customer journey Archives - Duct Tape Marketing
Find a Consultant Become a Consultant

Tag Archives for " customer journey "

customer membership

How to View Customers More Like Members

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I’m talking about a new book I’m working on. This book will be out in the fall of 2021 but I’m already deep in working on it. One of the major themes in the book is about how so many small businesses have been forced to pivot or change. Many of these pivots and changes have created growth in a very difficult time.

Growth in good times comes can come from being at the right place at the right time. But growth can still come in bad times from being important in the life of your customers. This has been so evident over the last year with the challenges the world has faced. Loyal customers are raising hands and choosing to support businesses that they want to stick around. This level of loyalty from customers comes from something different than doing your traditional lead generation. That’s what we are going to talk about in today’s podcast.

This post is an excerpt from my latest book – The Ultimate Marketing Engine – 5 Steps to Ridiculously Consistent Growth – order your copy today and start revolutionizing how you think about marketing. 

If you listen you will learn:

  • How to tackle referrals in the digital space
  • How marketing is changing
  • How people become customers
  • The customer journey that is part of a marketers job to control
  • How to view customers more like members

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

.store logo

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by .store.

Have you ever tried to find a domain name and been given  the message, “Sorry, that domain name is already taken!”? You are not alone! But with .store, a new domain extension for eCommerce and online stores, you will get the domain you want!

What’s more, www.yourbusinessname.store, instantly tells people your website is a “store” and lets your brand do the marketing for you! So, go ahead
and get the perfect, memorable website URL for your online store at www.get.store​.​

Customer Journey

How to Improve Your Customer’s Journey

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In today’s podcast, I want to talk with you about something I’ve been thinking about a lot. It’s actually one of the key elements in my next book. But first, let’s start with some back story.  In the 80s, there was a brand that became a cultural hit called Members Only. Yes, I had a Members Only jacket, there, I admit it. The tagline for the companies’ line of apparel was, “When you put it on, something happens.”

Later we can talk about how goofy this is but today here’s my point – what if you could come to think about your customer or clients or patients or whatever you call them – as members.

Now, I’m not merely suggesting you create a membership aspect to your business. However, that might be a great model for you; I’m suggesting that you think this way about them.

If you did, it might change how you innovate, iterate, and support every aspect of your business.

In a stable membership relationship, your goal is to help every member get the transformation they are seeking. So, naturally, you would care more about them getting a result than you getting a transaction. If that were so, you would have to ask yourself much harder (or at least different) questions.

Questions to answer during the podcast:

  1. Where are our customers now in terms of the results they want?
  2. What are the characteristics of customers in each of these stages?
  3. What milestones must they achieve to move to the next stage?
  4. What activities or action steps must they take to achieve each milestone?
  5. What systems must we create to ensure passage through the stages of the success journey?

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

 

Klaviyo logoThis episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. If you’re looking to grow your business there is only one way: by building real, quality customer relationships. That’s where Klaviyo comes in.

Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.

Want to learn more? Head to Klaviyo.com/ducttape to schedule a demo.

How Mobile Has Impacted the Customer Journey

The customer journey is influenced by many outside factors. As the use of mobile devices has taken off over the past decade, it’s changed the way that businesses market themselves and how customers interact with businesses.

In order to better understand the impact mobile has had on the customer journey, it’s helpful to go through and assess the effect at each stage of the marketing hourglass. By better understanding how mobile changes customers’ behaviors, you can begin to adapt your marketing strategy to meet their evolving needs.

Mobile in the First Stage: Know

How do people discover a new business? Before the days of computers, it was all print and television ads, word of mouth, or simply driving by your storefront. Now, there are dozens of channels for people to encounter your brand. And mobile only further diversifies the field.

In some ways, mobile has shortened the customer journey. Mobile searches with the phrase “near me” and “can I buy” or “to buy” increased by 500 percent between 2015 and 2017. That boost means people are turning to mobile to discover immediate solutions to their problems. By entering this search term, they’re able to quickly check out your website, read reviews, and even find your hours and location on a map. What would have taken more in-depth research in the past is now condensed into a few minutes and a handful of clicks on a mobile device.

It’s also important to remember that not everyone finds you via an internet browser search. With the advent and rise of mobile apps, some people are discovering businesses through a specific app. For example, those who search for local businesses on the Yelp app are only being presented with businesses who have a presence on Yelp. If you haven’t claimed your profile there, you’re not going to be discovered at all. So making sure your business’s profile is claimed on the major local listings sites, like Yelp and Google My Business, is critical to winning at mobile.

For that same reason, you need to have a presence on social media. Some people turn to Facebook or Instagram for advice on which local businesses to patronize. Again, you’re not even going to be in the running if you don’t have a profile on those sites!

How Mobile Influences the Like and Trust Phases

Once someone’s discovered you online, they want to get to know you better. And to do that, they need to be able to learn more about you. Just like you wouldn’t get married after the first date, prospects want to make sure you’re the right fit before they dive in.

You want your content to build that familiarity and trust, while being easy to consume on a mobile device. That starts with creating content that can be enjoyed on the go. Podcasts are an easy listen for folks who are on their commute, and video is often a bite-sized way to share meaningful information that builds trust and authority.

Social media is also critical in this stage. Posting regularly on social media means that those who discover you on mobile can do a quick inventory of who you are and what you do by scanning backwards through your recent content.

For those who aren’t looking to make an immediate purchase, social media remains a great way to stay top-of-mind on mobile devices. People often check their social media accounts multiple times a day, and so if you’re appearing at the top of their newsfeeds each time they log in, you build that familiarity quickly.

Advertising can also help you stay top of mind. Social ads are a way to remain omnipresent on prospects’ feeds. And display ads allow you to keep you name on people’s minds even when they visit other websites from their phone’s browser.

How to Try on Mobile

When we get to the try phase of the customer journey, mobile has an important role in ensuring that customers don’t slip away at this critical stage.

Mobile tactics can help to facilitate the try process by making it easy for prospects to sign up for a demo or appointment. A smart use of chat or SMS marketing techniques can make it simple for you to automate the sign-up process, while providing prospects with a more personalized encounter with your business.

Newer technologies like augmented reality (AR) are changing the way people try on their phones. Take furniture store IKEA as an example. They built an app that allows prospects to try out a piece of furniture in their home through the power of AR. Prospects can point their phone at an empty corner of their room, select the sofa, chair, or lamp that they’re considering, and see on their screen what the item would look like in their home.

While AR technology might not be readily accessible to all small businesses yet, it’s definitely a trend to watch, as more and more retailers incorporate it into their marketing strategy.

Mobile Makes it Easy to Buy

A recent survey found that 79 percent of smartphone users had made a purchase on their phone within the past six months. So not only are folks using their mobile devices for research, they’re actually doing transactions on their phones.

