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How to Use Social Advertising at Each Stage of the Customer Journey

Effective social media marketing involves tactics that cover each stage of the customer journey. During the awareness phase, your efforts will focus on generating traffic and expanding your prospect pool. For the consideration phase, you need tactics to educate customers and help you qualify leads. The decision phase requires specific offers and calls to action. Thankfully, there are a wealth of social media tools to help you precisely target your efforts based on your sales funnel and your goals.


Awareness

Social media can help you raise awareness and expand your prospect pool based on specific criteria, such as geography, demographics, online behaviors, past history with your organization, lookalike audiences, or other categories.

Organic tactics are a good place to start. You might try Facebook Live, social media contests, links to free content, YouTube videos, or regular posts on your LinkedIn or Facebook feeds. However, some platforms only show your organic posts to a small segment of your audience. You will likely need to include paid tactics in your awareness efforts also.

Effective paid tactics include sponsored content on LinkedIn as well as Facebook and Instagram ads. Note, however, that paid content doesn’t have to include a sales pitch. In the awareness phase, you should provide free resources and ungated content to spread the word about your organization and build trust with your potential audience.


Consideration

During the consideration stage, give your audience increasingly in-depth information to help them move toward a decision. Qualify and score your leads based on their interaction with your messages.

Organic social media tactics for consideration include
  • Sharing positive reviews on your Facebook page
  • Posting photos of your organization on Instagram
  • Participating in Ask Me Anything sessions on Reddit
  • Creating video testimonials from members and sharing across platforms
  • Making educational or how-to videos for use on YouTube
  • Conducting quizzes or contests to encourage interaction

Paid tactics include Facebook remarketing ads with details about your events and offerings. You can also use sponsored Facebook or LinkedIn posts with customer reviews or third-party blog posts.

In this stage, third-party content such as reviews, testimonials, articles, and photos can have a powerful effect on your target audience. By some estimates, user-generated content can lead to twice as many conversions as messages directly from your organization. Tap into the power of peer influence by recruiting and incentivizing social influencers who are willing to talk about your organization and your offerings online.


Decision

Leverage your social media efforts to nudge your prospects into action with specific offers and direct calls to action.

Organic tactics for the decision phase include
  • Inviting your social traffic to sign up for your email list
  • Hosting social media contests with promotions and purchase incentives
  • Running Facebook and Instagram ads with limited-time discounts or special offers
  • Linking to landing pages with gated content

You can boost many of the above organic tactics by paying for additional exposure on your existing social media platforms. You might also try Facebook messenger ads or Pinterest buy buttons.


Invest in your entire funnel

Don’t make the mistake of investing in only one or two stages of the customer journey, perhaps to save money or time. This could leave you short on prospects, qualified leads, and/or conversions. A better strategy is to map out your customer journey, including social media tactics for each stage. From there, use an automation platform to ensure customers receive what they need when they need it based on their actual behaviors. The efficiency and precise targeting will save you time and money while boosting your ROI.


Integrating with your overall marketing strategy

Not only is social media effective in moving people through your sales funnel, It can also enhance your other marketing efforts. For example, according to a study by Salesforce, your email openers are 22% more likely to purchase if they’ve also been reached with Facebook ads. Another study found that web visitors who have been exposed to your messages previously are three to five times more likely to convert than cold traffic.

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How to Create a Customer Journey Map

One-off campaigns or clever sales pitches just don’t work anymore to convert prospects into attendees, members, and loyal brand ambassadors. People need time to get to know you, explore your offerings, understand your value, and come to trust that you will deliver on your promises. They undergo a journey from awareness to consideration to decision. Creating a customer journey map can help you take a more precise, strategic approach to guiding prospects along that journey.


What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a diagram of all the steps prospects go through when engaging with your organization. It includes how they first learned about you, the research and education they undergo in their decision-making process, and the action steps they take along the way—from signing up for your email list to attending your events.

At the heart of a customer journey map is the customer. To most effectively move prospects along their journeys, you must become very familiar with their wants, needs, and pain points. What are their goals? What keeps them up at night? Get to know your customer so you know how to help them.


What are the stages of the customer journey?

The initial stages of the customer journey are awareness, consideration, and decision. If you’re successful in these three phases, some members will continue on to become loyal brand ambassadors.


Awareness

This is where a customer first learns about your brand. They might have read one of your blog posts, seen a testimonial, viewed a Facebook ad, or heard about you from a colleague.

For most organizations, increasing brand awareness is an active pursuit. It might include the following tactics:
  • Publish free educational content
  • Create blog posts, webinars, tools, templates, or guides
  • Use video to inform while showcasing your authentic brand persona
  • Publish a free email newsletter
  • Promote content via social media posts and paid ads

Avoid making a sales pitch in the initial stages of the customer journey. This is your chance to engage prospects and build trust by providing valuable resources with no strings attached.


Consideration

Once a prospect is aware of your organization, they will likely undergo a period of consideration. In this stage, they’re not quite ready to take action, but they are interested in learning more.

Move people toward a decision by providing content that will help them see whether your organization can solve their pain points. Be aware that it could take a while—perhaps 10 or more touch points. This is still not the time for a sales pitch. Focus instead on your value proposition and what’s in it for the customer.

Useful tactics for the consideration stage:
  • Case studies, reviews, and testimonials
  • How-to content that showcases your events, products, and offerings
  • Demo videos, product descriptions, and data sheets
  • Social media ads that lead to free downloadable content

At the same time your prospects evaluate your organization, you should also evaluate your prospects. Qualify your leads in this stage so you know where to focus your time, effort, and budget.


Decision

How long the customer journey lasts depends on many factors, including the cost of your product, length of the engagement, complexity of the offer, and more. Regardless, at some point, you will need to make a pitch and ask for a decision so you and your prospect can move forward.

Useful tactics for the decision stage:
  • Ask your social media followers to sign up for your email list
  • Make limited-time offers that create urgency
  • Run Facebook ads that lead to landing pages with gated content
  • Send direct mail promotions
  • Call high-quality leads to make a personal connection

The tactics you choose may depend on the lead score of your prospects. For example, actively engaged prospects might receive additional communications and special promotions. High-quality leads might warrant a phone call or premium direct mail piece. Less active prospects might be moved to an automated email list.


Your guide to relationship marketing

Mapping the entirety of your customer journey may seem daunting, but don’t worry. You’re really just creating a simple guide for efficient relationship marketing. Start with the three broad categories: awareness, consideration, and decision. Then fill in each with details on goals, tactics, specific content, KPIs, and metrics for measurement.

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