Many marketers mistakenly use the same messaging approach for all of their leads and traffic, regardless of where the customer may be in their journey. Failing to account for your customer’s mindset in your communications can be one of the main factors that drag down your conversion rate.
At the same time, message consistency throughout the customer journey is also an important part of communicating clearly. These two opposing forces are part of what makes building successful marketing campaigns challenging, especially if you’re just starting out. The challenge at the heart of creating an efficient customer journey is balancing a consistent message while targeting it to the audience based on their level of awareness.
To help you find this balance, and ultimately increase the conversion rates for your marketing efforts, in this blog, we’ll explore the fundamental messaging guidelines based on the four stages of the customer journey.
The 4 Stages of Customer Awareness
There are four fundamental stages of awareness in the customer journey, illustrated here using a toothache as an example:
- Unaware: You’re not even aware there’s a problem yet—Your tooth enamel is wearing away, but right now you feel nothing.
- Aware: You become aware of a problem, but you’re not too concerned about it yet—The tooth starts to tingle a little, but that’s normal, right? It’ll be ok.
- Thinking: You’re not committed to action yet, but the problem is getting harder to ignore—You’re starting to look up dentists in the local area.
- Hurting: Now you’re actively seeking a solution to the problem—The tooth hurts a lot, and you need a dentist now.
Most people need to be in the “hurting” stage before they will make a purchase—and they will often put off making a decision for as long as possible until they reach that point.
Overcoming your prospect’s lack of knowledge, and eliminating procrastination once they reach awareness, is the ultimate goal of your customer journey. To get there, you frequently need to start by taking the audience sequentially through their first three stages of awareness. That way when they reach the fourth and final stage, even if your audience isn’t currently “hurting” at the moment, they can vividly picture what the “pain” would be like and will want to take steps to avoid feeling this anguish before it becomes a reality.
Unaware to Aware
If you’re reaching out to a cold audience or your business solves a problem that your prospects won’t obviously recognize, your first communication with them needs to move them from unaware to aware of their problem.
That means you will not pitch your company, its products, or services as it’s still too soon for that.
So many businesses are excited about what they do for their customers—which is a great thing most of the time. However, when you’re marketing to a prospect who is completely unaware they have a problem, telling them about a solution to a seemingly non-existent problem is a waste of your energy.
Instead, you need to nurture the prospect by speaking with them about things they are aware of. Start by discussing top-of-mind concerns and pain points that your potential customer is aware of. Once you’ve established some common ground, you can draw the logical connections to make them aware of their problem.
Imagine you’re a manufacturing company who makes anti-gravity iPhone cases for a rapidly expanding eCommerce business. You’re producing 30,000 units a week, shipping them out to the company’s fulfillment center to be distributed to customers.
What do you have to offer this eCommerce client (or similar clients), in an attempt to sell more anti-gravity iPhone cases? How about faster production windows and speedier delivery times?
“Sound great,” says the client, “but we’re meeting demand in a reasonable time, and we think we’ll be able to stay ahead of demand.”
Opportunity! Your client is currently in the unaware stage. They’re not aware of any potential ramifications if things get really popular.
How to Use This to Your Advantage
You could start with a simple blog post, illustrating the dangers of not keeping up with demand. Give it an interesting, attention-grabbing title, for example, a harrowing title like, ‘The Hidden Reason Why Going Viral Might Hurt You’ and see what happens.
What you’re trying to do, is to educate/show your potential client that if they were to go viral with their anti-gravity iPhone case, that not being able to keep up with demand could lead to a lot of unhappy customers.
This is how you achieve awareness.
Aware to Thinking
After your prospect is aware of the problem, the next step in the customer journey is making them consider a solution. That means first reassuring them that there is a solution to their problem. From there you can explain the details surrounding how your company can help them.
Typically, this kind of information exists as the main call-to-action on your homepage or dedicated landing page. It’s the first thing visitors see when they arrive on your site, your solution to the thing they want. It’s also consistent across your other pages and on social media and email marketing campaigns
To provide message consistency with the first phase of your marketing campaign, you should build upon the examples you used in the previous step. Then in this phase, you can begin to connect those example problems to the solutions your company offers.
Hard numbers are your friends here. It’s all well and good to have a client who’s aware of a potential, hypothetical problem, but you’re trying to sell them something, and they know that. Why should they take your word for it?
Thinking to Hurting (and Buying)
Now that the audience is thinking about a solution, it’s time to convince them to buy and buy now. This often involves “future pacing”—or describing what the future will be like for the audience with and without your product or service.
The word ‘imagine’ can be a powerful keyword that helps set the stage for this type of marketing message. You can also use loss aversion as a strong motivator at this stage.
Get your prospect to think about how bad it would feel if they didn’t have your solution to help them and contrast it with how great it would be if they did.
This kind of messaging exists for both cold and hot prospects. For the colder prospects visiting your site, this kind of ‘imagine’ messaging addresses that initial pang of want they clearly have, since they’re visiting your site. For the warmer prospects, those close to buying, include your ‘imagine’ messaging deeper and closer to the checkout.
To provide message consistency with the earlier parts of the customer journey, you want to make sure that the tone and key phrases you use to describe your products and services match the previous phases.
This is all part of an essential sales and marketing process, right? Identify a potential pain point, agitate that pain point, and then offer a solution.
What you’re trying to do with your offering is provide a possible solution to a genuine problem. At this stage, now that your client is aware and thinking, use that ‘imagine’ messaging to say: Imagine how great it’ll feel when your anti-gravity iPhone case floats by on the ISS. Now imagine the sinking feeling when the spike of traffic that appeared on your website is met with equal fury at the thing being constantly out of stock.
Now it’s a real pain, a real hurt. Your client understands the problem and the effect it could have on their fledgling business and potential profits.
Enhancing the customer journey is all about finding where potential customers are at in the funnel, and giving them what they need to move on through. That usually comes in the form of identifying a pain point, agitating it, and then offering a solution.
You can’t jump right to the end of a sales journey without first taking in the scenery along the way. You can’t cure somebody of what ails them until they know what it is that’s bothering them. Consider your prospect and where they’re at in the customer journey and be smart about how you can move them from one stage in the journey to the next until they become a customer.
With your example of the painful “hurting” scenario fresh in their minds, most prospects will be ready to switch on the spot.
Remember it’s called a journey for a reason. To get your audience to the point where your customers are ready to buy, you have to start by going through the first three stages of awareness. By implementing the guidelines from above, you now can do just that.
I’d love to hear about what you have done to enhance your customer journey. Is it similar to what I’ve described? What might you implement? Let’s keep the discussion going in the comments!
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