For any small business with an e-commerce component, it’s critical that you make it easy for people to purchase via mobile. This is all about creating a customer experience with the least amount of friction in the buying process. Make it easy for people to navigate to their cart. Don’t ask for lots of additional information in the checkout process–only collect information necessary to process the transaction.

After the initial purchase has been made, great mobile UX can also help facilitate the onboarding process. If you’re an e-commerce brand, provide updates on shipping status, and make sure that customers can easily track their packages.

No matter what kind of business you’re in, there is content that you can create in a mobile-friendly format to make it easier for new customers to get the most out of their new purchases. Put together an email series with responsive design (so it looks great on any screen, big or small!) that outlines special tips and tricks for using the new product or service.

Use Mobile to Inspire Repeat Purchases

Once you’ve gotten a prospect to convert to customer, there’s still work to do! And pushing existing customers towards a repeat purchase can be achieved with some mobile-friendly tactics.

Retargeting is a great way to bring existing customers back into the fold. You can advertise on social media or via display ads, and direct certain content towards those who have already bought from you. If someone recently made a purchase, you can target them with advertising for a related product or service in order to encourage an upsell. If a customer has drifted away over the past few months, you can show them ads welcoming them back with a special offer for return customers.

Building out a rewards program is another way to engender loyalty amongst existing customers. This can be done either through your website (which should be mobile-friendly!) or with an app specifically for your business. The additional benefit of creating an app is that you eliminate the competition. Your existing customers come directly to you via the app to make a purchase, rather than going onto the web to search for your solutions and run the risk of getting drawn in by one of your competitors with a smart SEO or paid search strategy.

Mobile and Referrals

The final stage of the customer journey is getting your customers to refer others. As I mentioned in the earlier phases, reviews are a key part of the referral process, and that’s particularly true on mobile. People who are searching for solutions on the go will turn to reviews in lieu of asking friends or family for recommendations. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re doing the work to solicit reviews from your customers.

You can also consider creating a referral program. If you have a mobile app for your business, creating a program directly through the app is a great, easy way to help your mobile-minded customers refer their friends.

Finally, social media can help you generate referrals. Share user-generated content that sings your brand’s praises. Create contests and opportunities for your existing fans on social to give your brand a shout-out to their friends. Get influencers to try your product and vouch for you to their followers. A referral from a real friend or trusted influencer on social can go a long way in winning over new customers.

Mobile marketing has changed the way consumers buy, and so businesses have had to adjust their marketing accordingly. By considering how to get the most out of mobile at each stage of the customer journey, you can position yourself to reach the majority of consumers, who have become more and more focused on mobile over the years.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Shaping the Customer Journey.

customer journey KPIs

Important KPIs for Each Phase of the Customer Journey

The customer journey is often a long and winding road. And that means it can be difficult to track your business’s effectiveness at each phase of the journey. The easiest way to gain greater clarity around your customer journey, and to identify strong points and weak spots, is to pinpoint and evaluate key performance indicators (KPIs) for each phase of the journey.

Once you find the metrics that can help you understand your business’s effectiveness in guiding the journey at each stage, you can begin to make changes to your existing approach. You can find ways to lean into the tactics that are working and eliminate the less effective elements of your strategy.

Because the journey changes so much over time, there are different KPIs to consider at each phase. Let me walk you through the most important KPIs to focus on for each stage of the customer journey.

Know, Like, and Trust

At the top of your marketing hourglass are the know, like, and trust phases of the customer journey. This is where customers first discover your business and then come to understand what you do.

The first thing you’ll want to know at this part of the journey is how many people are actually discovering your business online. To measure this, you can turn to metrics on organic and paid search campaigns.

A tool like Google Search Console allows you to understand how your keywords are performing. You can see search traffic and reach. You can track which queries are actually bringing visitors to your website. When you understand these SEO metrics, you can revisit your keyword research and make tweaks to boost your SEO.

Tracking paid search results is also critical in this stage. Understanding metrics on your ad campaigns like the quality score (which measures the relevance of your keywords) and clickthrough rate give you a deeper understanding of how many people are seeing your ads, and whether or not your copy is compelling enough to get viewers to click your link.

Once you move into the like phase, you begin to evaluate metrics that cover engagement on your website and social media. It’s important to track the number of visitors you have to your website. Are they all first-timers, or do you have return visitors? How many times do people generally visit your site before they move onto the conversion phase of the marketing hourglass? All of this information can help you understand potential bottlenecks in the know, like, and trust portion of the hourglass.

Social media engagement metrics also give you insight into the like and trust phases. How many people are following your accounts? Are you steadily growing your audience? And beyond just the number of followers, are those who follow your account interacting with your content? Are people liking, commenting, and responding to your follow-ups? More engaged followers on social indicates that the content you’re sharing is helpful and meaningful to your audience. You’re doing the work of truly earning their trust.

Try and Buy

Once you’ve won prospects over initially, they move closer towards the ultimate conversion goal: making a purchase. But before they hand over their credit card information, they want the opportunity to try what your business offers. They need that final assurance that everything will go smoothly if they decide to buy.

When it comes to the try phase, you want to measure metrics that clearly showcase the gap between people who were in those early marketing hourglass phases and those who’ve made it to this next level. Tracking site visits versus conversions by source is a great way to visualize this gap.

Is there a certain channel that drives more traffic to your site than others? Maybe you see most of your traffic coming from your Instagram profile. The content you’re creating there is meaningful enough to vault those followers up to the try and buy phase. From there, you also want to measure conversions by channel.

Let’s say that only a tiny sliver of those Instagram followers actually convert once they visit your site. But a larger number of folks coming through your newsletter—a less-popular channel overall—take the next step with your business. That gives you some insight into the effectiveness of the messaging on your newsletter versus your Instagram. While the Instagram content attracts more positive attention, it somehow doesn’t sync up with what visitors find on your website (hence the high number of visits but low conversion). Your newsletter, on the other hand, isn’t as compelling, but provides a clearer picture of the work you do.

Measuring Call to Action button and landing page performance can also provide valuable information at this stage. Are people actually clicking on your CTAs, be they on your website, in your social ads, or in your newsletter? And once they’ve clicked the CTA and landed on your website, are they filling out the form they find there to take the next step to try or buy—whether that’s requesting a demo to give you a try or making a first purchase?

Repeat and Refer

The final phase in the hourglass takes you beyond the initial purchase and into the realm of your long-term relationship with customers. Do your customers like you enough to return to you for additional purchases? And beyond even that, would they refer you to a friend?

There are a handful of KPIs that can help provide clarity around those questions. Retention rate is one of them: How many of your customers are sticking around come renewal time? If you run a gym, do you see people renewing their memberships month after month? Or is there a big drop-off at some point in the cycle?

If you see a pattern in your retention rate, why is that? For the gym that sees a big drop-off in March, as those New Year’s Resolution folks begin to drift away from working out, can you provide an incentive then to get them to stay on? It doesn’t even need to be monetary; maybe it’s a class with a popular instructor called “Maintain Your Resolutions Through the Spring.” And those who signed up for gym membership in December or January are given first dibs on spots.

