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Understanding The Customer Journey

growth Sep 27, 2019

Are you banging your face on the wall wondering why your marketing isn't working?

I get it. 

You might be missing (like I was) one of the most fundamental concepts in marketing.

The Customer Journey

Basically, your customer will be lead through a relationship journey with you and your product before (and after) they purchase. 

You may have heard a lot of people reference something called a marketing funnel or a ‘click funnel’. Funnels are related to the customer journey, but they are not the same thing. 

A customer journey is exactly that, the customer’s journey

A funnel, on the other hand, includes the tools and step by step process you create to bring your customer from one side of the customer journey to the other.

The stages of the customer journey are generally known as: 

  1. Awareness Stage

    Your prospect is hearing about your brand, product, or offer for the first time.
  2. Interest or Consideration Stage

    Your prospect has begun to engage or interact with your marketing and is beginning to consider the value it will provide for them
  3. Conversion Stage

    Your prospect is warmed up to your brand, product, or service and is beginning the steps towards paying you or committing to some type of action.

 

You have friends right?

When explaining this concept I always use the analogy of meeting new friends. 

You may have a friend or two who you met, and you instantly clicked. Ever since then you have been really good friends. 

Most of the time, that’s not the case.

Most of the time you meet someone or are introduced to them.

Then, at some random time or event, you see them again. You probably start to think of them as relevant in some way because you have seen them before. 

You still may not have a deep conversation or connection with them.

You may have a few more small interactions with them, and you start to feel like you know them and their interests a little better.

That's when you start to make a decision about them. 

It works the exact same way when marketing your product.

We know that it takes on average 5 to 7 marketing touchpoints for the customer to make a decision on whether or not to buy your product. 

Beyond that, we know that 80% of person to person sales are closed after 5 follow-ups. 

So if you're concerned about your sales numbers, then think about the fact that a customer may have to see 5-7 pieces of your marketing before becoming a lead, and after that, you may have to follow-up with them another 5 to 7 times to close the deal. 

Understanding this process alone will change your conversion rate dramatically.

The difference between closing the deal or not closing the deal actually has more to do with your follow-up than your sales skills. Let that sink in.

What Kind Of Messaging Should You Use For Each Stage?

To use the different stages of the customer journey effectively it’s important to understand that the communication at each stage of the journey is different. 

Let’s get into how your messaging should change to reflect the different stages in the journey.

Awareness Marketing

This might go without saying but the goal in the awareness stage is to make your prospect aware of your company. 

Keep your message broad and shallow in this stage. 

Focus on light and easy to understand concepts. Like, the values of your company, the core benefits, and the end result the prospect will obtain by purchasing your product. 

This commercial by Volvo is a great example of awareness marketing. Check out this 3-minute marketing video by Volvo.

For nearly the entire video they don’t talk about Volvo. If not for the obvious flashes of their cars you might not even know it was a commercial for them. 

They spend the bulk of the commercial telling a story meant to do nothing except inspire feelings.

They begin with the feeling of independence as the little girl is worried about the first day of school.

Then they move onto feelings of friendship, as she talks about the friends she wants to spend the rest of her life with.

Then adventure. Then love. Then passion. Then family.

Finally, at the last moment. When your not sure what the current time is or who is driving the Volvo. The girl runs into the middle of the road, about to get hit by the car. 

It stops. Automatically. 

Inferring that the Volvo (not the driver) saved that little girl's life. Allowing all of those emotions and virtues to happen.

Volvo’s goal for this commercial is not to sell you a car.

There is no mention of a car model, no mention of a website to go to, or a way to buy.

Volvo’s goal for this commercial is to get you to associate all of those formerly mentioned feelings with their brand.

This is what your awareness marketing should reflect.

"Awareness marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling,"

explains Susan Greene, in her article about content marketing.

"Use it to attract, nurture and retain customers. You generate content that your prospects will find interesting and useful. You focus on educating your prospects. It positions your business as the expert in your industry. When they’re ready to make a purchase, your name is the one that comes to mind. Ka-ching!"

Consideration Marketing

In this stage, the prospect is not only aware of your business, but also in the next layer of your marketing.

The prospect is looking for more information. They want to see more of the “What” and the “How”.

The main goal here is educational content. Even if what your educating them on is the benefits of your product. 

In other words, “What’s under the hood?” As long as we are staying with the car theme.

Your aim in the interest stage is to take features of your product or service and reflect them back to the core benefits.

