- Posted by Terese Cilluffo
- On March 6, 2017
At V Digital Services, the cornerstone of the partnerships we create with our clients is that we don’t sell advertising; we create Customer Journeys. But what does that really mean, and why is it important for your business?
If you’re not aware by now, the Sales Funnel consists of: Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action and Loyalty.
Consider what your media mix looks like right now. Can you visualize where each of the advertising assets that you utilize falls in the Funnel? Do those assets create brand touchpoints that lead potential customers on a journey all the way to loyalty? They should.
It’s important to understand how and why, so that you and your advertising team can create a holistic, full-funnel approach to your media mix. This approach should be custom-tailored to your audience and brand, designed to maximize your advertising budget, creating a higher Return On Investment. Deep knowledge and understanding of the Sales Funnel and how to create a Customer Journey for your business is imperative for all marketing experts.
Let’s analyze this journey, piece by piece:
This stage in the funnel is all about reaching a broad audience to build awareness of your brand. Most traditional assets fall into this stage of the funnel: print, TV, outdoor, radio, etc. Digital assets like Video Pre-Roll, Facebook Ads and Display Ads without super granular targeting can also fall here. For the most part, potential customers that see your advertising assets in the awareness stage of the funnel will not have identified a need for your product or service just yet. They may not even realize that they have seen your ads, but they are building affinity toward your brand, nonetheless.
“Over the years there have been literally hundreds of studies”…”these studies show that considerable information capable of informing decisions and guiding actions is perceived even when observers do not experience any awareness of perceiving.”
-Philip Merikle, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo.
How often do you drive by a billboard or see a print ad and really digest the messaging enough to immediately act on whatever the advertiser is offering? Probably not very often, right? However, if you end up purchasing a product or service from the advertising brand, the awareness messaging on that billboard or print ad has certainly had an impact in legitimizing that brand for you and started you on your journey toward making that purchase.
Assets that fall mainly in the Awareness stage of the Sales Funnel work to accentuate the impact of those assets that fall in the lower stages of the funnel, as well. The more you saturate the market with your brand, the more you will stay top-of-mind with potential customers in comparison to your competitors.
The Interest stage in the funnel is where potential customers identify that they have a need for a product or service that you offer and start researching possible solutions to fulfilling that need. Once a potential customer begins that research, they fall into “intender” or “in-market” data segments.
This is where targeted digital assets really start to create momentum for your brand, including:
• Programmatic Display + Email
• Video Pre-Roll
• Social Media Ads
These assets put your brand in front of your target audience when they are actively researching potential solutions to a need that your business can fulfill. Your competitors will also be utilizing similar assets to reach these consumers in the Interest stage, which is why the quality of data being used for targeting, expertise of the team optimizing your digital campaigns and honed-in messaging is so important.
It’s essential that you are reaching the right audience at the right time with the right message. Users may or may not engage with your digital assets at this stage in their Customer Journey, however, these micro-moments are imperative to creating interest in your brand, setting it apart from the competition, and being considered as a solution to their need.
Website quality and Organic SEO efforts also come into play during the Interest stage. When a potential customer is conducting research for a solution to a need that you can fulfill, you must be visible in search engine results and your website must be optimized for the best user experience possible.
When users are conducting research, they are more inclined to scroll past paid search ads and delve more into Organic search results, visiting a variety of websites to assess their options. However, they likely won’t go past the first page of search results – A sample of over 8 million clicks shows that over 94% of users clicked on a first page result and less than 6% actually clicked to the second page and selected a result displayed there – so you want to ensure that you are ranking as highly as possible in Organic search results for relevant queries.
In addition, if your website is hard to navigate and the user cannot easily find the information they need on it, that user will likely leave quickly and cross you off their list of potential solutions. Think of this as your first audition, and it’s absolutely critical to convey your brand as both trustworthy and legitimate.
At the Decision stage in the Funnel, users have narrowed down their options and are conducting their final research to decide where they will purchase a product or service. Organic SEO and your website are still key to you being considered as an option in this phase, but this is where Retargeting with Display, Video, Social Media Ads and saturating these users with your brand’s messaging is key to keeping your brand top-of-mind as the solution to their need.
Users also typically begin utilizing Paid Search Ads more in this stage of the funnel. It’s imperative that your brand is being shown at the top of the first page of paid search results for relevant queries. For brick-and-mortar businesses, Local SEO will play an important role in the Decision stage, as well, since users may be utilizing Google Maps to weigh their options based on proximity to the user’s location.