Reviews can also help you identify issues in your customer journey. Do you keep seeing positive feedback on your customer service team? That means you’ve created an empowered team who’s willing and able to go the extra mile for your customers (a great way to boost retention). But at the same time, do you see a common complaint that leads customers to turn to your customer service team in the first place? If so, take steps to remedy that issue that multiple customers have identified in reviews.

And finally, there’s the Net Promoter Score, or NPS. If you’ve ever taken a survey for a business, you’ve likely encountered the NPS question: “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?”

People who respond with a nine or 10 are known as promoters—loyal fans of your business. Folks in the seven to eight range are in a bit of a no-man’s land; they’re considered passive. While they’re happy enough with you, they could just as easily go with a competitor, if the right offer came along. Anyone ranking you a six or below are considered detractors. They’re unhappy with you and could do damage to your business with negative word-of-mouth.

Understanding how many of your customers are enthusiastic supporters versus how many could take you or leave you (or worse, bad-mouth you to a friend), helps you gain clarity around the final steps of the customer journey. With detractors, you did everything early on in the hourglass well enough to get them to buy from you. But something went awry in the last few steps, and now they’re unhappy enough to tell others about their negative experience. That’s valuable information! From there, you can assess things like your onboarding process for new clients and take a closer look at your customer service approach to identify weak spots.

When it comes to getting a better understanding of your customer journey, it’s not enough to rely on your gut. The journey is complex. The best way to understand it is with cold, hard data. By tracking specific KPIs for each phase of the customer journey, you can identify the strengths and weaknesses in your strategy, and make tweaks accordingly to better facilitate a smooth journey for your customers.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Shaping the Customer Journey.

How Mapping Your Customer Journey Can Improve the Customer Experience

When you’re driving to an unfamiliar location, you pull up directions on Google Maps. When you’re hiking a new path in your favorite state park, you stop at the trailhead to check the posted map. You never go into a physical journey without taking stock of where you’re headed. So why wouldn’t you do the same for the customer journey?

Understanding where your customers go when they’re interacting with your business can help transform your marketing efforts. Here, I’ll walk you through the steps of customer journey mapping—everything from what it is to why it matters so much.

What is Mapping the Customer Journey?

Let’s start with the basics. Mapping the customer journey requires you to create a visual representation of every interaction a customer has with your business that leads them to a certain conversion. This might be the path they carve from discovery of your brand, at the very top of the marketing hourglass, to signing up for your email newsletter. Or perhaps it’s a look at the steps they take between clicking on your social ad for a given product and purchasing the item.

In order to create a map, you should conduct interviews with real customers. Ask them how they discovered your brand. Find out about their experience interacting with your website. Take stock of where else they found you on the web (social media or local listings sites, perhaps?). And collect feedback on their ease of making a purchase and getting support from your team, if they needed it.

You should also take the time to do your own research. Pretend you’re a customer searching for a solution that you offer, and go onto the web. Google yourself or a related search term, and walk through the process of navigating your website. Check out your social profiles, and see where they lead you. Sometimes you’ll discover something new and interesting about your own online presence when you experience it through the lens of a customer’s journey.

By creating customer journey maps for the steps that lead to those important conversion moments along the broader journey, you can gain a deeper understanding of the people who love your brand. When you can wrap your head around how your customers behave and why they do it, you can refine your marketing tactics and messaging to best complement those behaviors.

Understand the Complexities of the Journey

Today’s customer journeys are incredibly complex. In the olden days, someone would read a print ad, catch your commercial on the television or radio, or maybe simply see the sign out in front of your store and stop on by. Now, with dozens of digital channels to consider, it’s hard to know exactly when and where someone encountered your brand.

And even if you’re aware of some of their interactions with your business—because they happened online and you’re able to track them—it’s hard to know which point of contact is the one that ultimately pushed them towards the conversion.

Mapping the customer journey helps you to understand all that. Perhaps in customer interviews, you keep hearing about a blog post from a local influencer that mentions your business and drives a lot of traffic your way. That’s valuable information! Consider reaching out to that blogger to see if they’d like to become a part of your strategic partner network.

Or maybe you take your own website out for a spin. You have an online booking portal for folks who want to make appointments, but you discover that for first-time users, there’s a lengthy registration process. It requires lots of clicks and form-filling, and can be a source of frustration. Now that you’ve experienced that hurdle first-hand, you understand your booking system could be driving customers away, and you can take steps to change it!

Learn What Matters to Your Customers

What you think matters to your customers and what actually matters to your customers are sometimes two different things. Sure, there’s something to be said for generic best practices; they can be a great starting-point for any brand looking to establish a solid web presence.

But what’s right for a competitor or someone in another industry isn’t always right for you. Perhaps you’ve heard that Yelp is the best local listings site for your industry. So you spent countless hours building out your Yelp profile and driving all of your customers to review you there. But then, you discover that most of your customers are searching for solutions on Google Maps. That means they’re coming across your much sparser Google My Business profile.

As you discover more about the customer journey from your conversations with actual customers and your own experience navigating test journeys, you’ll want to make tweaks to your approach. Maybe that’s changing wording on your social media’s homepage that makes it easier for customers to understand what you do. Maybe it’s rearranging your website’s navigation bar to remove some of the steps it currently takes for prospects to request a demo.

Whatever modification to the journey you want to try, it’s a good idea to implement A/B testing in your process. Display the new element to half of your audience, and keep things the same for the other half. Then measure conversions for each group. If things improve with your adjustment, you know you’re on the right track. If things remain the same (or conversions decrease), it’s best to test another new approach.

Find New Customer Segments (or Redefine Existing Ones)

The way in which you market your business and the shape of the customer journey are inextricably linked. By that I mean, you need to market your business in a way that suits the typical trajectory for the customer journey. But the way that you market your business can also have an influence on the shape of the journey.

Sometimes, your marketing efforts might have you missing out on specific segments of the population who could be interested in your product. Or, there might be a way for you to optimize your current marketing to get your existing customers to return or make larger purchases.

Let’s say you run a yoga studio. You already have some clearly defined personas for your business: young professionals focused on wellness, people looking to reduce stress and anxiety, and pregnant women and new moms.

Perhaps in speaking with those moms in your postpartum segment, you realize that what they appreciate about your studio isn’t the ability to move a little. And it’s not about getting out of the house and away from the newborn for an hour or two on Wednesday mornings. What they love is the community of other new moms, with whom they can share their struggles and successes.

Once you understand that the problem you’re solving for these moms is really about community, not fitness, you can refine your marketing approach. Create a Facebook group that’s a place for yoga moms to come together. They can share tips, commiserate about the horrors of sleep-regression, and even organize playdates for their little ones! Suddenly, you’ve become the architect of this impactful community. New moms who otherwise might not have tried yoga—but who love your Facebook group—might feel compelled to stop in for a class.

