This is the second post in a 3 part series on defining your customer journey and which marketing channels to use at each stage. Read more in Part I: From Discovery to Booking, and Part III: Tools and Tactics for Each Stage of the Customer Journey.

Customer-journey-4-stages

Marketing activities should be planned and prioritized to help transition potential customers from discovery all the way through post purchase engagement. Different tactics, channels and messaging will be used based on where your customer is in their journey.

Ultimately, the goal is to generate more sales. But, similar to any sales funnel, the aim is to increase the conversion rate at each stage. In this case, the objective is to move as many people from the discovery stage to the exploration stage and so on. Once a purchase has been made, social media and content marketing to your customer base can help to upsell, cross-sell and get people talking about your brand to fuel new discovery.

 

Which Channels Influence a Customer and When?

Google has published some really interesting information (by industry) showing the role that various marketing channels play in the customer journey.  They go further to define whether channels simply “assist” vs influence a customers “last interaction” before purchase.

Journey-diagram-breakdown

The charts below have broken down the first 2 stages of our customer journey into: Awareness, Consideration, Intent and Decision (all of which come before the Purchase stage).

We’ve narrowed the results to the Travel industry and provided information for both Canada and the US. Interestingly, the timing of certain channels differ between the two.

Google-Channels-Diagram-US

Google-Channels-Diagram-Canada

Key Takeaways:

Social & E-mail Fuel Discovery

While a customer may not click through from a Facebook post and purchase in the same session, they have just become aware of your product or service in the discovery phase.

It is important to grow your social media following and your e-mail database to capitalize on these channels. Set your key performance metrics knowing that these channels are filling the top of your funnel and not necessarily producing direct conversions and bookings.

 

Search Prompts a Decision

Both paid search and organic search appear to influence consumers around the transition from intent to decision. This is common when people researching prices and other factors that might determine the product or service they purchase, or where they purchase it from.

Your brand should concentrate on ranking organically, or paying to be present for searches that result in the most profitable conversions for your company. Ensure you are tracking conversions based on keywords to determine a starting point.

 

Know Your Consumer

Although close in geography, Canadian and American travelers differ in which channels they use at varying stages of the customer journey. While Americans look to social first, Canadians are using social sources to investigate options they may already have discovered.

You may need to segment your database by customer location, or other indicators such as e-mail open rates to ensure you are targeting the right customer with the right message via the right channel… at the right time.

 

Why is Social Media so prevalent in Discovery?

Large Audience

85% of U.S. online users are active in social media. So chances are, you potential customers are using it.

Media Budgets

Social-Ads-Discovery-graph

41% of people who engage with brands via social media discover brands, products or services by seeing a social ad.  This is different than simply seeing content your are publishing in your feeds, or being shared by friends which comes in at 33%. And the reason this method of discovery is high is due to large media budgets being spent to cut through the noise of social media using sponsored posts and ads.

Trusted Source of Referrals

trusted-referral-stat

Your customers are most active on social media after purchase. Their reviews, photos and posts help to fuel discovery with potential customers in their networks.

Recommendation: Your existing customers using social media are one of your most valuable assets to promote discovery with new customers. Treat them well. Figure out how you can add value for them (ideas in part III) and reward them.

 

What now?

Now it is time to match up tactics, strategies and channels to transition customers between the stages of your unique customer journey.

Every brand is different. As you can imagine, a tourism board generating awareness for their island will not use the same channels as a resort driving bookings of a golf package.

Read part III of this series: Tools and Tactics for Each Stage of the Customer Journey