It is in the Action stage that your combined advertising efforts in the Awareness, Interest, and Decision phases of the Sales Funnel will pay off. It is at this stage in the Sales Funnel that a potential customer decides to purchase a product or service, activating on all of the brand touchpoints you have created that have led them on a journey to make that purchase from you. Typically, the most essential assets in the Action stage are Local SEO, Paid Search Ads, Organic SEO and your Website.
In the Action stage, the consumer may be visiting your Website directly or searching for your brand specifically on a search engine or in Google Maps to call, get driving directions to your location, or make a purchase. Alternately, they may be primed to convert and conducting one last relevant search that is not specific to your brand. Either way, it is imperative that your brand is front-and-center, ready to fulfill that user’s need, ensuring that they choose YOU instead of one of your competitors.
The Loyalty stage of the funnel is where you turn a single purchase of one of your products or services into multiple purchases and converts a customer into a loyal ambassador for your brand. All assets in all stages of the Funnel play a role here in reminding that customer of their experience with your brand, however, email marketing and remarketing to current customers in a variety of formats are key to keeping your brand top-of-mind and driving repeat purchases that create loyal customers.
The length of time that it takes for a potential customer to move from Awareness of your brand to making a purchase and becoming a loyal customer and the best media mix to lead them on that journey will vary from industry to industry. To understand what the Customer Journey for a specific industry or business should look like and what assets might work best to drive ROI, it is key to think about how advertising touchpoints drive consumers to make purchases in real-life scenarios.
For example, if I were to create a digital advertising strategy for a brand that sells stylish workout clothes for females and focuses on eCommerce sales, let’s call it “Brand X,” I might use the following media mix as a starting point to create Brand X’s Customer Journey:
- Video Pre-Roll Ads
- Programmatic Display Ads
- Social Media Ads
- Organic SEO
- Paid Search Ads
That Customer Journey in a real-life scenario might look like this:
Karen lives a very healthy lifestyle. She visits the gym often and is constantly searching for new workout routines and healthy recipes online. A Pre-roll video advertisement for Brand X plays prior to a video of a workout routine she intends to watch. She doesn’t engage with the video, but she has become aware of Brand X and starts building brand affinity.
A few days later, Karen decides she wants some new workout clothes and starts looking at different brands online. She sees Brand X displayed in Organic search results and browses their inventory. Later, she is targeted with Programmatic Display Ads for Brand X while browsing the internet. Over the next few days, she starts noticing Display and Video Ads for Brand X in her Facebook feed. Karen is continually Retargeted with Social Media and Programmatic Display Ads and starts engaging with Brand X more and more over time and considers purchasing new workout clothes from them.
The next Friday, Karen gets paid and is ready to purchase some new workout clothes. She searches for Brand X on Google, clicks through to their website from a Paid Search Ad and makes a purchase.
As a strategist for Brand X, I would analyze all data and engagement with these assets holistically over time and optimize for the best use of Brand X’s budget in driving ROI. Brand X’s media mix may stay the same, but I might move their budget around strategically to increase ROI. Or, Brand X’s media mix may change. For example, I might suggest adding some assets to drive brand loyalty or switching out Programmatic Display Ads with Google Shopping Ads based on data and results.
For some businesses, like Brand X, I would utilize five or six assets to create a Customer Journey. For others, like a local, single location restaurant, I might only utilize Print Ads in a local publication, a small Facebook Ad budget and Local SEO.
Regardless of the industry, the concept largely remains the same; it is not one individual asset that drives consumers to convert, but rather all of the assets in your media mix working together to lead a consumer to make a purchase from your brand.
Just because the majority of your conversions are coming from Paid Search Ads or Organic SEO does not mean that those assets are solely responsible for those conversions, they were merely the last interaction the user had with your brand before they converted. Top-to-mid Sales Funnel assets like Display or Social Media ads may not produce as many conversions directly, but they certainly play a large role driving that user to make their purchase from a brand that they have built affinity for and that they trust.
Having an advertising team that understands how to create campaign strategies with a mix of top, mid and bottom Sales Funnel assets, and continually analyzes campaign data holistically to optimize your Customer Journey and drive users to that last interaction where they convert is imperative to your success.
At V Digital Services, holistic, full-funnel strategies are our evergreen, and we are committed to creating the perfect Customer Journey for your business.
Are you ready to create your Customer Journey? Contact V Digital Services today for more information.