By better understanding your existing customers, you can create additional stops along the customer journey to address their needs and attract similar prospects.

Meet Customers Where They Are

Rather than directing your outbound marketing efforts to anyone under the sun, when you understand the customer journey you can develop stronger inbound tactics in the places where your fans are already congregating.

Let’s say you run a catering company. You’ve been advertising heavily on Instagram. Because it’s a visually-based social network, it’s a great place for you to show off your beautifully-plated food.

However, your typical client is more established—it’s not cheap to throw a lavish, catered soiree, after all! For the most part, they’re in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. Statistically, Instagram is not the place to go to interact with people above the age of 30. Less than 40 precent of those in their 30s are on the platform; only 16 percent of the 50-and-over set are on Instagram.

So stop wasting money on Instagram ads. Instead, invest in inbound tactics elsewhere where you’re more likely to bump into your actual customers. Get on Facebook, the social network of choice for most people 40 and older. Work on building out your referral network and case studies, since word-of-mouth matters a lot in the local catering business.

When you’re able to find your prospects and greet them on their turf, you build trust and reduce ad spend. You can certainly still advertise! In fact, when it’s focused on those spaces where your clientele actually gather online, you get a much greater ROI.

The customer journey is only going to get more complex. Digital marketing continues to grow, and new channels for reaching customers develop. When you understand where your customers are and where they want to go, you can create a smoother customer journey—one that guides them right to your desired conversion.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Shaping the Customer Journey.

How Did the Customer Journey Evolve in 2019?

The customer journey is at the heart of all marketing efforts. I wrote last week about how the marketing hourglass and the marketing maturity model are the two frameworks to guide you through the creation of your entire marketing system.

While the marketing maturity model helps you to establish and grow your own marketing assets, the marketing hourglass teaches you how to interact with customers throughout their journey with your brand. In today’s digital world, where things change quickly, the customer journey continues to grow and evolve. And it’s critical that you’re aware of these changes so that you can continue to deliver an effective marketing message to customers, even as their journey shifts.

Let’s take a look back at how the customer journey evolved in 2019 and where we might expect it to go in 2020.

The Omnichannel Experience Expands Further

Digital marketing allows you to create multiple touchpoints with your customers. From your website to social media to video platforms to paid advertising, there are dozens of channels for you to explore. And in 2019, you gained even greater options.

Voice search continues to grow. Experts expect that 200 million smart speakers will have been sold by the end of the year. While smart speakers and voice assistants provide another way for you to get discovered by new prospects, you may need to pivot your SEO efforts to get noticed by Alexa and Siri. Things like having a mobile-friendly site that is fast and secure, and making sure you’re listed on relevant local listings sites (think Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business) can all help you to be the brand that’s suggested by a voice assistant.

Augmented reality (AR), which first gained widespread attention as the tech that powered the popular Pokémon Go app, is now being used by marketers to sell products. We’ve seen retailers in the fashion, beauty, and home furnishing spaces develop apps that allow people to virtually try before they buy.

Visual search is also something to keep on your radar screen. Social platform Pinterest has added visual search to their site, allowing consumers to upload a picture of a product they like and presenting them with suggestions for where they can purchase the item—or something similar—online. For tips on how to make Pinterest work for your business, check out this Duct Tape Marketing podcast episode with Pinterest expert Alisa Meredith.

Data and Automation Are More Important Than Ever

Data and automation are buzzwords we’ve heard tossed around for several years now, but they’ve established themselves as critical elements of business operations and marketing. On the marketing front, they allow you to better understand the unique shifts in your customer’s journey, so that you can modify your approach and direct the right message at the right prospect at the right time.

As the technology becomes more widespread and costs of implementation decrease, small businesses are able to tackle personalization on a level that was previously only possible for giants like Amazon.

This year, 80 percent of regular shoppers indicated that they’ll only do business with brands that serve up personalized experiences. So if you’re still sending the same emails to everyone on your mailing list, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Understanding customer data allows you to segment your customer base into different personas. Very few businesses serve customers that are all exactly alike. For most of us, we mean different things to different people. Let’s say you’re a florist. Some of your clients purchase flowers only for special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries. Others are event planners who place large orders on behalf of their clients. Others still are individuals with standing orders for arrangements at their home or office.

Each of these customers have very different needs, and so they should be getting very different marketing messages from you. By using the data you already have on your customers to better understand their behaviors and actions, you can craft your marketing messaging to speak directly to each segment of your customer population.

And with marketing automation tools, you can set your system to send certain messages to customers that are triggered by specific behaviors. That means everyone is always getting the marketing message they most need and want, and you’re likely to generate more business.

Online and In-Person Worlds Collide

If you’re a marketer today, there’s so much to think about in the digital world that it’s possible to get carried away and forget that your customers still exist in the real world! That’s why it’s important that, even as you keep an eye on digital trends, you work to bring the digital and real worlds together for your customers.

Eighty-eight percent of consumers who do a local search on their phone end up calling or visiting the business within 24 hours. This means that the online portion of the customer journey is leading directly to in-person sales.

How can you better facilitate the customer journey from online browsing to in-person purchasing? Make sure your business is present on local listings sites like Google My Business so that you can get found in the first place. Have your contact information and hours listed prominently on your site and local listings, so that prospects can actually call and visit.

Webrooming is another digital-to-real-world trend that local businesses need to be aware of. Webrooming is the practice of searching for a product online while you’re physically in the store. I know I’ve done it myself to check out specs and reviews on the top one or two items I’m considering. Reviews and ratings are important to any small business for SEO, but they’re also relevant in the real world as they have the ability to sway a webrooming consumer in real time.

Engagement is Key

As the customer journey has grown more and more complex, engagement has become even more important. When prospects or customers reach out to you via any channel, you must respond quickly and effectively.

Engagement is your opportunity to capture more of your audience’s valuable attention. If someone comments on your social media account, don’t just let it sit there or simply reply with a like. Instead, ask a question or write a response that invites them to engage in conversation. The longer you can keep that volley going, the greater their sense of connection becomes with your brand. If you’re able to make a good impression now, it’s the kind of thing that will make them think about you later when they’re ready to make a purchase.

Building Loyalty is Critical for Long-Term Success

Because the customer journey is no longer a straight light, you need to build loyalty. Otherwise, people will abandon you when a better offer comes along.

Be honest: How many times have you done your product research on one site, settled on your product of choice, and then opened up a Google tab to search for the same product elsewhere, cheaper?

Digital enables people to go through all of the steps of the journey with you, and then at the last minute jump ship to go with a cheaper competitor. The only way to combat this is to offer an incredible customer experience. Your brand has to be about more than your products, or you’ll lose your differentiation (and your customers). And you need to be going above and beyond at every stage of the customer journey, because they can slip away at any point.

The Journey Can’t Just Happen, You Need to Guide It

With so many marketing channels in place, you can’t leave customers’ paths to chance. Instead, you need to take control of your destiny and guide the customer journey.

