Understanding the Customer Value Journey

Getting noticed by potential customers who aren’t aware of you is no easy task.  They need to not only be told about you and your product or service, but also why they should care.  People aren’t born aware of Apple, Starbucks, or Disney, so how do they do it? It’s not an easy task, and takes time to build a relationship with your customers based on trust.  A Customer Value Journey is the 8-stage path a company takes a potential customer on to convert them from stranger to buyer to raving fan.  In this article, we will discuss what each of the steps in Customer Value Journey are, what they entail, and some marketing channels that are most effective for each step.  We will go over what each of the channels entail in later articles.

The 8 Stages of a Customer Value Journey are:

  1. Awareness
  2. Engagement
  3. Subscribe
  4. Convert
  5. Excite
  6. Ascend
  7. Advocate
  8. Promote

Awareness

First and foremost, people need to know your business exists.  Customers can’t buy from you if they don’t know who you are. How can people find out about you?  Does your business have a Facebook page, and do you pay to advertise there? Do you have a business Twitter or Instagram?  If you have your own website, where do you fall in Google search results? These are all things to consider when working on this stage as they are the primary ways to organically raise awareness.  Your focuses in this stage should be on digital marketing, search marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing.

Engagement

Once people are aware of your company, you can start gaining their trust. Continuing to use your social media and content marketing is key here. The more people see you post content on a consistent schedule, and interacting in the community with which your company is focussed, the more they will begin to see you as knowledgeable and trustworthy.  Consider joining Facebook groups that relate to your business, and interact there as much as possible. Posting instructional videos on your business’s Youtube channel is great to demonstrate both your knowledge and your product. Your focuses in this stage should be on content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing.

Subscribe

People are now aware of your business, and beginning to see you as trustworthy.  Getting people to subscribe is key, so they don’t have to search you out–you come to them.  Offering an ethical bribe, or a small freebie in exchange for contact information can be a great incentive to get people to like your page or subscribe to a mailing list.  Examples of possible freebies can include a PDF download of a worksheet, sample products, or a free trial of your software. In order to get these free things, the potential customer would have to provide some form of contact info; beit an email, Twitter username, etc.  Your focuses in this stage should be on content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and Conversion Rate Optimization.

Convert

Before we continue with step 4, we need to keep one thing in mind: Right now, it’s too early in the customer value journey to even think about profits.  This will frustrate a lot of business owners, but remember that customer acquisition is the most expensive marketing activity.  Once a customer has gone through all eight stages of the customer value journey, keeping them as a repeat customer will be much easier.

Now, once a potential customer moves into the “convert” stage of their journey, they are engaged in your marketing efforts, and probably follow you on one or more of your social media platforms.  Now is the time to make them an entry-point offer. An entry-point offer is a product or service designed to give the customer high value at a low cost to them. This can take many different forms, such as a consultation visit or a special sign-up offer.  These offers are designed to give the customer an easy entry-point. Your focuses in this stage should be on digital advertising, content marketing, email marketing, and search marketing.

Excite

Now that your customer has made their first purchase, you need to make sure they have as positive a first impression of your product/service as possible.  Does your product come with an easy to follow quickstart pamphlet? Does your virtual assistant service send out a welcome email with a list of productivity blogs to follow?  Giving your new customer the best experience possible from the very beginning will solidify in their mind that they made the right choice in picking you and your company. Your focuses in this stage should be on email marketing and content marketing.

Ascend

By now you’ve put time, money, and possibly other resources into getting leads and customers, and want to continue to make sure they are happy with their purchase.  Ascension happens after a new customer makes a purchase they are happy with and are ready for more. Now is the time to offer upgrades and add-ons, such as buying a yearly pass to the zoo instead of a one-day ticket, subscribing to satellite radio in a newly leased car, or purchasing a case and screen protector for a new phone.  Your focuses in this stage should be on email marketing, digital marketing, and content marketing.

Advocate

Now that your customer has made several purchases and is happy with their experience with your company, they are ready to become what’s known as a passive promoter.  A passive promoter is someone who will recommend your company when asked, but won’t go out of their way to sing your praises. Examples of this might be a friend recommending a handyman over Facebook when asked, or someone writing a review of a new restaurant after receiving an email survey.  Your focuses in this stage should be on email marketing, social media marketing, and search marketing.

Promote

Promoters differ from advocaters because they are actively singing your praises.  These are the customers who are the most loyal, who have had the best experiences with you and your product/service.  Promoters will tell anyone and everyone about your company and why you are the best option. This form of exposure can be seen in sponsorships of YouTube videos, referral programs, and a friend giving a gift of a product/service they love.  The main focus of this stage is email marketing.

The Cycle Continues

It takes a lot to get a customer through all 8 stages, but it gets easier as time goes on.  A lot of these steps can be automated, and as more customers go through these stages they can assist in getting new customers through as well.  Over the next few articles, we will go more in depth on different marketing strategies and how to effectively execute them to guide your customers along the path to be happy, satisfied customers.

Understanding the Customer Value Journey

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