Whether you’re just starting to sell or you’re deep in the weeds of growth marketing, understanding your customer’s journey from awareness to rabid fandom is essential. Founders, let’s map your customer’s epic quest inspired by the timeless classic, The Princess Bride. We’ll venture through four stages: Awareness, Consideration, Decision, and Loyalty / Advocacy and examine how to save customers from fire swamps that slow them down along the way.
Scaling the Cliffs of Awareness
To get to happily ever after, customers must first scale the Cliffs of Awareness. So, how do you make your potential customers aware of your offering?
Riddle me this:
I am what you seek to spread the word,
A means to make your product heard.
To solve the puzzle, it’s plain to see,
Experimentation is the key.
Hint hint: there are 19 different channels that can be employed to build awareness, but only 1-2 will help your customers find you. The only way to find these channels is to test. Examples of these channels include:
- Content marketing: Generate valuable content through blog posts, whitepapers, e-books, and infographics. (e.g., HubSpot’s comprehensive inbound marketing resources.)
- Search engine optimization (SEO): Optimize your website and content for search engines like Google. (e.g., Moz’s informative blog and SEO tools.)
- Paid advertising: Invest in pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, display ads, and social media advertising. (e.g., Nike’s captivating ad campaigns.)
- Business development (e.g., Airbnb partnered with the Sundance Film Festival to offer accommodations for attendees)
Once you identify your top performing channel, monitor its performance (e.g., how many clicks did your ad campaign get?) and test different messaging. Guide your customers, like Fezzik carrying his companions up the rocky cliffs, safely to your offering.
Wading Through the Fire Swamp of Consideration
After your customers ascend the Cliffs of Awareness, they face a deluge of choices, like Westley and Buttercup navigating the perilous Fire Swamp.
As they research and evaluate their options, aid them in their quest by following these steps:
- Understand their priorities. (e.g., choosing between Apple iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy, the customer might consider price, features, design, and/or brand reputation)
- Create buyer-centric content: Develop content that addresses your audience’s specific needs at each stage of the buyer’s journey. (e.g., Zillow’s comprehensive home buying guides.)
- Leverage lead nurturing: Use email marketing, retargeting ads, and personalized content to keep leads engaged and guide them towards a decision. (e.g., Everlane’s targeted promotions.)
Empathize with your customer’s pain points and fears, and create content and testimonials that showcase your brand’s unique qualities. (e.g., Airbnb’s user-generated reviews and experiences.)
Are customers getting past the Cliffs of Awareness but struggling to make it past the Fire Swamp of Consideration? The only way to know is to measure and test messaging! (e.g., how many people clicked on your retargeting ads)
The Pit of Purchase Decisions
In the decision stage, customers have chosen a solution and are ready to buy. If your purchasing process is as torturous as the Pit of Despair, your customers will go no further and peril.
If your customers are emerging victorious from the Fire Swamp of Consideration but dropping off in the Pit of Purchase Decisions (e.g., abandoned cart), attempt to save them just as Miracle Max saved Westley when he was “mostly dead”. Here are some tricks to try:
- Count the clicks: Know how many actions it takes for the customer to buy and make it as easy as humanly possible (e.g., Amazon’s one-click purchase; guest checkout; credit card autofill and Apple Pay)
- Email your customers to bring them back to their abandoned purchase. You can even deploy product promotions (e.g., “Sign up now and save 30%”) to sweeten the deal.
- Re-examine your demo or sales script. Have an experienced sales person sit in on a closing call or review emails sent in the closing process, implement the feedback and test the new messaging.
Happily Ever After: Loyalty and Advocacy
Congratulations, you’ve won the battle, but the journey is far from over. You don’t want a fake, short relationship (Boo!) like that of the King and Princess. Create a true and everlasting love between your customers and company like that of Westley and Princess Buttercup.
Here are some strategies to foster loyalty:
- Exceed customer expectations: Go above and beyond to deliver a memorable experience that surpasses their expectations. (e.g., Chewy delivers flowers when a pet passes away and has an exceptional return policy)
- Personalize customer interactions: Use data insights to tailor your marketing efforts, offers, and communications, creating a bespoke experience for each customer. (e.g., Spotify Wrapped)
- Implement a loyalty program: Reward loyal customers with incentives such as discounts, exclusive offers, or early access to new products. (e.g., Starbucks Rewards program.)
- Regularly request feedback: Actively seek customer feedback and demonstrate your commitment to improving their experience by implementing frequently mentioned suggestions.
When you show your customers love, advocacy becomes more natural.
However, if customers need a nudge to shout their love from rooftops, here’s a trick:
Implement a referral program that rewards customers for sharing their positive experiences with friends and family. (e.g., Scott’s Cheap Flights gives users a month of free Premium service when their friends sign up or Dropbox’s famously good referral program that took them from 100,000 to 4,000,000 users in 15 months.)
Sharing the Storybook
As we close the storybook on our Princess Bride-inspired customer journey, remember the lessons learned from Westley, Buttercup, and their friends. From the rocky Cliffs of Awareness to the triumphant Happily Ever After, this quest is yours to write. And when you help your customers every step of the way, they will live another day to pass along the story of the great quest. After all, the best person to help a new customer up the Cliffs of Awareness is a friend who has emerged triumphant.