This starts with mapping to understand your current customers. When you know how your existing ideal clients behaved on their journey, you can work to recreate that experience for others. Not only is it more likely to lead to conversions, it also means you’ll be attracting new customers who fit your ideal profile

When you’re refining your approach, it’s good to use testing. Research your existing customers, posit a theory, test it out, and measure results. A/B testing is a great way to run side-by-side comparisons of different approaches to see which resonates best with your target audience.

The customer journey is constantly evolving, and I’m sure we’ll see even more changes—big and small—in 2020. No matter where the customer journey goes next, if you keep the marketing hourglass and a commitment to serving your customers as your North Star, you’ll be able to weather any ups and downs in the marketing landscape. My friend and colleague Karen Kraska with Forlight Marketing does this part well.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Shaping the Customer Journey.

The Relationship Between the Marketing Hourglass and Maturity Model

The Duct Tape philosophy is that marketing is a system. There are so many moving parts that go into creating a great marketing strategy that, without a guiding framework, it’s easy to get tangled up, twisted around, and lost completely in the weeds.

Over the years, I’ve developed two systems that inform all of the marketing work we do: the marketing hourglassTM and the marketing maturity model. The marketing hourglass is a way of thinking about the customer journey. These are the steps that a consumer will take in engaging with your brand. It starts with first coming to know you, and goes all the way down to when they’ve become a happy repeat customer, ready to refer friends.

The marketing maturity model is a way for you think about your own marketing activities. What are the assets you need to build, then grow and amplify (or ignite) in order to guide those prospects from the top to the bottom of the marketing hourglass?

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through how the two systems are inextricably linked, and how you can align the way you think about the work you do behind the scenes to create your marketing presence with the experience customers are having on the other side.

The Top of the Hourglass and The Grow Phase

The top of the marketing hourglass is when prospects are first coming to know your brand. We call them the know, like, and trust phases. They’re not ready to make a purchase decision yet, but as they move through these three steps, they’re getting closer.

It starts with them first encountering your brand. Maybe they hear your name from a friend, maybe they discover you in a Google search. Whatever the case may be, you need to greet them with a solid marketing base at this stage to get them to go any further.

marketing hourglass

Create a Strong Website and Tackle SEO

Don’t you grow wary when a business operating today doesn’t have a website? What are they trying to hide? Or how far behind the times are they? The first step in the marketing maturity model is building a great website because it is the heart of your online presence. A strong website is more than great design; it’s about incorporating a modern promise that shows you understand your customers’ problems and have the best solution out there to fix it.

Behind every great website is a strong SEO strategy. While SEO is an ongoing process and there are dozens of factors to consider if you’re taking a pro-level approach, even a marketing novice can use some SEO quick fixes, like repairing broken links, checking site speed, and designing a mobile-friendly site, to get your website ranking higher.

Build Trust with Content

Once the prospect has discovered your website, you need to provide them with ways to come to know and trust your brand. That’s where the other elements of the build phase—a strong content program, social media presence, and email marketing campaign—come in.

The content on your website (blog posts, explainer videos, product descriptions, your about us page—if it’s on your website, it’s content!), should help prospects get a greater sense of what you do. Your homepage will draw them in with a promise to solve their problem, your other content needs to prove that you’re as good as you say you are. Informative blog posts, glowing reviews from existing customers, and explainer videos that teach viewers something valuable are all great ways for them to come to know and trust your brand.

Get on Social Media

Social media can help in the like and trust phases, too. Simply having a presence on the major social sites gives your business greater legitimacy. Then, creating a strong social presence, with consistent posts that are relevant and helpful, builds on the trust factor.

And take it beyond simply posting—engaging with your followers on social media means building a personal connection. It allows prospects to get to know the individuals behind the brand, and when they get 1:1 responses to their questions and comments on your page, they develop a deep trust in your business: “If they’re paying this much attention to me before I even become a customer, I’m sure I’ll be in good hands once I make a purchase!”

Stay Top-of-Mind with Email Marketing

Finally, email marketing is a great way to continue to show your expertise and remain in prospects’ fields of vision. While they have to seek out your website content or social media profiles, creating an email newsletter filled with helpful tidbits (and the occasional offer) allows you to come to them with your industry knowledge.

The Middle of the Hourglass and the Grow Phase

The middle of the hourglass are the stages we like to call try and buy. By this point, you’ve built a lot of trust around your brand. Your prospects are intrigued and really like what you do. If you can make a compelling offer to get them to give you a try, and the trial goes well, that’s often what seals the deal and helps them convert to full customer.

At this point in the marketing maturity model, you want to continue expanding your essential blocks from the build phase. Your website and content program can grow. Adding things like a regular podcast with a cadre of exciting industry guests is a great way to strengthen your content. Gather all of your relevant content together onto hub pages to give your content program and SEO a boost.

Speaking of expanding SEO efforts, focus on building up backlinks, and get Google Search Console set up so that you can optimize your search ranking for many years to come.

Also, continue to engage and follow up with leads via social media and email marketing. But it doesn’t stop there; now is the time to introduce new tactics to grow your existing relationships and turn prospects into customers.

Undertake Paid Lead Generation

When we say paid lead generation, we’re talking about things like search ads and social media advertising. These can come in many forms. A great place to start is with boosting content on social media, giving posts you’ve shared organically a broader reach for a small fee.

The more advanced tactics take you further into tracking your ads and getting more efficient about driving conversions.

Once you’ve established a series of Google Ads, you can use their offline tracking tool to understand how your ads are impacting business in the real world. By importing your sales information from conversions that happen in your brick-and-mortar store or over the phone, you can better understand the effectiveness of your online ads and refine your approach to win over more prospects.

For all of your ads, you should be creating landing pages that are unique to that particular campaign. In doing that, prospects find the exact deal, offer, or topic that intrigued them in the ad front-and-center on your website, and it makes them all the more likely to convert.

Create a Culture that Integrates Sales and Marketing

Your marketing efforts can take you pretty far, but you need them to be integrated with your sales approach from the start in order to get the greatest result. Make sure that your sales and marketing teams are in communication from day one about prospects.

Set up a clear process for the handoff from the marketing to sales teams, so no one falls through the cracks. And have your marketing team create materials for your sales team, so your brand voice remains consistent in those interactions with prospects as you’re shepherding them from your marketing to sales basket. My friend and colleague Tom Shipley at Cole-Dalton Marketing Services in St Louis does this element so well.

Focus on Customer Experience

This is the stage at which your prospects become customers. They’ve liked you enough up to this point to give you a try, so the customer experience must be stellar. That’s the way to take them from one-time customer to repeat buyer.

This starts with a killer onboarding process. No matter what kind of business you’re in, there’s some kind of onboarding for new customers.

If you sell products, your onboarding has to do with getting the product to your customer and ensuring they know how to use it. If you’re shipping your items, make sure that you have a process for your customers to track their packages. Once the item gets to them, include information that will help them get the most out of their new item.