So if you're Volvo, and your core benefit is safety.

Your messaging in the consideration stage might be something like...

“Our cars are loaded with 5-star airbags and automatic brakes that stop in the face of danger, so you know you’re keeping friends and family safe.” - Not Really From Volvo

To bring this full circle, in the awareness stage we were appealing to emotion. Creating a feeling of connection between those emotions and our product. 

Then, in the consideration stage, we validate that emotion by using logic to show them how our product gets them there.

Let’s analyze some more of Volvo to see if we hit our mark.

Here is a snippet from the homepage of their website. 

Under “SUVs” reads,

“With a focus on Scandinavian design and human-centric innovation, our award-winning SUVs stand out on the road.” - Volvo (for real this time)

Any idea what they are appealing to here?

I would say it’s a sense or feeling of uniqueness. A feeling of being a little separated from the crowd, and publicly independent. Being cool.

I know that because of the last 5 words, “Stand out on the road”. That is the benefit they are highlighting in that piece of copy.

The features they mention, “Scandinavian design”, “human-centric innovations”, “award-winning” are all there to support, with logic, that core benefit.

If you want to know more about consideration marketing, check out this awesome post by ClickZ.

Conversion Marketing

After you have created emotional appeal towards your brand and validated those emotions by drawing the line of logic from your product to those emotions, it’s time to flip the script and gear your marketing toward purchase decisions.

Conversion marketing is communication that is meant to elicit some type of action.

That is why we use the term “Call To Action”.

You’ve seen them before.

The fast-food worker who asks, “Would you like to try our new _______?”

The button on Amazon that reads “Buy now, with one click.”

The “Get Directions” feature on Yelp.

“Buy Now”

“Learn More”

“Download”

“Click Here”

“Schedule a call”

“Get a Free Consultation”

“Try Our New ____”

“Take a Sample”

“Call This Numer”

“Use Our Promo Code”

These are all messages you have definitely seen before. 

Conversion messaging is rather simple. You're basically just saying, “Take this action”. 

How well your conversion marketing does usually depends on how well your awareness and consideration marketing went.

That being said, even if your awareness marketing matched up with the feelings the prospect is looking for, and your interest marketing drew logic to how you will get the prospect those feelings, your prospect still might decide not to purchase.

The reason for that is simple. Doubts (AKA. Objections)

Objections are the reason a qualified buyer in your target audience might not purchase. 

Your prospect will only have objections for one reason.

Fear.

The fear that your product won’t deliver what was promised. 

The conversion stage is when those objections will pop-in to the heads of your potential customers.

Nearly every objection falls into 3 categories.

  1. They can’t afford it

    To battle this objection, there are 2 options. Strengthen the perception of value vs. the cost.

    OR

    If your product has a substantial investment involved, another great trick is to provide financing options and break the payments up.

  2. They don’t believe your promise

    This objection can be easily handled by historical performance. You're going to want to show customer success and satisfaction if the customer has this objection.

    Think, “sample”. Give the prospect a taste of what you can deliver to show them you mean business.

  3. They don’t trust you or your company

    People trust people who have the same values as them. What value does everyone have in common?

    Everybody values themselves. If you can show your prospect that you share the same value of them, this objection is easy to overcome.

    Put the prospect's needs before yours and you will never have this problem.

Something important to mention here; the best time to handle objections is all throughout the customer journey.

Your awareness marketing can be a customer success story.

Your consideration marketing can show your expertise in your field.

Your interest in your prospect’s needs early on can solve any trust issues right away.

If you want to know more about conversion marketing, check out this awesome blog post by Marketing-schools.org

Think Cyclical, Not Linear

I would love for marketing to be easy, but it’s not. 

The way the customer journey is presented on paper makes it easy to picture it as a straight-line process. 

It’s not.

Prospects will jump to different stages all the time.

You might have someone that is ready to purchase, then backs out at the last second and completely forgets about your business and product.

They might see a piece of awareness marketing later and jump back in the cycle. 

You can even have an ad or a single piece of marketing that incorporates all 3 stages.

Making the prospect aware, drawing the line of logic, and providing the next steps in one ad.

You might use a call to action to get a prospect to engage with your interest style educational content. 

There are no rules in marketing, only guidelines. 

The Customer Journey is a representation from the point of view of the customer, not the business. 

Our job as businesses is to provide the path. The journey is for the customer.

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