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Introduction to the customer journey

Almost everyone has heard of marketing funnels and there are lots of different versions. As a marketer, your life revolves around it. As a business, you survive because of it. As an agency, you focus on optimizing it. You live and die by how effective your funnel is, but in creating and implementing their marketing funnels, most people ignore the customer journey.

The customer journey is basically the process a person goes through from being unaware of a problem or product to buying your product. The mistake a lot of people make is they believe this process happens all at once, and that a user will find their product online, visit their website and buy on that same visit. The reality is that this journey actually occurs in stages.

Stage 1: Unaware Candidate –
This is a potential customer who doesn’t know you, or that you exist, but they fit a buyer persona you have

Stage 2: Problem Aware –
In stage 2, the customer is a complete stranger to your company. They have however become aware that they have a problem but they are not yet aware that there is a solution to their problem or that you even exist with a potential solution for them. They were not really aware of their problem until they came across a piece of content, video or advertisement of yours that explains it clearly to them.

Stage 3: Solution Aware –
I have a problem and there are solutions. The candidate is now consuming content that highlights solutions and looking for customer case studies as proof.

Stage 4 – Solution Comparison –
Now that they are aware of the problem and that there are solutions available, they’re going to move onto consideration. This means they will research, compare solutions and try to find information that will lead them toward a decision.

Stage 5 – Free Trial (or Lead)
Once the customer has a shortlist of possible vendors, they’re ready to make the decision to select one for purchase. They’re going to be thinking about how easy the solution is to implement, how helpful customer support is and how the solution addresses their overall needs. At this point they enter your sales funnel

Stage 6: Decision
Here the customer has made their decision to buy the product and which vendor to go with. Many depictions of the customer journey end here at the decision stage with “buy the product” as the ultimate goal. If you look at the journey from the perspective of the customer though, there should be a final stage which is just as important called customer success.

 

Now we know the different stages, it is good to tailor our content and approach in our marketing funnels to the needs of the visitors at the different points in their customer journey. This means taking into consideration where people are in their journey and, and what type of content to use to engage them at these different points.

 

Top of Funnel (Stages 1 & 2) –

Content that addresses key problems and solutions, social media, SEO and keyword research. The content here should aim to educate buyers about how they can solve their problems.

Middle of Funnel (Stages 3 & 4) –

Opt-in content (lead magnets), landing pages, forms, lead nurturing emails. The content here should show potential customers why your product or service should be their first choice.

Bottom of Funnel (Stages 5 & 6) –

Coupon offers, consultations, demonstrations, calls to action, free trials. These are more triggers that help guide potential customers toward making a buying decision.