For complicated products, like an electronic device, include clear instructions and maybe even a link to explainer videos to help them get set up. Simpler products, like clothing items, can include care instructions or even just a thoughtful thank you card to show you appreciate your customer’s business.

For services, your onboarding process might be more complex. Establishing a single point of contact within your company for any questions your new client may have, and sending along forms and paperwork that can help you both get on the same page faster, are important elements of your onboarding process.

No matter what kind of business you run, reviews are also very important at the try and buy stage. If you have an unhappy first-time customer, a speedy, sincere response to their complaint can turn things around and save the relationship. Similarly, glowing reviews shouldn’t go ignored. If you take the time to thank new customers for their positive feedback, their happy feelings will only grow!

The Bottom of the Hourglass and the Ignite Phase

By the time you’ve reached the bottom of the marketing hourglass, you’ve already won over that first-time customer. This is your chance to get them to become a life-long customer, and to tell all of their friends and family about your business.

And while it’s statistically easier to hold onto existing customers than to win new ones over, the last thing you want to do is take someone for granted now! You’ve already put in the hard work of converting them; you need to continue to wow them so that they’ll stick around.

Again, you continue to work on the existing tactics you’ve got up and running, from your website through to sales enablement and customer experience. But here, you add three more elements to take your marketing approach to a whole new level and build those lifelong customer bonds.

Invest in a CRM

A customer relationship management tool (or CRM, for short), helps you to better manage all of your customer interactions, both old and new. The tool allows you to track all points of contact with prospects and customers.

This is helpful in better understanding prospects’ path to conversion, and in offering better service to your existing customers.

Let’s say you have an existing customer who’s had an issue with an order. When your team can see that they called last week and emailed a few days later to follow up—and can pull up the transcripts of those communications, plus see notes from the customer service representative who was handling the case—you’re better able to take appropriate action for your customer, without making them explain their problem over and over each time they reach out.

Or maybe you have a customer that’s never had a complaint in their life. The CRM can still help; it can provide information for you to make smarter offers to that customer. If you’re a home improvement store and you notice that a customer recently purchased a dehumidifier, you can target them with ads about replacement filters for their new machine.

Whether you’re troubleshooting, looking for new cross-sell opportunities, or simply trying to better understand your sales pipeline, a CRM is the way to do it.

Use Marketing Automation

Marketing automation and a CRM tool often go hand-in-hand. The CRM gives you all of the customer information you could need or want to enact smart marketing automation techniques.

When you understand your customers’ behaviors, you can segment your buyers into different personas. Each type of customer has their own unique needs that your business meets, and when you understand those needs, you can create marketing materials that most effectively speak to them (and direct that messaging only at the relevant parties).

Take Advantage of AI and Analytics

Also tied in with your customer information is analytics and AI. When you’re gathering information on your customers, you can use analytics to understand what the data all means and, from there, refine your marketing strategy long-term.

Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console for your website are free to use, and can provide you with deep, meaningful information about the behaviors and attributes of your customers and prospects. You can even use more advanced techniques, like call tracking, to understand how your online marketing efforts are affecting customers’ behaviors on the phone.

Armed with this information, you can undertake A/B testing, showing two different marketing messages to two different audiences in order to understand which one works best. This kind of testing allows you to hone in on the best possible messaging for each segment of your audience, helping you to retain existing customers and win new ones who might be referred by your biggest fans.

When it comes to creating an effective marketing strategy, you need to align your marketing tactics with what your prospects and customers want and need. By using the marketing hourglass as a guidepost while you walk through the marketing maturity model, you can build a strong marketing presence that will work for your business from start to finish.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Shaping the Customer Journey.

Where Does Social Media Fit Into the Customer Journey?

Your social media marketing can sometimes feel separate from your other marketing efforts. After all, social media is about engaging with fans and having a little bit of fun with your brand, is it really a place where you should be thinking about the customer journey?

The fact of the matter is that all of your marketing efforts should be shaped around the customer journey, and that includes social media. And yes, there is a way to fit social media into each stage of the customer journey without resorting to sales-y posts or spammy messages.

Here’s how you can incorporate social media at every stage of the customer journey, from know, like, and trust to try, buy, repeat, and refer.

Know

Social media is a great place to introduce your business to new people. The first stage of the customer journey is all about exposing your target audience to your branded content. You want your prospects to get a feel for who you are, what you do, and why you’re better at it than the competition.

The first step to setting yourself up to meet new people on social is making sure you establish a profile with all of your information that clearly incorporates your branding and logos. Whether you’re just starting out or bringing your social page back from the dead, organic social begins with posting interesting branded content.

This content is how people will come to know your brand and begin to associate your name with your area of expertise.

Like

Once you’ve gotten the attention of new fans, it’s time to get on their good side. In the like phase, you want to educate them on their problems. This is the time to show that you understand their pain, and that your business offers the perfect solution to whatever ails them.

Continue to share content, but whatever you do, make sure it’s meaningful! Take this opportunity to share in-depth posts from your blog, explainer videos from your YouTube channel, and episodes from your podcast that feature other experts in your field. You can curate content from other sources, too, but the key to getting folks to like you is sharing content that’s relevant to them.

You can also begin to invest in boosting your content and sharing paid ads. Boosting content allows you to share your existing organic content with a broader audience, while paid campaigns give you the option to display sponsored posts to those who have already interacted with your organic social presence. Either way, these paid options are a way to increase your presence on your audience’s social feed and to build a sense of familiarity that breeds fondness.

Trust

By now, you’ve convinced your audience that you know your field and understand the problem that you solve. Now’s the time to reinforce that trust in your business and drive initial engagement.

You can begin to whet your audience’s appetite with allusions to a great offer. Paid posts with targeted calls to action help you achieve this. You can also take an organic approach by sharing links that drive back to an initial offer on your website.

This is the time to hammer home your expertise in your field and make a strong case for your business.

Try

This is where you make your first offer to prospects. In the try phase, you reveal your offer and present content designed to move them towards a decision.

Your initial offer doesn’t have to be huge, and in fact, it shouldn’t be. It’s best to start with something small to get your foot in the door with your prospects. Again, posts and ads with targeted calls to action are the way to go here. Presenting a free trial or making an offer that reduces risk (say, one that includes a money-back guarantee) is a great way to get prospects to commit to giving you a try.

Buy

Once you’ve gotten your prospects to take advantage of your trial offer, and you’ve dazzled them with a peek at your killer product or service, they’ll be ready to take the plunge and make their first real purchase.

Social media can help coax them towards this conversion. Step up your customer engagement here. If someone who’s tried your product leaves a comment or asks a question on your social media page, be quick to offer up a response! If they’ve left a review on your page that expresses hesitations following their initial trial, reach out to them directly to follow up, offer a solution, and ask them to give you a second chance.

Taking those extra steps to get personal and engage with your hottest leads on social is the way to support the buying process and drive that all-important purchase.

