A basic marketing sales funnel, which is also a simple representation of a customer journey is a very useful tool to understand the different stages of a buyer’s journey and plan your marketing to engage the customer at different points of the funnel. The marketing sales funnel can apply to traditional marketing, digital marketing as well as hybrid marketing.
Regardless of the nature or set-up of the business, the most basic customer journey sees the customer go through four stages: awareness, consideration, purchase and advocacy.
The journey can be represented as a funnel as shown below.
In the awareness stage, the prospective buyer learns about your product or service through exposure to your brand. This could have been through traditional marketing efforts like word of mouth, referrals, newspaper, magazine, television or radio advertisement, event participation and flyers.
Or, in today’s digitally evolving world, the prospect might become aware of your brand through a Google search, a photo posted on Instagram by someone they follow, a sponsored story on their Facebook feed or a targeted email you sent to them through an email list.
The hope is that with awareness comes interest, and the prospect is curious to learn more about your product by visiting your website or heading down to your retail store.
By creating awareness, you are starting a relationship with the prospect. The more the prospect gets to know you, the more likely the prospect will buy from you. If you push your product or service from the beginning, you will turn off prospects and chase them away.
The goal here is to establish your expertise, offer to help them in any way you can and move the prospect from the ‘awareness’ stage to ‘consideration’ stage.
At this stage, the prospect is evaluating whether she wants to buy your product or service.
She might also be considering other options, including competitor products or even the DIY route.
The prospect will be gathering as much information as she can by scouring your website to read product descriptions or watch demo videos, looking for online reviews, following you on social media or asking friends or family for opinions.
Well-timed attractive offers such as free shipping, a discount, bonus product, money-back guarantee or a 1-year warranty can tip the scales in your favour and convince the prospect to buy your product. Social proof like testimonials and reviews posted on a social media platform will also contribute to the decision-making process.
At this stage, the prospect is becoming a customer by finalizing the deal with you.
The purchase is formalized by signing a contract or clicking the ‘buy’ button. And, of course, making payment.
The customer’s journey should not end after making the purchase. You will want to move her from being a customer to an advocate (supporter and evangelist of your brand).
Advocacy is the stage where the customer is retained, and brand loyalty is built so that she comes back as a returning customer and skips the ‘awareness”’ or even ‘consideration’ stages and moves straight to ‘purchase’.
Your after-sales service program and post-purchase marketing efforts are designed to keep her engaged with your brand. You want to focus on keeping her happy so that she returns as a repeat customer and becomes a brand advocate. Word of mouth is a powerful force, and no one can do it better than a happy customer.
Of course, this assumes your product or service solves the customer’s problem or fulfils her needs.