery service instead of the one-off option
  • They take the offer to upgrade to the Gold level of your SaaS product
  • They upgrade to the deluxe seats at the cinema
  • They take the offer of a related product that compliments their existing product

Example metrics to measure

  • Number of up/cross-sell offers taken
  • Conversion rates
  • Revenue
  • AOV
  • CPA
  • ROAS
  • Lifetime value
  • Buyer recency and frequency

Advocate

advocate - customer journey

Due to your highly effective marketing funnel, many of your customers are now ascending and increasing their lifetime value by taking your core offer and/or upgrades as well as multiple products and services.

They are having a great experience and receiving a lot of value so at this stage, you need to be asking yourself:

“How can happy customers tell other people about their experience?”

  • They leave a review (either for your own site or an external site)
  • They provide you with a testimonial
  • They allow you to use them as a case study
  • They take and post photos/videos of your product or themselves using your service etc

The truth is most people won’t spontaneously do this unless prompted… that’s where marketing campaigns to this stage of the customer journey come in to play.

Where and how are you asking your customers to leave a review, a testimonial or provide a case study?

This could be something as simple as asking them to leave a review at key places in your funnel or it could be something a little more involved such as posting about your product or service for a chance to win something.

Being active in this stage of the customer journey and generating a continuous stream of positive customer advocacy can generate a tremendous amount of trust for your brand that in turn helps to drive more conversions.

Example metrics to measure

  • Number of testimonials
  • Number of positive reviews
  • Number of case studies
  • Quantity and quality of user-generated content
  • Conversion rates

Promote

promote - customer journey

Persuading your customers to leave testimonials and reviews and to post positively about your brand is fantastic, but more often than not the best kind of new customer is a referral.

Persuading people to actually seek out and introduce new customers to your business is what this stage of the customer journey aims to achieve.

So the question is:

“How do you generate referrals from your customers?”

Some example referral schemes could be:

  • Providing people with free upgrade or further products and services if they introduce someone or multiple people to your business
  • Offering affiliate and commission based schemes for referral partners

Example metrics to measure

  • Number of referrals
  • Number of sales qualified referrals
  • Conversion rates
  • Revenue/Return

Conclusion

So where do you go from here? What is the best way to approach and implement the topics covered in this post?

I find the below approach tends to work well.

Walk through each stage of the customer journey and for each stage:

  • Note down all your current marketing activity
  • Then note down all the things you ‘could’ be doing but aren’t
  • Map your data to each of the KPIs you feel are important at each stage of the journey
  • If your tracking is not set up to provide you with this data then this exercise has already highlighted a key improvement area
  • Identify the gaps. Gaps being things like: Prospects getting ‘stuck’ in certain parts of the journey, lack of activity in a stage or stages, high costs at certain stages of the journey that you feel could be improved
  • Review your marketing strategy… because you’ve just taken a huge step in creating/reviewing your marketing strategy just by working through the customer journey!

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How To Design Your Marketing Strategy Around The Customer Journey (And…

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