Repeat

Once you’ve convinced your prospect to become a first-time customer, you have to continue to delight them! Maintain your outreach efforts whenever customers engage on your page. If you get private messages from customers through social media, make it a priority to respond quickly.

Most social media management tools (like Hootsuite or SproutSocial) allow you to respond across social platforms from their centralized dashboard. This means there’s no excuse for missing an important communication from your customers!

On the organic social front, posting more in-depth content, like case studies, is a way to continue to build rapport with your customers. Prove to them that you’ve provided long-term value to other customers, and they’re more likely to return to give you more business as well.

When it comes to paid options, retargeting allows you to stay top-of-mind with your existing customers. Consider sending complementary offers to those who have recently made purchases on your site (i.e. If someone bought golf cleats, show them an ad for golf gloves or headcovers).

Refer

The final step in the customer journey is to win referrals. Social media comes in handy here because it’s an inherently—well, social—place!

If you want to get people talking about your brand with their friends, create content that is shareable. You’re already posting meaningful content, but are there ways to make that content more fun or share-worthy?

Let’s say you run a pest control business. Consider creating a humorous video that helps homeowners identify the kind of bugs or critters they might have running around their house. Or, put together a quiz that readers can take, helping them hone in on the type of infestation they might be facing. This is the kind of content that’s not only useful, but is interactive, engaging, fun, and likely to be shared.

In the refer phase, you can even use paid tactics to boost customer posts. So if you have excellent, positive user-generated content, this is the time to let it shine!

Social media is as much a part of guiding the customer journey as any other marketing tactic. The interactive nature of the medium allows you to create one-on-one relationships with your prospects and customers, and to target them with the type of messaging that they most need to see at their particular stage of the journey. By using both paid and organic tactics, you can create a comprehensive social strategy that drives visitors further down the marketing hourglass, no matter where they are right now.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Shaping the Customer Journey.

The Role of Your Website in Guiding the Customer Journey

This post is brought to you by Design Rush. The role of a great website includes responsiveness and speed. That can be quite difficult to achieve so getting help is always an option. One of the best web design companies in New York can help you with more complex things on your website.

Today’s customer journey is more complex than ever. From social media to paid search to offline marketing, there are dozens of ways someone can discover your company. The main role of your website in this twisting journey is to be a solid central point.

While prospects may discover your brand anywhere, you want to be driving that traffic from those disparate points back to your website. Your website is the one online asset that you have complete control over, and a well-designed website is the key to taking the reins on guiding the customer journey.

Let me walk you through the role that your website can and should play at each stage of the customer journey.

Know and Like

Prospects discover brands through all sorts of channels, and it’s entirely possible that your website is not the first place they’ll encounter you. It might be through a local listing service like Yelp, or on social media, or maybe they see a truck with your logo driving around town—who knows! But every other channel where you are present should include your website’s URL, so that it’s easy for prospects to go there and learn more.

Additionally, there are steps you can take to give your website the best shot at being the first point of contact with your brand. Undertaking keyword research allows you to see the real terms that searchers use when looking for the solution your business offers. Once you know that information, you can optimize your website so that it ranks for those terms. Couple keyword research with some effective, descriptive metadata, and you’ll be well on your way to generating more website traffic through organic search results.

Once prospects land on your website, you want to greet them with messaging and design that helps them come to further know and like your brand. Your homepage should include a promise to visitors, front and center. The promise should demonstrate that you understand their pain points and know how to solve them. Follow that up with a call to action; something that drives them to take a logical next step with your brand. This can be something like signing up for your newsletter or a free trial—nothing that includes too big a commitment. They did just meet you, after all! You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you at the end of your first date.

There are a number of other elements I recommend including on a homepage, but what’s most important is that you share what it is that you solve for your customers and how you can help others solve those same problems, too.

Trust and Try

Once a prospect has your brand on their radar screen, your website can help to strengthen their trust in you, until they finally decide to give you a try.

There are many trust-building elements that you can and should include in your website. Testimonials and case studies are a great way to demonstrate the value you’ve brought to other customers. They help to build an emotional connection with the prospect, who can see themselves reflected in the needs and struggles of your existing customer.

Content is also a critical element in building trust. Blogs, podcasts, and videos are all ways to share meaningful content with your audience. Your website should be the central location where all of your content lives, so that anyone interested in learning more about what you do can discover the wealth of knowledge you bring to the table. I also strongly advocate for the creation of hub pages. These pages bring all of your content on a centralized topic together on one page. They establish you as an authority on the subject (and they’re great for boosting your SEO, too!).

Once those trust elements have won over your audience and they’re ready to give you a try, you want to greet them with an appropriate call to action (CTA) that guides them to the next phase of the customer journey. Include relevant CTAs on your trust-building pages. At the bottom of your hub page, offer free access to a paid report. At the bottom of your testimonials page, include a CTA to schedule a free consultation.

Buy

You’ve reached the moment of truth! Your prospect is ready to become a first-time customer, and it’s again up to your website to help you make it happen.

At this stage, it’s about reducing friction in the purchasing process as much as possible, to ensure that you don’t lose any interested prospects at the last minute because of a frustratingly complex purchasing process. If you have an e-commerce shop, reduce the number of clicks it takes to add items to a cart and to complete check-out. Ask for as little information as possible to complete the sale. When customers feel bogged down with long forms or a circuitous route to check-out, it’s possible you can lose them at the moment of truth.

If yours is a service business, create a simple online sign-up form, so that prospects can easily make an appointment. Use a platform that doesn’t require them to register for an outside app or service to schedule. And including thoughtful touches, like a system that automatically adds the confirmed appointment to your customer’s calendar app of choice, is a nice way to make the buying process as seamless as possible.

Repeat and Refer

Once you’ve won over a new customer, your website’s work isn’t over! There are opportunities to turn that one-time customer into a lifelong one—someone who refers friends and family along the way.

A well-designed sitemap can help to encourage repeat purchases. When you’re building your website, think about the best way to showcase related product and services. Driving customers who have already made a purchase to another area of your website that covers a complementary offering is a smart way to drive upsells and repeat business. A CRM tool that’s synced up with your website is also a great way to keep track of past purchases so that you can use email marketing to send related offerings to interested customers straight to their inbox.

Your website can help you to collect feedback and reviews, which can in turn generate referral business. Through your site, you can link out to your profiles on Yelp, Google My Business, and Facebook, making it easy for your existing happy customers to share positive feedback about your business on these other platforms. You can also solicit testimonials from your existing customers, which you can feature on your website.

Your website is the heart of your online presence. It needs to be ready to work for you and your customers at any stage along their journey. Whether they’ve just discovered you via a new search or are coming back to make their 100th purchase, your website should make it easy for them to find all of the information and support they need.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design and the Small Business Guide to Shaping the Customer Journey.

