This is where digital marketing begins and ends…
With a Customer Value Journey that strategically builds a relationship with new prospects and converts them into loyal, repeat customers.
This Journey is the process every prospect goes through to become a new customer.
It’s how strangers become buyers and, eventually, raving fans of your business.
The hard truth is that marketing is not a one-step process. There are eight stages you must account for on the path to purchase and promotion.
But, I have great news. If you understand this digital marketing strategy (a.k.a. the Customer Value Journey), then you can intentionally engineer your business in such a way that it moves people predictably through the stages in this template.
In other words, you’ll no longer wonder if you’ll be able to generate leads. You won’t have to cross your fingers and hope for customers. When you understand the Customer Value Journey, even reviews and referrals will become automatic.
The Customer Value Journey is the strategic foundation of everything we do here at DigitalMarketer. It’s the master template upon which every other digital marketing discipline and tactic is built.
It’s so important, we confidently make this bold statement:
The job of marketing is to move prospects and customers seamlessly and subtly through each phase of the Customer Value Journey.
Now let’s walk through the 8-step process of crafting your digital marketing strategy:
Step 1: Awareness
Before someone can buy from you, they have to realize you exist—right?
Well, that’s Step 1 in the Customer Value Journey.
This step is pretty self-explanatory: It’s where the person becomes aware of you. After all, nobody is born knowing who Apple or Amazon are. At some point they have to become aware of these companies if they are to become a customer.
The same thing is true of your company.
Examples of Marketing that Generates Awareness
There are any number of ways a prospect could become aware of your company, products, and services. Here are three possible scenarios:
- A father of two sees an advertisement for a new children’s summer camp on Facebook.
- An office manager searches Google to find a new coffee supplier.
- A college student watches an Instagram video of her friend raving about a new brand of noise canceling headphones.
Step 2: Engagement
Your prospect is now aware of you—they know who you are—but you’re still in the early stages of a relationship with them. They don’t yet know you, like you, or trust you.
So the next step is to start developing relationship with your prospect.
Step 2, Engagement, is where you start conversing with your prospects. You engage them through some form of content that provides entertainment, information, or both.
Engagement is something that must continue throughout the Customer Journey. It’s not something you do once and move on.
Step 3: Subscribe
At this point, your prospect knows who you are and has engaged with you in some way or another.
However, if you failed to get that person’s contact information, odds are high you’ll never hear from them again.
Because people today are inundated with marketing and content, creating a scarcity of attention. Just because someone reads one of your blog posts today does NOT mean they’ll remember to revisit your site in the future.
Step 4: Convert
If the subscribers you gain in Step 3 of the journey remain engaged, some of them will be ready to increase their level of commitment. They like the information you share and have begun to trust you, so they’re ready to invest in one of two ways: either with time or money.
This is a critical stage in the Customer Journey and one that frustrates many business owners. The key to success in this stage is to employ what we call “entry-point offers.” These offers are designed to give the new prospect tremendous value without forcing them to put too much “skin in the game.”
At this stage, to ask for a significant investment in a complex product or service would be asking too much, too soon. You’re still in the early stages of relationship.
Step 5: Excite
At this point, your new customer has had a transaction with you. A small transaction, sure, but a transaction nonetheless.
Your job now is to make sure the transaction is a good one, that the excitement of the purchase develops into good will and trust.
The reason for this is simple: if the person doesn’t get value from this transaction, they won’t move on to the next stage and purchase more expensive things from you.
So, how do you make sure your customers have a good experience?
First, we assume that whatever the prospect purchased or gave up valuable time for is outstanding. Great marketing will only increase the speed at which your business fails if you don’t have outstanding products and services.
Second, the prospect must get value from their last transaction with you. The Excite stage of the Customer Value Journey is something you must return to again and again. And every time, it should create excitement.
That being the case, whenever a customer or prospect does what you ask them to do (attend this webinar, buy this product, hire me for this service), you should engineer your marketing to maximize the chances they’ll get tangible value from the experience.
Step 6: Ascend
At this stage of the Value Journey, you’ve sunk time, money, and resources into acquiring leads and customers and making sure they get value from doing business with you.
It’s entirely possible that, until this stage, you have yet to turn a profit. In fact, if you’re in a competitive market (and who isn’t?) you may be losing money on the front end of this process to acquire customers.
That’s perfectly acceptable, and here’s why:
You’re investing in your future profits.
Always remember that it costs more to acquire a new customer than to sell to an existing one. That first sales isn’t about profits. It’s about converting a prospect to a customer, so you can begin a long (and profitable) customer relationship.
Buying customers on the front end is just shrewd business, but only if you can monetize those customers on the back end.
The Ascend stage of the Value Journey is where your customer will be ready to buy more and more often. If your business has a core offer, this is the place to make that offer. Then once your customer purchases that core offer, it’s time to present them with other relevant offers.
You’ll notice that the Value Journey worksheet represents the Ascent stage as a ladder. That’s no accident. This is really a ladder that will hopefully lead to multiple purchases over time.
Examples of Marketing That Creates Ascension
Examples of ascension might include:
- A dating couple rent a convertible in San Diego and pay extra for satellite radio and GPS.
- A new dad buys a digital camera for $2,495 and adds a lens kit, camera bag, and tripod to his purchase for a bundle price of $699.
- A woman with a brand new Mercedes buys an unlimited car wash package for $40 per month instead of paying for each car wash individually.
Step 7: Advocate
You now have a happy customer who has made several profitable purchases from you. The next stage in the Value Journey is to create marketing that encourages your most loyal customers to advocate for your business.
An advocate is someone who speaks positively about your brand.
An advocate is what you might call a “passive promoter.” They won’t necessarily promote your business in an active way, but when asked about you, they will respond favorably.
Examples of Marketing That Generates Advocates
These final two stages (Advocate and Promote) are often thought to be outside of the control of marketing, but that simply isn’t true. You can create marketing that intentionally generates more advocates and promoters.
Step 8: Promote
Promoters differ from advocates in that they are actively seeking to spread the word about your brands, products, and services.
In some cases, the promoter simply had a great experience with your company and wants to share their story with friends and family. In other cases, they promote because you’ve created an incentive for them to do so.
This puts your message in front of a new audience, the fans, followers, and friends of the promoter. And because this new audience is hearing about you from a trusted source who they already know, they’re much more likely to become customers themselves.
Examples of Marketing That Generates Promoters
Intentionally creating more promoters is important because it creates an army of paid or unpaid salespeople spreading the word about what you sell.
Here are a few examples:
- A man who runs a podcast about fishing earns a 20% commission every time one of his listeners buys fishing equipment using his affiliate link.
- A woman attends a conference for free because she arranged for 5 of her colleagues to go as well.
- A marketing agency partners with a marketing automation software company to resell their software for a commission.
As you can see, promoters help you get more customers at a lower cost. So even when you reward promoters, it’s a win-win.
A good example of this is Dropbox. When it was just starting out as a new company in a new industry, they realized discoverability would be key to their success. So they initiated a referral program that gave its users a strong incentive to promote the service to others.