Why Your Marketing Must Be Led By Strategy First

Why Your Marketing Must Be Led By Strategy First

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Strategy First Marketing

A lot of people use the term “marketing strategy,” when what they’re really talking about is marketing tactics. Strategy is not just a Facebook post or a paid search campaign or blog posts. Those are the tactics you use to execute your strategy. But if you don’t have a larger strategy to guide you, then you’re just going to be guessing about what tactics you should be using as part of your marketing efforts.

Today, we’re going to look at what you need to do to put strategy first so that you can get intentional about your marketing approach.

Who Is Your Ideal Client?

Chance are that, today, you’re defining your ideal client too broadly. If you’re a tax preparer, your ideal customer is not just anyone who wants to do their taxes.

Sure, some of them are, but what makes a customer ideal for your specific type of work? If you charge a lot more than the national tax preparer, who opens up shop on the corner and charges $49.00 per return, then the people who would want to go with this cheap and easy option are not your ideal client. But maybe you have expertise that’s best suited to people with a specific tax need—like a high net worth individual who has lots of investments and philanthropic write-offs. Plus, they’re the ones who’d be willing to spend more to get the job done correctly.

Don’t guess about who your ideal client is. You are already working with some great people, so turn to your existing client base. Who are your most profitable clients? Who refers the most business to? What are the common characteristics that you find in those clients?

This doesn’t mean that this ideal client will ultimately be the only type of person you’re going to serve. But it does mean that all of your marketing messaging should be demonstrating that this is the type of person you can get the greatest results for.

What Is Your Core Message?

The first step to finding your core message is asking, “What problem does my brand solve? And what promise can my brand make to solve that problem?”

Let’s say you own a lawn care business. Your potential customers will automatically operate under the assumption that you know how to mow a lawn. But that doesn’t really address the problem the potential customer has.

For most homeowners, their biggest problem associated with a home care service is about something beyond the basic service the business provides. Homeowners hate having to wait around for the provider to arrive during their service window (and how often are those people actually on time?). When they hire someone to handle their landscaping, the team leaves behind a big mess of hedge trimmings and lawn clippings. Or it’s difficult to get payment to them because they only accept checks. These are the real problems your clients have.

So your core message is not, “We know how to care for your lawn”—of course you do! Instead, it’s “We show up on time, every time.” Or, “We leave your yard looking cleaner and better than when we arrived.”

This core message should be featured above the fold on the homepage of your website. It’s a key element of strategy because it is how you differentiate your business in a way that your customers care about that goes beyond your products or services.

How Do You Make Content the Voice of Strategy?

Customers don’t need a description of your product or service right up front. Sure, once they get further along in their journey and begin considering their purchasing options, they’ll want to know the nitty gritty details. But for now, they want to know how you’re there for them.

Back to the lawn care example: If the prospect is looking to create a better lawn, they may not have decided they need someone to do that for them. They may initially just be looking for advice and expertise, thinking this is a task they could tackle on their own.

The lawn care business, then, wants to establish themselves as that local source of expert advice. This is where hub pages come in. The lawn care business will publish “The Guide to the Perfect Lawn”—a hub page that consolidates all of their content around lawn care into one place.

This hub page will rank in Google results for someone looking for the perfect lawn in your local area. Now, you become their go-to source for guidance on lawn care. You develop a relationship with them, and they come to trust you. Some of these people will, of course, still opt to go it alone and handle their lawn themselves. But others will say, “It looks like these lawn care people have it all figured out. Why don’t I just hire them to do it?”

The hub pages are a way to draw people in who might not even be looking to make a purchase or become a customer. But then, your expertise is what builds trust and eventually convinces them that they do need the solution you offer.

Guiding People Through the Marketing Hourglass

Customers have buying questions and objectives, and these will change along the various stages of their journey with your business. It’s your job to guide customers through the marketing hourglass, taking them through the logical steps of getting to know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer your business.

To make sure you’re providing customers with what they need at each stage, start by asking questions. In the know phase, the essential question for a business owner to answer is, “If someone didn’t know about us, where would they go to find a business like ours?” For most businesses, the primary answer to that question is Google. But in the lawn care example, you also might have prospects that ask a neighbor for a referral, or see your truck around town or your signs on people’s lawns.

Once you’ve done that for the know phase, you move on to the other six stages of the hourglass. Once they find your website, what do they see when they get there? Do they see that other people know, like, and trust you?

How does someone try what your business is offering? If you’re the lawn care business, that might be getting a quote. But how exactly do they go about getting that quote? Is it a form on your website, or do they need to call or email you? How quickly do you respond? Is the response personalized, or does it feel like a boilerplate offer? These elements all become a part of the customer’s experience and journey with your business.

The buy, repeat, and refer stages are more internal. How do you onboard a new customer? What are your team’s checks to ensure that customers are getting the results that they want from your business? What makes a great experience that will bring them back for another purchase or encourage them to refer a friend? This is where you want to get into the buyer’s head to determine what they’ll expect out of you.

Once you understand what a customer wants from you at each stage in the journey, you need to make sure that your online assets address those needs.

You’ve now identified the ideal customer, you know the core message and promise, you know how content becomes the voice of strategy, and you know how your customers want to buy. Now, you can fill in the gaps to meet customers wherever they are. That is the heart of marketing strategy.

Now We Turn to Tactics

Tactics are what allow us to fill in those gaps to meet customers where they are. If your ideal customer finds businesses by searching the web, you need to create a hub page so you rank in those SERPs. You need testimonials on your website to build trust. You need to be on social platforms, so that you have information in lots of places that proves your legitimacy as a business. You need reviews on social media and review platforms so that others are vouching for you. These are the tactics that align with the larger strategy.

We have an engagement called Strategy First, where we do this entire process for our clients. As a part of this engagement we interview your existing customers and analyze your competitors. We build ideal client personas and establish a core message and promise that will speak to them. We map out your hub page and determine how to make content the voice of your strategy. And we go through the marketing hourglass exercise and identify the gaps in your current marketing approach. This gives you a firm foundation on which to build your tactics and move your marketing forward based on solid strategy.

Want to learn more? Schedule a consultation with us so we can talk about how to do this for your business.

Want to learn how to craft and implement an effective marketing strategy yourself? Check out our Certified Marketing Manager program. In this program, our consultant will be your strategic advisor while they help you develop the marketing skills and knowledge of your team.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Want to learn how to get the most from podcast advertising and sponsorship? Check out our ultimate guide on the process.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Shaping the Customer Journey.

Axa Logo

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by AXA Equitable Life.

It’s time we start giving life insurance the credit it deserves. That’s because life insurance can be so much more than protection for you and your family. It can also help you live, keep, and potentially build more cash value over time. To learn how, go to www.AXA.com.

Disclosure: Life insurance is issued by AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, New York, NY 10104 or MONY Life Insurance Company of America (MLOA), an Arizona Stock corporation with its main administration office in Jersey City, NJ and is distributed by AXA Distributors, LLC.

1 2 3 4